6th May 2008 – Lake Placid, NY to Burlington, VT

Burlington Vermont Street Photo

For some strange reason we returned to the sports bar the previous evening for some food and had a couple of beers, which took the edge off the pain in the liver. The bar was still dead so we went to Zig Zag’s again, where I got ID’d for the second time in a matter of days.

It was a much more gentle night and we left quite early. In the morning we departed Lake Placid via a quick stop at the base of Whiteface Mountain, a popular ski resort, and the fifth highest peak in New York State. Unfortunately the road to the summit, and the cable car, were closed, so we didn’t get a chance to experience the views from the top.

We drove on and reached Lake Champlain. The eastern state line runs right down the middle of the lake. On a beautiful sunny morning we drove onto the ferry in Port Kent and left New York State, before crossing into Vermont. We had now reached Burlington, a college town sitting on the eastern banks of the lake, and first impressions were very favourable. It was clean and pretty and seemed very relaxed.

Burlington is the largest town in Vermont, with a population of around 40,000. It calls itself a city, but that’s probably pushing it a bit. We’ll stick with town.

Everyone in town seemed to be jogging or walking around on foot and there was not an obese person in sight. It was all rather suspicious. Burlington looked like it ticked all the boxes. The only downside was the cost of accommodation, and we had to base ourselves at a Motel 6 a few miles away from downtown to save a few bucks.

Funnily enough, as soon as we moved away from the main part of town, we found ourselves confronted with the real America once again. There are no joggers where we are staying and people on the wrong side of 35 stone were way more common. We’d spotted a couple of real brutes walking around – a gigantic woman in the motel reception and an enormous guy in McDonald’s with his own gravitational pull. Truly repulsive.

I ate my first McDonald’s salad ever because I couldn’t face the thought of a burger after seeing that monster. And speaking of monsters, Lake Champlain supposedly has its own version of Nessie, which goes by the name of “Champ”. Mass and I had the theory that it might be the weirdo from reception at the Lake Placid Summit Hotel: Champ Nicholson.

In the evening, as per usual, we went into downtown Burlington to see what the nightlife had to offer.

Mark Jackman is one half of the Jackman Brothers, who have written a trilogy of humour books set in the fictional town of Old Liston. He has also written a number of travel diaries, including the Mass and Peahead series about his road trips through America with his buddy Mass.