Category Archives: Vermont Honeymoon

Oh Canada

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When we decided to take our honeymoon in the very northern-most parts of Vermont, we kind of knew we’d have to take a day trip to Canada. International travel like that is just too exciting to pass up! The people that we were staying with in Vermont live about 6 miles south of the border, and recommended that we visit the town of North Hatley in Canada. If you would like to drive from Newport, Vermont to North Hatley, Canada I cannot be of much help on driving directions. Good thing for maps and GPS and such. We still don’t really know where we were when we left Vermont and entered Canada; it was a pretty otherworldly experience.

Just kidding. It wasn’t. On our journey north we just got a little bit lost (happily lost, of course) and suddenly came upon the border crossing. We didn’t really know if it was the border crossing because it looked very boring and it seemed that there was one route that passed through the border checkpoint and one route that just went right past it. So we pulled into the gas station across the street from this thing that we thought was the border crossing and we sat there, staring at the checkpoint. That’s not suspicious at all…

Deciding finally that it was, indeed, the entrance to Canada we went on to the checkpoint and answered all the questions about what we were planning to do in Canada (drive around and eat food), why we came from Massachusetts just for a day in Canada (our rental car had Massachusetts plates…confusing), and what we did for work (professional maple syrup smugglers and hockey saboteurs eh?….). Onward!

On our drive to North Hatley, there were quite a few wonderful things: all of the road signs were in French, we got to feel like we were driving really fast because the speed limits were in kilometers, there were signs directing us to covered bridges, and also to hockey facilities…obviously. After a little bit of construction-zone driving and navigational errors on my part, we arrived in North Hatley an hour and a half after leaving Newport.

North Hatley, Canada.

North Hatley, Canada.

North Hatley is a very picturesque town right on the shore of Lake Massawippi. There is a kind of canal from the lake that runs right through town and opens into the wider mouth of the lake. There are a few small restaurants right on the water’s edge, as well as the town park. The park is where we sat to enjoy our picnic lunch and far-reaching views of lake and the orange hillsides that surround it.

“Bonjour. Bon appetite,” a passerby said to us at the park.

Tee hee hee hee. “Someone spoke French to us,” we giggled while we ate.

From the park, visitors can enjoy a walk out on a short boardwalk over the water that leads to a gazebo where they can sit and relax and take in the views.

After lunch we strolled around town, which was pretty quiet on this weekday. We tried to go to the chocolatier but they were closed ( 😦 )so we went to a little café for coffee and pastries, where we paid with American dollars and received Canadian change (woo hoo!!). Next, we decided to drive around the North HatleyP1100338 neighborhoods a bit; the houses right in town were beautiful, old and uniquely ornate in a way that Colorado houses just are not.

After some cruising around, we headed south and entered America at a different border crossing that, once again, I can’t really specify. All in all, a successful day international voyage.

Bikes, Boats, and Automobiles: How We Saw Foliage on Our Vermont Honeymoon

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P1100135When you think ‘honeymoon’ what comes to mind? Hawaii? Mexico? Jamaica? All amazing options, no doubt about it. But when Alex and I thought ‘honeymoon,’ or rather, ‘honeymoon in October,’ we thought the northeast corner of the U.S. sounded like a pretty good option. I’m a sucker for fall and have been since childhood. In fact, when I told my childhood best friend that Alex and I were getting married in October and honeymooning in Vermont her response was, “Awww, just like you’ve wanted since we were little!” Ain’t that sweet? So, on October 7 we departed for Burlington, Vermont. We decided to make Newport, Vermont our home base during our 5-day stay. We rented a studio apartment over a local’s garage. From here, we enjoyed uninterrupted views of Lake Memphramagog , as well as uninterrupted access to the lake and its encompassing bike trail. We rented a car and our hosts lent us some of their toys: bikes, kayaks, and a canoe. Off we went to see the oranges, yellows, reds, and purples!

Town of Newport as seen from the Eastside restaurant deck.

Town of Newport as seen from the Eastside restaurant deck.

By bike: One afternoon we decided to ride our bikes into the town of Newport

The Newport bike path.

The Newport bike path.

for happy hour at the Eastside restaurant. It was about 4 miles one way, and at 600-something feet above sea level I felt like I could pedal for a million miles. Oxygen is great. The bike trail from our rental unit took us along the lake’s edge and then on a little tour through town. The forest in the northeast is much different than the forest in Colorado’s mountains.  It’s thicker, shaggier, darker, more mysterious. The dying leaves and grasses tangle together to create a seemingly impenetrable wall. Not to mention the shadows that invite thoughts of mythical creatures. I swear, I was sober (it’s hard not to be at 600 feet above sea level…sheesh!) Well, we went along, enjoying the forest and the crispy, crunchy sounds of a fall bike ride. On our ride back, we saw the forest in a different light: sunset light. The pink came through the leaves, accenting the warm fall colors. Right in the middle of all this tall, tangled forest I was in heaven. And, of course, Alex slyly mentioned that there are some places you just can’t get to with 4 wheels. True story.

 

Bike ride sunset over Lake Memphremagog in Newport.

Bike ride sunset over Lake Memphremagog in Newport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By boat: As mentioned, we were very generously lent kayaks and a canoe, and P1100064spent two mornings in these glorious watercrafts. This is extra special. We own cars. We own bikes. We do not own boats (yet). In contrast to the bike ride, during which we were in the forest, from the boats we were awarded far-reaching views of the colorful trees lining the lake, the red rolling over the surrounding hills, and the naked, gray side of Jay Peak. I’ve never been in a boat as late as October, and it sparked a subtle nostalgia for summer days, and a gratitude for the few warm days left. I suppose it’s when an end is in sight that you most enjoy what it is that’s ending. With all my favorite colors surrounding me, and only the lapping sound of paddle meeting water (not to mention the joyous fact that I just got married!!!) it was easy to appreciate these moments.

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By automobile:  Car rentals are expensive when you’re not yet 25 years old (onlyP1100009 3 months short!) A big boo hiss to this fact! However, the peppy little Ford Focus we rented was one of our main forms of entertainment. At least that’s what we told ourselves at first to justify the cost. But it turned out to be true. You can read more about our scenic driving routes in Vermont here , but I’ll just give ya a sneak peak. First of all, who doesn’t love that swish-crunch sound of a fall drive with the windows down? Mmmmm… that says relaxation.  The fun part about fall drives is that it’s just kind of a blur of color on some of these country lanes. Sidenote: ‘Lane’ was my choice word on these drives. Definition (mine, that is): a road or path lined closely

Gotta love blurry fall driving pictures!

Gotta love blurry fall driving pictures!

by trees on both sides. Lane. Anyways, we have a lot of blurry, orange pictures to prove that we drove down a lot of blurry, orange lanes. The whole landscape of Vermont is (duh) much different than that of Colorado. It’s rolly instead of pointy, mainly. We passed horse pastures, barns, roadside cider stands, tractors on the road, white-steepled churches, covered bridges, regular bridges, and a whole lot of cemeteries. Alex’s explanation: People have been on this side of the country longer, so they’ve had much longer to die. This makes sense. Moving on…

Driving is handy. Driving with no destination is great. Choosing each turn as you come up to it is, well, kind of like how I see marriage.

And that’s a good honeymoon discovery, right?

 

A Handful of Highlights from Northern Vermont

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Our trusty rental car!

Our trusty rental car!

While honeymooning in Vermont, we saw a lot of foliage while we were kayaking, canoeing, and biking, but we also took a lot of time to drive around with loose destinations in mind and see what we could see along the way. All of the fall drives took us through orange, rolling, countryside, and here are a little more details of the highlights we saw on our three drives:

Our first drive:

Covered bridge near Montgomery, Vermont.

Covered bridge near Montgomery, Vermont.

Highlights: Covered bridges and Jay Peak

What we did: From the town of Newport we took highway 105 to 100. We took 100 to Troy, and got on 101. Then we followed the signs to Jay Peak- on highway 242. Along this whole route we enjoyed the rolling countryside that is so different than where we live. Jay Peak is a ski area, and ski areas are just not very interesting in October. We found that Jay Peak was so deserted we didn’t even know where the hub of the area was. We stopped by the Jay Peak General store, near the gondola, and picked up some locally-made blueberry wine (mmmmmmm) and some locally-made cider (mmmmmmm).  After wandering

On a covered bridge hunt outside of Montgomery, Vermont.

On a covered bridge hunt outside of Montgomery, Vermont.

around in the desolation of ski area off-season, we headed down 242 toward Montgomery. Being a little higher in elevation, all of the fall foliage around Jay Peak was gone, but things got more orange as we descended. When 242 ended, we took 118 north, drove through the town of Montgomery, and then went in search of the covered bridges we knew were nearby. General and common-sense rule in this search: follow the river! We found the first covered bridge in a neighborhood on the outskirts of town and stopped here to take a handful of pictures. This is also something we don’t have in Colorado, and covered bridges just feel so country quaint to me. Yep, we were being very touristy snapping pictures of a bridge right outside people’s houses. We kept heading north on 118, finding some beautiful lanes along the way. We also came across a couple more covered bridges right off the side of the road, but none quite as picturesque as the first. We went north to Richford and then got on 105 east, took a left on 101 (toward North Troy), and then got back on 105 east in Newport.

Our second drive:

Highlights: Craftsbury area and the town of Hardwick

Cheesy foliage pic!

Cheesy foliage pic in Craftsbury Common!

What we did: From Newport we got on 105 to 14, toward Coventry and Irasburg. Once again, we just enjoyed the countryside and small towns along the way. Fourteen took us all the way down to Craftsbury Common, which is probably the most picturesque New England place we saw on our trip. The center of town is the soccer field, which is surrounded on all sides by a white picket fence. Quite a few maple trees also border the field. All of the buildings around the fence are clean and white: the church, the small school, and a few others. We walked around town for a while and took some hokey leaf pictures. It was in Craftsbury Common that we spotted our first magenta tree, which is something we’d been told we might see. Again, we don’t have purple and magenta trees in Colorado, so it’s pretty a wild to us! From Craftsbury Common we continued along highway 14, passing through the town of Craftsbury. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought there would be all sorts of craft fairs around these parts. There wasn’t. Not a single one! When we reached Hardwick, we stopped to pass the time and enjoy this little town. Hardwick was a very cute little town where we heard local residents talking

Magenta tree in Craftsbury Common, Vermont.

Magenta tree in Craftsbury Common, Vermont.

about how they have 10 months of winter and 2 months of bad skiing. Ahem. These folks might hear the same kinds of things if they ever came to Fraser, Colorado. After meandering through the town’s small bookstore, we visit the café that was in the co-op. We got a cup of coffee and sat outside on a bench, next to a very skinny suspension bridge over the river. Hardwick kind of reminded us of Boulder, Colorado, but much, much smaller; As if someone just cut a chunk out of Boulder and moved it to Vermont. From Hardwick, we got on highway 16 north, toward Barton. Right before Barton, we got on I-91 to Derby Center, and then on 5 back to Newport.

 

Our third drive:

Highlights: Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe, Ben and Jerry’s factory, Burlington

Smuggler's Notch road.

Smuggler’s Notch road.

What we did: On our last day in Vermont we made our way slowly from Newport to Burlington to catch our flight out at 7p.m. From Newport, we took highway 105 to highway 100. We took 100 south to Eden. At Eden, we got on highway 118 and took this to 109. I know…we are not very direct-route kind of people. We take all sorts of loops and backtracks, and it’s rare that we’ll use anything but a good ole’ road map! Well, we did have a reason for taking this strange route south: we were in search of more covered bridges. So, we took 109 to Jeffersonville and, according to our map, should have seen some covered bridges along the way. We did not. Oh well. At Jeffersonville we got onto 108 south

Smuggler's Notch area.

Smuggler’s Notch area.

toward Smuggler’s Notch. The road down is narrow and windy, but if you can swing it in your vehicle then it is definitely worth the trip. Smuggler’s Notch hosts a ski area (boring in October, as we already know), but you will also find all sorts of interesting rock formations and twisty trees around these parts. The roadside pull-offs were quite congested and hikers and rock climbers walked single file along the side of the road. With all the hustle bustle, we didn’t stop along the way but we did enjoy the rocky forests around Smuggler’s Notch.

Along the bike path in Stowe.

Along the bike path in Stowe.

Next up: Stowe. Everyone told us to go to Stowe! It’s pretty cute. It’s a ski town. It seemed to have a lot of yummy places to eat. Without much time to spend there, we got the drive-by version of Stowe. We took a walk on the town bike path and enjoyed scuttling the leaves and looking at the river. Then off we went! In Stowe, we got on 100 south, which led us to Waterbury.

 

Eatin' ice cream at Ben and Jerry's.

Eatin’ ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.

At Waterbury, you will find Lake Champlain Chocolates, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Grand View Winery, Cabot Annex (Cheese!), Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center and Café, and the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory. We stopped at Ben and Jerry’s but did not do a tour. Maybe because it was Saturday, there were gobs of people here and we had not planned ahead to book a tour. We read the history timeline of Ben and Jerry’s and got what we really came for: ice creeeeaaammm! Alex stuck with chocolate chip cookie dough and I tried the seasonal Maple Walnut. Mmmmm. Because of my lactose intolerance, I was about 6 Lactaid pills deep as I cautiously licked away at my Maple Walnut. Those little pills are miracle workers… all went well! Anywho, next we visited the Flavor Graveyard. This is where Ben and Jerry’s pays tribute to all of their retired ice cream flavors. Along

The Ben and Jerry's flavor graveyard.

The Ben and Jerry’s flavor graveyard.

with the name of the ice cream, each headstone in the graveyard has a little saying about the favor. Pretty funny when you really stop and read! After hanging out under the trees for a while, we headed on to Burlington.

 

 

 

 

The first thing we did in Burlington was walk the pedestrian mall, Church Street. In all seriousness, I forgot we were in Vermont for a minute and thought we were on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. Church Street, like Pearl Street, is packed to the brim with posh stores and restaurants, coffee shops, street performers, college students, dogs, and a whole lot of energy. We meandered and wandered, ducking into a few shops and generally enjoying the people-watching. Later that day we would find out that the Pearl Street pedestrian mall in Boulder and the Church Street Pedestrian Mall in Burlington were, in fact, designed by the same

Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain.

architect. After our stroll we strolled a couple blocks down the hill toward Lake Champlain. Where the road ended there was a park overlooking the lake, and we hung out here for a while, enjoying the views and the afternoon sun before heading back toward the airport for our flight.

Love is a Journey

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Alex and I after our wedding ceremony. Photo courtesy of Aaron Montoya.

Alex and I after our wedding ceremony. Photo courtesy of Aaron Montoya.

It was about 3 weeks ago that I exchanged wedding vows with my best friend, who is also the love of my life. Awwww!! The whole day was about as emotional as it could get. The ceremony brought forth a flood of tears from both myself and our guests. And the reception…well, let’s just say my abs were sore for 5 days from laughing with our friends and family.

A few weeks before the wedding, though, there was one extremely emotional moment. Wait, there were a lot more than one. But there was one that might just stick with me forever. I sat down to start writing our vows and everything I thought, said, and put down on paper seemed awful. Nothing fit. And of course this brought up all the existential questions of marriage: what are we to each other? How do we really feel? On and on it went. I’m not saying these things are bad to think about or talk about. Quite the opposite. So, we really got down to business and, in the search for all the right words, I suggested that we each make a list of the ten most important qualities about our relationship. The catastrophe began when the list-making ended. Realizing that I had not even included the word ‘love’ in my list, I surrendered to this task in a sobbing mental breakdown, like any good bride-to-be does once or twice. Sigh. This is embarrassing. I can laugh about it now, right? Umm maybe one day.

Anyways, Alex tried his darndest to comfort me and convince me that all of the other words I wrote down meant love.

“But I didn’t write love,” I blathered. “None of them are love.”

The tears kept comin’. But once I pulled myself together and thought about getting over my oversight, we were able to come up with something that spoke to the essence of us as individuals and as a couple:

"Just Married"

“Just Married”

Our love is a journey.

From mountaintops to ocean floors

From childhood to adulthood

And from this day forward into the great unknown.

I’ll stop there. It was easy for us to see the truth in these. There are many parallels to be made between physical journeys, like travelling, and emotional journeys, like love. I could of course go on and on with really thoughtful comparisons like this: When you’re travelling, whether near or far, you just never know if you’re bus is going to careen off the side of the road, and, likewise, when in love you just never know whether or not your relationship is going to ‘stay on track.’

Or, on a lighter note, like this: When you’re travelling, whether near or far, you will discover the world piece by piece, and, likewise, when you’re in love you will piece together the world within yourself and each other.

But no one really wants to hear all the thoughtful comparisons. What I can really say is that we knew this to be true before we kicked off our vows with it, but with the thought tied into a promise to each other it’s forever in my head, reminding me of the inevitable laughs and tears of love the same as they come in any other journey.