The first day of our trip saw us sitting in the car for close to nine hours. We are hoping to limit our time in the car to shorter intervals of about 2 hours by quickly hopping from landmark to landmark, but I know there will be times that we are forced to spend super long stretches in the car (I’m looking at you Texas). I’m hoping to not have to put up with a sore butt TOO often. One of the most exciting things about leaving Northern Virginia has been the opportunity to get out of the traffic, but as expected, the NOVA roads didn’t let us out without a fight. We hit traffic on 7 west when a car decided to stop in the middle of an intersection, but after that it was smooth sailing.
During a stop, I had an interesting encounter at a gas station when a lady came up to me and asked for help. “I’m from New Jersey, and we don’t pump our own gas there. Can you help me?” I obliged and went over to her pump to walk her though the steps. While I was helping her, I found myself pondering why this was the law in New Jersey. After some research, I learned that it is illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey and Oregon. It seems that these laws only exist as antiquated relics of a time when it was legitimately dangerous to pump gas of you didn’t know what you were doing. However, with technological advances in pumps and cars that came throughout the 70s, all states except NJ and OR decided to allow self service by the end of the decade. The laws have been challenged in these states many times, but they have yet to be fully overturned. In my opinion, this is a perfect example of a bureaucratic refusal to progress, simply to preserve jobs. This type of hangup is dangerous because we are quickly approaching a time when automation and robots will begin to replace humans in almost every facet of work. If we refuse to think about and plan for this inevitability, we will be caught unaware and we will suffer because of it. Here’s a video that discusses this topic more, and I would highly recommend watching it.
The first night, we slept at a rest stop, and the next morning we set out and made it to Burlington after a short drive. We spent the day biking around the city and attending the WYSIWYG festival. Biking is my favorite way to explore small and medium sized cities, and Burlington is no exception. We biked to the waterfront, the Church street marketplace, and around the UVM campus. It turns out that this past weekend was also move in weekend for UVM students so it was the busiest weekend of the year in Burlington, and there were people everywhere. Church street is a beautiful pedestrian street with loads of shops and restaurants, and they had a farmers market set up as well! After we finished touring the city, we went back to the WYSIWYG festival where we watched Shakey Graves, Kishi Bashi and Patrick Watson. They all put on stellar performances, and we actually had the chance to hang out with Kishi Bashi and his band members, Phillip and Daniel, after their set! They were hanging out playing hackey sack, and we brought them a kendama to play with. We spent the rest of the evening talking and enjoying the music together. Here is an awesome song by each of the above artists for your listening pleasure:
After the festival was over for the night, we biked around looking for a bathroom to use. It’s an interesting experience being transient in America because public restrooms and free parking can be very hard to find. In some cities it’s practically illegal to be homeless. This is a harsh and unfair reality, and it is definitely a topic that I will be researching and writing more about in the future. We stopped by a pizza pub and each got a slice in order to justify our use of their bathroom. While there we met a new friend named Lyle. He is a mac developer and philosopher and he regaled us with tales of when he decided to live out of a Suburban and travel the country. He gave us a few tips, we exchanged contact info, and he invited us up to his family’s property on Isle la Motte, VT.
The next day we decided to go climbing for the first time on the trip! We headed out to Bolton Valley, and climbed at an area known as Upper West Bolton. It was a Sunday, so it was pretty crowded at the crag, We met some really nice people who let us look at their guidebook, and we each managed to get 3 good climbs in. That’s not as many as we would have liked, but there were just too many people there to climb everything we wanted. After we climbed, we headed back to Burlington where we met some really nice people who offered to let us park and sleep in their driveway!
The next day we headed up to Isle la Motte to meet up with Lyle. He toured us around Fisk farm which has a very rich history to it, having played host to multiple US presidents. We also got to see one of the worlds oldest coral reefs, Chazy Reef in Fisk Quarry. Lyle then showed us what is probably one of the coolest houses I’ve ever seen. Dimitri and I hopped on an old tandem bike that he had, and Lyle took us to a full size tree house that sits right next to Lake Champlain. It is equipped with water, electricity, a full kitchen, and multiple bedrooms! It looks like a fantastic place to hang out at in the summer, and Lyle told us stories of many nights spent in the treehouse playing poker with buddies while overlooking the moonlit lake. Vermont is a very beautiful state, and I think it could be considered perfect if it weren’t for the severe weather they experience in the winter months!
Once we were done with the treehouse, we got to see some of the antique cars that belong to the man who designed and built the treehouse! We headed back to Fisk Farm, had a snack, then headed up towards the Canadian border to visit and old fort called Fort Montgomery. It was built in 1844 as a station to combat border threats, but also ended up acting as a deterrent to piracy on Lake Champlain. You can read more about the forthere!
After we toured the fort, we headed back to Fisk Farm, thanked Lyle for his hospitality, and headed back to Burlington where we had the “best burger in Vermont.” There is a convenience store in Burlington known as the Shopping Bag, and they make a burger known as “the sizzler.” Dimitri had that, while I ordered a burger called “cowboy up,” which is topped with bacon, bbq sauce, and onion rings. They were delicious, and I would recommend grabbing one if you pass through Burlington. It’s in a rougher part of town, but don’t let that stop you from consuming burger-y goodness!
After we got our burgers, we met up with two fellow travelers, Tom and Paul, who are doing a trip similar to ours. You can follow them at www.projectreroute.com. Before they started their journey they both worked in financial services and found that they were left feeling unfulfilled by their jobs. They are determined to use their time on the road to find the places and occupations that will make them happiest and let them feel like they are really making a positive difference in the world. We wished them luck, and went to sleep for the night.
We are currently on our way to Rumney, NH to climb at one of the premier sport climbing destinations on the East Coast! I’m really excited to see what Rumney has to offer, and hope to have some good climbing action shots for the next post. Feel free to leave comment and questions below! Thanks for reading!
Link to the full photo album on Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1T8Ydy