Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stage 4: Stowe to Enosburg Falls, VT.

The highlight of this leg of my journey is the climb to Smuggler’s Notch. In the early 1800s, the US Congress placed an embargo on the imports of all English goods in an attempt to avoid becoming involved in the wars declared against the French Empire under Napoleon. The British circumvented the embargoby simply shipping their food, clothing and medical supplies to Canada and smuggling the materials down the Long Trail and through what is now called Smugglers’ Notch Pass. The geology of the pass is, apparently, well suited for smuggling because of its remoteness and the fact that it is laced with many caves and caverns which served as hideaways and could be used to store goods and supplies. For well over 100 years, Smugglers’ Notch was used to transport illegal goods into and out of the United States -- from cattle to slaves to alcohol, during the Prohibition Era. The caves are good for storing illegal alcoholic beverages at near room temperature, or so I’ve read.

After I’ve climbed the Notch, I have just 30 miles to ride before I arrive at Carol and Pete’s. They’re hosting the Morrison Family Reunion this year and have, for the second time, offered lodging to our family at this event. Their property is 1/10 mile from the Canadian border (the last time we were up there, we snuck across through the woods for just long enough that the helicopters came out looking for us -- it was very exciting). By that time, I will have crossed over covered bridges, coasted past cornfields and grazing cows, taken in a landscape dotted by churches with tall steeples and 18th-century brick houses behind white picket fences. I will probably race at least one farmer on a tractor and more than a few old timers will stare at me from their dilapidated porches. I will ride quietly though more than one quaint village, but I will also see more than my share of metropolitan New England. Although I will miss several sites of historic interest because they are not on my direct path, I feel like I will finally get to know the state where I spent 5 years of my life--a period of time not nearly long enough to shed the term “flatlander,” as Vermonters call everyone who hails from across state lines.

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