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Sail the Wonderful Waters of Lake Champlain

A double-ended ferry on the Burlington-Port Kent route.

Since 1826 the Lake Champlain Transportation Company has been a reliable, safe, and especially friendly form of transportation for travelers desiring to cross the magnificent Lake Champlain on the western border of Vermont.

Travelers can choose among three different routes between Vermont and New York; Grand Island, Vermont and Plattsburgh, New York; Burlington and Port Kent; and Charlotte and Essex.
Grand Island-Plattsburgh is the northernmost route, taking 15 minutes to cross, with 24-hour service provided. Looking to connect with route 87 in New York or 89 in Vermont? Then this is the best way to go.

The best route for sightseeing is the central route at the widest part of the lake. It takes about an hour to get from shore to shore and offers brilliant views of New York and Vermont. In Burlington the dock is right in downtown, walking distance to the many shops, hotels, restaurants and especially the Burlington Waterfront.

At the southern part of the lake the ferry is a 30-minute voyage. The views are magnificent in summer and fall, when the leaves are displaying their golden hues. Although the crossing is open all year long, it can be temporarily closed in the winter months if ice conditions or strong winds make sailing hazardous.

Explore the World of Bug Art on Your Next Visit to Vermont

John Hampson’s “Bug Art Star.”

While we are on the subject of art created by non-vertebrates, such as spider webs, let’s take a long look at art literally made from insects and their various body parts.

Yes, right here in Vermont those so inclined can hop on over to Saint Johnsbury and have a peek at the amazing art created by John Hampson. On display at the Fairbanks Museum are geometric mosaic designs made with thousands of actual moths, beetles and butterflies. The insects were meticulously placed on wooden boards and framed, creating an extraordinary, and unusual, to say the least, work of art.

Hampson was born in 1836 in Stockport, Cheshire, England. He arrived in the USA in 1860, married in the 70s, and then moved to Newark, New Jersey. He was fascinated with and passionate about insects. Due to his extraordinary love of all things insect, he spent literally years assembling each one of his nine mosaics. Each artwork contains anywhere from 6,300 to more than 13,500 insects or their parts. Even the frames of the mosaics are composed of shining beetles and colorful flies.

In 1923 the Newark Evening News waxed poetic about Hampson’s art:

“Most of them are the common field flies and moths – the skippers, cabbage flies and other familiar to everyone who has a back yard. It would take perhaps three or four years for Hampson to complete one picture, mounting the insects so that the white, black, red, orange, blue and yellow wings would form pictures of famous American generals in characteristic poses, or intricate designs such as the North Star, completed in 1887, or the Centennial Wheel, finished in 1892, copies from patchwork quilts, which had won prizes at exhibitions. But no scraps of silk or calico can match the deathless coloring contained in the wings of these tiny children of the fields and flowers.”

Vermont’s Homage to Charlotte the Spider is the Original Web Site

Spider Web Photo by William Waterway.

Williamstown, Vermont is the home to one of the most unlikely tourist traps a visitor can come across: Knight’s Spider Web Farm.

Although it is a small operation, it is certainly the largest of its kind in the world, considering that, as far as we know, it is the only one of its kind: A place where humans exhibit the artistic work of spiders, their amazing silken webs.

Less literal than Charlotte’s amazing webs, which extolled the virtues of her dear friend Wilbur the Pig, these webs are strictly abstract art.

Over 16,000 webs have been weaved and collected on the farm since Will Knight opened it in 1977. The webs are produced by orb-weaver spiders in two barns, which are packed with wooden frames which hang from the ceiling. The frames, which are built on grids, are irresistible to the artistic arthropods, and the weave like crazy, creating frameable finished products.

When a web is ready, Knight chases away the artist and begins the collecting process. First, he sprays each web with white paint to increase visibility. Then he passes a wood plaque through the hole, which saves the web. After he adds a few coats of lacquer Knight has a wonderful piece of spider art already mounted and preserved.

Since this is very much a work in progress, there could be not that much to see when you visit. The spiders can either be hiding, or the webs could have been all recently collected. There is, however, a permanent display of webs for sale. They are reasonable priced, and each one is unique, and hand, or rather, spinneret-made.

Unfortunately a fire in the fall of 2016 permanently closed this fascinating place.

History Buffs Enjoy Vermont Vacations

Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Coolidge. Coolidge was Lt. Governor from 1916-1919.

If American history is your thing, then Vermont should be your destination for your next vacation. Here is just one small example of what hidden gems there are to be found in one of the founding states of the Union.

At the Calvin Coolidge Homestead District/President Coolidge State Historic Site you can bask in a fascinating slice of history. At this site, you can view the very room in which Calvin Coolidge was sworn into office as the 30th president of the United States, at 2.47 am on August 3, 1923 after his predecessor, Warren G. Harding died from a heart attack.

Coolidge was from the tiny town of Plymouth Notch, whose population of 29 was suddenly thrust into national prominence when its native son became VP and then president. The town, and the room where Coolidge became president, has been preserved as it was more than 90 years ago, including the famous kerosene lamp that lit the room where he was sworn into office.

Your visit will take you through the life of Harding and Coolidge, the “Roaring 20s” and the aftermath of the Crash of ’29 and the depression that followed. Learn such tantalizing tidbits like why the White House staff called First Lady Grace Coolidge, “Sunshine,” and why Coolidge kept his three-piece suit on even while farming and fishing, after he became president.

Guaranteed you will learn a wealth of great information during your visit to this lesser known, but still amazing, attraction.

Check Out the New Offerings at Vermont’s Great Ski Resorts

  Pirmin Zurbriggen (1963), alpine skier from Switzerland

Pirmin Zurbriggen (1963), alpine skier from Switzerland

The leaves are changing colors, the thermometer reading is falling, and we Vermonters are dusting off the skis in happy anticipation of heading out to our many wonderful ski resorts. Some of them have added some surprises to their schedules, so here is a summary of the new things we can expect when we head to the hills this winter.

Killington Resort

For the first time in 25 years the eastern USA will have some amazing Alpine World Cup skiing. On November 26-27, the Audi FIS Ski World Cup will take place here in the Killington Resort. The public is invited to watch the Women’s Giant Slalom and Slalom races which will feature the best women technical alpine skiers vying for first place on the Superstar trail. The trail is infamous as the New England steep which is the last Eastern US ski trail still open until late May or even June. At the base of the trail there will be a jumbo screen to watch the full race course, plus the weekend is filled with great fun including free live music, movie premiers and more.

Jay Peak Resort

The attitude of the managers at Jay Peak is that their 5,000 acres are one huge terrain park. However they do realize that some focus is needed, and have decided to increase their snowmaking capacity by 60 percent at its LZ and Jug Handle parks. They are also installing a new water line up the Interstate trail, plus placing 20 new guns along the length of the Interstate. The outcome of these changes will be that the park will be able to open sooner this winter, plus the park will be able to open learning runs at its Tramside area earlier, too.

Suicide Six Ski Area

Chair number 1 at the Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Suicide Six Ski Area is being replaced at a cost of about $1.5 million. The new quad chairlift will double the number of passengers, and will give skiiers a more comfortable as well as quick lift to the top. The money for the overhaul is provided by a grant from the Laurance S Rockefeller Fund.

A Brief Review of Vermont History

Detail from "Deffaite des Yroquois au Lac de Champlain." Drawn by Samuel de Champlain for his "Voyages" (1613)

Detail from “Deffaite des Yroquois au Lac de Champlain.” Drawn by Samuel de Champlain for his “Voyages” (1613)

I am always going on and on about all the great things there are to do here in Vermont, but when have I ever stopped to just tell you a little bit about this magnificent place? So pardon me while I introduce to you- Vermont!

Before we delve into a bit of history, let’s get some of the important facts out of the way. The capital of Vermont is Montpelier, but it is not the largest Vermont city. That designation goes to Burlington. At 9,615 square miles, Vermont is among the country’s smaller states, ranking 45th out of 50. The population is 626,630, making it the next to the last of the states in number of residents. The major industries in the state are the production of maple syrup, dairy farming, tourism, electronics, and forest products such as paper. Two US presidents were born here: Chester Alan Arthur and Calvin Coolidge.

Vermont was the 14th state to join the union, making it the first one after the original 13 declared independence. The date was March 4, 1791. The name Vermont is derived from the French “mont vert,” or “green mountain.”

It is believed that the first European to gaze on Vermont was Jacques Cartier, in 1535. Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer, claimed the area as part of New France in 1609. In 1690 a contingent of Dutch-British settlers arrived from Albany in neighboring New York and established a trading post and settlement at Chimney Point, which is 8 miles west of today’s Addison.
War led to confusion about the boundaries of the region, or perhaps the other way around. In any case, on January 15, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants declared the independence of Vermont. Vermont was self-governing, but could not be admitted to the Union due to a land dispute with New York, which claimed Vermont as part of its own territory. The dispute was finally settled with an exchange of $30,000 to compensate New Yorkers who had claimed they owned land in what became Vermont. The compromise led directly to the admittance of Vermont into the Union on March 4, 1791.

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