We heard a rumor than Brian Andle was in the area and we were certainly eager to meetup. We looked at the map and decided to meet at a place called Lebanon New Hampshire. It wasn’t actually halfway, but because we had to move the MoHo to a new spot in the morning, we couldn’t get as early a start as we would have liked. So thanks Brian for driving a little further!
We didn’t know much about Lebanon New Hampshire. In fact, we had never even BEEN to New Hampshire before. Unfortunately our state sticker map only applies to the states the MoHo itself has been in so we couldn’t add the New Hampshire sticker. I’m not sure what the rule on that sticker is, but we have stuck with a strict definition. If the MoHo tires didn’t touch soil in that state, it doesn’t count.
We crossed the border into New Hampshire, but it had no sign. Not one. Nothing. On I-89.
That’s the first time we’ve ever seen a state border crossing with no sign! New Hampshire, you got some work to do!!!
Lebanon turned out to have a fantastic brewpub where we had lunch. And where we found this guy!
After lunch, we walked around the town square area. Like most New England towns, it was very picturesque. City hall was on one side of the square in a classically New English building.
There were several picturesque churches including the Baptist church. The sun was shining on this one with a brilliant blue sky and puffy clouds. If only those #@!$@# power lines weren’t there!
Ultimately, there wasn’t a lot to see in Lebanon and we had to wrap up our visit and head back toward home (Burlington).
Since the Vermont Capitol, Montpelier, was on the way back, we decided to stop in and see what it was all about.
Montpelier, according to Google, has less than 8,000 residents and is the smallest state capitol in the USA. Right in the center of main street is the Vermont capitol building, its gold dome shining in the sun like a beacon. The long entrance ramp like a rolled out red carpet made of Vermont granite welcoming us. Stunning.
The building sits at the base of a hill with beautiful trees behind it.
I was absolutely shocked that we could just WALK IN. Door open, no guards, no metal detectors, no security of any kind. Just welcome. Ho-lee-cow! I didn’t realize places like this still existed.
After wandering around, we met a volunteer who gave us a personal tour. Just Heather and I. The two of us. And nobody else.
We went up to the second floor on these beautiful cast iron stairs. It turns out the previous state house burned down due to the woodburning heating system and they vowed the replacement building would be fireproof. Technically, the house that burned was the second house since the first house was torn down and replaced with a second much more ornate house. The current house is the 3rd house.
Incidentally, the current building is STILL heated by burning wood. Somehow, that fits perfectly with Vermont.
Upstairs, we walked right into the Vermont House of Representatives chamber. It was gorgeous with a massive chandelier, polished hardwood furniture, and ornate ceiling.
Vermont does something that I believe EVERY governing body should do. It mixes representatives from all parties in the seating arrangement.
No “Democrat” side, no “Republican” side.
No “the other side of the aisle” madness.
People from both parties actually talking to each other? Pure. Genius.
The Senate chamber was much smaller than the House, but no less ornate.
The Senate chamber has been restored to the appearance it had in 1859, right down to the pattern on the carpet. Even the furniture is original, as in its the actual furniture that was installed in 1859.
Unbelievably, or rather sadly believably, the beautiful domed ceiling you see here was hidden by ugly, foul acoustic tiles that were installed in the 1950s.
I don’t know what happened to designers in the 1950s and 1960s, but they built some of the ugliest buildings, lacking in all character, that we have ever seen. Worse, they disfigured beautiful old buildings in the name of progress, or modernism, or something. Gack. Fortunately, all of that nasty stuff was removed and the original dome was re-exposed.
From here, we walked right into the Governor’s office. You hear me. The Vermont Governors office. We walked in.
Its quite nice, by the way. The only rule is that only the Governor sits in the Governor’s chair. Compliance with that rule was strictly enforced. By the honor system.
I absolutely and completely love Vermont. The idea that this kind of place still exists boggles my mind.
The last room we saw was dedicated to the Vermonters who fought in the Civil War. We often think of the Civil War as a Southern conflict, but those Northern troops had to come from somewhere.
Turns out Vermont was 100% pro-abolitionist and was very active in the anti-slavery movement before the Civil War. Vermont was the last proud stop on the underground railroad and many ex-slaves crossed the Vermont border into Canada.
Once the war began, Vermonters jumped at the chance to end slavery and were renowned for their valor and determination on the battlefield.
The massive painting occupying an entire wall was dedicated to the battle of Cedar Creek which occurred on October 19th, 1864 northeast of Stasburg VA. The Confederate troops launched a surprise attack which drove 7 divisions of Union forces back across Cedar Creek in an apparent rout of the Union. About the time all appeared lost, the Vermont troops arrived and launched themselves into battle. Seeing this, the rest of the Union troops turned around and marched back into combat where they won the battle.
The battle of Cedar Creek put an end to any Confederate threat to the North and to Washington DC.
The rest of Montpelier is very scenic and much more developed than we would have guessed considering the small population. The buildings are fantastic and fit the town so well.
The court house, for example. Could it get any more Vermont?
This theatre is still in use. In fact, a play was being offered that evening. Sadly we didn’t have time to stay and watch.
Several beautiful old churches are located downtown as well. Again, a perfect shot spoiled by power lines.
Its not all peaches and cream. Apparently icicles fall off the buildings and occasionally kill people. Which is a pretty Vermont way to go. Another would be drowning in a vat of extra-hoppy craft IPA. Or being crushed by a massive wheel of Vermont cheese. Or smothered by a spilled drum of Maple Syrup.
There are quite a few interesting restaurants, stores, and new age practitioners in downtown Montpelier. Craft beer next to hot yoga? Yep. Pure Vermont.
I love it.