By the time we reached Burlington, the largest city in Vermont, we’d seen Lake Champlain from a mountaintop, from the roadside, and from a small pier jutting into the middle of it. At lunchtime on Day Four, we were okay with seeing it yet again, but tried slowing down long enough to traipse around it and bask for a while.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Since 1999 Anne and I have taken one road trip each year to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. After years of contenting ourselves with everyday life in Indianapolis and any surrounding areas that also had comics and toy shops, we chucked some of our self-imposed limitations and resolved as a team to leave the comforts of home for annual chances to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between. We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
For 2022 we wanted the opposite of Yellowstone. Last year’s vacation was an unforgettable experience, but those nine days and 3500 miles were daunting and grueling. Vermont was closer, smaller, greener, cozier, and slightly cooler. Thus we set aside eight days to venture through the four states that separate us from the Green Mountain State, dawdle there for a bit, and backtrack home…
The drive from the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory to the particular part of Lake Champlain that we wanted to visit was a nine-mile drag through numbingly low speed limits and stop-and-go-and-stop-and-go-and-stop-and-go-and-stop-and-go-and-stop-and-go noontime traffic. Eventually we reached the waterline and happened into a parking lot that permitted easy online pre-payment and let us keep extending our stay remotely as long as I kept its assigned zone number memorized. With the rental car safely tucked away, that freed us up to wander summertime Burlington on foot for as long we liked.
Our primary objective in the moment was the subject in our lead photo, a whimsical statue of a creature named Champy, Lake Champlain’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster. Though hundreds of sightings have been alleged over the decades in the vicinity and farther north, his existence has yet to be conclusively proven with hard, incontrovertible evidence. Champy remains as furtive and elusive as a master ninja, common traits among many of today’s giant unverified monsters whose biggest claims to fame are entries in Time/Life’s Mysteries of the Unknown. In lieu of undoctored 4K footage of Champy on the rampage in front of a crowd of thousands of sober witnesses all Instagramming selfies with him, visitors have to settle for saying hi to his statue, which I hasten to add stood hundreds of feet away from where Google Maps swore it was supposed to be.
Champy wasn’t the only bit of art dotting our surroundings. Various businesses between the city and the lake were decorated with creative visual upgrades. Some may have been sanctioned; some may be part of the graffiti epidemic that’s swept the city over the past couple of pandemic-era years as house-happy youngsters became determined to find themselves an outlet for their pent-up energy and endless paint supplies.
Rather than spend forever letting Google Maps pick lunch for us while we baked in the sun in between search results, we made a beeline for the nearest restaurant in sight, a seasonal spot on the dock called Spot on the Dock. It was the sort of idyllic hangout where shiny-looking upper-class models and model imitators luxuriate, drink for hours, and wait for professional photographers to come snap pics of them laughing in stock poses for future travel magazines and brochures. On this happy Monday the model occupancy rate was low enough that we Weebles could wobble onto their turf and catch some cool lakeside breezes in our own Midwest-chic fashion.
To our delight and relief, as modern handheld seafood fare goes, the meal was outstanding.
After lunch I refused to give up our parking space and suggested we walk deeper into the heart of Burlington, or at least the side of its heart closest to the lake. We needed the exercise, not just for exercise’s sake but as a welcome reprieve from all the driving and sitting and driving and sitting we’d been doing the past three days. We yearned to stretch our legs, and Burlington was just the place to welcome that.
To be continued!
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