It's hard for me to write objectively about Vermont. Because it's where I'm from (at least, considering how many times I moved during my childhood, it's the place I consider myself to be from the most) and a huge bit of my soul comes alive when I am there. But it's not where I live. Hasn't been for a long, long time. And I feel conspicuous there with my Florida license plates and occasional Southern twang. I belong but I don't and I'm hyper-aware of both feelings at the exact same time. It's a complicated emotion, having to make do with visiting the place your heart calls home. But I certainly don't let that stop me.
p.s. there are a bunch of links in this post but, rest assured, none of them are affiliates or sponsored or anything like that. just awesome people and places I feel compelled to share with all my bloggy friends.
We stayed in the most awesome airbnb guest house in Stowe this year. I still have some family in the area and we often spend time with them during our visits but this year we decided to change things up. I've been really curious about booking through airbnb and, I have to say, this experience set the bar pretty high for future trips. The owners were a few steps away, in the main home of the property, and were so gracious and friendly. It was the perfect spot for us.
Our first hike of the trip was the Stowe Pinnacle trail, which was insanely hot and buggy and challenging. We didn't summit because our three year old was alternating between screaming and sleeping in the backpack and the last bit was too scramble-y for all of that. Not reaching the peak was disappointing and, with the heat and bugs and general filthiness we were experiencing, the descent was a bit of a grump fest. I was so grateful to the older couple who stopped us on the way down and let our girls pick the M&Ms out of their bag of trail mix. It was a sweet and much appreciated bit of kindness that helped lighten all of our moods.
We also hiked Mount Mansfield, which was awesome in a misty, cold, alpine kind of way. Usually from the summit you get these amazing views all the way across the state into New York on one side and New Hampshire on the other. But the day we went up we mostly saw the insides of clouds. It wasn't exactly what we were hoping for but, in a way, missing out on the traditional sights made our climb feel more personal and special. Although I wont object to some rolling fields and sparkling lake action next time.
We went kayaking on the Lamoille River, which was super slow and peaceful. My girls were lotioned up and comfortable but, in true mom style, I forgot to put sunscreen on my own legs and after three hours of paddling had quite the attractive burn on the lower half of my thighs. It looks so super cool (and by super cool I mean not at all cool, but very very very dorky). My grandmother was tickled when we went to visit her in Burlington (and bring her apple cider donuts from Cold Hollow Cider Mill) and she saw what I had done to myself. "Imagine that," she chuckled. "You come up from Florida and get a sunburn in Vermont!" What can I say? I like to mix things up.
While we were down in Burlington, we dropped into The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne. It's basically the best place in the whole wide world. It is Kathleen Kelly's Shop Around the Corner come to life.
We rented stand up paddleboards and paddled around Waterbury Reservoir on our last afternoon. It was beautiful but way too windy and we ended up jumping in and swimming after about an hour. My girls made friends and I kind of wanted to never ever leave.
Vermont is the best, you guys. The best. So inspiring and comfortable and familiar, even to my husband who has only been there three or four times. It feels like a good place for us but every time we go we are conflicted because it is so far from everything we know right now, and such a different culture. We talk about moving there but what do we know of furnaces and Nor'easters and mud season? My memories are, admittedly, filtered through the eyes of a kid who never had to shovel snow or mop out a mudroom. Of course it feels like paradise when you don't have to do any of the dirty work. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if we found our way back up there sooner rather than later. My heart is already tugging in that direction again.