03 December 2009

No best article of '09 - but, this time, last year

It’s not a good sign that I am already not following the challenge, but, frankly, who cares if I don't follow it to the letter. I can’t come up with an article that blew me away this year. There were probably some, or not.

Instead, I will post some pictures, and do a "this time, last year" post.

We spent the better part of last winter in Vermont. Like all my favorite places in the US, Vermont is almost like a different country. We explored the neighboring New England states, but nothing was quite like Vermont.

Towns with 275 years of history have been preserved and are actually used by the current residents. Old train stations have been re-purposed as coffee shops, rather than torn down. It’s rare to drive more than 30 miles without being able to stop in another town for a coffee or drink. Town centers are often well maintained, and lack the ubiquitous American strip mall. While there is still some “East-coast action,” it is considerably less in Vermont than in the rest of New England.

In our first cross-country drive last year, we entered Vermont from the southwest, after dark and just as it started to snow. Almost immediately after crossing the state line, the road started to climb, twist, and dive into valleys consumed by fog. We were in our own Scooby-Doo witches in the forest adventure. A couple months later we drove the same stretch of road during the day, watching the deciduous forests of norther Massachusetts turn into Vermont’s pine forests. It was a much less creepy drive. And I figured out why I like the Vermont landscape so much better than that of its neighbors: the green and the higher mountains.

And, it was cold. A cold I’ve never experienced before - “Vermont cold.” Deceptive bright sunny days literally took my breath away with highs of -25 (Fahrenheit). We snowshoed in -10 and skied in -1. No wonder Solzhenitsyn felt at home in Vermont. I am really looking forward to skiing and snow shoeing in warm weather this winter.

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