Journal 5 - October 12, 2002

Vermont's Leaves, and Steeples » Go Back

Journal 5
After the beauty and history of Boston, I wasn't quite ready to head back to New York. I think the country-boy in me needed to see some leaves, something more than Boston Common or NY's central park. As impressive and beautiful as Central Park is, it doesn't quite satisfy the need for a nature boy like me. Usually when I want to see nature I go to Sequoia National Park, not a park in the middle of the city. After six days in Boston I decided to rent a car and head north.

As the inventors of the automobile, I think most Americans consider it a right, not a privilege to drive a car, and make it a 350 V8 with 300 horsepower while your at it. I pondered this idea as I drove off in my 4 cylinder KIA. Although I didn't get quite the rush I would have from a 350 Chevy, I did feel free behind the wheel of my little econo-car. With sports-talk blasting on the radio, off I went.

From the airport I was quickly out of the city and its surrounding suburbs, soon there were green hills interspersed with tall white steeples as far as I could see in every direction. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, I began to lose track and could only hope I didn't drive right to Canada. With the help of my friend John back in California, I found a place to stay in Stowe, Vermont.

My $20 got me a bed in the Stowe-Bound lodge. When I asked about the accommodations and the routine around the hostel, the proprietor showed me my bed, the bathroom, and told me the door stayed open all night. He then headed off to his part of the large old farmhouse and shut the door. After asking around in town I discovered that there was one establishment in Stowe that stayed open past 10:00 p.m. Off I went imagining a rowdy bunch young ski bums dancing to the juke box, playing pool, and drinking up after a long day of mountain biking, hiking, rafting, or any of the other activities available to them in Stowe. What I found was Leaky Towel. Well, Lee Katal and I watched a little Monday Night Football before I decided to turn in and rest up for my big day in the wilderness.

The next day I found myself surrounded by mountains, beautiful trees in the midst of their annual autumnal color change, and steeples. I began to notice the steeple phenomenon as I rode the train through Connecticut, but that was only a warm up for Vermont. The tall white spires pierce the sky and stand out in bright, white contrast to their surroundings. Whether the background is dark green, or the vibrant yellows and oranges of the fall leaves, the steeples are beautiful towering over their respective towns.

Of course Vermont is all about leaves, so I decided to go for a hike in the surrounding mountains. Stowe boasts Vermont's tallest mountain, at a little over 4000 feet tall, not very high compared with my favorite California ski resort, Mammoth Mountain, which comes in at a shade over 11,000 feet, but it was beautiful and challenging nonetheless. The leaves were incredibly vibrant, and although the locals said they weren't quite at their peak colors, they were astounding to me. Seasons in general are pretty astounding to me after coming from Santa Barbara. At points during my hike I found myself surrounded by a sea of yellow.

The yellow, orange, and rust colored leaves that paint the hills provided a perfect background for my drive to Burlington. After dinner in Burlington I made a very important discovery. Apparently every silver-haired grandma and grandpa within 900 miles comes to Vermont every fall to see the leaves turn. In fact, I learned that fall is Vermont's busiest tourist season. No problem, I figured I'd just drive a few miles outside of Burlington and find a hotel. Finally, at 3 am, after visiting a dozen hotels, I decided to take full advantage of my KIA and use it for a mini-camper. The nice lady at the Hampton Inn kindly handed me a blanket and told me to park behind the dumpster in the back. Fortunately the blanket was warm, and I was tired enough from my hike to sleep almost the full five hours from 3 to 8. When I woke up there was frost on my windshield and on the grass around the car. After giving back the blanket and thinking better of taking advantage of the free continental breakfast, I began my journey back to New York. A few hours of driving back to Boston, and a four-hour bus ride had me back in Manhattan in time for dinner.

I'll leave it at that, my time back in NY was great, rainy, and busy taking care of last minute details before flying to Chile. My plane leaves tomorrow, so my next email will be in Espanol.