Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wrapping Up the Trip

Now that sleep is starting to get back on a normal schedule again (does anyone really sleep a lot on vacation?), it's time to throw out some final thoughts of our week in Vermont before resuming regular posting...
  • With the exception of one late-night run to the Burger King across the street from our hotel after everything else had closed, I didn't eat at a chain restaurant the entire time we were on the trip, by design. Even the meals during the layovers at O'Hare each way came from non-chains: a local sandwich shop in the Jazz Food Court on the way over, and a hot dog stand on the way back. Even my one trip to a coffeehouse was to the Uncommon Grounds on Church Street, neglecting the Starbucks across the way. In fact, I haven't been to a Starbucks since a day or two before we left (that's around two weeks now, which has to be a personal record since the chain came to Texas in the '90s).

  • Vermont was very kind to my allergies. I use a nasal spray every morning to ward them off, and take a pill at night when necessary. That pill was only taken maybe two or three times at the most.

  • As we returned to Texas, I saw that gas was creeping towards $4 a gallon. In Vermont, we saw that with regularity in the more remote areas (the highest price seen for regular was $4.14), though a lot of stations seemed intent on sticking at $3.99 for as long as possible. At least some of this price was precipitated by a very high state tax (posted on the pump) that's been in effect since 1997.

  • This was the first time I didn't buy any sort of T-shirt on the Vermont trip. The festival shirts sold out rather quickly, but, despite the hoopla over the artist, I didn't care much for the designs, which was also the case at a few gift shops where we stopped.

  • For the second trip in a row, the World Naked Bike Race coincided with our band's performance on Saturday. Last time, we came upon it unexpectedly as we drove downtown, but this time, it started right at the base of Church Street near the stage. The general consensus among my friends and myself was again: Too many dudes. (The other general consensus was that any accident sustained during this race would be very painful.)

  • The most unusual news story I read while I was here would have to be this: A reporter from alternative newsweekly Seven Days made it her mission to eat at every food cart on Church Street in a single day.

  • Vermont is a great place to visit, but they do have a way of eztracting a little extra pound of flesh from the tourists, in the form of a meals and rooms tax of 9%, with a local option available as well. (In Burlington, it appeared to come out to about 11%, which totally blew the Texas tip computation formula out of the water; around here, it's 8.25%, which makes "double the tax" an easy way to do a basic tip.)

  • Of course, the above tax applies to everyone, not just tourists; some of my college-aged friends on the trip wondered how the local college students could afford to eat up there all the time. My theory is that some of the outlying places probably aren't as expensive as the downtown ones (just like anyplace), and there were some reasonable places downtown as well (Henry's Diner, Ken's Pizza, etc.).

  • Burlington is one of those places we've visited on trips where I've always thought "I could live here" when I was visiting. I completely realize, however, that I would need to do at least two things before contemplating such a move: 1) Spend some time there in the winter, and 2) Spend some time in the summer that's not during jazz festival. That being said, I'm sure that the local arts scene doesn't just wither up and die during the other 51 weeks of the year; a glance at Seven Days' event calendar does show some jazz, even if not as much as last week.
As I've said, I'm big on the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. I hope to return there even before the school does, as either a patron or a player.

(I also have some more pictures to post, but, in an attempt to not use all my Blogger bandwidth, I'll either post them at my MySpace or activate my Flickr account.)

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