Into Grandma Moses and Robert Frost Country
Circling back towards Brattleboro, stop in Bennington, with its 306ft limestone Battle Monument, commemorating another one the Redcoats lost back in 1777. Art lovers head for the museum, with its collection of naïve paintings by Grandma Moses, the local farmer's wife who first picked up a brush at 70. Poetry lovers walk to the Old First Church, to pay their respects to America's best-loved poet, Robert Frost. On his grave, the epitaph is one of his classic lines: "I had a lover's quarrel with the world".
Although most visitors follow the obvious north-south routes, the trick is to zigzag east and west, on roads leading up and over the mountains.
Take the middle of the state, between Quechee in the east and Rutland in the west. Deep in Quechee Gorge is a crafts centre par excellence
in a converted woollen mill. Here, Irishman Simon Pearce makes and sells his superb (and expensive) glass. Nearby is Woodstock,
yet another picture-perfect village. The posh inn, the galleries and shops are all meticulously maintained, as are
the greens on the scenic but tight little golf course and the slopes of the ski resort, site of the USA's first ski tow in 1934. In between the villages,
expect roadside stands in summer and autumn, loaded with ears of corn, bushel baskets of apples and piles of pumpkins.
There are also historic sites. Plymouth, a speck on the map, was the home of America's 30th president, Calvin Coolidge. Dour and direct, he led the country in the 1920s. A typical Vermonter, 'Silent Cal' followed in a long line of independent thinkers. Between 1777 and 1791, Vermont battled for its own autonomy from New York and New Hampshire, as well as from George III.
That passion for individual liberty lives on, with politics taken more seriously than by many Americans - or Brits, for that matter. Enthusiastic supporters of the abolition of slavery and the Union cause in the Civil War, Vermonters voted to fight Germany in two World Wars long before the rest of the USA made up its mind. And they still act on their principles today. In May 2001, Vermont Republican Senator Jim Jeffords stunned President George W Bush by resigning from the party, effectively throwing the US Senate into Democratic Party control. To the delight of his fellow Vermonters, Jeffords is now an Independent. And it was Vermont that first approved of civil unions, as gay marriages are coyly described.
One of the world’s favourite ice creams is Vermont-made: Ben & Jerry’s. Head for Waterbury to take the tour and taste new flavours.
No wonder it is one of the most popular attractions in the state!
After touring the
state's No 1 attraction, you get free tasters of flavours old and new, from the Full Vermonty to Cherry Garcia (after Jerry Garcia, their fave rock artist).
Another is the Burton Flagship Store outside Burlington; after all, Jake Burton perfected the snowboard in Vermont about 25 years ago,
and Vermont’s Stratton Mountain resort was the first to welcome riders.