Vermont: Trespassing and Maple Syrup

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

There are no national forests or parks in Vermont, yet the vast majority of this tiny state is rural and forested.  Farming, maple sugaring, and logging seem to co-exist in peace.  Quiet dirt roads lined with dense stands of trees are plentiful in the Northeast Kingdom, the region known for its wild and unspoiled character.  During my visit the fall colors were in full force.

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

The first day I happened on a self-service farm stand along a state highway.  Take what you want, write the items in the log book, and deposit your money.  Alongside herbs and vegetables were 1960’s-era newspapers, artwork, and old, undesirable clothing.  Prices were high.  I moved on.

Finding a campsite was challenging due to the lack of officially marked public land.  I drove down two 4×4 roads to find farms at the end.  The next promising trail ended at a large bog.  I drove out of that one in reverse the whole way because there was no place to turn around.  Finally I found Mud Pond Pass, a forest road riddled with large puddles.  A dry and otherwise perfect camping spot sat at its end.  Shortly after going to bed I started hearing loud booms.  At first I wondered if I was being shot at.  Vague flashes of color against the cloud cover and the sound of rockets led me to conclude it was harmless fireworks.  I went back to bed.  They shot until midnight.

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

The next morning I explored additional dirt roads.  One particular road attracted me due to its exceptionally narrow and rough tread.  It led through some woods, past a farmhouse and agricultural field, and into the woods again.  There I ran into a landowner felling an approximately 100-foot-tall tree with his chainsaw.  The man’s name was Nolan, and he owned all of the land from the beginning of this road to its end.  He never told me I was trespassing or complained about my being there.  He never even brought up his status as the owner until I asked him specifically.  He appeared to be well over the age of 60 but still very capable of hard physical labor.

I never meant to trespass on anyone but was glad I did.  It allowed me to meet Nolan, and we had an interesting talk for at least 10 minutes.  Nolan worked in a factory for 18 months as a young man, but couldn’t stand it.  After a long stint as a dairy farmer he bought a tract of maple trees.  “There was no future in milking cows,” he said.  “This way I can sugar and have a retirement.”  I told Nolan he didn’t seem like a man who took a lot of breaks.  We shook hands, said goodbye, and I left.

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

My next stop in Vermont was the Goodrich Maple Farm.  I love real maple syrup, and the farms advertise free tours and tastings.  Upon arrival I was told that the next tour would commence after a few more people showed up.  In the meantime, a guide and his two tourists arrived in the tasting room at the conclusion of their tour.  I tasted with them, and still no other customers showed.  Finally the employee put me in a room to watch a video by myself.  The video went over how maple syrup was produced, harvested, and boiled into the end product.  The amateur narration was laced with a strong dose of propaganda around the superiority of Vermont syrup.  At the end of the movie I asked the employee about the rest of the tour.  She replied that the movie was my tour.  I left feeling that I had been lied to and short-changed.

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Click to enlarge.

I next stopped at Bragg Farm and requested the advertised tour.  The employees explained that since this was the off-season I could watch a video for the tour.  I told them I had already seen the video, and a video was not a tour.  I was then taken to the sugar house and given a proper showing.  Bragg produces only 900 gallons of maple syrup per year.  It uses old-fashioned equipment and processes to produce the best flavor.  The Bragg syrup was tastier than the competition.  I bought some at a 10% discount.  At only 900 gallons per season I’m surprised there was any left.

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About Jerry
Working in Corporate America for many years, I wanted to break free of the office walls for a bit and explore the world. Having put the pieces in place, I am first exploring the USA by road. Colleagues and friends expressed interest in my travels, giving rise to Office Escape. It is my honor to share my adventures.

One Response to Vermont: Trespassing and Maple Syrup

  1. TBM says:

    I’ve driven through Vermont, but didn’t have a chance to explore. Didn’t know they didn’t have national parks.

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