The Islands of Lake Champlain, Vermont. 

Lake Champlain is North Anerica’s sixth-biggest lake. Within  the lake, on the Vermont/New York side of the Canadian border, lie a number of islands that were first seen by European eyes in 1609 when Samuel de Champlain led an exploratory expedition through the area. 

   
   
The islands are joined by bridges and a causeway which make touring the islands very easy.  The scenery is gorgeous, and there are lots of interesting places to explore. Tourists can explore military history, gourmet food and wine, walking or cycling paths, and number of towns seeking to attract tourists with different places to stay and things to do. 

On the Causeway to Grand Isle is an American flag and a monument to the victims of 9/11 and to the American veterans of foreign wars. 

   
   
From this point, you can look west and see the shoreline of New York State and the Adirondack Mountains, and you can look east and see the Vermont shoreline and mountains in the distance. Further north, the lake crosses the Canadian border into Quebec. 

 

It’s no surprise, then, that Isle La Motte, South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, Valcour and the remaining islands all served as important vantage points in battles between American and Canadian/British forces during the War of 1812. 

If for no other reason, the Islands are well worth a visit just because it’s a really pretty drive along the lake shore. 

   
   

Isle La Motte, Vermont.

On the Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain, Vermont is the site of the Fort of St Anne, the first European settlement in Vermont which dates back to 1666. While the French under the command of Captain Pierre La Motte built the fort for defence against the Mohawks, the Jesuits built the altar and sanctuary in honour of Saint Anne.   

 
Today there is still a shrine to St Anne and an outdoor Stations of the Cross which is visited by many people for prayer and reflection every year.
   
    
   

While the fort and it’s defences are long gone, it’s easy to see why this place was chosen 350 years ago for both defensive and spiritual reasons, and why people continue to visit today. 

It’s a place of worship and reflection, which is something visitors should keep in mind, both in dress and behaviour. 

Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

Occasionally, I like to throw caution to the wind and do something dangerous. Intrepid and adventurous, that’s me. Completely aware of the perils ahead, I put my sassy pants on and set out for an adventure that has long been on the bucket list for this holiday. 

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company makes hand-crafted, fully customisable teddy bears that are unbearably adorable.

   
 
The bears all carry the trademark labels and eyes which distinguish them from other bears. The eyes have “Born in Vermont” imprinted in the iris. Too cute. Being from Vermont, the Bears all have a chubby tummy that is known at the company as “the belly that Ben & Jerry’s built”. 

   
   
There are hundreds of different outfits that can be purchased for the 15″ bears, reflecting seasons, occupations, sports and significant life events. Most of the bears have brown eyes, but can be customised with blue, green or hazel eyes. Paws and outfits can be customised with embroidery. 

   
   
The factory tour is fun and entertaining for all ages. I was really pleased to see the tour being led by a delightful guy who has a disability but is obviously living joyfully despite it. 

The bears are very reasonably priced in comparison to other top-quality, hand-crafted collectible bears, such as the Charlie Bears which I also collect. 

All in all, I had a wonderful day here. I made the experience complete by adopting a 15″ Maple Bear with blue eyes. It’s fair to say that he had a pretty good day, too. 

Lac Champlain.

Lake Champlain is a long lake which has shores in Quebec, Canada, and Vermont and New York, USA.

It’s big, and it’s beautiful.

In the morning sun in Philipsburg, Quebec, the glassy water reflects the image so the trees and sky like a mirror. I could sit here and look at this for hours. 

   
  

  
  

Later in the day, I saw that it’s just as pretty in St Albans, Vermont.   

   
 

Vermont.

Vermont is one of those places that is stunning everywhere you look, at any time of year. We drove south across the border of  Quebec at Morse’s Line hoping to see some Autumn colours and to see  some ski trails on the mountains.

We saw some absolutely breathtaking colours and scenery.  We headed through Enosburg and Montgomery, enjoying gorgeous scenery with beautiful mountain backdrops.     

  

  

 

From there, we headed to State Route 58 and into Hazen’s Notch. Incredible colours ranging from yellow-green and gold to deep red danced with the sunshine along winding gravel roads, with the scenery opening up to reveal whole mountainsides covered with vivid colour. 

  

  

 

After Hazen’s Notch, we turned at Lowell and headed up to Jay Peak, where the ski runs were lined with magnificent trees in every shad of Autumn.

   

 

We headed up to see where the Von Trapp family moved after leaving Austria. Looking at the mountains surrounding their lodge, it’s easy to see why they chose this part of Vermont. It’s safe to say that these Vermont hills are alive too! 

 

We then circled back to Montgomery and, from there, turned toward the ski resort town of Stowe via State Road 108 and Smuggler’s Notch. 

Smuggler’s Notch is even more stunning than Hazen’s.  The same kind of winding roads and trees team with rugged mountain cliffs and enormous boulders that have fallen from them to provide stunning scenery that reminds you of your relative insignificance in relation to the size and forces of nature. 

   
 

Stowe is a very attractive looking town, but you can tell it’s a playground for those with lots of money. There’s nothing about this “resort village” as it calls itself that says ‘budget family holiday’. The hotels are enormous and the condo blocks are fancy. Glossy red gondolas leave the centre of the town and carry people up the mountain. In all honesty, I was glad we drove straight through because I much preferred the surrounding scenery than the town itself. 
   

 

Vermont is blessed with a wealth of majestic scenery. It’s one of those places where there is natural beauty everywhere you look. 

Dumb and dumber.

We stopped at a roadside information centre in Hartford, VT where there were several police vehicles, including a K-9 unit parked and talking casually.
Just as I was taking a typical tourist “rubbernecking” photograph of the police units, a shiny black truck pulled into the stop and sideswiped one of the police pickups.
The police yelled at the driver to stop, then to stop the engine and get out of the vehicle. The police dog barked and strained at its lead; they are trained to protect their officers and vehicles as well as sniffing out the bad stuff and things/people that need to be found. One officer picked up the fender of the pickup and tossed it in the back of the vehicle.
In those couple of very dramatic seconds, the truck driver responded by hanging out of the window of his truck and yelling at the police for parking in a stupid place.
Really? That’s how you’re going to respond to a bunch of angry cops when you have just tried to park on one of their vehicles?

We watched, quite amused, as the police went over every inch of his truck looking for violations.

As the officer with the dog brought his K-9 workmate back to his vehicle, I explained that I was a tourist from Australia and I would like a picture of his dog. They were both happy to pose for a picture, although Mitch the German Shepherd was still more interested in the scowling truck driver a few metres away.

Snowing #2.

It’s snowing in Montpelier, VT, this morning.
This gentle, whimsical snow is so pretty.
Lazy flakes of snow settle on my clothing and skin, but there is not enough to settle on the ground.
Perhaps this is Vermont’s way of apologising to me for yesterday’s misery.