Sometimes a place just doesn't live up to the hype. As we inched our way up the east coast, we heard time and time again about three places everyone thought we'd love.
- Portland, Maine
- Providence, Rhode Island
- Burlington, Vermont
Of course, the "big three" as we call them, unfortunately didn't live up to our expectations. This has happened to us more than not, and it's a brilliant example of just how personal travel is. What is alluring to one person is loathsome to the next.
Part of our perspective on this trip has been colored by a few factors:
- We're examining each place as a potential place to live, not just visit
- We're seeing so much in so little time, which means that the states just before the next can influence your opinion (we blame you, New Hampshire!)
- We're working along the way, which limits our time spent purely exploring
These factors and a few more were at work in Vermont, a place we'd been desperately looking forward to but ultimately fell far outside our top 10 favorite states list.
First, Vermont is incredibly rural. In fact, it ranks 49th in population, just edging out Wyoming in the "hey, people live here" category. It made for a beautiful drive and gorgeous views from our campsite. We holed up at Winhall Brook Campground, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park in the Green Mountains. The park was lush in the middle of July, and we had a great time exploring the area including hiking and running along the West River trail, which snakes through the park and parallels Winhall Brook and the river.
With the nice weather, lush views and WIFI at our picnic table and a cold one under the awning, it was pretty hard to leave. We got a lot of good work done at Winhall Brook, which is a luxury you must take up if you're living this lifestyle. Because too often when you want to work, you can't. There's a flat tire to deal with, or broken taillight, or no cell service or 45-minutes to the nearest coffee shop. There's just too much that can stand in your way, so we've learned to enjoy the quiet moments and to hunker down for work when we are able.
We didn't want to leave the area without exploring Burlington, however. Luckily it was on our way to Canada (cue Oh Canada song..), so we boondocked at a Walmart outside of town. Up until this point, we hadn't done too much Walmart camping. It's quite honestly a little nerve wracking at first, the whole "can we or can't we?" argument plays in your mind on repeat. But every time we've done it, there have been at least a handful of other campers doing the same. There is power in numbers.
We had 24 hours in Burlington, and we hit the ground running. Lake Champlain was our first target, a sprawling and massive lake worth at least 35 minutes of full on gazing. We strolled Church Street Marketplace, stopping in Crow Books for a good while to browse a broad selection of new and used titles. Mel window shopped at all the boutiques, wishing for just a tad more closet space. We posed for photos at the world's tallest filing cabinet, an odd yet satisfying roadside attraction. And we had some pretty delish Mexican food at an old diner turned taqueria, El Cortijo.
After a full day of exploring the best of Burlington, we ended the day in first class fashion: working inside the Walmart Dunkin' Donuts until 10:00pm closing time. The next day we bought a few postcards at said Walmart, waved goodbye to our parking spot and headed north of the border to the land of Justin Trudeau, maple leaves and poutine.
We'll be back, Vermont. While we still think your Queen City isn't quite the place for us -- a little too small, a tad too remote -- but we can all agree that Green Mountain coffee is the best.