Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Countertop State

Bennington, Vermont
We had to pick our jaws up off our seats as we entered Vermont. We thought central New York was fab. Vermont is exquisite. From the granite and quartz rock extruding along the shoulders and median of the highway to the mist covered rolling mountains and maple-treed valleys below we didn't think it could get this good. The first town we encountered was Bennington. It was picturesque with a Currier & Ives Christmas feel even though it's July. Two small colleges, Bennington College and the University of Southern Vermont are in Bennington. Housing looks affordable. There isn't a lake nearby. We also discovered Bennington is the site of a historic Revolutionary War battle. Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Men we're based here and we protecting Continental Army supplies. The British felt they could cripple the rebels if they could seize this cache. Although Allen was already a POW in Montreal, his men fought off the Red Coats and even seize their all important cooking kettle (about 5' deep and 5' in diameter). An impressive 300' tall obelisk was constructed in the late 1800s as a monument to this battle. We were able to go up it in an elevator and see much of the surrounding countryside. It is Vermont's highest point.

Wilmington, Vermont
We stopped here as we couldn't believe there was a second picturesque town and we needed coffee. So we found a little bakery downtown right next to a bridge over a stony creek. The town of Wilmington is wooded and very near the Mt. Snow ski area and the Harriman Reservoir lake.

Hanover, New Hampshire

Home of the Ivy League Dartmouth University, all roads seem to lead back to the campus square which also makes up downtown. We didn't run into any presidential candidates campaigning for the primary but we did see plenty of students running and biking up and down the hills... serious hills. We loved the look of town but quickly realized that as exclusive as the school is, so is the town. Average home/condo prices are just under $500,000 and we could only find a large 1700s historic house for sale on a busy road in view and earshot of the interstate for $900,000. Nice to see you, Hanover.

Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York
Burlington is one of the cities we've been looking forward to seeing after it came up in research. It doesn't disappoint. Our hotel was across Lake Champlain in Plattsburg, New York. The map does nothing to illustrate the true size of a body of water. Most lakes don't event jump out, so if one does, it's likely LARGE. As we took a ferry over the lake, we realized how beautiful and vast it is. The next day we explored Plattsburg and Burlington. Plattsburg has a full downtown area and a couple colleges. Ample pricey, waterfront property and some housing in disrepair. Burlington has a bustling small city downtown with many offices and two colleges. The water front has been fully taken advantage of for views. Much of the water front housing we found was expensive so we'll have to do more research, but Burlington is definitely a consideration for now.

Middlebury, Vermont

This town has a college of the same name and is picture perfect Vermont. A river runs through the downtown buildings that used to have various milling facilities taking advantage of the damn to provide everything from grains to ground granite to the Northeast. Housing is also charming and it seems to be an ideal small town.

- Randy

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