Though our ten day Canadian road trip was magical, all good things must, alas, come to an end. But not a sad one, because how could visiting good friends in northern Vermont not be a happy ending to our Canadian sojourn?
Re-Entering the U.S.
As mentioned in my previous post, crossing the border into Ontario had been pretty quick and painless and we hoped we’d have a similar experience upon our return stateside. I think we may have started things off on the wrong foot by pulling up to the bus/truck entrance instead of driving through with the car traffic as the CBP agents seemed somewhat confused about the bus. When they asked us what was inside the bus, we weren’t sure how to reply other than, “Um, our house,” and present the list of declarable items I had prepared for the Canadian border crossing. That may have been what prompted them to search our vehicle. Thankfully, our dog refrained from barking and instead showed off her tail-wagging skills as a CBP agent checked out the interior. (The cats barely roused themselves from their afternoon naps while this happened.) The search turned out to be a blessing as the agents’ attitudes completely brightened once they saw the interior. The lead agent even went on to share how he and his friends had actually converted a school bus of their own into what sounded like a party-bus. (I believe he mentioned a keggerator…) We were waved through after that, though they did confiscate our oranges.
A very dear friend of mine has lived in northern Vermont not too-far outside of Burlington for the past decade, so I’ve had reason to visit the area before and couldn’t wait to sell Ryan on it.
Burlington actually has a campground located in the city right on the shores of Lake Champlain that made spending a night checking out the town easy. The North Beach Campground is sort of a cross between a state park and a private RV park in its layout and prices. There’s a bike road running past the campground that leads you right into the downtown area so it didn’t take us long to peddle to the Vermont Pub & Brewery for dinner and drinks.
Afterwards, we parked the bikes and walked around the Church Street Marketplace, with just enough time to visit the Crow Bookshop before it closed for the night. Burlington is a nice place, and though I was glad to share some of its charms with Ryan, the real reason were in the area was to visit with old friends so, after one night in the Queen’s City, we were on our way again.
Our First Road-Problem
The drive to my friend Betsy’s and her husband Jason’s home shouldn’t have taken us two hours, but a rupture in the line to our rear brakes turned a short drive into a much longer one. If that sounds frightening, it was.
Thankfully, Ryan had noticed a drop in the air pressure before we hit any serious downhills and we were able to slow down and pull off the road into a rest area with enough stopping power left in the front brakes to avoid calamity. I’ll skip over all the colorful curses that were uttered and go on to say that we got lucky in that a commercial truck driver also decided to stop in the rest area shortly after we did. He turned out to be a French-Canadian trucker named Hannibal (like the general, I pointed out… he wasn’t impressed) who had actually experienced something similar and showed Ryan how to splice the damaged line back together using a spare part he donated to us. This on-the-spot repair was enough to get us the 20 miles down the road to Betsy & Jason’s front yard. The very next day, Jason took Ryan to Napa Auto Parts where he was able to pick-up a replacement for our brake line and complete lasting repairs over the weekend.
It was such a pleasure to spend a few days visiting Betsy & Jason in their hometown – I hadn’t seen these two since their wedding day, and now they were well on their way to expecting their first kiddo so snagging a visit with them felt pretty special. We parked in their huge front lawn while they spent a few days showing us around the area. We checked out two of the local farmers’ markets (it’s Vermont – you can throw a rock and hit a farmers’ market), cooked meals together, met some of their friends, visited some local restaurants, and spent the evenings introducing Betsy & Jason to our favorite board game, Settlers of Catan (Yay, they loved it too!). We’re so glad we visited and can’t wait for another opportunity to catch up with them again.
On our way out of the area we stopped into the local state park and made time to climb the nearest mountain and enjoyed a very rainy, but satisfying hike. We just couldn’t leave the Green Mountain State and not have climbed any mountains, after all.