08.09.22 — Travel

Lake Champlain

A fresh new day dawned in Williston, but we had some rather interesting plans which would take us out of the neighbourhood and down to the waterside in Burlington proper. Before this, though, I woke up suddenly energised, and decided I should go out for a jog.

This was a terrible idea as it turns out. I’ve not done anything like it for quite a long time (foreshadowing for an upcoming blog post), but I managed to get out and about before arriving back and collapsing into the hammock in the back garden. There, I waited for Maureen to return home, as Megan was still out working at the summer camp.

Maureen soon showed up with some treats in the form of artesanal Oreos, which were absolutely delicious and soon turned into a problem as they became my go-to sweet snack whilst staying at Megan’s parents’ place. With our biscuits eaten, we rested our weary legs in the pool and waited for Megan to arrive back home.

After Megan had a quick nap the two of us packed and headed out for the afternoon’s plans: kayaking! This is a sport that I enjoyed back when I was a Boy Scout and used to set out on the suspiciously murky canals of Lancashire, but this time we were to head into the vast expanse of Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain is a huge body of water which separates Vermont from the state of New York, whose border is flanked by a huge and beautiful mountain range called the Adirondacks. I’d caught a glimpse of it when we’d gone down for lunch at the docks, but this time we were going to head down to the local community sailing club and hire a couple of kayaks to head out onto the water.

The journey down to the lake took us through the centre of Burlington and past some frat houses: another thing I thought only existed in American movies! We arrived, rented our equipment, and were soon cast out into the somewhat unstable waters of the lake – it wasn’t like the peaceful stillness of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal!

It was great fun to be out on the water and back in a kayak after quite a few years. I am quite confident in a kayak, but in a moment of stupidity and brazen commitment to getting some good photos I had decided to take my phone with me. This made me panic the whole time about falling in lest I lose it in the murky depths, so I started with a bit of a nervous wobble.

The cloudy skies and the uneven water created some breathtaking views.

We’d set out in the late afternoon, so the sun was already pretty low in the sky, making for some beautiful displays of light as it danced on the waves. We headed out and towards it and towards a beach in the distance, which we dragged ourselves up on to upon arrival as I was developing a rather painful stitch in my leg.

Back in the water, we continued our journey onwards, a journey frustrated somewhat by the kayaks or the undercurrent (we’ll never know what it was) which seemed intent on dragging us port side (to the left). We eventually made it to the spot which the guy had designated as the outer limit of the area we could explore, where we watched a group of friends jumping from a rock and into the lake. It was a gorgeous spot, so we stopped to chat there for a while whilst the sun broke through the clouds.

The rays from the sun and the isolated rock made for an almost ethereal scene.

We then began our journey back to the sailing club, which was now quite far away thanks to the two legs we’d already rowed. It turned out to be quite the slog of a trip back thanks to the distance, our exhaustion, and the unwelcome turbulence created by some passing boats.

We eventually made it back to the shore, where we showered and changed into our glad rags ready to spend the evening on the water once again, but this time in a rather different capacity. We drove the short distance down the lake and parked outside a place called Splash, a gorgeous floating dock restaurant with views out over the lake.

Maureen joined us out on the dock, where we nabbed one of the best tables in the house just by the water. Cocktails in hand, we chatted the evening away as we nibbled on some good food, watched the sun set behind the Adirondack Mountains, and saw the return of The Spirit of Ethan Allen, a boat which takes people out to watch the sunset from directly over the water.

After tea, Maureen headed back home while me and Megan headed to a local bar where we’d arranged to have a drink with some of her friends. The bar was about as American as they get, full of sports memorabilia and people who’d been our playing baseball! We stuck to our plan of one drink and then home as we’d both a busy agenda waiting for us the next day.

Megan headed back for her penultimate day at summer camp the next day as I had breakfast with Maureen, who then took me out to begin our day’s explorations together. She’d a trip planned for the two of us which would take us back out to Lake Champlain, but this time over terra firma rather than on the water itself. It turns out that the lake has three main islands on it, and our plan was to head out and see the most important sights from these: North Hero, South Hero, and Grand Isle.

Out trip started on the Sand Bar, a natural sandbar connecting the mainland with the first of the three islands. I took plenty of photos over the lake and we got chatting to another lady who was passing by before heading onto the island proper.

We first stopped at a little shale beach on another part of the island before then heading up to a gorgeous old hotel with views over the water which has now been transformed into an event space. We then headed to a hotel that Maureen used to work at when she was young, where we met the new owner and had a snoop around the renovated facilities.

These are called Adirondack Chairs, named after the mountains in the background.

It was then time for lunch, and Maureen had arranged for one of her friends to join us for lunch. We met up at an old petrol station which had a cute shop and sandwich bar. I bagged myself a turkey sandwich with all the trimmings, including bacon, cheese, and pickles – the Americans sure know how to do a sandwich properly!

We ate our sandwiches on the porch of the local parish hall, chatting away about Michael’s experience living between the US, the UK, and Spain, a trio of countries that I know pretty well. As we chatted, a cold and cloudy front blew in, so we eventually had to pack up shop and head back towards the mainland.

As the weather held out without raining on us, Maureen and I did decide to make a cheeky stop at a local institution, Seb’s. This pit stop on the island had a lovely gift shop, which we had a good snoop around so I could pick up some postcards, and a snack and ice cream counter. The two of us grabbed a hot fudge brownie ice cream, which was super rich and came with a cute little cherry on top. I simply had to get a photo of the two of us with out sweet treats!

In the car on the way home, Maureen showed of her skills tying the stalk of the cherry into a knot with her mouth, and I gave it a shot. Alas, I was useless, even after continuing to attempt it throughout the evening until it was time to go back out.

The evening took us back to the bar from before, but this time there was a whole different vibe going on: it was karaoke time! The rest of the bar didn’t seem too animated, so I signed Breen and myself up to be the first to sing. Naturally we had to kick things off with my go-to karaoke song, Wannabe by the Spice Girls. We then sang many songs, ate some free popcorn from the machine they had out, and had an absolute blast.

Back home, Megan threw some mozzarella sticks in the oven and I introduced her to the joys of dunking them in jam. It might sound a bit odd, but you can’t beat a good sweet and salty combination!

The next day was quite a relaxed one: I spent my time in the pool, having lunch, and then out shopping with Megan to pick up some supplies for her new place and our weekend plans – but more on that very soon. We ended the day with a Chinese meal back at Maureen and Terry’s place, which was a nice relaxed way to end a rather chilled day.

A scenic tour of Vermont, from the huge houses to the gorgeous sunsets.

I’ll leave this blog post here, as the weekend’s activities that followed deserve their own blog post – and because these posts are getting pretty long and it’s taking me forever to get them out! I can only beg you all for patience whilst I try and get them out in between my busy work calendar back here in Madrid…