Cover image for Off the leash : subversive journeys around Vermont
Off the leash : subversive journeys around Vermont
Husher, Helen, 1951-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Woodstock, Vt. : Countryman Press ; New York : Distributed by W.W. Norton, [1999]

Physical Description:
206 pages : map ; 20 cm
General Note:
Map on lining papers.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F55 .H87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A grand tour of some of Vermont's most interesting and undervalued places beyond the world of tourism, this guide should interest anyone with a taste for eccentric stories, for small-town dramas and for the way our places make us who we are.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Husher is not your usual travel writer. Instead, she looks beyond typical tourist attractions and sees interest in all sorts of off-the-beaten-path places. Although Vermont is full of historical sites, Husher seems to appreciate settings with a more subtle, perhaps even more profound, resonance. Her journeys take readers to the Donohue Sea Caves near Burlington, to fireworks displays in Randolph, and to Lake Champlain, where sightings of a water monster engage the imaginations of many of the folks who venture there. Even the rest stops along an interstate highway have hidden treasures. Although barely acknowledged by passersby, an assemblage of deteriorating sculptures merit Husher's regard. In the eyes of this unconventional traveler, they have intriguing stories to tell. --Alice Joyce

Publisher's Weekly Review

Presuming that readers are sensible enough to figure out the cumbersome particulars of food and lodging for themselves, Husher applies her ferocious curiosity and opinions to other facets of Vermont travel. While she does offer basic directions and phone numbers, she's more interested in exploring and enjoying free and inexpensive pleasures. Each chapter focuses on a place that holds some mystery and fascination for Husher. She takes the reader to a cemetery in Barre, where graves are decorated with "a whimsicality you don't normally associate with burial," offering a unique history of those interred there. Another chapter describes the breakdown and rebuilding of her Vermont hometown, Randolph, after a number of fires gutted the downtown area. Husher visits a series of concrete sculptures along Interstate 89 and follows with a thoughtful essay on the intention and effectiveness of public art. Throughout, she includes little-known historical digressions, such as one about the Fenian Raids, which occurred between 1866 and 1870, when a group of Irish soldiers attempted to invade Canada from Vermont and establish an Irish republic. "It's fun to know a few things, however sloppily the knowledge is acquired," writes Husher, encouraging travelers to pick up bits of information along the wayÄand her tour is bound to stir up curiosity not only about Vermont but also about all the places lost in the daze of hotels and gift shops. Illus. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Husher, who has written stories and articles for the Boston Phoenix, the Randolph Herald, and other publications, provides an interesting sort of travel book: a cross between travel essays and tourist guide. Arranged by geographic area, each of 12 chapters includes a description of a location in Vermont (or near Vermont), Husher's personal memories and descriptions of the spot, and historical detail and directions. One chapter highlights the Randolph fireworks and then goes on to describe Randolph's business district by recounting the story of a series of fires and the community's reactions to them. Other chapters include descriptions of the Dowsers Hall (and its labyrinth), the Bread and Puppet Museum, and the historic sites of the Fenian Raids. It is a very personal account of Vermont and will attract visitors to and residents of Vermont who have time to read before seeking adventure. Buy for public libraries.ÄAlison Hopkins, Queens Borough P.L., Briarwood, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 13
1. Taken for Granite: An Afternoon in Hope Cemeteryp. 27
2. Justin Morgan Had a Life: A Man and His Horsep. 37
3. Facing West: The Joseph Smith Memorialp. 49
4. Urban Glaciation: The Donohue Sea Cavesp. 63
5. Indian Stones: The Captivity of Susanna Johnsonp. 79
6. Fireworks: Reconstructing Randolphp. 91
7. Tales from the Cryptozoologists: The Monster in the Lakep. 109
8. Wheat Paste and Rags: The Bread and Puppet Theaterp. 125
9. A Very '70s Thing to Do: Abstractions on the Interstatep. 141
10. The Demands of Heaven: Aspet and Augustus Saint-Gaudensp. 155
11. Circular Reasoning: Church, School, and Labyrinthp. 165
12. Border Lands: The Irish Invasion of Canadap. 179
Notes and Selected Readingsp. 197