Several years ago, I looked at a map to see how many of the 50 states in the U.S. I had visited. Between a childhood with great road-trip vacations, wanderings as a young adult, and work travel to many science teacher conferences and trainings, I had set foot in many states. There were a few clusters I had missed, mostly in the south and the upper Midwest. And Vermont. I’d been to Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut multiple times, and traveled to New Hampshire and Rhode Island (and even Quebec), but somehow never by way of Vermont. So I ticked off South Dakota, then Mississippi, and North Dakota, and by 2015 only Vermont remained.
This year, I am in grad school as well as working full time. There are no weeks without one or both of these obligations. The thought of foregoing travel, though, was too much to bear. A break was needed. The best available week was that of Memorial Day, when work is off and school is just gearing up for summer. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity to travel to Vermont. It’s shoulder season (or, as we call it in Colorado, mud season), so there were some good deals to be had. And a week is enough time to travel across the country, but not really enough for something international. So I booked an Inn-to-Inn bike trip (stay tuned for that next week) and three nights in a B&B in Stowe, and we were ready for state #50.
It’s been a super-busy week trying to accomplish enough in both school and work realms to walk away from both for eight days. In other words, just the typical pre-vacation whirlwind we all experience when we travel to really get away. We managed it, though, and left Pueblo around six on Wednesday evening. We stayed at Comfort Suites on Tower Road, which we later learned offers $5/day airport parking and an airport shuttle but requires shuttle reservations. Next time. We instead got up at three a.m. and drove ourselves to long term parking, which is not really in Kansas, but sure feels like it. We arrived at the airport at four, as instructed, and it was really a little late. We waited almost 45 minutes just to drop off our bags with Frontier. Luckily, the bridge security screening area (direct route to Frontier’s gates, if you’re wondering) opened just as we finished dropping bags, so our wait at security was quite short. We didn’t really have time to acquire food on the concourse, so we decided to be happy with what we’d brought and buy coffee on the plane (this is Frontier, remember). Lines were long for everything, you would think that it was the beginning of a holiday weekend or something…
The flight was uneventful. Coffee is $2.99, for a small cup of ordinary coffee. And the seats are hard. But it was cheap, and the times worked for us, and it was nonstop. Choices. We arrived in Albany, New York just before noon eastern time.
A friend had suggested touring the New York State Capitol. We didn’t really have time for a tour, but we wanted to see the building. I investigated eating options and found that the top rated lunch spot was just blocks away from the Capitol, so once we survived exiting the rental car garage (no mean feat!), we headed that way. It turns out that parking in downtown Albany is non-trivial. Off street parking tended to be reserved and on street parking is limited. And when you find parking, you need an app to pay for it, but cellular signal did not support such a download. Finally, we found street parking with a kiosk. We paid and trekked up a looong set of stairs towards the capital. We noticed that it was getting darker overhead, and we had not carried our rain coats from the car. Oops. We walked first towards the capital and took a few photos of the impressive building and its neighbors, as we were pretty sure doing so after lunch would be untenable.
We arrived at the Iron Gate Cafe just as the rain did. We waited while outdoor diners were reseated inside, then had a pleasant lunch of interesting salads. It was raining hard when we left. There was nothing to do but walk the six or so blocks back to the car. At least it wasn’t very cold and we knew we could warm up in the car.
I had chosen a “scenic route” from Albany to Stowe. It was scenic, but sadly it rained all day. We stopped in North Bennington for our first ice cream of the trip at Billy T’s Northside Dairy Bar. The ice cream was Perry’s (apparently a New York product) and was decent. We tried two coffee flavors, bittersweet sinphony and French roast. We were split on a favorite.
We stopped at the tourist information center near Bennington to commemorate entering my 50th state. My hair shows the effects of the Albany adventure, but one has to take the photo anyway, right?
A couple more rainy hours of driving brought us to our lodgings in Stowe, the Brass Lantern Inn. We were greeted warmly by our hostess, Mary Anne, and oriented to the inn before dropping our bags and heading out again.
Exhausted and hungry, we chose the closest and easiest of the eateries I had investigated, Pie*Casso. It was quite satisfying. I chose a local stout and a gluten-free chicken and mushroom pizza (I know, contradictions), while Maureen opted for Malbec and a white pizza on white crust. We followed our usual habit of “at least looking” at the dessert menu and were drawn in by the house-made tiramisu, which was divine. The atmosphere, art, and service were also great.
Despite the rain and the lack of (real) moose sightings, I count the first day in my 50th state a success. More adventures coming soon.