It’s been awhile since I posted and months since we returned from VT and I’m still thinking back to those good times. The next few days we were in VT were marked by a lot of family time and introducing the kids to new things. For me, much of this part of the trip was strange because I was a tourist in my home state. There’s something very deja vu about visiting places that you mocked as “touristy” as a child.
Sunday May 20th- settling in and family time with my brother, sister-in-law and new baby nephew. We did explore Woodstock and Quechee a bit. It’s funny, as a kid we enjoyed going into Woodstock not for it’s quaint charm or many art galleries, but to people watch the tourists who came to Woodstock. I still found the area very overpriced- for example; we went to the Village Butcher to get something for our family dinner and found it to be more of a wine/specialty food shop with a tiny butcher counter with little to offer and what they did have was expensive. We grabbed a creamee at the White Shack on the Ottaquechee River just outside of Woodstock and headed out to Sugarbush Farm. I’m in love with them now. Sugarbush is a family run farm specializing in maple syrup and cheeses. They had a little DIY farm tour and the kids got to pet a calf and goat. We skipped the nature walk, but spent lots of time trying their cheeses. We picked up a hickory smoked cheese and sharp cheddar that were both gone a few days later. Guess I know what will be going in some of my Christmas packages this year!
Monday May 21st – One of my favorite days-the kids climbed a mountain! Actually, the VT parks department has a list of “family friendly hikes” and we discovered that at Mt. Ascutney you can drive about 3 miles up the mountain (and it is straight up the mountain; the park staff warns you to go into lower gear on the way down) then park. The hike is only about .5 mile up to the summit where there is a look-out tower. The hike was awesome-full of boulders for the kids to scramble over. Once at the top they were jumping up and down saying, “We’re the luckiest kids in the world! We climbed a mountain!” The observation tower rises 24′ up and I admit I was getting a little scared of heights climbing up! However, once up you have an amazing view over the Connecticut River Valley. At the summit we also found the gold stamp from the US Geological Society stating the height of Mt. Ascutney (Homeschooling moment!). This area is also ideal for hang gliders, although we didn’t see any. After our little day hike we headed over to Rutland to visit my brother. He lives just around the corner from my high school, Mt. St. Joseph Academy, so we took the kids and my baby nephew to the local park. Later, we got Gill’s grinders for dinner. Every town has their favorite hometown joints and Gill’s is a Rutland icon. Their sandwiches are generous with toppings/meat, the bread is fresh, and it’s been around forever. Everybody knows Gill’s so I was happy to introduce it to Gregg and my brother and I relished the memories.
Tuesday May 22nd- we embarked on Vermont’s own food tour! This is a fairly new development that various groups are coming together to share marketing, but I think it’s brilliant. All the foodies piled into the car and headed on a road trip. We stopped at King Arthur Flour, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, outlets for Cabot Creamery & Lake Champlain Chocolates, Cider Hollow Cider Mill and a great coffeeshop- the Skinny Pancake. We tried to get to the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters station, but arrived after it closed for the day. There is NOTHING more frustrating to a coffee lover than showing up, finding the doors locked and the smell of coffee all around. This is why we ended up at the Skinny Pancake.
Wednesday May 23- the Beach! We woke up with nothing on the agenda and Gregg said, “let’s take the kids to the ocean.” Off we go. Hampton Beach, NH is about a 2 hour drive from where we were in VT and is a great public beach. The sand is sandy, the park facilities are nice, and because it was before Memorial Day, it was rather uncrowded. I had been to Hampton Beach once before, but it was nice to have a family day there. The kids loved the ocean. Again, there were cheers of “We’re the luckiest kids in the world!” Dinner was where the real fun started; we packed a light lunch and were really hungry by the time we were ready to eat dinner. We also really wanted to find a great little place to eat seafood. I mean, if you are at the ocean, you need to eat seafood! First we order our dinners- clam chowda, fried haddock, burgers for the kids, a lobster roll for my husband. Next thing I know he’s asking the waitress how much a whole lobster is, to which she replies “The twins are $19.99.” The twins? Yup- two lobster for $20 clams. So guess who had another dinner?
Thursday May 24- easy day. We made a great trip to Vt. Institute of Natural Science (VINS) and had fabulous ice cream in Quechee Village. VINS is dear to me; I interned at their Manchester office in college. They are in a beautiful new facility with a lot more space and it gave me lots of ideas to share with our own local Brukner Nature Center.
Friday May 25- Trip down memory lane! We visited a bit more with brother and adorable nephew before heading to my hometown of Brandon, VT. We took the kids to the house I grew up in, which was looking worse for wear and made me so sad. Then we saw first-hand the devastation of Hurricane Irene in Brandon. Even 9 months after the disaster there was still so much loss. Then we made a trip to the Warren Kimble Gallery. My husband was making a purchase and says to the guy behind the counter “Do you know if Warren Kimble is still alive?” To which the man says “Well, that’s me!” Then I took the kids on my favorite hike up to Silver Lake. However, I forgot it was 1 mile straight uphill! Man- I think my family was about ready to toss me off the cliff, but we made it and they loved it. Silver Lake is this beautiful man-made lake made from a hydro-electric power project and is part of the Green Mountain National Forest. It is so peaceful there. On our way out we grabbed ice cream at Kampersville (do you sense a theme with the ice cream)? and headed up to my relatives in Burlington.
Saturday May 26- Stayed with my aunts in Burlington-area and went to the Memorial Day parade where my aunt was in the Making Strides against Breast Cancer float. After a quick stop at a really cool military museum right behind my aunts apartment (and the kids being told my the national guard, no you can’t climb the tanks) we headed downtown to the ECHO Center and Church Street Marketplace. I had never been to the ECHO Center, but it was fabulous! Small, but jam-packed science center based on the ecology of Lake Champlain and the Champlain Valley. Then Church Street Marketplace is always a fascinating place, but it was really humming because the Vt. City Marathon was scheduled to be run the very next day. We capped off the day with a BBQ at my cousin’s house. Luke is his biggest fan. My cousin has a pet iguana and fixes cars and is really into rally races. For an almost 5-year old boy that’s about as close to hero worship as you can get!
At this point we decided we just wanted to be home so we decided to just drive all night. Other than being really tired, it worked so well with the kids! They slept for 8 hours and we could drive without traffic and lots of stops. Finally we made it home, but we all can’t wait to go back.