A couple days before we left Kate got the urge to leave early, and I couldn't agree more. Checking with the hotel they gave us a rate we liked so we booked to leave a day early. But first we were going to Funtown in Saco to meet Dad, Linda, Adam & Nell, and their boys. Addison broke a small bone in her elbow and was not able to go with us.
We had a great day at the park and the rain held off giving us good weather. I also managed to pull through having been awake over 24 hours by the time we headed home. Now leaving the next day we had a lot to do finishing up laundry and getting packed up.
Sunday morning we awoke early because Wesley boy deemed it was time to get up. Loading up the van I almost forgot my CPAP machine, which could have made a long trip. My hose had broken Saturday morning and I couldn't get a new on at Kennebec Professional Pharmacy because they don't sell those on Saturdays. Legit.
The route we took to get to Vermont took us on the Kancamagus Highway, one of our favorite roads. Before entering the pass we got some boss breakfast sandwiches at the Sweet Maple Cafe in Conway. On this day there was a bike trek on the pass, we passed a few on the way up and when we got to the top I stopped to take a picture of the sign.
A cyclist was there and asked if I wanted her to take my picture with the sign, I declined. I asked how her ride was and she said "It's all downhill from her Yeehaa!" and off she went!
Our next stop was in Bath, New Hampshire at the historic Brick Store: America's Oldest General Store. It's a place I've wanted to check out since I first read about it a few years back and I must say I never need to return.
We arrived in Barre, Vermont before check in time so we grabbed a late lunch at Mr. Z's where we learned that Barre was pronounced Berry.
We checked into our Quality Inn on the second floor. The room was nice, two full beds and a corner we could put Wesley's pack in play in. The room also had a small dorm fridge but we couldn't control the temperature and it froze things.
Kate called the front desk and asked for a microwave, they said they would bring one up. After some time in the pool, where I impressed Katie with my excellent swimming skills, we headed back to the room. I attempted to pop some corn for Wesley when the microwave caught fire! So Kate called down for them to replace it.
I decided to take in a flick downtown at the local theater the Paramount. It's a small two screen theater with a sister theater the Capitol Theatre in Montpelier that has five screens. This is where it's different. Neither theater shows the same movie and on weekdays the only have one screening at about 6:30pm and on weekends a 3:30 & 6:30pm screening.
It's a wicked nice theater, prices are reasonable and their popcorn has real Cabot butter on it! And it sure is good! I went and saw IT, the theater rooms are decent size with newer seats, the floor is slanted enough that the person sitting in front of me didn't block my view. Great flick!
Monday we got on the road early heading south to take in some sights before going to Kate's cooking class at King Arthur Flour. We first stopped at the Cornish-Windsor Bridge that connects New Hampshire and Vermont and is the longest covered bridge in the United States.
Next stop was the Willard Covered Bridge, which is unique as it's twin covered bridges. The first built in 1871 and the second one in 2001.
Taking a wrong turn we just rode it out and ended up at the Taftsville Covered Bridge in Woodstock.
On the way to King Arthur we crossed over the Quechee Gorge and even though I took some pictures it did not do it any justice at all. It was amazing to look at it.
We made our way to King Arthur Flour in Norwich to check out the grounds and have lunch at the cafe before Kate's class, she had signed up for a four hour bread making class. Lunch was really good! Wesley's kids meal was fantastic and by BLT was delicious.
I had this big plan for Wesley and I to go to the Quechee Gorge Village where they had a toy museum, train ride, carousel, and other thing that Wesley and I could do to pass the time. We get there and the toy museum is closed as was the train and carousel. Wesley had no interested in being there. He eventually fell asleep in the van but woke up after an house. I drove around for a long time looking for a playground for him and cloudn't find one in a 20 miles radius. It was a rough few hours.
Kate loved her class and had made some damn delicious breads and scones! It was all well worth it. That night at the room we had some fancy bologna and cheese sandwiches on her fresh baked bread.
Tuesday before we headed west towards Lake Champlain we went to a medical supply store I had found the day before and I was able to buy a new hose for my CPAP machine. We stopped in Waterbury at the Green Mountain Coffee visitors center.
This was not what I expected, it was basically a Green Mountain Coffee cafe with a tiny section of historical information on the company and that's about it. It is located at the active train station which in itself is an old train station so that part is cool. Otherwise not worth the stop. Kate enjoyed Espresso Bueno in Barre much more.
Our first stop in Burlington was at Lake Champlain Chocolates factory. They offer a free tour, but we just missed it. All it appears to be is a video and then an explanation of the factory that we can see behind class. We were able to go and look for ourselves.
I did like that you could see them in action filling the trays making chocolates. Of course we bought a couple each.
We went down the lake front next to look at the lake and because I wanted to get a couple pictures of the two different Lake Champlain Monster statues. We were also able to see the North and South Burlington Breakwater Lighthouses.
For lunch we hit up Al's French Frys in South Burlington. I had found the it on the internet and it did not disappoint. Opened in the late 1940's they serve burgers, dogs, frys, chicken and more. Once again they definitely know how cook french frys.
After lunch we returned to Waterbury to take a tour of the Ben & Jerry's Factory. This was without a doubt the busiest place that we went too. I mean there were bus loads of kids there and just tons of people. We got in just before the 1:15pm tour.
You can't take a pictures on the tour except in the flavor room at the end. The tour starts with a video showing the history of the company and then we go into a windowed room overlooking the production floor. I really like watching stuff being made. After we go down to a room where we are all given a sample, Stephen Colbert's Americone dream, and we can see the flavor room where they make on flavor and you can take pictures, they were making Maple Walnut.
Of course we got a fresh cone and the ice cream tastes completely different than in the store, it's a lot creamier. We then let Wesley play on the playground for a spell before departing.
We stopped next in Stowe at the Gold Brook Covered bridge. This bridge is believed to be haunted and is also called Emily's Bridge. The story dates back as far as 1849 about Emily who is essentially left by her fiance and in her despair threw herself from the bridge falling to her death.
Now the fall isn't very far so I guess she could have hit her head on a rock knocking herself out and drowned in Gold Brook. You should check out this website that is dedicated to bridges supernatural phenomena.
Continuing the day we went to the Cabot Cheese Co-op for another factory tour. This one was a lot different as you go into the factory and although not on the actual production floor you do go in the hallways and it's very noisy. Kate had a hard time hearing the tour guide.
They were making cheese but on the far table so we couldn't see it that well. It was fun all the same. Oh yeah, they were making cheddar jack and the jalapeno odor was wicked powerful!
We went to Positive Pie for dinner and it was indeed good pizza, a bit pricey though.
Wednesday we went North all the way to Canada! We crossed over in Derby Line into Stanstead, Quebec on the auto run and missed out exit. In my defense though it was right after customs and I didn't recognize it as an exit because it wasn't an exit but a left turn.
We then hit construction and was pushed onto the south bound lane causing us to miss an exit. We eventually got turned around took a side road, route 141 south through Ayer's Cliff where we stopped at a rest area. They had a swingset that Wesley just pushed back and forth with Kate instead of actually swinging on.
Switching from route 141 to 143 we went into Stanstead and stopped at Les Marches Tradition hoping to find some Covered Bridge Chips. They had none, which was sad. We decided to have lunch in Quebec at the Rendez Vous Restaurant and it was great! I had a burger, Kate a BLT, and Wesley some chicken, but the prize of the meal was the poutine, it was amazing!
Wesley loved the merry-go-round and the playground in general. We always try to do something for Wesley when we keep him cooped up in the car for a long time so he can get out and run around. I think it's a fair trade.
One of the things I wanted to check out, which I told the border agent and he thought was funny, was the Stanstead Stone Circle. Built in 2009 it's kind of like stonehendge and the spot is also a 45th Parallel Marker. We had a lot of fun there and met some locals that had a kid near Wesley's age.
One thing that was peculiar was how we expected everyone to speak french and they did, until they realized we spoke english and then they spoke perfect english to us. According to the couple we met at the Stone Circle most people spoke english in the area but the closer you got to Quebec city the more people spoke french.
Even though we were denied Covered Bridge Chips I did find some Mars bars at the pharmacy.
In Derby Line I checked out the Haskell Free Library and Opera House with sits on the boundry between the US & Canada. There is a black line down the middle of the building inside showing it. It's unique as residents of both countries and utilize the library without going through customs they just park on their countries side and walk in. Before 9/11 they had to border issues here, post they've had to close them up. Here the road is blocked with flower pots.
Making the most of hour final day we stopped in Montpelier going to the Vermont State Museum located next to the State House building. Unfortunately they were closing in twenty minutes, fortunately she let us check it out without paying. It's a really nice museum, similar to the Maine State Museum, but is on one floor instead of four floors like ours.
The State House in Vermont is beautiful and the backdrop of the mountain behind it adds to the charm.
Thursday we packed up for the drive home. We stopped in Littleton, New Hampshire at Chutters candy store where I got the kids and myself some frooties. Kate got her and Wesley some chocolates.
We had lunch at the Smoking Good BBQ food truck in Bethel and it was the best BBQ I've had in a long time. Kate got the pulled pork and I got the brisket with the mild sauce, so flipping good!
We had a wonderful time exploring Vermont and we were lucky to have great weather every day. In the morning it was wicked foggy because we were in the mountains, but it would always burn off by mid morning. The interstates seemed like they were built on the side of the mountains so we were always high above the towns below.
I don't have a need to go back to northern Vermont again, but I would like to explore the southern part of the state, and best of all Kate can take another class at King Arthur Flour if she wanted too!