Natural panoramas! American war history! Pandemic-era disappointment! Food! This one has ’em all, in sparing amounts!
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…
Burlington had been good for exercise and geek shopping, but we couldn’t spend all day there. We had other parts of Vermont to see, most of them not too far away because it’s such a condensed state. Before we left town, we had one more spot of American history Anne wanted to check out.
Near the center of town is Greenmount Cemetery, whose most famous dweller is Vermont co-founder Ethan Allen. We’ve found no shortage of American Revolution historical sites and graves in our New England travels over the past several years, so it felt remiss to exclude Allen from our roster. As leader of the Green Mountain Boys militia, when not embroiled in internecine property battles between New York and the future state of New Hampshire, he and his men were a prominent fighting force for our side. Their accomplishments included the taking of Fort Ticonderoga from the British in 1775 (which we learned about from within the fort itself as well as from their vantage point up on Mount Defiance) and their attempted invasion of Canada, which met with mixed results and which America hasn’t really followed up on lately. Allen passed away in 1789, merely one year older than I am now. Lands owned by him and his brothers would eventually become Burlington itself.
It took us two tries to find the cemetery entrance, which was impossible to see when approaching from the west. Doing an entire lap around its grounds and around the University of Vermont campus wasn’t the most scenic route, what with all the ordinary city structures obscuring the mountains in the distance, but eventually I found the opening. Beyond the gates, construction barricades stopped us less than 200 feet inside. That was no big deal, as Allen’s monument was easy to see a few feet past that.
We then reversed out the way we came and headed southeast out of Burlington. That stretch of I-89 was our first opportunity to drive through the Green Mountains rather than along their perimeter. Greenery surrounded us on all sides, which gave Anne something to enjoy while I enjoyed the much higher speed limit, a change of pace from all the stop-and-go-and-stop-and-go-and-stop-and-go-and-stop-and-go-and-stop-and-go traffic that had been testing my patience ever since we’d crossed the border from New York. As a light diversion I also took the time to, at long last after four days of trial-and-error, figure out how to tune the rental car’s the 22nd-century Stark-level factory-original radio to an FM station, a normally basic function that had been stymieing me since Day One. That meant I could stop plugging in my phone on every leg of the trip for my SiriusXM fallback and constantly draining my battery to single-digit levels.
Meanwhile, the scenery was cool. To this day we still don’t have mountains in Indiana. We Hoosiers are easily impressed by any natural element taller than a sycamore.
We pulled into the town of Waterbury for the night after one quick stop…
TOTAL ROAD TRIP MILEAGE AS OF GAS STOP #4: 1,077.
Mind you, this was our first fill-up since that time we cut it unnervingly close in the Adirondacks two days and 200 miles earlier. Credit is owed to the rental Honda’s impressive gas mileage for a non-hybrid SUV, as well as to Vermont’s aforementioned compactness.
We checked into our hotel up a steep mountainside with almost no issues until we left to go grab dinner. We’d selected Waterbury for the next two nights’ accommodations based on its roughly central location and for its proximity to a particular attraction we’d visit the next afternoon, rather than on the town’s size or amenities. They have a handful of restaurants, most of them closed Mondays, which this very day still was. We’d pinned our dining hopes on a promising-sounding place called Prohibition Pig, whose website cautioned they were closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We took the one-mile jaunt to the commercial stretch on the other side of I-89, parked in front of an H&R Block, and walked a couple of blocks…only to find their main dining room was closed this very Monday evening without explanation. This being 2022, we could hazard a couple of probable guesses why. The sign pointed us toward their separate taproom around the corner, which was open just fine. That auxiliary joint’s entire menu was tacos and alcohol. And there weren’t that many tacos.
One quick internet check later, we redirected ourselves a few extra steps away to McGillicuddy’s Pub, a bar-‘n’-grill opened three years ago by a gent who owns multiple Irish establishments throughout the state. I chose it purely because it was right there and I was hungry, not because of the I Love Lucy naming coincidence. The place was positively hopping with busyness, possibly including other patrons like us who’d been denied by the Pig.
Thus we rounded off our long, happy day with a spot of Irish greenery amid the Vermont greenery. The other restaurant couldn’t have given us that sort of thematic closure unless we’d ordered salads, which would not have happened on my watch at a restaurant with “Pig” in its name.
To be continued!
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