I started writing about planning a college road trip for my 17-year-old son, Sam back in the winter. Over the months the plans changed to include the wants and needs of two friends, adds and drops of some universities in the itinerary, and the concern for the possible winter weather in northern New England.
Over the next few weeks I will give you some glimpses of places we experienced on this trip. This post will be more about the vast differences of environments we visited and the reactions of my young trip companions.
First, though, I think a comment about group traveling. My son and I know each other, of course. My son and his two friends know each other well, but my interaction with the other Sam (let’s call him SamE) and Blake had been limited to cross country meets and the times they would come here to hang out with my Sam. I laid down some rules prior to the trip
1- no McDonalds—we would be trying to eat local foods as much as possible so they needed to be open to the experience
2- in order to keep costs as low as possible we would be sharing a room in whatever lodging I had selected….we needed to be courteous to each other etc etc
3- if we had a more relaxed timetable, their desire to stop and see something only needed a “can we stop?” If we we were pushing to get somewhere (only a few times) we would need to do running stops for any photos.
4-potty whenever the opportunity presents itself, a long standing rule for our family trips.
During the trip I added two more rules:
5-No more hitting SamE and
Boys will be boys and kids, no matter the age need to be told to keep their hands to themselves. LOL
We were gone 8 days from Saturday morning to the next Saturday evening and visited 5 universities. We met up with another friend at Syracuse as their own college road trip circled there the same day we visited. Rapid texting with other friends indicated one girl’s family visited 10 schools in their 7 days trip…she admitted it was hard to keep track of each but still was able to pick her favorites.
We took two days to drive up to Burlington, Vermont. Located in the northern area of New England, 65 miles south of the Canadian border, Burlington is the largest city in Vermont with a population of about 42,000. This is slightly smaller than our hometown, Huntington, West Virginia, so it was an easy comparison. Established in 1785, there is a mixture of historic architecture.
The city in on Lake Champlain with a park, aquarium, ferry service and Amtrak train station. A four-block section of Church Street has shops and restaurants. We were there for two nights and enjoyed meals in restaurants were proud to use mostly local ingredients. The locavore food movement is very strong in Burlington.
The University of Vermont campus is located about one mile up the hill from the downtown area. The campus is one of the most prestigious Green Universities in the U.S. with one Platinum and many Gold ranked buildings. It definitely rated the highest in the five schools we visited in terms of environmental considerations with a considerable solar array as well as its own wind turbine, recycling bins all over and a recent vote on campus to eliminate the sale of water in plastic bottles; they will be installing water dispensers for people to refill their own bottles.
The campus also has some old buildings with ornate architecture. including one old dorm which supposedly has a ghost.
We spent some time talking with an admissions officer after attending the information session and tour. The tour leaders walked backwards, always fun to watch.We also met with the long distance running coaches and checked out the athletic facilities. No football team at UVM…hockey is king.