Ahhhh. I’ve been away, adventuring in the North Country (aka VERMONT!) and came back feelin’ more refreshed and inspired about my work than ever before! Here’s a few shots of my adventures:

DAY 1 – ‘Living Machines’/Rochester Gap/Hurricane Irene Alley/Otter Creek Yoga/ American Flatbread

This was the ONLY snow that existed in the entire state while I was visiting last week, a tiny patch of snow at the I-89 North rest stop in Sharon at the Veteran’s Memorial. Weak sauce Mother Nature; can we do something about this global climate change?

I took this shot from inside the rest area which has beautiful views to the west over the Taconic Range. Bluebird sky.

This rest stop is huge, clean, and the perfect stop to check out the first public composting toilets you encounter along the I-89 North corridor into VT. 

I spared you the shot I actually took of the green toilet water (yeah, I took a picture) but here is the magic making it happen – within the interior solarium of the rest stop are these large concrete pots housing filtering plants the size of a small mini-van and graywater system filtration tubing to clean out the wastewater system before returning about 70% of the water back into the building. NEATO! John Todd, the grandfather of Green ecological design and ‘living machine’ technology, who also teaches at UVM, was, I’m sure, an influencing factor to installing this visitor experience at a major public rest stop. Go Green VT!

In other VT news, you may remember a certain camping trip getting majorly post-poned and although the impact was felt very hard in the area I had been planning to travel through, being out of sight and out of mind, I had sorta ‘forgot’ about Hurricane Irene – that is until I decided to take the scenic way up to Middlebury via the Rochester Gap Road (read: up and over a number of giant mountains in the dark, switch-backing my way 40 mi. north and west). This road was a mess and thank goodness, I am somewhat familiar with the driving here…even still, it was super treacherous driving, with the road patched back together with non-construction grade materials and rip-rap, the road edges sliding away into the branches of the (still storm-surging) White River, and crumbled knots of former guardrail lying testament to the destruction of Irene to the Green Mountain National Forest area. I didn’t take any of my own pictures as I didn’t think it really safe to stop and pull off anywhere but this is roughly what it looks like currently:

I feel for VT’ers. It was hard to look at. But VT’ers are tough and they will get back to normal in no time. That’s the spirit of the North Country 🙂 I ventured onward to Middlebury, where I was meeting my friend Meghan to head to a fun yoga class at Otter Creek Yoga at the historic Marbleworks Building.

Namaste'

Nepalese prayer flags for good luck and safe travels ahead

After class, we headed literally next door to the amazing American Flatbread for dinner!

I really can’t write enough about why  their pizza and food is amazing but it is. Also, they are a fabulous company that gives back to VT’ers and the community, is a responsible sourcer of all their ingredients and generally, it is a cool place to eat. I used to work at a farm where we operated a mobile ‘flatbread flatbed’ oven for events and American Flatbread Co. would donate all their ‘seconds’ (aka messed up pizzas unapproved for sale) for us to bake and sell for the proceeds. Nice people. 

This pie was to die. We ordered a Revolution/Ionian Awakening combo. Was amazing, of course. Ran into some former restaurant employee friends (who actually just purchased this particular restaurant) while eating. Super small world.

Specials

I love the motivational banners hung inside

After a long day, we were both beat so we headed to Meghan’s adorable abode and promptly passed out. Here was the gorgeous view out her back deck in the am. Talk about ‘purple mountains majesty’ right?

 DAY 2 – Magic Hat Brewery/Skinny Pancake/Healthy Living Coop/UVM/VLS 

Since Meghan is a teacher, she was up and out of there before I had anywhere important to go so I lounged for a little bit and then had the following conversation with myself, in lieu of having anyone else as a reasonable sounding board:

Me: “Uh, is it too early to go beer sampling at a brewery?”

Self: “No. Maybe you should have some breakfast first though? At least an apple?”

Me: “Good idea self. I think I’ll go to Magic Hat Brewery!”

The front door; I thought he looked like a little robot head

Don’t worry – I called ahead to make sure they were open that early 😉

Totally dude

There was a lot of festive activity going on in here and it was sorta sensory overload. Check it:

So, I stepped up to the ‘bar’ to try some samples and remarked to the bartender my current predicament:

Me: “So, um, do you think I should try a sample since I haven’t had much too eat yet today and it’s only 10 am?”

Bartender: “We have pretzels here! You could totally eat pretzels for breakfast?!” He really wasn’t even questioning the rationality of this, whatsoever. Only in Burlington, right? I tried one sample of the Revelle and brought home two growlers (~ about 4 pints, in a glass jug) of Single Chair* and Encore IPA. (*The Single Chair is currently burning a giant hole in my fridge as I await the first legit snowstorm here in the Northeast…I may be waiting awhile…it is 70 degrees right now. Boo.)

Obviously, in need of food I traveled into Burlington to eat at Skinny Pancake. This is such a treat because I discovered a love of crepes late in life. It was between bfast & lunch so…brunch crepes it was to be! I think I had something called the ‘Pesto Riser’? It had homemade dandelion green pesto (hippy, I know but it worked!), VT cheddar, fried egg, hot sauce, and other yummies I can’t remember.

The menu boards are a bit overwhelming!

Skinny Pancake is another great company that sources as locally as they can in a responsible and practical nature for ingredients. This cute map on the wall shows where in VT a particular ingredient is ‘pinned to’ – creative way to display their vendors I thought.

I left feeling very full and happy. I had nowhere to be so I strolled the boardwalk at the waterfront and snapped some pictures like the tourist I am.

Echo Aquarium and Leahy Ecological Center for Research

Spirit of Ethan Allen; we had our senior year UVM booze cruise on this bad boy

Views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks across the water. This was the coolest temperature day I have experienced this fall so far; I think it was 36 degrees.

You are a tourist

After a drive-by of the UVM campus and sneak peak of the new Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources building construction and renovations, I headed to the outskirts of town to grab some goodies at the Healthy Living Coop in South Burlington. Coops are a remnant of VT that I really miss out on by living in the city. In VT/further North, they seem to be everywhere; in the city – not so much. And the bulk sections of city coops are practically nonexistent. I actually ran into my friend Sean who recently took a job in cheeeeeeeeeeeeese. Good to see you! My box of treasure from HL – tons of cheese from Grafton Cheddar, O Bread Olive Ciabatta (last loaf in the store!), fresh ground almond butter, Boston Post chive dill chevre, trail mix, drunken goat & 2 year gouda, awesome hand lotion from Nubian Heritage (OBSESSED! Just bought their soap as well; so luxurious and smells heavenly!).

Then it was time to make the journey back south towards Vermont Law School. By the time I got there, it was getting dark and I snapped this picture of the campus crazy rabbits that chased me across the grass.

I had a great experience completing my degree here and spent some time catching up with my former mentor from the Land Use Institute before the judging started. She got me all pumped up about work, progress, and the future. I left her office with a huge smile on my face. Thanks Peg!

I was nervous (and atypically, extremely early) I guess so I tried to kill some time taking pictures in the bathroom (totally normal, I know).

More composting toilets! Yeah science!

Alright, it was time to get the show on the road! Eek!

I had a great time judging and will leave it at that for the discretion of the current and future wanna-be lawyers and staff at Vermont Law School but I was extremely grateful for the experience to participate in this important rite of passage for students. They had arranged for a wonderful themed ‘Italian night’ dinner for visiting ‘judges’ and because I was early I was able to snap some shots quick. The catering staff thought I was slightly nuts, for reals.

The pasta bar with toppings

Yummy salad bar

Coffee, tea, and MAPLE BREAD PUDDING. I felt rushed and only had a half a bite of mine 😦 tragic

The common room was set up pretty cute for us, with winter accent centerpieces on the tables. The school is very small overall, both in physical campus size and enrollment, which is kinda nice.

After judging, I raced off to Norwich to visit my friend Tracy who also went to VLS and we had too much fun. I was kinda sad to leave. I also brought home this honorary collector’s wine glass…which the maintenance guy in my building promptly, yet accidently, smashed later that day when fixing my stove. Double whammy 😦

Olive bread being devoured. Look at these olive chunks! YUM!

Whew! That was a huge trip to pack into just two days but I am very happy I went! My VT goodies I brought home will hopefully keep me fueled for a bit and feeling recharged about life generally.

What has inspired you lately?