Our plan did come with some serious considerations, but we took the risk anyway. It is not our fault that most weekends in August had contained rain! Who likes camping in the rain? And, we really wanted to visit Vermont again while in this area. One weekend had not been enough. So, all we could do was go on a two-night camping trip during the week. The weather predictions were perfect. The campground we had set our minds upon had most of their eight spots available, so no reservation and extra cost was required. Maybe we would be lucky with a quiet few days in regards to our Wirie business?
While the voice in my head was being positive (or naive), my gut knew better. We cannot and should not leave “the office” on weekdays. It does not bode well; sh*t happens. We know this from experience. Especially when it is the most inconvenient. When you run your own business, you do not get a break. Ever. We ignored my gut, ready for a couple of days away (You never know!), planning to be online and deal with customers and issues intermittently, whenever possible. That is the beauty of being able to work remotely, right? Anyway… As often, my gut was right, and Mark ended up spending many hours behind his computer and on his phone at the picnic table of our campsite or bent over on multiple patches of grass in the shade of Burlington’s parks. But, let’s focus on the stuff I should – and usually do – blog about!
“What do you think about when it comes to Vermont?” I ask Mark on our 3.5-hour drive north from Heath, MA, last week.
“Cows,” he says.
“Really?” I reply, looking at the rolling hills, massive grain silos, green mountains forming a perfect backdrop for expansive farms and cute towns. I had not seen one cow on this road trip.
“I’m thinking picturesque’” I offer my description for the state I had never visited before this current house sit. “Actually, I would have used the word picturesque if I would have visited a few years ago. Now, when I think about Vermont, Bernie is the first thing that comes to mind.”
“Yes, I think you got a point there. And farms, I would say,” Marks adds, looking at our surroundings.
Farms, hard work, cold winters, pretty scenery and Bernie Sanders is the sum-up of Vermont during that brief conversation on the way to Mount Philo, where we plan to pitch our tent and spend Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Mount Philo State Park
It is quiet when we drive up the hill in Mt. Philo State Park and check out all the available campsites. During the summer weekends, the few spots were always booked far ahead of time. Not now. We pick the biggest and most private site (#8) and set up camp. Since Mark has missed most of the afternoon, he gets to work immediately, using his SmartPhone as a hotspot. We are so fortunate it works. This is the first campground where we have had cell service (and therefore internet). I finish the prep work to settle in, walk Jenny through the shady forest, and wait for Mark. I’m trying to figure out how we can watch sunset at the top of the mountain and prepare dinner on the wood fire before it gets too late to eat. Impossible. We can’t start the fire and leave it unattended. We opt for sunset and a late dinner, which becomes a very late dinner, since the wood is damp and cooking our food takes ages.
The following morning, we climb the short stretch to the top of Mt. Philo again for a daytime view of Lake Champlain and its surroundings. We also find a non-advertised picnic area behind a gate called “the meadow” by a couple of hikers who told us about it. Around 11am, it is time for a close-up of the lake.
Mark, Jenny and I drive to Kingsland Bay State Park to walk along Lake Champlain and have our sandwich lunch. It is located in the middle of nowhere. The sun is bright in a blue sky, but there is no cell coverage. We’ll be OK. Jenny will love the lake. When we approach the entrance to the park a big sign stares at us: “Pets prohibited”. What? No way! I guess we’ll get to Burlington quicker than planned…
The drive into the city takes longer than planned, because of all the traffic and red lights. We pass the popular Shelburne Museum and continue on.
It is possible to park on the outskirts of Burlington for free. We find a nice spot in the shade and brave the rare Vermont heat for the 15’ walk to the waterfront. There, we eat lunch and Mark works. A plethora of messages has accumulated and need immediate attention. Then, we enjoy the views.
Our stroll through downtown happens in stages as well. It is pretty hot out, so we pause frequently in parks and on shady benches. After some contemplation, and deciding against it once, I do give in to a Ben & Jerry’s treat. This is the birth place of the popular American ice cream brand and if I ever want to try some of their funky flavors, Burlington is the location. At $4 plus tax for a small cone, it is worth every penny! When I return to “our” bench on Church Street Marketplace, one of the main draws and drags of the city, Mark welcomes me with “I have bad news for you. You couldn’t have gone inside at a worse time. Guess who just walked behind me? Bernie Sanders!” “No way,” I reply, “I really would have loved seeing him.” But, my tasty ice cream also provides pleasure.
Lazy as we are, we enjoy the scene for many minutes after I have finished my treat. “There he is again,” Mark screams. “Quick, get my camera out of the backpack,” I demand. Camera in hand, I see a familiar face approach. “Don’t bother him,” Mark says, “he is working right now and you’ll look like a fool.” So, I listen to the voice of reason and just stare. “Hi,” the Democratic ex-presidential candidate greets my startled expression. “Hi Bernie,” I cheerfully yell back, quickly snapping a photo of his behind. I’m such a chicken…
After being refused a seat at a snobbish restaurant at one end of the pedestrian-only Marketplace (because we only wanted drinks and no dinner), we relax and indulge in some alcoholic beverages on the Irish Pub’s patio. They are much friendlier here and even bring a water bowl for Jenny. Kids love to pet her. While the atmosphere is getting livelier, with a camper van traveler playing his piano in the middle of the walkway, we decide to have dinner outside of the expensive and touristy center. A big bowl of pho at a Vietnamese restaurant is the perfect end to a mostly pleasant day.
Button Bay State Park
Thursday starts with some drizzle, right after we pack up our tent and gear. Good timing! Under grey skies, we drive to Button Bay State Park, an alternative campground to our Mt. Philo choice. Very different from most campgrounds we have stayed at recently, this one is all grassy and bordering a lake, Lake Champlain. We walk Jenny around for a bit and gaze at a grey and windy expanse of water, islands and mountains. We decide to have our lunch at the next stop.
We make one more stop in a small historic town called Middlebury, before the long and wet ride home. Discovering wide waterfalls in front of our parking spot comes as a surprise and they offer a great view from the car while we eat our sandwiches. During a break in the rain, we have a quick walk around and finish up at Marble Works, an old marble mill. Many of the buildings in the complex are (partly) made of marble.
We managed to see quite a bit on this short mid-week trip, and, imagine our surprise, when barely a day later, it was weekend again! 🙂
Have you been on sightseeing trips while having to work? In those circumstances, would you rather have remained at your desk or attempt to combine the two?