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Backstory: Bumpiest Ride

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Scott Milne and Molly Gray - FILE: MARC NADEL
  • File: Marc Nadel
  • Scott Milne and Molly Gray

This "backstory" is a part of a collection of articles that describes some of the obstacles that Seven Days reporters faced while pursuing Vermont news, events and people in 2020.


When lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Molly Gray accepted my request to ride along with her on the campaign trail over the summer, I did not expect that she would take it quite so literally. 

Within minutes of arriving at Conant's Riverside Farms in Richmond, the first stop on our tour-de-politics, I found myself in the bed of a Bobcat 3400 utility terrain vehicle, hanging on for dear life. 

OK, we weren't going that fast. And, frankly, in a year when face-to-face time was hard to come by, the writer in me brimmed with optimism. I had been desperate for something new to say about this campaign, and here I was, rumbling across West Main Street and into a field of potential metaphors.

There was only one problem: I couldn't hear the candidate — or much of anything — over the roar of the Bobcat. I extended my recorder and hoped for the best while our host, Alison Kosakowski Conant, steered us past patches of pumpkins and gourds and shared what I assumed was her assessment of farm life. But I knew that, when I listened to the tape hours later, I would be lucky to pick up every fifth word. It was a bust.

Determined to squeeze some usable material out of the ride, I jotted down everything I saw: the mud-brushed tackle box and crusty fishing net beside me in the bed of the ATV; the numerous cows who registered their indifference to our future LG by defecating as we drove past. Gray and Conant occasionally looked back to make sure I was still aboard. I gave a thumbs-up and hid the fact that my tailbone was feeling every bump Conant swore she was trying to avoid. 

Thankfully, the two ended up talking for a while after we stopped and Conant turned the engine off, allowing me to snag a few quotes.

The following morning, I woke to messages razzing me for my off-road journey. Gray had apparently posted a video of us driving off, reporter in tow. One of my colleagues even dubbed the video with the Lil Nas X song "Old Town Road." I was, of course, the horse in the equation.

"Big shout-out to @sevendaysvt @CFlandersVT for joining me on the campaign trail yesterday," Gray's tweet read. "You never know what Vermont reporting is going to look like."

Ain't that the truth.