blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

To Burlington and back, on impulse

Not a very clear view of the St. Lawrence at the border
Chris wanted a day out during the long weekend, so we got up early and flew to Burlington in Vermont. Because of the hot, humid, high pressure weather, we were in a very hazy sky; Chris, flying IFR to cross the border, needed all his instrument skills to get us there because we could hardly see the ground at all. We crossed the St. Lawrence near Massena and then the Adirondack mountains, Lyon Mountain being the nearest to our route, then Lake Champlain. We've done all this several times before but not recently. The last time we went to Burlington was eleven years ago.

Two Cessnas on the ramp at Burlington
The customs officer was a friendly young man who gave us a courteous welcome. We remembered the previous customs office as not much more than a shed at the side of the airport; it's a smart facility now and, my goodness, so is the adjoining "Heritage" FBO! I can't help but recommend it: such a wealth of amenities, that we wouldn't have minded staying there all day. The ramp attendant lovingly tied down our plane, put chocks in and so on, offering to carry our luggage (although we'd only brought my handbag and two hats) across the apron for us. We could help ourselves to free hot and cold drinks, free apples, a choice of broadsheet newspapers and magazines, an integral "Café", gym and the use of a "movie theater" upstairs in case we felt bored. There was a sort of board room for pilots' flight planning conferences, the ladies' washroom reminded me of the poshest of posh hotels and the pilot's lounge was also luxurious. We were handed the key to the crew car, actually a 7-seater minivan, to use in town for the duration of our visit and at the end of the day, the receptionist gave us complimentary miniature bottles of maple syrup to take home.

Chris (with Tilley hat) on Church Street, Burlington
After having parked the van on the side of Main Street, leading down the hill into town from the university area (lithe girls in short shorts with long legs running up and down it) we turned right into Burlington's long pedestrian street, Church Street, apparently inspired by a young town-planner's visit to Copenhagen around 1980. He came back to Vermont and copied what he'd seen over there. Good for him! It is a most attractive place to shop and eat and watch the world go by. Indeed, the people there on this long, holiday weekend were a good representation of the world: all ages, all origins, all sorts, including some strutting transvestites in tights and sequins, practising their twirls for an upcoming Pride festival, and another young man trying to play a Bach sonata on a banjo. Church Street got more and more crowded as the afternoon went by. We returned to it after a walk, no, two walks down to the lakeside, via a Nepalese restaurant where we indulged in a delicious buffet lunch. Climbing back up the hill on the northern side of the downtown area, I feared I was coming down with sunstroke, so had to spend a little while in the air conditioned shopping mall sipping at a frozen yoghurt and visiting the Burlington branch of LL Bean.

Water's edge at Burlington, the coastguard station

On the hilltop in Burlington, with a view of L. Champlain

Flying back to Canada over Lyon Mountain
Our ride home was straight into the dazzling sun, once again in hazy conditions, therefore tiring for Chris at the controls, but we had no need to fear the growing thunderstorms as we approached the Ottawa valley; they were off to the northeast at our 2 o'clock. We followed the planned route over the designated 5-letter IFR waypoints again, one of these being named BUGSY because the nearest town was Malone, and crossed the border at the St. Lawrence just west of Cornwall, to fly to Gatineau for customs clearance before taking off again for a 10 minute hop, and homing in to Rockcliffe.


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