One of the things I love about traveling is the chance to enjoy mountains, rivers, forests, and cities that other people call home. In seeing how other people live, I also come to appreciate our own little backyard on this vast planet. While we search the globe for new adventures, there are also cities I haven’t visited, and trails I haven’t hiked all within a few hours of home. Since our Spain trip, I’ve been happy staying home gardening and tinkering. Instead of another long adventure, we opted to close out the summer with a short road trip to a part of Vermont we hadn’t seen.

Picture of tower.)Fresh mountain air

I didn’t really care where in Vermont, I just had a hankering to get away from civilization and breathe some fresh mountain air. After perusing Airbnbs, we came across one that had nice looking views for only $55/night. After checking the weather, we booked our room and headed north.

Finding our own piece of Vermont to enjoy

Our host was really cool, and we had fun sharing drinks and talking late into our first night. The next day, we enjoyed a lazy breakfast, then took our host’s dog for a walk. The road ran along the top of a hill with views of blue skies, wild flowers, vibrant gardens, happy cows, and green mountains. To cap it off, we snacked on wild apples and plums growing along the road.

Picture of mountain view.View from our Airbnb backyard

The backyard boasted the best view on the road, and our host had an outdoor shower. Standing naked out in the sun with nothing but mountain peaks in sight was an experience in itself. I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to just enjoy small things and soak up moments in time as much as I did on this trip.

Picture of shower.Mountain top shower with a view

In these remote parts of the country, gas stations are like community centers. Setup as all-in-one gas station, grocery store, hardware store, bottle shop, and diner, these places keep the community going when all the tourists head home. Since they cater to locals, food is good and cheap. We stopped at one down the street and got a massive cheese steak for $7. Over a foot long and heaping with meat, mushrooms and onions, you could cut firewood all day on one of these monsters.

Picture of sandwich.Gas station cheese steak for $7

Enjoying Vermont’s hiking

Stuffed to the brim, we drove a few miles down the road for a hike our host recommended. After an hour of climbing over rocks and up through the pine woods, we reached a fire tower. It swayed in the wind as we climbed, but the views from the top were breathtaking. Blue skies, white clouds, and rolling green mountains stretched to the horizon. Hugging the bars, I was happy to stay up there soaking up the views.

Picture of fire tower.Fire tower view

We had only booked two nights, but weren’t ready to leave. I worked out a deal with our host to stay another night. We reserved the extra day for hunting some local ingredients to cook with, and soaking in the views from the backyard.

Picture of farm.A scenic farm just down the road.

Eating out of our backyard

That next day, we walked down to a local farm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a barn so clean, or pigs so happy. We picked up some pork chops out of their self-serve freezer to grill for lunch. When we got home, I picked some apples from a tree out back, and nicked some kale and tomatoes from our host’s garden. Then I gathered sticks for a camp fire while Mrs CK made apple sauce and steamed kale. Once I had a good pile of wood for an evening fire, I grilled up the chops with some garden tomatoes.

Picture of pigs.Some very happy pigs

The perfectly tender pork chops, apple sauce, kale, and roasted tomatoes were sublime, and the mountain views provided fitting atmosphere. All the ingredients were sourced from our backyard, and made for the best meal I’ve had this year. The pork was the cleanest tasting I’ve ever had – the fat on it was like butter – not a sliver went to waste. The apples I picked from the ground were an early translucent variety. Sweet enough on their own, they made the perfect sauce for pairing with pork chops. This seasonal meal is now going on the books as a Crazy Kicks fall staple.

Picture of pork chops.Best meal of the year, all sourced from our mountaintop

Exploring more farms

After our memorable lunch, we drove down to a nearby vineyard for a farm tour with our host’s friend. I was impressed with the sugar shack he built from trees milled on the property. He also cared for a huge garden with an impressive variety of crops. And of course, we had to check out the chickens. When he offered us some chicks that one of their hens just hatched, we almost caved. But we did take home a big jar of maple syrup.

Picture of chicks.Almost took home some cute chicks

The day ended with us trying to stop time while taking in the views around a mountain top campfire. And when we couldn’t see the mountains anymore, we looked up to see the most brilliant sky I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t think I’d ever seen the Milky Way before, but we saw it that night. There must have been a billion stars in the sky. We leaned back in awe star-gazing while a few meteors ripped through.

Picture of camp fire.No need to go anywhere

Enjoying Vermont’s beer scene

While I was happy just to smell the fresh pine, breathe the crisp air, and marvel at mountains, Mrs CK had an ulterior motive for the trip. I was happily on board as we stalked the local bottle shops for some Heady Toppers – a prized beer that’s notoriously hard to come by. With an open schedule on weekdays, we didn’t have much trouble scoring all the Toppers our cooler could handle.

Picture of beers.We did a little treasure hunting…

While I love traveling abroad, sometimes staying local and taking the time to enjoy life is just as rewarding. This trip only cost us $180 for our Airbnb, and $25 worth of gas for our Prius, Bluebutt. The $7 sandwiches, local pork chops, and foraged apples didn’t cost us anymore than we’d spend at home for food. The views, tastes, sights, and haul of Heady Toppers left me just as satisfied with this little trip as with any of our far away adventures.