Part Time Vagabond

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Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT #museum #history #connecticut (at Hill-Stead Museum)

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT #museum #history #connecticut (at Hill-Stead Museum)

How to make a sick mountain bike edit!

How to make a sick mountain bike edit! #adventure #outdoors #mtb #sickedit

This video is pretty funny, calling out all the tropes that you see in outdoor adventure videos these days. Now, I’m a mountain biking fan, and occasionally I’ll sit for a few hours watching these videos, marveling at flecks of dirt flung into the air in super slow-mo, heart pounding as these crazy cyclists take on huge drops and spin down narrow threads of knife-edge…

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The new Nova Star Cruises ferry to Nova Scotia, docked and being inspected in Portland

The new Nova Star Cruises ferry to Nova Scotia, docked and being inspected in Portland

allthingseurope:

Montmartre, Paris (by Geodeta_31)

allthingseurope:

Montmartre, Paris (by Geodeta_31)

It’s a great day when this shows up in the mail.

It’s a great day when this shows up in the mail.

laughingsquid:

‘Kiss the Water’, A Documentary Film About Celebrated Fishing Fly Maker Megan Boyd

laughingsquid:

‘Kiss the Water’, A Documentary Film About Celebrated Fishing Fly Maker Megan Boyd

black-culture:

The beautiful African architecture

Apr 7
with-grace-and-guts:

Oregon coast {http://nkcooley.vsco.co}

with-grace-and-guts:

Oregon coast {http://nkcooley.vsco.co}

Apr 7

(Source: hipsterinthewilderness)

Apr 7
Apr 7

IMG_0080-EditAfter my less than stellar trip to Austin back in January (not really the city’s fault, mind you), I was ready to have a much more fun trip to Burlington, Vermont, a small college town on the banks of Lake Champlain near the Canadian border. My father’s brother and his family lived a town over, in Essex Junction, many years ago when he worked for IBM, but I hadn’t been to the area since I was a child, and I’m certain I’d never been to Burlington proper. So this was definitely an adventure I was looking forward to.

This time, my wife joined me on the five hour road trip across northern New England, and I was happy to have such a great travel partner. Other travel bloggers have recently touted the benefits of traveling solo, as though there were hordes of angry people telling them that was the wrong way to do things. But for me, solo adventure holds only a little appeal—maybe camping or hiking adventures work for that. To me, the value of travel lies in the moments shared with someone you value.

In any event, my trip to Burlington was off to a great start. We were on the road by 8:30 AM, heading west. The transition from the jagged peaks of the White Mountains to the rounded mounds of the Green Mountains is subtle but breathtaking. While traveling through New Hampshire, you only cross a few small towns—this being the narrower northern part of the state—Vermont’s east-west roadways pass through some of the more memorable cities of Northern Vermont. If you were so inclined, you could take a day to explore the state Capitol of Montpelier. Further on, a stop in the small town of Waterbury (no relation to my hometown in Connecticut) leads to small antique shops and the headquarters of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (more on that later). A few minutes away is the home of Cabot Cheese, nestled in the back woods of Middlebury (again, no relation to the Connecticut town). And about 20 miles north is the cross-country ski mecca of Stowe, where the famed Trapp Family Lodge hosts skiers from around the world.

Finally, we arrived in Burlington, but turned left off the highway to head to our hotel on the main drag of South Burlington.

Lodging

IMG_0038During our initial research, the Wife looked for inexpensive hotel rooms, while I looked at private hostel and Airbnb rooms. Eventually, we found what seemed like a deal too good to be true: A suite hotel with rooms for only $89 per night. That was the least expensive place to stay in the area, and it offered most of the amenities we needed.

Smart Suites is a budget suite hotel for travelers who need a little bit more room than the traditional hotel room, but doesn’t cost the same as a luxury hotel downtown. After reading many of the reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor, I was a little nervous. Many were not glowing, often making mention of loud children and animals roaming the halls, and a strong smell of cigarette smoke permeating the rooms. It seems that Smart Suites’ older property, a few hundred yards behind the newer building, houses low income families renting by the week or month. The newer building, in which we stayed, was the complete opposite of those negative reviews.

This newer Smart Suites building, which abuts Route 7, had a very nice lobby with a cozy fireplace and cafe style nook for the included breakfast. While there was a distinct odor when you enter the hote—especially in the stairwells, where you can tell they’ve tried to cover the smoke smell with industrial air fresheners—the odor wasn’t overpowering.

The room itself was cozy. We had booked an efficiency suite, which basically meant a king size bed (very comfy), a pull out couch (not so comfy), a TV (old CRT, not an LCD), coffee table, private bathroom, closet, and a small efficiency kitchen. The kitchen included a full sized refrigerator, a small stove, a microwave, and cupboards filled with pots, pans, plates and utensils. For shorter stays, this would serve nicely.

Food

IMG_0105Since we knew we’d have a kitchen for our stay, we decided to stop at a grocery store to pick up some supplies, rather than eating out for every meal. The hotel provided a complimentary continental breakfast, though the food was less than stellar. We bought deli meats and rolls for lunches, but as we walked through town, we eyeballed places we might stop in for dinner.

On Friday, we decided to have lunch in town, so after our visit to the aquarium (more later) we stopped in to American Flatbread, a wood-fired earthen-oven pizza place right on Burlington’s central green. The restaurant had wonderful ambiance, and since we were just a bit early for lunch, we got a great seat in the main dining room. They have a very nice bar there as well, but we were there for the pizza, which was fantastic. Ordering a split between half plain and half covered with an artisan sweet maple-fennel sausage, our mouths were watering by the time the flatbread pizza arrived at our table. We also enjoyed draught drinks, the Wife’s a locally brewed root beer, mine a house beer made from a medieval recipe.

For Friday’s dinner, we decided to splurge a little, so we stopped in at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill, a popular Farm-to-table gastropub in downtown Burlington. The food showcases almost all locally grown or raised foods, from foie gras torchon and marrow toast appetizers to homemade ricotta gnocchi and dry-aged beef shoulder. While much of the menu may sound exotic (just try something new!), there’s enough for even picky eaters. I enjoyed a dry-aged beef burger with local cheese, GFM bacon, and pickled red onions, set off by a glass of 9 year old Buffalo Trace bourbon. It was an absolutely delicious meal and a great way to end the day.

Transportation

Burlington, Vermont is a college town, so getting around downtown is fairly easy using the clean, reliable bus system. It’s also a very walkable downtown, with an entire shopping section closed off to vehicles. A free bus shuttles riders from the waterfront area, through the middle of downtown, up to the University of Vermont at the eastern part of town. The bus system will get you to within walking distance of most major Burlington attractions and hotels in the downtown area.

However, if you’re heading further afield, you may consider driving. There are plenty of places to rent a car, and parking in the downtown area is relatively inexpensive, with plenty of on-street parking and off-street garages. The benefit of having a car is the ability to explore further afield, with many attractions within a half hour to an hour of Burlington, including the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, Stowe, Lake Champlain, Upstate New York, Canada, and much more.

Entertainment

IMG_0092I was pleasantly surprised at how much there is to do in Burlington. Because Burlington plays host to the University of Vermont, the college-town vibe permeates the entire city, without losing any of its small-town New England charm. With the Green Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains converging and spilling into Lake Champlain as a backdrop, you could spend hours walking along the gorgeous-even-in-the-dead-of-winter waterfront, enjoying a beautiful boardwalk that I’m sure teems with people during the summer months. One of the better attractions in town is the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. This 36,000 square foot museum, built in 2003, plays host to more than 150,000 visitors per year and features interactive exhibits, educational programs, and more aquatic wildlife than you would imagine in upstate Vermont. Great for kids and adults alike, the ECHO Lake Aquarium is a fun place to spend a morning in Burlington.

IMG_0116

But Burlington isn’t just fancy restaurants and the waterfront. Nightlife is hopping in this lively city by the lake. From pubs to clubs (*groan*), there’s something for everyone, from the craft beer enthusiast to the rock ‘n roll aficionado. There’s even a bar catering specifically to whiskey lovers, a place I regret not trying out while I was there. The Church Street Marketplace is also a fantastic place to wander during your visit. This quarter mile long stretch of Church Street is pedestrian only, and features wonderful restaurants and local shops housed in historical buildings. Take a few hours to wander in and out of shops, and maybe grab a meal before you leave.

The greater Burlington area has quite a few attractions nestled among the farmlands of the Green Mountains. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails stripe the area, and provide year round recreation. About 30 minutes away, halfway between Montpelier and Burlington, lie some great attractions for people of all walks of life. For beer lovers, there’s The Alchemist Brewery, which until recently held tour of its factory, where they brew their famous (and only) beer, Heady Topper. Just down the road is the most famous and most popular attraction in Vermont, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory and headquarters. You can visit any time, and take a factory tour, with a free sample of something new and unique at the end of the tour. Despite the cold, our tour was full of anxious ice cream lovers. Further north lies the small town of Stowe, known for its cross country skiing facilities and nature trails at the Trapp Family Lodge. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it was founded by the very same Von Trapps made famous by the musical The Sound of Music.

Heading back toward South Burlington, we stopped in at the Magic Hat brewery, which was just across the street from our hotel. Magic Hat was made famous by its #9 amber beer, and is one of the more popular attractions in the area. A huge gift shop and tasting room greets visitors who arrive for the 45 minute tour through the brewery. It’s a decent tour, with glimpses behind the scenes of the production and packaging facilities. The tour is then punctuated by 4 free samples of the company’s brews.

Finally, just a few miles out of town is the home of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. It’s almost certain that you’ve seen the commercials on television or heard them on the radio. This local business has been around in one form or another since 1981. All teddy bear orders are made on site at the enormous factory by more than 160 year round and seasonal employees. Tours of the factory are $4 and under, and are enjoyable by kids and adults alike. Summer months are likely to be much busier, so you should expect to wait if you don’t get there early. Also, if you want to see the bears being made, plan your visit for a weekday, since production doesn’t run on the weekends. Overall, the tour is a fun way to spend a few hours before setting off on other adventures. But parents be warned: it’s almost certain you’ll be leaving the Vermont Teddy Bear Company a few dollars poorer and a few teddy bears richer.

Conclusion

I really had no expectations of Burlington, Vermont heading in to this 2 Days In, but I was really pleasantly surprised by the city’s vitality even in the dead of winter. In one day you can go from bustling downtown to quiet farmland and back again, never feeling like you’re missing out on the fun. With its proximity to Canada and Lake Champlain, and playing host to the University of Vermont, Burlington is a vibrant mecca among the sleepy hills of the Green Mountains.

2 Days In Burlington, Vermont || #travel #lp #VT #Vermont After my less than stellar trip to Austin back in January (not really the city’s fault, mind you), I was ready to have a much more fun trip to Burlington, Vermont, a small college town on the banks of Lake Champlain near the Canadian border.
Apr 5
infinite-paradox:

wood-is-good:  Source: “This Too Shall Pass | Crystal Mill” by Brandon Ku

infinite-paradox:

wood-is-good:  Source: “This Too Shall Pass | Crystal Mill” by Brandon Ku

Apr 5

10bullets:

(by )

Apr 5
Barn, Sabattus, Maine.

Barn, Sabattus, Maine.

Apr 4
keepcalmandtraveltheworld:

Wentworth, Yorkshire, England

keepcalmandtraveltheworld:

Wentworth, Yorkshire, England