The Burlington Junket

My Son, the Rock Star Environmentalist

My Son, the Rock Star Environmentalist and photographer (he took many of the pictures below)

I had the BEST time this weekend bonding with my progeny at the University of Vermont’s Parent’s weekend (officially known as UVM Alumni and Family Weekend). Not a minute of the short stay was wasted, for in addition to the requisite Q.T. we seemed to suck the marrow out of the tiny town (which is nonetheless the largest in Vermont).  I enjoyed myself immensely.

I arrived late on Friday night, but there was still time for the kid to show me the main drag, Church Street Marketplace. That’s Burlington’s First Unitarian Church, built 1816 at the pinnacle of it all. This pedestrian mall is thick with restaurants, shops and free entertainment (a lot of buskers), and this week naturally had lots of college kids socializing with their drunken parents. We grabbed a quick bite at a pizza joint and then hit the hay. It’s a good thing we did. We would need our energy on the day following.

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The next day the two of us and my charming and generous hostess (whose anonymity I’ll safeguard) braved the line at  Henry’s Diner, where I had an obscene repast, the likes of which I have not had in many moons, mostly because the diner breakfasts in NYC have always left something to be desired. Large slabs of thick ham steak (as opposed to the skimpy cold cuts they fob off on you in NY) came with the eggs, along with two biscuits the size of alarm clocks, and enough home fries to feed an entire village of leprechauns. And the waitress practically poured the hot coffee directly down our throats. After this breakfast, in my ideal scenario, I would have done the rest of my sightseeing being pushed around on a gurney.

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From here we we went on to take a tour of my kid’s school, the Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources  and its headquarters the George D. Aiken Center. The building is LEED certified platinum and features a green roof, solar panels, and an eco-machine, which treats and converts wastewater. Get all the stats on this highly impressive green facility here.  The kid’s in good hands, and he takes it seriously. I think he’s found his life’s work!

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Then we made a quick pass through the UVM Fest, basically a gauntlet of vendor tables (where we got to sample switchel, a native Vermontian beverage, also known as haymaker’s punch.) And I got a free tote bag to carry my crap in.

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Next I saw my kid’s swank dorm room and met his cool room mate Victor, who had an awesome top hat and full length overcoat to match, essentially an undertaker costume I badly coveted for my own collection. Cashel says the kid actually goes snowboarding in this outfit, which I think must be how certain supernatural rumors get started.

View of mountains from near his dorm

View of mountains from near his dorm

We next made quick passes through the Billings Library and the Dudley H. Davis Student Center and then took a more serious look at the The Fleming Museum 

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In addition to the temporary exhibitions Look Again: Images of Daily Life, 17th-21st Century and Eat: The Social Life of Food, we were glad to see this old boy:

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Most local museums in New York (e.g., the Met, and the Brooklyn Museum) show their sarcophagi but keep the actual mummies under wraps, if you’ll excuse the expression. Call me an unsophisticated museum goer but I’d much rather get an eyeful of the Walking Dead, especially during Halloween season.

After the campus tour, we walked down the hill towards Lake Champlain.

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Here, we spent a good long while walking the shoreline, checking out the marina, and several natural places along the shore where the boy likes to come with his friends (environmentally oriented and otherwise). AMAZINGLY we ran into one of my former co-workers at my day job in New York, the person who used to have the job I currently hold. This was fairly flabbergasting, and I had to stop myself from asking him which Federal agency he was spying on me for.

On the way back up the hill we went into ECHO Lake Aquarium.

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By now we were both foot sore and starving so we had a late luncheon/ early supper at the Farm House Tap and Grill, beating out the crowds of alumni and parents by supping in the 4-5pm window. (A few hours later we heard there was a 3 hour wait to get in). 

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The place had been recommended by two different people and it didn’t disappoint. Our burgers were delicious, but I’ll also confess we finished them in less than seven minutes. I clocked us.

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 Then, because it is one of the things we always do together, we went to the Roxy Cinema…

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…to see Gravity in 3-D, one of the best first-release movies I have seen in a long, long time. Like everyone else, I plan to see this movie many times, and hope to catch it on an IMAX screen (which they didn’t have at the tiny Roxy, though I enjoyed myself mightily nonetheless)

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Then we had a disgusting amount of ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s in one of their flagship, original stores. How can one come to this area and not do that (I asked myself as chocolate dribbled down my chin and all over my shirt)?

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Then we watched one of the best buskers I have ever seen, in the Church Street Marketplace. I think it may have been “Slackwire Sam” Johnson. I’d say he’s ready for the  big time, but he’s already been there — he was recently on America’s Got Talent.  Not only was he a master of working the crowd and extremely funny, but he did all that while precariously perched on top of five chairs, juggling fire and for the wow finish, a hand stand. The perfect cap for a perfect day!

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2 Responses to “The Burlington Junket”

  1. Travis! I caught this via LinkedIn (don’t worry, my spies only work on the weekends ;)

    It was amazing to run into you!! I was flabbergasted as well! So glad to have seen you and glad you’re doing well. Let’s grab a beer next time you’re visiting.

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