Earlier this month, we packed the car and hit the highway heading east on a road trip across the country. Bound for a two week stint of cat-sitting in Maine, we left nearly a week before we were scheduled to arrive. Our intent was to travel slowly, trying to remain keenly aware of how the places though which we drove made us feel.
Rather than let ourselves get mired in the seemingly limitless land possibilities available to us, we decided to "go with our gut" to narrow the playing field. Leaving Minnesota behind, we took secondary roads through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. All of them were culled from our map, save for Michigan, whose rolling green hills were the only place we felt any stirrings of contentment.
Our first eastern state, Pennsylvania, did a significantly better job of evoking the elusive sensation of "rightness" we've been hunting for, but it was around the time we reached the border of New York that we realized we were hot on the trail towards "home". As the miles ticked by, and our little car carried us further eastward, our excitement grew.
…and then, we crossed into Vermont.
As we chugged across Lake Champlain on the Fort Ticonderoga ferry, dark clouds hovered above us, stirring in the pocket between the Adirondacks and the Green mountains. The ride only lasted a few minutes, during which we chatted to the first mate and a pair of motorcyclists on vacation. Before we knew it, it was time to return to our car for disembarkation.
Pulling off the ferry, we headed down a rugged rural road, pleased and surprised by the fact that there wasn't a single soul in sight. The lake-bound tourist-traffic we'd just spent the last hour crawling through in New York was completely absent.
So too were the billboards—it took us a few minutes to figure out what was different! Constant advertising is so much a part of the American landscape that it hardly registers as being there (until it isn't, and you realize how much nicer it is).
Though we had only crossed a narrow lake, we felt as though the ferry had teleported us into another world, one faintly reminiscent of our first day in Romania. With a deep sigh of conscious contentment, we drove on, watching as a thunderous, cathartic storm gathered strength overhead.
As heavy drops of rain began plummeting onto our car, we pulled into a parking lot outside the quaint city of Middlebury. After a brief talk, our conclusion was clear: we'd been in the state for less than an hour and already we knew we'd be happy to call it home. Suddenly, we had a viable option to research!
Deciding to make the most of our brief time in the area (we had to be in Maine the following morning), I pulled out my laptop, found a property nearby, and suggested that we go look at it. Before Tara could respond, I was dialing the number of the listing's real estate agent.
…and just like that, our land-hunting project became real. On the other end of the phone, a friendly man named Ray invited us to his office downtown. There, we chatted for well over an hour, poring over a map of Vermont, picking his brain about the particulars of purchasing a piece of property, and the social, cultural, and meteorological climate of the state.