A Visit to the Green Mountain State

This week we had the opportunity to spend a few days in the neighboring state of Vermont. Ranked 43rd in terms of square miles and 49th in population (just edging out Wyoming with over 625,000 inhabitants), Vermont is one of the smallest states in the nation, but it is also one of the oldest and is filled with history. The first European to explore the

area was Frenchman Jacques Cartier in 1535. Although there is some controversy about the exact origin and meaning of the state’s name, many believe that explorer Samuel de Champlain referred to the area as les verts monts in the early seventeenth century. The land has indeed been called the Green Mountain State from the early days of our country’s history, an apt motto because of its landscape. Driving through the state, visitors can enjoy varied rural scenery. High peaks of the Green Mountains form a spine which runs through the middle of the state. Panoramas of wide-open plains stretch west to Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks of New York State. Red farmhouses and tall silos show up at nearly every turn. Pastures of sheep and cattle dot the countryside. Yet, despite the fact that the ratio of cows to people is the highest in the nation, humans still outnumber the bovine population, by some estimates two to one.

However, Vermont has more to offer tourists than peaceful scenes of natural beauty. The city of Burlington has great restaurants, brew pubs, and a terrific outdoor museum of Americana is in nearby Shelburne. The state’s many small
towns give the visitor the feeling of being transported back in time. Take Poultney, for example, population 1,612, and home of Green Mountain College. Located in the southwestern part of the state, the charming village has one main street and one stoplight. Highlights of downtown include a True Value hardware store, a Shaw’s supermarket, an organic food co-op, a library, and one of the ubiquitous white-steepled churches. Because of the size of the town, locals need only refer to the aforementioned locations by using the article “the,” as in “the library.” In the middle of Main Street one finds Hermit Hill Books, my favorite kind of bookstore: sizeable, cozy, well-decorated, and, most importantly in my view, well-organized. You could spend hours looking through the shelves.

The state suffered substantial damage because of the tropical storms to hit the northeast in the fall of 2011. Flooding
killed scores of people, destroyed homes and at least thirty covered bridges. The destruction was wide-spread but was especially felt in the central and eastern parts of the state. As of this date, some roads are still closed, notably parts of route 100 near Killington. Traveling around can still get kind of complicated and it’s best to check before planning your itinerary.  

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