Well, we finally managed to quit Boston this morning and headed 215 miles North on the dreaded I-93 for Burlington, Vermont. The Boston beltway was disposed of with a lot less trouble than it could have done and traffic started to fall away as we left the city behind. The leaves also started to appear and within an hour we were in New Hampshire and all you could see were Fall colours. We certainly seem to have timed it right.
After an hour or so of driving, I pulled over into a rest stop near Hooksett between Manchester (no, not that one) and Concord so we could get a coffee (or a hot chocolate for some). Incentally, it was round here we passed two twin towns, one called Derry and the other Londonderry. It seems amusing even this far from the Troubles they can’t decide what the call the blessed place! Anyway, back to the rest stop: it was quite dinky and cute with the New Hampshire state liquor store seeming to be an irresistible draw for a lot of folks. Furtherest license plate belonged to a Arizona trucker – he must be 2000 miles from home. Anyway, beverages quaffed we were back on the I-93 and it wasn’t too long before the sat nav pushed us further West onto the I-89.
Our Ford Explorer car is typically American in build quality (i.e. very plastic) and has some definite odd quirks. It seems to be impossible to turn the lights off, even though there is an ‘off’ setting on the dash. They even stay on when the engine is off (only finally extinguishing when you lock the doors). The handbrake is foot operated (ok, they call it a parking brake) and I don’t think the engine is doing much better than about 25mpg, even with cruise control dialled in at the 65mph speed limit – ok, call it 75mph since everyone else seems to 🙂 Good job ‘gas’ is about 1/4 the UK price.
After a couple of hours we decided to quit the Interstate and take a look at the Vermont state capital, Montpelier. First job was finding parking. The place was packed with what turned out to be cars belonging to all the state employees. The Capitol itself is very imposing (seen it before, eh Pete?) but the rest of the ‘city’ is looking rather run down and seedy. A lot of vacant shops and a lot of others filled with charity and secondhand stuff. You kinda get a feel that the economy is not doing so well out here.
Anyway, after a bite we headed back on to the Interstate. I was sort of planning to run the last 30 miles into Burlington on Hwy-2 which parallels the I-89, however the sat nav (we have christened him ‘Sid’) was having none of that. Despite a fiddle, I couldn’t find the ‘don’t use the Interstate’ button, so we spent the next 30 miles at 75mph. Burlington came up pretty quick, and of course Sid decided that as our hotel was actually on Hwy-2, he better bring us back on to the road we had quit against my wishes half an hour earlier.
Our hotel here is the DoubleTree Hilton, which is actually in South Burlington, about 3 miles from the Lake Champlain. It’s a scarily big hotel, but we didn’t stop long before driving down to the lakeside. Parking is evil down here again, with all meters at the side of the road or paid parking lots. The wide open spaces and bountiful free parking of the Midwest are apparently not a feature of New England! We spent some time wandering along the waterfront and exploring the Burlington streets. The place is very full of students from the University of Vermont, which is actually located about 1/2 a mile from our hotel. After it began to get dark we headed back to University Mall for some tea (and where we also scored some cheap clobber in the Sears Dept Store sale). As of this moment tomorrow is undecided. Is it a trip out on Lake Champlain or is it a drive out to Ben & Jerrys ice cream factory?