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Thoughts from the middle of vacation travels

July 3, 2016

For this Independence Day, my boyfriend convinced me to go on a trip. We flew in to Montreal, Quebec just in time for Canada Day, and then we met up with his aunt and drove down to Vermont.

Both Old Montreal and Vermont are quite different from one another, and each has been very different from Texas. Old Montreal was all historic streets and buildings, people walking and biking, and steep hills and cathedrals and things like that.

I know I probably shouldn’t judge all of Montreal by Old Montreal, but as we traveled through, I couldn’t help but think that it would be rather treacherous to try to drive through that city on my own. Even though Houston can feel somewhat unlivable if you don’t have a car, I’ve come to appreciate that if you do have a car, it’s very easy to get from A to B. In contrast, for Old Montreal, you might as well park far away and take advantage of the metro or with walking, because you’ll certainly be able to get around better that way.

Maybe that’s the point? It definitely is healthier than driving.

One of the things we toured with the Notre Dame Basilica. I suppose that it was pretty enough (definitely prettier than LDS chapels, and…dare I say it: LDS temples as well?) and the history was interesting, but…I was still underwhelmed.

13439148_10157191978660171_7378689571447144537_n[1]I don’t know if maybe psychologically I was hoping to experience something more, but whatever I was expecting didn’t happen. It was just another building.

We then walked/hiked up Mont Royal to see the view of the city…and after 40 minutes of walking or so, we were greeted by this sight:

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I posted this image with a bit of a snarky comment, pointing out that we had this beautiful scene of…treetops. And yet a lot of people — whether they had done the same hike or were just looking based off this picture — thought this was a legitimately great view.

When we drove from Montreal to Vermont, I don’t think I ever fully realized how rural Vermont is. I mean, I know of small towns and rural areas in Oklahoma and Texas, but I never realized that the largest city in Vermont is smaller than my hometown in Oklahoma (and…we are only going on a day trip to Burlington…really, my Vermont travels have been in much smaller towns.)

Vermont is very green and very mountainous, as the name suggests.

Like Montreal, the streets seem treacherous for driving, but for a different reason. Rather than being full of pedestrians and bikes, the Vermont roads are nearly empty. To the contrary, this is a story whose conflict is man versus nature — each road, one lane each way (and sometimes not even that — there is a bridge that is one way…and if two people come from the different sides of that bridge, they have to take turns going), is the only thing that intrudes into nature. Vegetation threatens to overtake the roads at their shoulders.

And that’s when it’s just vegetation. Many times, one of the sides of the roads will be a sheer drop off some cliff. If you get off road, you won’t just fall into trees — you’ll fall, period.

From the gift center postcards, I see that in the fall, all that green explodes into a palette of fall colors. Now, it’s just a lot of green. Instead of showing it close up, here’s a picture of it from the Von Trapp Family Lodge (I guess the Vermont hills are also alive with the sound of music?):

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I understand for people who are into nature that this is definitely a great place to go if you want nature. In contrast, the place I’ve been to are flat and nearly tree-less.

…But I couldn’t help but feel at several parts of several drives that it would have been nice if they had built some street lights. One of the biggest things that’s been circulating in my mind is the question: why has Vermont never urbanized

As if that is the natural progression of everywhere, you know? As if no one would ever object to that? As if that’s the goal for every community?

Anyway, my trip still includes a day trip to Burlington, and then for the Independence Day, we’ll be trying to make our way to Boston for a fireworks show. So we’ll get to see more history.

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3 Comments
  1. Agellius permalink

    Funny, I’ve done the same thing: made a day-trip to Montreal via Vermont. I’m from Southern California, which I think has a similar climate to Texas (though of course there are variations), that is, hot and dry and therefore not all that green. My reaction to New England was to be absolutely blown away by the green, so much so that I ended up moving there. Eventually I moved back to So Cal since I missed my family, but I would move back in a heartbeat now — except that now I’m married with kids and my wife doesn’t want to move away from HER family!

    Anyway I enjoyed hearing about your trip. Hope you guys get home safe.

  2. I have always heard people talk about California as looking very nice and having great weather all the time…is that Northern California rather than Southern?

    We did go to Burlington for their independence day fireworks (which was on July 3rd so all the little towns could do their fireworks on july 4th but still come to the “big city” to see the festival). I think that being on the waterfront, seeing the sun set, seeing some guy flying around and doing tricks with his little plane, and then thinking of Kate Bush’s song “Sunset” really was the most “sublime” part of the trip. Plus, we had great seating for the great fireworks display!

    • Agellius permalink

      I forgot there was a waterfront there, I think I was confusing Burlington with Bennington. It sounds really, really nice.

      There are many variations in climate in different parts of California (and in TX too I assume). But basically, the farther south and the farther inland you go, the hotter and drier it is. The beautiful parts with perfect climate are mainly the coastal areas. Not surprisingly, those areas are expensive to live in. I live about 50 miles from the beach. I guess it’s sort of halfway between the coastal climate to the west and the desert climate to the east. Pretty and green during the spring time, but brown and dusty (not to mention smoggy) during the summer and early fall.

      I’m not saying the climate is terrible here. People in very cold areas might be jealous, and it’s less humid than a lot of places. But I don’t mind cold and humidity, and I love lush greenery.

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