Loving the Local Life in Vermont

One of the things I love about traveling is the chance to enjoy mountains, rivers, forests, and cities that other people call home. In seeing how other people live, I also come to appreciate our own little backyard on this vast planet. While we search the globe for new adventures, there are also cities I haven’t visited, and trails I haven’t hiked all within a few hours of home. Since our Spain trip, I’ve been happy staying home gardening and tinkering. Instead of another long adventure, we opted to close out the summer with a short road trip to a part of Vermont we hadn’t seen.

Fresh mountain air

I didn’t really care where in Vermont, I just had a hankering to get away from civilization and breathe some fresh mountain air. After perusing Airbnbs, we came across one that had nice looking views for only $55/night. You could almost book a night with the $40 Airbnb sign-up bonus using a referral link. After checking the weather, we booked our room and headed north.

Finding our own piece of Vermont to enjoy

We really nailed it with our Airbnb. Our host was really cool, and we had fun sharing drinks and talking late into our first night. The next day, we enjoyed a lazy breakfast, then took our host’s dog for a walk. The road ran along the top of a hill with views of blue skies, wild flowers, vibrant gardens, happy cows, and green mountains. To cap it off, we snacked on wild apples and plums growing along the road.

View from our Airbnb backyard

The backyard our our Airbnb boasted the best view on the road, and our host had an outdoor shower. Standing naked out in the sun with nothing but mountain peaks in sight was an experience in itself. I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to just enjoy small things and soak up moments in time as much as I did on this trip.

Mountain top shower with a view

In these remote parts of the country, gas stations are like community centers. Setup as all-in-one gas station, grocery store, hardware store, bottle shop, and diner, these places keep the community going when all the tourists head home. Since they cater to locals, food is good and cheap. We stopped at one down the street and got a massive cheese steak for $7. Over a foot long and heaping with meat, mushrooms and onions, you could cut firewood all day on one of these monsters.

Gas station cheese steak for $7

Enjoying Vermont’s hiking

Stuffed to the brim, we drove a few miles down the road for a hike our host recommended. After an hour of climbing over rocks and up through the pine woods, we reached a fire tower. It swayed in the wind as we climbed, but the views from the top were breathtaking. Blue skies, white clouds, and rolling green mountains stretched to the horizon. Hugging the bars, I was happy to stay up there soaking up the views.

Fire tower view

We had only booked two nights, but weren’t ready to leave. I worked out a deal with our host to stay another night. We reserved the extra day for hunting some local ingredients to cook with, and soaking in the views from the backyard.

A scenic farm just down the road.

Eating out of our backyard

That next day, we walked down to a local farm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a barn so clean, or pigs so happy. We picked up some pork chops out of their self-serve freezer to grill for lunch. When we got home, I picked some apples from a tree out back, and nicked some kale and tomatoes from our host’s garden. Then I gathered sticks for a camp fire while Mrs CK made apple sauce and steamed kale. Once I had a good pile of wood for an evening fire, I grilled up the chops with some garden tomatoes.

Some very happy pigs

The perfectly tender pork chops, apple sauce, kale, and roasted tomatoes were sublime, and the mountain views provided fitting atmosphere. All the ingredients were sourced from our backyard, and made for the best meal I’ve had this year. The pork was the cleanest tasting I’ve ever had – the fat on it was like butter – not a sliver went to waste. The apples I picked from the ground were an early translucent variety. Sweet enough on their own, they made the perfect sauce for pairing with pork chops. This seasonal meal is now going on the books as a Crazy Kicks fall staple.

Best meal of the year, all sourced from our mountaintop

Exploring more farms

After our memorable lunch, we drove down to a nearby vineyard for a farm tour with our host’s friend. I was impressed with the sugar shack he built from trees milled on the property. He also cared for a huge garden with an impressive variety of crops. And of course, we had to check out the chickens. When he offered us some chicks that one of their hens just hatched, we almost caved. But we did take home a big jar of maple syrup.

Almost took home some cute chicks

The day ended with us trying to stop time while taking in the views around a mountain top campfire. And when we couldn’t see the mountains anymore, we looked up to see the most brilliant sky I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t think I’d ever seen the Milky Way before, but we saw it that night. There must have been a billion stars in the sky. We leaned back in awe star-gazing while a few meteors ripped through.

No need to go anywhere

Enjoying Vermont’s beer scene

While I was happy just to smell the fresh pine, breathe the crisp air, and marvel at mountains, Mrs CK had an ulterior motive for the trip. I was happily on board as we stalked the local bottle shops for some Heady Toppers – a prized beer that’s notoriously hard to come by. With an open schedule on weekdays, we didn’t have much trouble scoring all the Toppers our cooler could handle.

We did a little treasure hunting…

While I love traveling abroad, sometimes staying local and taking the time to enjoy life is just as rewarding. This trip only cost us $180 for our Airbnb, and $25 worth of gas for our Prius, Bluebutt. The $7 sandwiches, local pork chops, and foraged apples didn’t cost us anymore than we’d spend at home for food. The views, tastes, sights, and haul of Heady Toppers left me just as satisfied with this little trip as with any of our far away adventures.

17 thoughts on “Loving the Local Life in Vermont

  1. A good reminder that many times its just the simple things that are important and the most enjoyable. I’m the same way in that its fun to just go somewhere different, explore and see the nice scenery. You don’t need to spend big money for “entertainment” or fancy restaurants. A great cheesesteak and a good local beer is all you need πŸ™‚

  2. In Bucks County PA, we have Ringing Rocks, O Wow Cow Ice Cream, Washington Crossing the Delaware,
    and Philly Cheese Steaks just about everywhere. Are there any suggestions in your neck of the Woods? Would love some of your local ideas!

    • We have some great hiking, and mountain biking. I recently found a great hike with incredible views just a couple miles from home. Never knew it was there.

      When the weather is bad, Yale has some really nice free museums. You can’t get a good Philly cheese steak up here, but the New Haven style pizzas are excellent πŸ™‚

  3. AirBnB for $55/night with those views and location was a great deal! Even better that you were able to immerse yourself as a local and enjoy the small pleasures of life. That’s what its all about – kudos!

  4. Nice trip report Mr. CK! Vermont looks really scenic!

    I find it amazing how little us FI-types need when we don’t travel to the usual tourist traps. Travel can be amazingly affordable when we avoid the crowds and go to “normal” places.

    It certainly looks like you had a great time on very little!

    • Thanks, Mr Tako!

      When you learn to live well on less at home, those same skills come along with you on the road. Definitely avoiding the crowds and touristy areas helps bring costs down as well πŸ™‚

  5. Strong work, Mr. CK!

    We often travel to the ends of the earth while folks from afar find the hidden treasures in our backyard that we never thought to explore. Glad you were able to enjoy some of life and Vermont’s simple pleasures.

    I sampled my first Heady Topper and Focal Banger this last month, courtesy of a package from a mutual friend. Top notch.


    • So true, we’re always looking for new trails and activities while traveling, but sometimes forget to look right in our own backyards. I’ve been living in CT for 10 years now, and still manage to surprise myself when we find cool new hikes or interesting free museums. Just gotta take some time to explore locally πŸ™‚

      I tried the Focal Banger with Carl when he was in NY, another great brew. As things cool down, I’m hoping to do a big IPA, and wanted to be able to compare with the Topper. Hopefully I still have some left for that!


  6. Awesome trip! You guys are living the dream. Most people would have spent five times that much and probably gotten less enjoyment out of it. I think a good FI efficiency measure is happiness per dollar spent, and you’re maximizing it well. You can buy yourself a nice tech toy for the same price as your trip and be happy for a few days. Or you can go on a trip to VT and remember the trip for a lifetime. Just got a couple cans of Focal and Crusher courtesy of my brother πŸ™‚

  7. That’s a great trip. We’d love to visit that part of the country someday.
    On a side note, I’m going to have an outdoor bathroom someday. My uncle’s stilt house in Thailand has a shower and toilet outside. Basically on a porch with some screening from surrounding trees. It’s pretty great.

    • If you’re ever on our coast, I would highly recommend going up north. Its beautiful up there.

      The outdoor shower was quite nice, especially on a sunny day. I’ve been contemplating where I could put one at our place. Maybe I’ll have to start planning out some bushes for screening like your dad has πŸ™‚

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