I wonder if the new visitors have looked right and down as they passed above South Royalton to see a classic Vermont village in miniature. Surely they saw little Royalton Village across the curving White River a couple miles to the north, as the hillsides grow steeper.
Crossing the White by the Bethel exit, 89 begins its long climb into the high country. To left and right are suddenly-ending stone walls, severed by the interstate. Now you’re driving through hill farm country where a Vermont way of life, of doing things, emerged. Here the uplands begin to reveal mountain views, and hint of what’s to come.
For, rounding a long left curve just south of the Randolph exit, travelers suddenly see one of our state’s most remarkable vistas with upland fields stretching toward a green valley. And beyond, the Braintree Mountains’ rugged tree-clad wall marches north. Look closely beyond the sags in its summit ridge, and at times the tops of the Green Mountains, Vermont’s backbone, can be glimpsed. Continuing north, that great main ridge soon dominates, with the rocky leonine profile of Camel’s Hump asserting its noble self. But not until the stunning view of the Worcester Range, mighty backdrop to the valley that holds our capital, has been encountered.
But Randolph is where the wondrous mountain beauty of Vermont is first dramatically presented to the northbound driver. It’s a place I treasure, and its value lies far beyond the aesthetic. It‘s money in the bank for Vermont, an investment far beyond anything one patch of real estate can produce, for it instantly affirms to newcomers that Vermont really is a place to which they must return.
My profound hope is that it stays the way it is.