Before deciding to move to Vermont, we had visited the state about six times. All six times, we stayed in the Waterbury-Stowe-Morrisville area. Aside from the things we experienced and observed on those six trips, the majority of our perceptions on Vermont (as out-of-staters) were formed by the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Since moving to Vermont a year ago, many of my assumptions and preconceived notions about Vermont and Vermonters have been shattered (like, for example, not all Vermonters are team Bernie, who knew?) Getting past my out-of-stater assumptions has definitely been a learning experience and I’ve repeatedly been surprised (most times, pleasantly) by the state of Vermont and its people.
Here are my top 5 Vermont Surprises:
Surprise #1: The driving.
Driving in Vermont has taken some getting used to, and I’m not just talking about the winding roads making me perpetually car-sick. I consider myself to be a very cautious driver but I’ve been so surprised that, for the most part, on lower limited roads, Vermonters drive the exact speed limit. Where we moved from, 25mph commonly translated to 32mph and everyone knew it.
Now, it seems, if the speed limit is 50+ in Vermont… that actually means: “Do whatever you want.” On numerous occasions, I’ve been trucking along going 50mph in a 50 zone and been passed around a blind curve by someone going at least 20mph faster than me!
So, I’m now operating under the assumption that 25=25 but 50=90.
Surprise #2: Most people we’ve met also aren’t from Vermont.
That’s right, we’ve met more transplants than actual born and raised Vermonters. I guess we’re just not as special as we thought.
There are ten kids in my son’s Pre-K class, and of those ten, at least 3 (that I know of), moved to Vermont within the past year. I recently joined my local branch of a national hiking organization. So far, every single person I’ve met on a hike has moved to Vermont from another state.
I was definitely surprised at first, because moving to Vermont seemed like such a random thing, but I’m also not surprised at all. Vermont has so much to offer young families.
Surprise #3: There are no crowds.
When we first moved here, we were still in the “got to get there early to avoid the crowd” mode. When we were very new, we decided to take the kids to see Cars 3 on opening night. We stressed about crowds ahead of time, left our house early, and arrived early to avoid the aforementioned “crowds.” There were, in fact, no crowds; we were the only people there early and the theatre never even filled.
I put off getting my Vermont drivers license for almost 10 months because I didn’t want to sit at the DMV for hours with a 3 year-old. One Tuesday morning, my husband offered to hang with our little guy so I could finally get my license changed. I was ready for the long wait at the DMV. I packed a snack and a book to read. Before I even had my paperwork filled out, I was called back! It turned out I was missing one form of identification so, I had to make a second trip about a week later. This time, I checked in at the door and before I even grabbed a seat to wait, I was called.
I’m not sure how long this one will take to adjust to, but I am certainly not complaining! I hate crowds… but in the meantime, if you invite my family somewhere, expect us to be early and anxious.
Surprise #4: There is so much to do in spring/summer/fall.
Sure, Vermont has long winters. And, prior to moving here, winter was mainly what I associated with the state, especially ski resorts. The only places in Vermont I had even heard of were Stowe, Killington, and Jay Peak. Once we were planning our move, all we would hear was, “Hope you like the cold” and “Get ready for the snow!”
Surprisingly, it turns out, Vermont is not 9 months of winter (as we’d been led to believe) with just one month for spring, one month for summer, and one month for fall.
Spring, summer, and fall in Vermont are beautiful and there is SO much to do! Beautiful state parks with hiking, swimming, and boating. Mountains to climb, cool quarries, falls, and holes to swim in, adventure centers, historical sites… the list could go on.
The weather in spring, summer, and fall, is warm during the day and perfect for bonfires at night. The colors go from vibrant green in the spring to the most incredible reds, oranges, and yellows in the fall. There is not a single season that is not beautiful in Vermont (there is even beauty in mud season– believe it or not).
Vermont is so much more than just winter, cold, and snow. So much.
Surprise #5: The Mountains.
Yes, I knew there were mountains (duh, the Green Mountain State); but I underestimated just how beautiful they would be. They are striking and stunning.
Now, I know my husband and I will forever be “flatlanders” but, my children will grow up here. I hope that they never take for granted the absolute beauty of the mountains that surround them. I hope the mountains never become so normal that they cease to be noticed.
Often, I find myself smiling while I drive; taking in the views. Whenever I notice an exceptionally beautiful vista, I am sure to point it out to my kids. I want them to notice and to appreciate it. It is not this beautiful everywhere.
Bonus Surprise: I Have an Accent.
I did not even realize I said “wooder” instead of “wah-ter” until a waitress in Jay literally could not understand what I was asking for. Another person at the table had to translate for me. The neighborhood kids chuckle when ever I say coffee and dog (aka caw-fee and dawg).