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Moving to Vermont...Not
Love at First Sight
I love Vermont. When I was in middle school, my 7th-grade French class took a trip to Quebec. I grew up in Connecticut and had never been to Vermont before. As the Greyhound Bus headed north to Canada, we drove through the state of Vermont, and I fell in love with the mountains there. I suppose those Vermont mountains were the first real mountains I had ever seen at that age. I loved the country scenery, the fields, and the woods, but was mesmerized by the mountains. Right then I was determined to go back as much as possible. By the time I was in high school, my dream was to live in Vermont someday. I remember looking through college catalogs way back in the seventies to see what colleges had majors in Social Work so I could go to college in Vermont.
But alas, at that time, Social Work was only being offered in colleges in cities. I ended up going to a college in New Haven, CT. Nice college, but certainly no Vermont. And no mountains. My roommate and I once drove from Connecticut to New Hampshire to visit a friend of hers at New England College. On the way, we passed into Vermont, and I made her stop and take a picture of me in front of the welcome to Vermont sign, so I would have it to remember on days I needed a pick me up.
After college, I took vacations to Vermont as much as possible. And each time I went, I would pick up free real estate magazines in little stores along the way. I would read them and dream of someday living in Vermont. I was single and had a good job but not enough money left over to buy anything in Vermont. But I kept dreaming. A guy that I was seeing loved to ski and asked me to go to skiing at Okemo in Ludlow Vermont. Terrified that I would fall and break a leg, I went anyway because I didn't want to pass up a trip to Vermont. I will never forget my first sight of that mountain as we drove up to the parking lot. He helped me relax a bit by reminding me I that if I fell, I wasn't going to fall off the side of the mountain, just down a few feet to the ground. That did help me, and I enjoyed the skiing, which was mostly spent on the bunny slope. Another time, I had a friend at work who loved to bike ride, and she found a company called "Vermont Bicycle Tours" which off3-day bike trips around Vermont. We signed up for one and pedaled our legs off for three days. It's not easy to bike up and down those Vermont hills, at 20 or 30 miles per day. But we did it, and I loved it through the pain because we were in Vermont. We stopped in the quaint little town of Woodstock and rode over the covered bridge there. I fell in love with a teddy bear in a gift shop in Woodstock, Vermont and he became the first bear in my collection of teddy bears. I named him a not very original name, "Woodstock." We went the next day to Plymouth, Vermont, a very small town, and saw the house where one time U.S. President Calvin Coolidge was born.
A year later, another friend from work had an uncle with a hunting camp and asked if I wanted to go up there for a weekend with her. I didn't even know what a hunting camp was, but I wanted to be in Vermont. Theirs was a rather big camp by hunting camp standards. A kitchen, which entered right into a large living room area, with a bathroom off to the side. Upstairs was one whole room dedicated to bunks, for when the men in the family went hunting. It was in the middle of the woods, with a long dirt driveway leading up to it and no other houses around. We brought along her dog, a golden retriever, and took a hike along a stream. Although it was November, there were a few inches of snow on the ground. I was in heaven! At that point, I thought maybe a hunting camp would work for me. Primitive, but still a place in Vermont, and cheaper than a house. I saw hunting camps in those real estate magazines with little more than a central room and a roof, and that would have been okay. Even just an acre or two would have made me happy...I could get a tent and camp out in the Summer if an acre was all I could afford. But it didn't make sense, nor did I have the money.
After a break up with someone, I had hoped would be "the one," I took my dog with me for a three day weekend in Vermont. We did fine the first day, but that night, he repeatedly got sick in the hotel room, and I found a 24-hour vet in the town of Rutland the following day. They told me he had the flu ( Huh? Dogs get the flu) and he would have to stay overnight. I was sad about that because I had wanted to hike with him. But his overnight stay gave me the opportunity to do a 1/2 day of skiing at a place near Rutland called,"Suicide Six." The name may seem intimidating but it has a 1-mile beginner's trail that goes around the side of the mountain, and it took about 20 minutes to ski down nice and slowly. With the snow, the freshly scented mountain air, the pine trees, and the mountains in the distance, I felt like I was in Heaven! And the dog was fine when I picked him up.
First Marriage and No Hope of Vermont
I started dating someone who liked to ski. We skied in Vermont. I was not very good at it. I stayed mostly on the beginner slopes while he was on the diamond runs with friends, but I didn't care. Alone, in the crisp, fresh Vermont air, looking out at snow covered mountains, I was in my element. The beginner slopes suited me fine as I could slowly ski down the mountains and enjoy the views of snow-covered pine trees and mountains in the distance.
We got engaged. The week before the wedding, I decided I needed to go on a trip all by myself...to contemplate saying goodbye to the single life, and saying hello to marriage. I wanted to go to Vermont. A friend told me about Newfane and what a wonderful little town it was.I went and found a nice little hotel just around a river bend. I found the Williamsville covered bridge and sat underneath it and wrote in my journal. I stopped at the Newfane Country Store and admired the quilts and quaint items it had for sale. I stopped in antique shops. I came back refreshed, and the next week we got married. He liked Vermont but certainly did not want to live there. He liked to ski there, but that was about the extent of it. No year-round trips for him. Only Winter would do, and only to ski. But I secretly harbored someday saving enough to buy my hunting camp, or an acre somewhere in the wilderness, imagining now camping in a tent with my three kids during the summer, on an acre of wooded land with a possible mountain view.
When my kids were 11 and 8, any their Dad had a weekend event he had to go to; I took the kids to Vermont. We stayed in a hotel in Brattleboro and used the area as a base to explore. We went to Adams Farm in Wilmington, Vermont. The kids loved the petting barn where they could go in and pet animals. My son befriended a cute little bunny rabbit that was so friendly he was allowed to hop around and visit with the guests. We had a picnic lunch by at the Williamsville covered bridge in Newfane. I had a chance to share my favorite state with my children so they could see why I loved it so much. And of course, I collected more real estate magazines to peruse and dream.
Second Marriage and the Hope Burns Brighter
That marriage ended after 17 years. Now I was a single mom, in a huge financial crunch, but still, the dream of Vermont lived in my heart. I reconnected with a man I had known in high school. On one of our first dates, he told me his dream was to live in Vermont. I thought he was joking...that he had found out from a mutual friend about my Vermont dream and said that to earn a few Brownie points in a new relationship. But he was not. He even showed me his yearbook from high school where his lifelong dream was printed under his picture: To own a dairy farm in Vermont. When he was a child, he grew up in the city of Philadelphia and would visit his aunt and uncle in Vermont during the summer. This experience was so positive for him that it led to his own dream of moving to Vermont. I was thrilled to finally find someone who had the same dream as me. I could see that life in Vermont more clear than ever now.
We got married in 2010. We talked at the reception about someday fulfilling our dream of living together in Vermont...when my kids were grown, etc. He no longer has the dream of the dairy farm, having headed toward a different career in which he is very successful, but Vermont was our goal none the less. We visited Vermont numerous times, and never to ski. One year we rented a condo at Okemo in the summer and enjoyed the workout center and outdoor hot tub, surrounded by mountains. The next year we rented one at Stratton Mountain and enjoyed a meal at the Stratton Mountain Village. We loved to go to the Vermont Country Store in both Weston and Rockingham. Although this store has mail-order catalog, you can't beat going there in person to check out the old time toys, food, housewares and warm winter clothing they have in stock. And the free samples of cheese, crackers, dips, cookies, salsa, fudge are half the fun of going. Last year we even went to a Christmas celebration in Weston and saw Santa Claus, the whole town decorated, and enjoyed a festive lunch at Bryant's restaurant next door. And it even snowed a few flurries for us while we were there. More recently, we stayed in Northern Vermont. We spent three deliciously relaxing and romantic days at the Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford. The innkeeper told us about the tasting tour of the area, and we had great fun checking out Cabot's Creamery ( love their cheese) and Ben and Jerry's for absolutely delicious ice cream...yum!
After the wedding, we decided to start shopping around for a home in Vermont. It was too early to purchase anything because my girls were still in high school, but we couldn't contain our excitement ( or maybe it was just me who couldn't???), and we started to look. We didn't want to have to shovel snow, so we were going to look for a condo. I was still happy with pretty much anything, but my new husband is partial to new homes...newer than the year 2000. So, I started my search. I found some wonderful homes. He is a boat owner and loves to be on the water, so I searched for towns near a lake. The search for condos near a lake that was newer than the year 2000, and had all the amenities we wanted, led me to the Burlington/South Burlington area. I fell in love with many of the condos and the town of Burlington. I heard from many people that there are lots of activities to do there, and it seemed like the perfect fit for us.
Then, reality started to rear its ugly head. Condos in that part of Vermont are expensive. And the taxes are as bad as they are in Connecticut, and in some cases worse. It was depressing. We are getting nearer to retirement age, and don't want to have to work just to pay taxes. Whenever I would mention Vermont and how much I love the snow, I could see my husband balking a bit at the cold, and certainly, the snow might interfere with his traveling for work. My heart started to sink a bit because I had thought we were on the same page about moving to Vermont. We also began looking into the politics in Vermont. Thinking it was a state filled with good old-fashioned Yankees, we thought the political climate there would be conservative. But we were sadly mistaken. Apparently, the native Vermonters are often conservative in their political views, but there is a new crop of younger Vermont residents, moving in from other states who are very liberal. I don't think my husband would be very happy in that environment.
And so came the fateful conversation one day. We came to the conclusion that the environment in Vermont, regarding climate, politically, and financially is just not going to work for us as a couple. At first, I was saddened by this realization a great deal. This was a lifelong dream of mine. I wasn't ready to give it up. But I love my husband more than I love Vermont. You must be able to surmise by now that that is quite a lot! And I had to admit that Vermont didn't really make sense for us. I started to try to figure out what it is about Vermont that I love most, and to see if we could find those things in another state. I loved the mountains first of all. And the wilderness. And the snow. I loved the beauty of the land there. I loved the more relaxed way of life. I loved the craftiness of the people who live there.
We are still in the discussion stages, but it looks like we may end up moving south one of these days. The south has states with mountains and woods. The homes are cheaper in many southern states, and the taxes are lower. There are some that have a bit of snow in the Winter, without it getting too cold. And generally, southern states are more conservative in their political views. Although we will probably end up moving south, I will always have a love for Vermont in my heart, and maybe I can convince him to buy a small condo that we can rent out in the Winter and visit in the summer yet! I will add an update to this story if that ever happens! And I will always love Vermont.
In August of 2014, my husband and I moved into a beautiful home in the mountains of...wait for it...
And although I didn't think I would like it as much as Vermont, I must say I LOVE living here. We live in a gated community of 8,000 acres called, "Big Canoe" and we have a view of the mountains from our back deck. We see wildlife including deer and wild turkeys almost every day. Supposedly there are bears living here too, but so far I haven't seen any. Each morning I wake up and look out the window of our bedroom to the mountains and feel blessed to live here. I still do and always will love Vermont, but I must say I also love my life now living in the mountains of Northern Georgia with the love of my life.
Going To Vermont?
The Dream Lives On...
I still do and always will have the dream of owning land in Vermont. And my goal is to someday buy just even a small plot of land there and put a tiny house on it, or a small log cabin. I don't like to damage land, so I may just get a camper and drive it up there in the summer when it's too hot in Georgia. I encourage my children and friends to never give up on their dreams, and I need to set the example. So someday...stay tuned and I will be sure to let you know when I have bought it! And my advice to you: Never, ever give up on your dreams!
Have you ever been to Vermont?
© 2012 Karen Hellier