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Route 100, studded with historic landmarks like the Scott Bridge, "offers such remarkable visual experiences," says filmmaker Dorothy Lovering. (Jessica Scranton)

Vermont's Venerable Byway

The state's Route 100 offers an unparalleled access to old New England, from wandering moose to Robert Frost's hideaway cabin

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The most frequent moose sightings in the state occur along a 15-mile segment of Route 105, a 35-mile continuation of Route 100, especially in early evening, May through July. On this particular night, game warden Mark Schichtle stops his vehicle on Route 105 and points to what he calls “moose skid marks”—black patches made by cars trying to avoid the animals. “Since January, there have been six moose killed just on this stretch,” he says. We park a mile up the road, slather ourselves with mosquito repellent and begin a stakeout.

Within 15 minutes, a moose cow and her calf emerge from the woods and stand immobile on the road, 50 yards away from our vehicle, their dark hides rendering them virtually invisible in the darkness. But a moose-crossing sign alerts drivers, who brake to a halt. Soon, cars and trucks on both sides of the road are stopped; the two moose stare impassively at the headlights. Then, a bull moose—seven feet tall with a stunning rack of antlers—appears, wading in a roadside bog. “No matter how often it happens, you just don’t expect to see an animal that large in the wild and so close by,” says Schichtle.

With cars backing up, the warden turns on his siren and flashing lights. The moose scamper into the bog, and traffic resumes its flow, most of it headed toward New Hampshire. I’m reminded that Robert Frost himself, long a New Hampshire resident, was among the few outsiders wholly embraced by Vermonters. Perhaps that’s because his Pulitzer Prize-winning poem, “New Hampshire,” closes with an ironic twist:

At present I am living in Vermont.

The next day, as I head south on Route 100, bound for the heat and congestion of Manhattan, Frost’s admission is one I would gladly make for myself.

Writer Jonathan Kandell lives in New York City. Photographer Jessica Scranton is based in Boston.

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