If The Mountains Are Green, It Must Be Vermont
It's time for Chapter 11 in "Know Limpy's States" Imagine that. Two chapters in one week. Does the fun ever start?
Vermont is the 14th state, entering the union on March 4, 1791. Apparently they declared independence in 1777 from the British, and for good measure, threw in the other colonies too. Contentious little bastards. There was some talk about joing Canada, but after realizing that joining with Canada meant they would then have to eventually agree to socialized medicine, might-as-well-be-legal pot and a strong commitment to keeping the environment clean, they decided discretion was the better part of valor and stuck with the US. And that's why today Vermont is known as a state with one of the worst environmental records, a strong anti-drug stance and a rock-ribbed Republican political system.
Seriously, what the fuck? Are we sure they didn't join Canada? They're more Canadien than Quebec for Christ's sake!
Prior to the Revolution, New York and New Hampshire actually fought a few battles over who would get Vermont, (Vermont being between them and all), with the famous Ethan Allen leading the fight to join Vermont to New Hampshire. Which made sense because then there would have been one square state instead of two triangles. But then the Revolution got started and everyone realized they could have more fun fighting the British. So Allen and his famous "Green Mountain Boys", (they were this close to going with "Chartreuse Moutain Boys", until someone pointed out how gaytastic that would sound), invaded Fort Ticonderoga and took it from the British. And by invaded I mean "showed up one night while everyone was sleeping and made them give him the keys." Apparently the only musket fired in anger didn't even work.
Vermont is famous for its production of maple syrup, althought thanks to global warming they'll probably soon be famous for their awesome pineapples. They're also famous for their production of marble, and possess both the world's largest granite quarry and the world's largest underground marble quarry. Because I guess it wasn't hard enough to quarry marble from above ground. The marble industry figures prominently in this book, by an author I usually like but who in this book took the precaution of making the narrator such a pussy that I found myself rooting for him to die. But there's some neat stuff in there about marble and how to cut your friend's finger off with a marble saw so he doesn't get drafted, knowledge that may or may not be useful in the future.
Vermont is known as the "Green Mountain State", apparently because the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the first European to explore the area, called it "Vert mont", which means "green mountain" in French and means Vermont to the rest of us. However, as currently nearly 3/4 of Vermont's electricity is generated by a nuclear power plant in the southeast of the state, perhaps one day the mountains really will glow green all year round.
The state bird is the hermit thrush. Which seems kind of fitting given some of the people I've met up in the northern area of the state. One time I was returning from a trip to upstate New York and was driving my then girlfriend's father's car. It was old and at some point fairly far up north a hose let go, causing us to limp into the next alleged town. We found a gas station that looked like something you see in those movies where the kids break down and then all except the virgin get killed by cannibals. And we didn't even have any virgins with us. But we weren't getting back home without help, so I pulled into Eustus's Gas n' Go and looked for help. Two guys who looked like grizzly bears and smelled like they molested sheep, (don't ask how I know that), came rumbling out and looked at the motor. Within seconds they diagnosed the problem I had missed, (a broken hose spraying water everywhere), produced a new hose and rigged it up to the engine. Then they refused any payment saying "t'weren't nothing". They did however, accept the six-pack I produced from a nearby dry goods store. Then my girlfriend and I fought all the way back to Connecticut. It's a sad story, but the guys in upstate Vermont were really nice and not at all cannibalistic. Which is too bad, because I totally would have let them have the girl for free.
To be fair, at that point she would have done the same to me. And I was meatier.
I don't know what any of this has to do with Hermit Thrushes, except that these guys looked like they could have a few of them in their beards.
The state flower, officially, is the red clover. Judging from the picture I'm looking at it's something I consider a weed when I see it on my lawn. Unoffically, if you've ever been to a Phish concert, the state flower is something else entirely.
The highest point in Vermont is Mt. Mansfield, at 4,393 feet above sea level. I've never climbed it. Partly because I'm lazy and it's several hours away from me, but mostly because it's also a ski resort and it just seems kind of less than a challenge to walk up a ski path in the summer. But one of these days I'll do it.
There are 619,107 people in Vermont. Only Wyoming has less. Which makes sense, because if you had to choose between the state where Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream was invented and the state where "Brokeback Mountain" took place, where are you going?
Here's a funny side-note. Apparently the American Humane Society raised concerns that several sheep were mistreated during the filming of Brokeback, a Wikipedia entry that just begs for some kind of clarification.
IF YOU'RE IN VERMONT YOU SHOULD: Avoid the antique stores. My wife and I went through a few stores while I was up there interviewing for a job. They're not shy about the prices. Lake Champlain is nice. There are a lot of great hiking spots, and I think there's a couple of places that'll rent you skis and let you go down a hill. I wouldn't know, because my dexterity is such that downhill skiing for me would result in my certain demise and the near certain demise of anyone within reach of my flailing ski-poles.
MISS VERMONT LOOKS LIKE THIS:
I'm kind of digging Miss Vermont, and not in the "kind of digging a shallow grave by the side of the road" kind of way either. Although I can't shake the feeling she puts her make-up on with a spatula.
LIMPY'S CONNECTION TO THE STATE: Slim. For some reason I've never spent much time in Vermont, doing most of my climbing and hiking in New Hampshire. I didn't get that job I mentioned above, or else I guess I'd have more of a connection to the state. Just as well; the guy seemd like a dick. I have taken the ferry across Lake Champlain, and did not see the monster alleged to live there. And I've got a good friend, or former good friend, last known to be living in Vermont and now probably in jail up there.
HAS LIMPY EVER GOTTEN LAID IN THIS STATE: I think so. Here's the deal. When I interviewed for that job my wife and I went up the night before and stayed in a motel. Where we got to "know" each other in the Biblical sense if you know what I mean. And if you don't, we had sex OK? But I think that the motel might have been in New Hampshire, just over the state line. But since I need to fill out Pug's electoral college placemat, (see comments about Rhode Island), I'm going to claim it as a "yes". If my election goes to the Supreme Court, Vermont will clearly be my hanging chad.
OK kids, we're done with the northeast. The next section of the country in the book is the southeast. So get ready for a trip to Alabama! Please take your seats in the appropriate section of the bus.