just got back from burlington vermont and the farm to cafeteria conference. as conferences go, it was actually pretty good. more on that in later posts, these are some random highlights from around burlington.
i liked burlington better than i thought i would, for a city of only something like 40,000 it has a lot going on. all i knew about burlington was that it was home of ben and jerry’s ice cream, with such uber hippie products like phish food, wavy gravy, and cherry garcia. sure burlington seems full of hippies, but it was not reeking of essential oils in the way i expected. maybe it has something to do with the sale of ben and jerry’s to unilever.
burlington has a surprisingly good public transportation system, and riding the bus was a great way to save my feet which were threatening to develop blisters. this bus stop had a little solar panel on the top. i’m not sure what it powered.
it would be pretty easy to think that burlington is all white city without much diversity if you just stay in the downtown area. the bus is another story. i was surprised by how many languages were spoken. burlington is a refugee resettlement community, and while this has made for some difficult transitions for it’s traditionally white community, certainly makes for a more interesting community.
venturing out of downtown and into the old north end neighborhood the community seemed to get more diverse with ethnic markets and restaurants around and more folks out sitting on porches talking. there was also some pretty funky colored homes. my main reason for venturing into the north end was to visit old spokes home. i had been referred to this place in my search for a beater bike to ride around burlington. they didn’t have a beater bike in stock, but they had a bike museum in the attic full of awesome old bikes to check out. the lugs on this hetchins magnum opus are amazing – some might even say gaudy. i would likely call them gaudy. certainly not the bike for me, but you still can’t help but admire the craftmanship that went into it. not shown in this picture are the equally distinctive curved seat stays. weird.the upstairs is full of old bikes, it’s a pretty small space and the bikes are kind of piled on top of each other making it a little hard to figure out just which bike is which and what is going on. there are cute little signs that help you to understand but it still requires a certain amount of dedication. a wooden framed bike with ornate lugs and an even more ornate light. certainly not concerned about saving weight on this one. bicyle built for three – called what? i’ve heard a triplet. upstairs is also where all the used bikes lived. i was pretty into one of the vintage raleighs with rod brakes, but really can’t justify getting something like that. the only bike i’m really in the market for is a touring bike, and nothing fit that bill.
burlington seemed like a city with a pretty strong bicycle culture, plenty of bike lanes, bikes parked in front of stores, and folks on the road. i was still shocked to see how little regard folks paid to security. these are a couple of pretty high quality bikes locked up with a shitty combination wire lock. wouldn’t take much work to snap this one open, and they were locked to a tree, and not running though the quick release tires. plenty of brooks saddles, and surly long haul truckers. these folks must ride for some serious distance.
like any good crunchy city, burlington has its natural foods co-op, and this one was especially good. full of local products – but i was especially entertained by this sign over the fake meat section. randomly walking though burlington i came across this csa distribution.best surprise of bulington? that would have to be the walks in centennial woods, about three hundred acres of woods on the university of vermont’s campus, and a close walk from the dorm room i stayed in. more to follow.