Posted by: Sally Ingraham | September 13, 2008

Burlington to Bennington and Beyond

A recent weekend found my boyfriend and I driving out of the torrential downpour flooding downeast Maine, into the sunshine and clear skies of Burlington, Vermont. I had never visited the shores of Lake Champlain before. It was coincidental, but deliciously fitting (once I had found out) that we had also traveled from one discovery of the French explorer Samuel de Champlain to another. Mt. Desert to Lake Champlain.

I often go on lightly planned, improvisational trips like these with my boyfriend. We frequently find that we have embarked upon accidental road trips halfway through a day anyway. 400 miles in a day can be fun, but sometimes a small amount of intent makes for a more pleasant 400 miles.

Moxie Falls 3For instance, two weekends ago we met for breakfast, and he voiced a desire to go and check out The Forks, an adventure town in western Maine located along the banks of the Kennebec River. I had nothing planned for the day and it was sunny, so a drive seemed like a good idea. I went home to fetch my camera and then we set off. Several hours later we drove into The Forks, stopped to get some refreshment, found out about a nice waterfall in the area, and took off to find it.

Moxie Falls, located .7 miles down a rather muddy trail, is a 90 ft. drop along Moxie Stream. It is tied for the longest single drop in the state of Maine, and was fittingly grand, filling the air with a wonderful thunderous pounding of water. I took some pictures, and then we ran back up the trail in high spirits and hopped back into the car.

The Bigalow RangeWe decided to go from there to Sugarloaf Mt., having a sudden urge to see big mountains. We fulfilled that desire over several more hours, driving through the Carrabasset Valley and the Bigalow Range, over to Rangely Lake and finally down around (the long way) to Sebego Lake to get some dinner at a place we like in Naples. From there, because it was Labor Day Weekend and we couldn’t find a place to stay ANYWHERE, we drove all the way back to the Island, arrive home at 2:30 in the morning.

Excellent times of course – better to have done that than stayed at home watching movies all day – but rather a lot of driving for one day!

The following weekend found us getting up at 4:30 in the morning, with every good intention to get on the road early and be somewhere fabulous by noon. We had all of two and a half days to play, and we planned to spend them casually. We brought camping gear with us too, so that there would be no hopeless searching for lodgings that didn’t exist!

After a detour around Ellsworth, where the heavy rain had brought down power lines and flooded streets, we were well on our way, and noon did find us in Vermont, floating down route 2 through mountains and pretty villages. Arriving in Burlington, we had lunch and then explored the waterfront a little. Lake Champlain glittered beneath the afternoon sun, and dogs and children and kites abounded.

Leaving Burlington, we explored charming country roads, had pizza in Bristol, and then drove across the Lake Champlain Bridge into New York as evening fell. We camped in a little state park right on the edge of the lake, setting up in the dark and falling into our sleeping bags with sleepy satisfaction.

Champlain BridgeIn the morning the bridge was revealed to be old and rusty, but beautiful in the September light. Bridge geek that I am, I had to visit the welcome center and find out a little bit about it. Built in 1929, it is one of the only bridges that crosses Lake Champlain, as most crossings are done by ferry. It’s design is fairly unique for this country – I won’t bore you with the details – and apparently parts of the movies What Lies Beneath and You, Me, and Irene were filmed on it. 🙂

We spent that day exploring NY and VT a little more. The farmland around Crown Point and Port Henry was prettier than any I had ever seen, and another lake in the area – Lake George – had a wonderfully scenic road along the edge of it and inspired me to consider living there, someday…! The Adirondack mountains rose up all around us, tantalizing and sending out a silent invitation to return sometime with more time and full hiking gear.

Bennington to Brattleboro, VT on route 9 was equally splendid, and after buzzing up 91 to Norwich, a fabulous dinner at the Norwich Inn hit the spot and sent us to bed happy.

We woke to pounding rain, and a 6+ hour drive back to the Island so that I could be to work by 3:30. Coming through hell and high water (literally) I made it by 4:15! The end of the trip was still somehow pleasant, at least in between the spats of white knuckle driving. We were charged up and refreshed from a few days in exotic places – for any place that removes me from my normal life I consider exotic!

Abandoned but Not AloneI am happy to report that although travel sends me to new heights, I don’t usually “come down” from those highs. I feel that I am in a constant state of enjoyment, and that each day I wake up and find something new and interesting about the very place that I live. Travel does help see everything freshly though, and traveling for even a short time makes home seem that much more comfortable and cozy.

I am now planning a weekend of travel with my roommate, as she has gotten some time off. Where will we go? The question is ripe and dripping, waiting for us to decide which delicious place to bite into. When we do, when we’ve gone and come back and I’ve collected new treasures in the form of photographs, do not worry – I will tell you all about it. And if there is a bridge involved (or a waterfall for that matter)…consider yourself warned.


  1. Of course that is all home territory for me. Lived in Shelburne, just south of Burlington, and, of course, Bennington (where your mom and I met). My father spent summers in his teens in Lake George, and was actually born on the Hudson River at the foot of the Adirondacks north of Glens Falls. I spent a lot of time camping and hiking around Crane Mountain up there. You passed within 30 miles of where I was born if you came down the Vermont side, may have actually passed through it if you came down the NY side. Memories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: