29.08.22 — Travel
Now in the United States after our weekend in Montreal, Megan and I cranked up the music and it was full speed ahead to the first place that I’d be staying: her parents’ place. They live in the sleepy suburb of Williston in the city of Burlington, the biggest city in the state of Vermont in the north-east US.
We rocked up outside their place around mid-afternoon and headed inside to a gloriously cool welcome from the air conditioning. This fiercely counterbalanced by the extremely warm welcome from Megan’s parents, Maureen and Terry, who had me in the kitchen for a couple of hours nattering away about all sorts.
Eventually I wanted to get unpacked, so I was shown to my room, a lovely space in which I was presented with a gorgeous gift in the form of a basket full of local goodies: maple syrup sweets, maple leaf decorations, and – of course – a huge jar of maple syrup to take back with me. Megan was not lying when she said that Vermont loves its maple syrup!
Once unpacked, I headed downstairs for tea (I still refuse to call the evening meal ‘dinner’). Maureen and Terry had prepared a delicious meal of meat skewers with roast vegetables, where the caramelised pineapple was really the star of the show!
I was then introduced to Megan’s friend, Breen, who’d nipped over with her dog, Libby. The three of us headed out for a walk after tea, wandering around the block whilst I eyed up all of the huge houses. It was also during this walk that I was introduced to the pressing issue around these parts: skunks. After years of only hearing about skunks in fairy tales and other children’s stories, I was briefed on how to avoid them and their dreaded foul-smelling spray.
We then stopped for a quick drink at Breen’s place, after which me and Megan pottered the short journey back home and I headed to bed for the night – it had been another day of plenty of travelling and moving around!
The next day began bright and (way too) early thanks to the dreaded jet lag. I headed downstairs, had some breakfast with Terry, and waited for Megan to show up. She headed off with her dad for the closing on her new house – more on that to come – and so I stuck around with Maureen chatting the morning away.
When Megan got back, I headed out with her and Maureen for my first American excursion. This day trip first took us to Costco, a wholesale shop selling oversized versions of everything: from toilet rolls to cereals and even salads. I had a lot of fun people watching and even managed to pick myself up some new underwear, so it was quite the productive trip, even if I spent most of the time making crude observations about consumerism.
The three of us then split up, with me and Megan heading to her new place, a gorgeous condo closer to the centre of Burlington proper. She gave me a tour around, we ate some cookies, drank some coffee, and waited for a plumber to show up.
He came pretty late, so we wound up abandoning him to his work and heading down to a place that Megan had picked out for lunch. At this gorgeous lakeside spot we had some delicious nachos and a couple of sensuously smoky cocktails whilst sat at the bar.
The cocktails soon had their desired effect and we wound up gossiping with the girl behind the bar. I told her about what I’d seen of Burlington so far, and both her and Megan agreed that I’d to be careful what I said as everyone knows everyone in the small state of Vermont.
Lunch over, we wound our way into the centre of Burlington for my first proper look at the city. After passing through the chaos of the town square, we made our way onto Church Street, the main shopping street through the city centre. I bought myself a black cap with “Burlington, Vermont” on it as a souvenir and then a cocktail mixer from a speciality drinks shop. I tried a sip of it straight from the glass on the way back to the car – way too sweet!
Upon arriving back at Megan’s parents’ place we hopped in the pool, where Megan’s friend Malory was waiting for us alongside Maureen. We stayed in the water for probably way too long, gossiping and splashing around before we were summoned out to eat delicious pulled pork and homemade coleslaw sliders.
Fed and watered, we then gathered in the living room with a smattering more of Megan’s friends for their Monday evening ritual of watching “The Bachelorette”. This trashy reality TV programme sees a bunch of single men battling it out for dates with two single women. It was as terrible as you can imagine, but me and Breen had a good laugh throughout as we snickered away at how exaggerated everything was – until we got told off for being too noisy. The Bachelorette is serious business.
A dessert break halfway through the show allowed me to get some sugar in my body in the form of some homemade biscuits that Megan’s friends had brought, but this wasn’t enough to stop an overwhelming tiredness take over me. With the show over, I said my goodbyes and headed off to bed.
Next in my series of American adventures was a trip to the high school that Megan has been working at for the past few years. She was back for a few weeks in the summer as she was working at a summer camp for students for whom English wasn’t their native language.
We rocked up early so that Megan could coordinate with the other teachers and also so that I could have a quick tour of the place. I was thrilled to discover that it was just like the movies, from the locker-lined corridors to the huge theatre, and then the American flags and individual desks in all the classrooms.
With the students seated, I was drafted in to help out with some of the day’s entertainment. I sat out such events such as musical chairs and other physical activities, but was more than happy to try my hand at cupcake decoration. I made myself a purple monster of which I was very proud, but was dismayed to hear that I’d have to wait for the end of the day to eat it.
Once the summer camp was over, the yellow school buses had taken the last students home, and my cupcake had been well and truly devoured, Megan and I headed back home and were tasked with taking the family dog, Ellie, out for a walk. This allowed me to snoop around the neighbourhood even more, from the lovely houses to the intense green nature that forms so much of Vermont.
Back home, we waited for Megan’s brother Scott to arrive back. Once he did, we headed out for some food together at a series of food trucks that had gathered in the parking lot of a farm shop just up the road. There I tried my first Philly cheesesteak and some disgustingly sweet fizzy pop whilst enjoying some live music provided by a local a cappella group.
We then begun the short walk back home after the group had packed up and we’d finished our food, but stopped along the way to head into a field and watch as the sun began to set. We took lots of photos, but the coolness of the air and the jet lag that was still nagging at me meant that we didn’t manage to stick it out to see the sun disappear beyond the horizon.
With the entire family gathered in the living room, I then spent a while introducing them all to the joy of Eurovision, running through my favourite acts from this year’s edition. It was like being back watching it in Norway, except that everyone was quite bemused by this most European of traditions!
The next day now took us out on another adventure around a spectacular part of Burlington and Vermont in general, but this post is already quite long, so I’ll have to live that one for next time!