Ohio & Vermont

by Britta on 17 August 2009

in Across the USA,Travel

Hiking on Wright's Mountain, Vermont

Wright's Mountain, Vermont

There are moments when I travel when I am struck by my own independence and freedom. I felt it on the train leaving Minnesota the other day; I felt it again when I crossed the Canadian border this morning. I experienced it when I first went to Europe, and I’ve experienced it every time I’ve left the country since then. It’s like I realize again that I’m on my own. No one is responsible for me anymore, and I’m free to make my own decisions. It’s a heady feeling, and it leaves me exhilarated every time. It’s fleeting, though—it lasts until I have to start thinking about logistics, or communicating in another language, or reading road signs in kilometers instead of miles—but it’s a feeling I savor every time I feel it.

It’s a feeling that appears on its own, without conscious provocation on my part, and excites me for all of the possibilities ahead of me. I’ll admit, it does scare me a little bit, too. All that fredom also means that when I get stuck I’ve got only myself to rely on. I’m ok with that—I’m usually proud of myself once I get unstuck—but the future and the unknown can sometimes be a little daunting.

Take today, for example. My Vermont friends, who I visited for three days, were kind enough to let me borrow their car to spend a few days in Montreal. It’s about a three-hour drive, an hour to the border from their place and a couple hours beyond that to Montreal. When I pulled into the border patrol station, I noticed I was nervous. All of my stuff was in order, but still, I was nervous. What if they turned me back? What if they decided it wasn’t ok that I borrowed my friends’ car? What if? I handed up my passport, answered all of the border agent’s questions, and when she handed it back to me with a “Have a nice day,” adrenaline flooded through my body. She let me through, she even welcomed me to her country, here I am about to drive in kilometers and speak French and learn the rhythms of a foreign city. So exciting!

Prior to my excitement at the border, I spent a few days with friends in Vermont, and before that, a few days with friends in Ohio. I’m making my way across the country before I head abroad, and I’m really glad I did this. Not only do I get to see old friends, I get to see parts of the country that I probably wouldn’t visit without knowing people there, and I get to add several more states to my list that weren’t on there before: Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts.

Ohio was warm and humid—it seems the East is having a heat wave after a cool, rainy summer, and I happen to be here for it. Great timing (although my nose has gotten a little pink)! I visited a friend and her family—her two little boys are rambunctious and exhausting, but completely endearing—and was pushed and pulled by the tides of a little Ohio town surrounded by corn and bean fields. We walked to the park, played outside in the kiddie pool, visited the neighboring town where all the shops are, and celebrated her younger son’s first birthday.  Then I hopped on the train late at night after four days with her and headed to Boston, where I stayed overnight and caught the bus to New Hampshire the next day.

Hanover turns out to be a neighboring town to the one my friends live in, so I got to cross another state off my list. Hanover is also on the Appalacian Trail, so as the bus pulled into town, I saw numerous thru-hikers with their backpacks passing through town. Mine was a little heavy to take down the trail, but I looked the part, anyway. The warm and sunny weather followed me to Vermont, where I hiked up the mountain near my friends’ house, went swimming in a neighbor’s pond, and barbecued and drank beer and cooked s’mores in the still-warm evening air. We went to Burlington and swam in Lake Champlain, and on the way back, visited the Ben & Jerry’s factory, of course.

I’m now in Montreal, Quebec, where I drove in my friends’ car after successfully (and easily) crossing the border. I’m using my French, poor though it is, and getting along fairly well, if I do say so myself, although I did have to use English to book my room. I did visit a great used bookstore tonight, and am now the proud owner of a not-so-new French-English dictionary. I’ll be learning British English as well—it was published in the U.K. I can hardly wait to get to France!

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Rick September 1, 2009 at 7:00 am

Ah, the feeling of traveling! Can’t wait to hear about your next legs of your trip. Hope all is going well.

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