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Vermont, Day Three –

 

After the usual breakfast (I could get used to giant warming trays of pancakes every morning!) we were off to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. We took the scenic route, which made us late getting there … but we lucked out as the owner hisself gave us a tour of their pressing room. Also lucky in that they don’t usually press this early in the season. Paul, the owner, is what could best be termed, a wag. Got very stroppy (in an amused way) when someone suggested there were worms in his cider apples. We got a taste of his cider, which was good, although I was brewing a headache and an iced cappuccino would have been preferable!!

 

Their other specialty is their cider donuts, which were indeed yummy! I picked up a couple of postcards and a pencil with a wooden apple on the eraser end.

 

Lunch on our own in Stowe, Vermont. Mom and I went to The Depot Street Malt Shop which was cute and kitschy and 50s and made one helluva good hamburger!

 

Wandered around and shopped for a bit until it was time to get back on the bus. Actually, we sat on a wall for the last 20 minutes or so, and Mom was in hyper speedy mode this day and seemed to just want to get on to the next stop. My headache was still dogging me, so mostly I didn’t object to sitting still and watching traffic toodle by.

 

Then an hour shopping at the Cabot Co-op. By now my headache was really getting me down, so I didn’t get to enjoy the seven thousand cheese samples they had out. I bought some cheese more or less because I felt bound to, and then just sat out in front of the store in a comfy Adirondack chair and tried to mellow my headache out.

 

Then back up the road for the Ben and Jerry’s dog and pony show. This was the only place on the trip where photos were verboten – at least in their processing room, which you peer down into through glass panes on either side of a second story walkway. Then down to the sample room for the flavor of the day Triple Caramel Chunk (I might not have that completely right). It was indeed yummy, and I think I might even have liked it better if it hadn’t had the chocolate caramel chunks in it.

 

I would have like to have gotten an actual sized dish of ice cream, but my head was very bad and I didn’t feel like standing in a long line to get it.

 

It must have been about 3:30 in the afternoon, and I’m not exactly sure when the headache went away, but by 4:00 when we got to our next super extra special surprise stop it had gone, thank the gods.

 

We’d been told at the start of the day that they were going to add an extra stop to the day and take us up to see the Von Trapp Family Lodge. I didn’t quite believe it until we turned up the road that led up the mountain, but this made me so happy I nearly wept.

 

There’s a long version of the story having to do with Middle School, merciless teasing and oppression leading to my reading a lot of stories having to do with Nazis, and it all intersecting with my love of theater.

 

But the short version goes something like this. When I was a senior in high school, the new hotshot drama teacher decided that for the winter musical we were doing The Sound of Music. Now I don’t sing, but back during all the oppression based middle school reading, I remembered reading the book of the musical and remembered that there were a couple non-singing parts in it… so I set out to campaign for the largest of them … Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper.

 

I have not felt a lot of PURE JOY in my life … but I was FLYING the day I read that cast list posted outside the school office and realized that I had gotten the part I wanted … my first part in a show ever basically. AND IT WAS ALL MINE!!!

 

There was a lot of drama in the drama, and I don’t know that I was any good. I was taught to say MA-ria and not MER-ia by the choral director. And my bestie frenemy Jymm was the Butler and we had great times together.

 

The joy of the first show you do must be something like the first time someone kisses you…

 

I know it’s something I will never get out of my system. (gosh, I’m practically going to cry now).

 

In the course of doing the show, I did all the reading up I could do (pre-internet) and became something of an authority on the real life Von Trapps who didn’t have an easy time after their emigration.

 

So the opportunity to walk into the small graveyard where the Captain, Maria, and a handful of their kids are buried, well… ended up feeling a bit like a holy pilgrimage.

 

And the drive up was so beautiful. It was a calm clear day of blue skies. We saw a small deer nibbling on apple trees, and a flock of female turkeys wandering through an open field.

 

We only had 20 minutes, so I had to do my worshiping/sightseeing in hyper drive. I would have liked more time to just stand on the side of the meadow that fronts the Lodge, and look out over the mountains and just BE. But there wasn’t enough time.

 

But what time we did have made me happy. Happy tears. Tears I don’t exactly have words for, which threatened when our tour guide Sharon noted that there was a small patch in the middle of the impatiens that covered Maria’s grave as if something had laid there in the night.

 

Theater has given me so much … and it all started out with me in pigtails and a wretchedly ugly blue dress and apron!!

 

On the way back to the hotel Sharon sang “Edelweiss,” and one of the older members of the tour sang “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” which he’d done onstage in some cabaret thing… open mike on a bus. Yessiree Bob.

 

And we got yet another lecture on photosynthesis!!!

 

We got back JUST in time for dinner … which I see by my notes was mashed potatoes, turkey and stuffing, meatloaf, cranberry sauce, and cooked carrots with a mixed berry pie for dessert. Oh, and beef veggie soup. Did I mention we ate well on this trip???

 

At 7:30 there was “entertainment” in the bar, which my mother insisted we get to at 7:29 on the dot. Turned out to be the husband of one of the hotel managers singing and tickling the…um… keyboard … but he did a lot of 40s and 50s stuff and the older couples danced. Very sweet. I just sipped my rum and coke and chatted with our tour escort. (not as sexy as it sounds.)

 

A quick dip in the pool, which would have been lovely as I had it to myself again, but after the hot tubbers left, one of construction workers came and sat and watched me swim which was creeping me a out a bit as I was in there all by myself. So back to the room I went to pack up and spend my last night in Vermont. Read for a long while as I was bound and determined to finish The Time Traveller’s Wife during the trip!

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Breakfast served from 7-8. I rolled into our dining room around 7:20. Danish, cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, hash browns was the daily breakfast menu, with orange and cranberry juice, and thankfully, COFFEE.

Did not sleep well. Never do in strange beds, plus my mother makes odd puff puff noises as she sleeps. Kept me awake.

Departed hotel at 8:30 after greeting our local tour guide, Sharon.

Had about an hour’s drive wherein we were treated to a little lecture from Sharon about Vermont history before and after the Revolutionary War as we wound our way through picturesque small towns. Also asked to be on the lookout for Oreo Cookie Cows.

We had about an hour at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.



They were late getting us in for the official tour, so it was a bit of a rush job, but we saw them cut out bear parts (20 per bear) and stitch bear parts, and dress bears, and finally, the bear hospital where they will fix any bear boo boos (except dryer-ing the bears). They even had a schtick about lawn-mowering bears…



The disembowled bears weren’t nearly as disturbing as the demo at the start of the tour about the kinds and types of bears they produce … which ended with a demo of this bear.

The old lady who the tour guide got to pull the bear’s face off was freaked out. Can you imagine a small child when you rip a bear’s face off in front of them?? They made sure to point out that with this particular bear, the eyes don’t say “made in Vermont.” Because of course, they couldn’t be, could they?

**they do get bonus points for having both a Captain Kirk and a Spock bear. The Spock bear had, of course, pointed ears. They were dressed in the TV era blue and gold uniforms, and if I’d had a spare $100 bucks…

Then it was off to downtown Burlington for lunch and a wander around The Church Street Marketplace.



Very cool. Had an upscale lunch at a place called The Three Tomatoes. Sat at the outdoor tables so we could watch the people go by.



Mom was amused by a guy with the afro riding a neon accented bike that sported an “Impeach Obama” sign. She also made sure to get a picture of the person sporting a Mohawk. The old guys in the seats behind us on the bus later on were talking about this person and wondering if the person thought they were “an Algonquin.” !!



Then back down the highway for overpriced, but YUMMY chocolate at Champlain Chocolates. They had a video to watch, and a glassed in production room, and LOTS of samples. I bought the “Taste of Vermont” sampler box with four pieces of chocolate in it … 

Have only eaten the dark chocolate mint one so far, but it was very very TASTY.

They gave us Taster buttons and another square of the honey caramel on the way out. I wonder how many people thought all the dark chocolate they were giving us was too dark… it was a bit of heaven for me.

Then off to Dakin Farms, where my mother wanted to get bacon, and I ended up hauling home a motherlode of food:

The fourpack maple syrup sampler of the various grades of syrup, some cranberry chutney that is to die for, some mint jelly (I am weird and like peanut butter and mint jelly sandwiches), a bottle of hot sauce for my dad the cat sitter, a squirrel cookie cutter, and some postcards. Plus free maple syrup from a coupon picked up back at the chocolate place.

My mother came home with what she described as a lifetime supply of cheese.

(I should have gotten the maple butter. I regretted not getting it this morning when I was making toast. It would be awesome on toast I think. So I did get some maple spread at the grocery store. We’ll have to see how it stacks up.)

Then back down the road for about an hour. As we neared the hotel the tour guide (who has a theater background, natch, but tour guides and ski instructs these days) was singing us a song she wrote about her kids and some maple trees, and some guy sitting outside a seedy motel waved at our bus, and I was sorta taken by how kitschy Americana it all was, but how that was a good thing.

Dinner buffet included ham with raisin sauce, chicken alfredo, baked scrod, and strawberry cake.

We ate WELL … it was all good … if a bit stodgy …

Then after dinner my mad mother decided it was time to go and hunt for pinecones for the wreaths she’s making for Christmas presents. I rolled my eyes, but followed along dutifully. After wandering across to the far side of the parking lot we finally found a huge pile of cones under a tree, and all was right with the world.

Then, as mother more or less decided it wasn’t a good night for me to hit the pool, we walked over to the shopping center next to the hotel and went to Michaels for craft stuff and then a useless wander about Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Back to the hotel to be regaled on the news that September 1st was the day same sex marriage became legalized in Vermont. There was much celebrating (and protesting) going on in Montpelier the capital. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream re-named Chubby Hubby in it’s Vermont scoop shops to Hubby Hubby.

Day three ended to the dulcet tones of MSNBC…
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Vermont, Day One:

Up about 6:00 a.m. to get ready. Mom and Dad picked me up around 6:45 so we could get to the Bus Garage/Depot around 7:00. We were among the last of the local boarders, although we did sit and wait for a quite a while for the contingent coming from over the mountain.

It's a lovely morning in Happy Valley:



Blue skies abound:



Fortunately there were only 36 of us on the trip (not counting the driver and the escort). This gave us room to spread out, and Mom and I each got our own seat. [Also avoids pesky need to talk to one another.]

Our driver –- Gottfried -- entertained us with stories of his life while we waited. Mom did the Sudoku and I had a poptart!

At 7:45 I wrote: “Finally letting myself get excited…we’re pretty close to leaving. Don’t know exactly why I never want to believe it’ll happen until it does.”



Not long after that we finished packing up the second wave, and set out. Bus #884 was on the road. Took a bit of a detour getting to the interstate as the driver wanted to drive by his house and honk the horn at his Dachshund!! This of course meant that we got trapped in the re-paving they’re doing to the only road in & out on that end of town.

What it also meant was that we drove w/in a block of my parents house … and w/in about five blocks of mine!

It’s 415 miles to Rutland, Vermont, where the hotel is.

9:00 a.m. reservation at Cracker Barrel. Had the Apple Strudel French Toast special.

Tour escort chatter & giveaways to while away mid-morning miles. We are not allowed to say the word B-U-S. We are on a motor coach, which is a distinct animal that has a bathroom. Every time we DO say THAT word, we have to put a nickel in the B-U-S shaped bank at the front of the B-U-S and on the way home we pick a name and someone will win all the cash. (We will get a lot of mileage out of this game over the next three days!)

The bus driver seems to be taking the tour part seriously … talking of old growth forests … bituminous coal … he seems to know all.

Would like to read, but it seems like every time to go to pick up my book, someone starts talking.

But, SO FAR, no stupid movies. YAY. [I should have kept my mouth shut]

It’s noon, and game time. Trivia questions and “how many kinds of pie can you name?” Mom won that game with 25 pies, so she got a canvas tote bag!

Then it was time for some music … “Sing Along with Mitch Miller.” [seriously. A sing along.]

12:40 rest stop in Middletown, NY. Even out here in the middle of nowhere, there was a guy sitting at a picnic table working on his laptop!

1:30 – 2:00 was our lunch stop. Salads from some all purpose deli off the interstate.

Back on the COACH and … a DVD of Yakov Smirnoff’s stand up act in Branson, Missouri. WOW. I put in my iPod, but that didn’t really drown out the cheap jokes…

Feeling a bit queasy on the afternoon leg of the trip. Blue cheese? Car sickness? Too much Yakov? Dunno. Thankfully the queasiness mostly subsided by my 4 pm adventure to the COACH bathroom.

Gottfried fills us in on photosynthesis!! {we will hear a lot about this over the coming days.}

“Seems like we’ll get to the Holiday Inn around 5 pm. They’re having a little reception for us, and dinner is at 6:30. Hopefully there’ll be some time to settle in a bit. We’ve been on this bus for a LONG time!”

4:30 and Mom wants to know if I think their mountains are higher than ours. They’re certainly imposing any way you measure them.



Gottfried meanwhile is on about continental drift and glacial action.

The fabled “reception” was pitchers of iced tea and lemonade and a platter of m&m cookies in the bar. Not very festive, but at least they tried.

Dinner buffet (just for us) was salad fixings, rice, mixed veggies, lasagna, salmon, beef tips and lemon meringue pie for dessert. Those beef tips were the tenderest things EVER!

Spent the evening settling in, and then what I termed in my diary as “Pool Bliss.” Lovely warm water, and the pool all to myself. Grand.

Lights out at 10 pm. OMG EARLY!
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Hey... Doctor Who is everywhere! The guys at the table next to us when we ate lunch were talking of it. I giggled. My mother was confused.

Started the day at the Vermont Tedddy Bear Factory. My mother was also confused when I nearly shrieked in the gift shop... for only $100 each... they had a Captain Kirk bear and best of all, a Spock bear with pointy ears. TV show era gold and blue uniforms. Delightful.

A long day of getting onto and off of the bus.

But I bought far more maple syrup than I intended to... but what else is one to do Vermont? Also a yummy cranberry chutney which I think will be awesome on turkey sandwiches!

Tomorrow we're off to the Stowe area, and more farms to buy cheese and whatnot.

Off to put my feet up and read for a while. Dunno if we will go to bed at an ungodly early (for me) 10 pm, but we'll see...
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Nine hours on a bus today to get from central PA to central Vermont. Two meals en route, and a catered dinner after we got here.

Then a blissful stint in the nice warm hotel pool (till I got pruney!)

Off to curl up in a chair and read the rest of the evening away while my mother watches MSNBC...

Tommorrow is bears and chocolate and dairy farms. Sound like a good day in Vermont???? Yep.

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