10/15/2016 - 10/16/2016
Hey everyone! Today was our last day in Vermont, and we enjoyed our time here. Vermont is almost like another country. They have their own ways of doing things, and it's nice. Today, I decided that if you don't like 2016 and wanted to go back in time, Vermont is a good place for you to do just that. I think everyone is either a farmer or works in a market, country store, restaurant, etc. They don't have big box stores, because they want their small businesses to thrive (and I think that they do!). Before coming here, I read somewhere that Vermonters are makers of things, and it is true. I think they could live without the rest of us. Think about it...they have farms that produce just about anything and everything (sans oranges and such). They have more cows than people, so they make lots of beef and dairy things (cheese and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream). They make anything possible out of maple (I had a cranberry maple lemonade and Jeremy had maple beef jerky). They make Teddy bears! Very important. They have marble quarries. I'm sure there are more, but I'm tired and ran out of things. Anyway, the place is pretty cool! Another reason why it feels like it is back in time is that there are a ton of tiny villages with barely a street of businesses. For any of you who are local to us...we decided that these towns are probably sized between Fleming and Lowell. Seriously...a town as big as Lowell is a big town. Burlington, their largest city on Lake Champlain, is likely the size of Marietta. No kidding. More businesses and a larger downtown, but totally walkable. It was all just so interesting. While driving through a tiny town, I noticed a school building that could not have had more than two classrooms in it. No kidding. We didn't notice it until it was pointed out to us, but they don't have any billboard signs anywhere. They state evidently doesn't allow them. Another thing we found interesting is that their founding fathers must have have been terribly unoriginal when they were naming the towns. Let's pick the town name of Woodstock. There will be a town named Woodstock. Then there will be completely separate towns in the surrounding area with names like Woodstock Town, East Woodstock, South Woodstock, Woodstock Center, Middle Woodstock. There might be miles and miles of farm land or mountain range in between these towns, so do not assume that they are the outskirts of the original town! It was confusing! Oh! And we have been surprised by how many people around us have been speaking other languages. In this country, it seems rare to hear other languages being spoken around us, but we encountered many, many groups of people speaking something else. They could also be visiting, but it would be interesting if Vermonters are just that much better at learning and using other languages.
Anyway, carrying on with what we did over the last two days:
On Saturday morning, we headed to Burlington. As I mentioned, this is the state's biggest city, and it is all the way on the west of the state, bordering Lake Champlain. We had breakfast at a diner that was in a windmill (not authentic like the restaurant in a windmill where we ate in when we were in Holland). We both had eggs benedict, which is a breakfast food we have both fallen in love with on this trip! We aren't sure if they are on the menu back home, but they are popular up here! Then, of course, we had to go fetch a coffee for Jeremy! This time, I also got a hot chocolate as it was a chilly morning! We then went to a farm in nearby Shelburne to sample cheeses. Sadly, we can't bring cheese home, but it is fun to sample them! Then, we went to a place I have been excited about since the early planning of this trip...Vermont Teddy Bear Factory! Basically, a Vermonter determined that his kid's teddy bears were made overseas, so he devised a plan to create teddy bears here in the states. They have a 360 degree range of motion in the legs, arms, and head. Pretty cool, but unfortunately, they are stuffed so full that they aren't terribly cuddly. The tour of the place was interesting. They still do most of the process by hand.
We headed back to Burlington and walked around their shopping area which is a pedestrian only street that stretches probably 5 or 6 blocks. Then, we briefly walked through their farmer's market which happened to be set up on Saturdays. That is where I found the cranberry maple lemonade, which was surprisingly tasty, although a little weird at first. We had booked a tour that started at 1:00, so we found our way to the meeting point, which happened to be right next to the lake. It was very windy and chilly down there! Here are some pictures of the lake.
The tour was called Burlington Edible History tour. The tour guide walked us around town, telling us history of the city. The edible part involved five stops at various restaurants where something related to the city's settlers was served. For example, the French Canadians had a large population in Burlington's early years, and a great influence on the city, so we ate a traditional French Canadian dish. I didn't take any pictures on the tour.
Afterwards, we checked out a few breweries in town, and I got some more Ben & Jerry's ice cream. As we headed back toward the lake, the sun was setting, and we caught these awesome pictures of the sun setting over the mountains across Lake Champlain. Enjoy!
Today, Sunday, was our last day in Vermont, so we packed up all of our things that began laying all around the little red barn house thing we were staying in. It was nice to be able to stay in one place for five nights! I wanted to go get another hot cider from the cider house down the road, and we had missed a covered bridge in that area, so we set out to do those. Here is the covered bridge, which is called Emily's bridge by some, as there is legend that a girl named Emily died on the bridge.
And here is a rainbow that appeared while we were at the cider house. There was a faint double rainbow, but I'm not sure if the camera captured that.
We tried to get breakfast from the unkempt stoner fella, but when we got there after 9 when he was supposed to be open, there was a sign saying he'd be back at 9:30. We didn't want to spend the time waiting, so we headed south. There were several other covered bridges that we could see on our way out of the state, so we did that. We were also able to go to lunch at a restaurant that we had wanted to go to on the way in, but it was closed. So, we drove around the countryside for awhile, and found a ton of covered bridges!
After lunch, we headed to the original general store in Vermont. I assumed that it would be in a larger town, but it was in just as tiny of a village as other villages we had found. It was a pretty neat place, with a restaurant, and a few gift shoppy type things, and a legitimate cellar down a spiral staircase where they had their wine and beer for sale.
As we headed closer to Massachusetts, we stopped by the country's first marble quarry. We didn't have a clue what to expect, but it was a weird place to be. Just a place with marble chunks cut out. Nothing spectacular, but we saw it nonetheless. And now you can, too!
The last thing we did was go on a hike to see a waterfall. This was supposedly a 2.3 mile hike, one way. It was really rocky, and not like the rocks we hiked on to go across the top of Mount Mansfield. There were pretty big rocks in the trail. It made for a pretty intense hike, and one that I would rather not repeat. It went on and on, and as we went up and up, I looked across, down, and up, and noticed that we had hiked up a mountainside! No idea how high up we ended up going, but it was more than we had bargained for! We couldn't find the falls and had no idea how far we had gone, so we decided to give ourselves about 7 more minutes before we turned around. A couple of minutes later, we started to hear them, and about 4 or 5 minutes after we decided we were ready to give up, we found them. Sadly, the falls were not worth the hike. I think they might have been nice during a year when there was not a drought. But it was fairly pitiful. It did go all the way down a mountain, but we were way too close to it to see very much of it, as we hiked in from the side. Luckily, we got out of the woods and off the mountain before sunset.
Then we drove to our next airbnb in North Adams, Massachusetts, which is in the Northern part of the Berkshires (mountains of Western Mass.). We will stay one night here.
That's all for this edition of the blog...thanks for reading!