Fri. June 29, 2012- Vermont:
I woke up just past 7am and decided it was too early and I went back to sleep. Alas, that is not what the universe had in store for me. In an hour I was awake again, this time I was awoken by my drooling on the pillow. Again, breakfast was served in the main dining room. Except this time there was no buffet, the buffet was brought to our table! We were brought an enormous plate of fruits, zucchini bread, a danish and a muffin. We also had the option of ordering off of a breakfast menu; alas that menu did not feature pancakes! And my usual back-up breakfast food item of French toast was sullied with bananas!! I made do with the muffin and fruit. For once I had just the right amount of food without overeating. At breakfast we also learned a little more about the other couple from the previous night. It might not be such a bad thing that she is not engaged to him, because from what we heard, he is weird. She was saying that he has every American sports team’s jersey and he wears them based on who is playing that day.
We tried to go on a nature walk nearby but the ground was too slippery (it had, not surprisingly, rained in the night) and we turned back. Before leaving we wandered around the Inn and looked at all the empty rooms, one even had a piano in it! There was also a cat bumming around. Despite the early morning greyness and rain there was… BLUE SKY AND SUN! (Note: it is actually written like that in book, underlined and all). In addition to the great weather, our drive was full of anticipation, for we were driving to a few fun places: Ben & Jerry’s factory, a cider mill that promised a bounty of apple cider donuts, a gold-capped capitol building and Frisbee golf!!! Our first stop, after an agonizingly slow construction-filled drive was Montepelier, the smallest capitol city in America. We got out of the car and for the first time in what seemed like forever, we actually had to put on sunscreen. We found some bathrooms in City Hall and then set off exploring the town. There were a lot of nice buildings to gawk at, some across the river on a cliffside, but other than that there was not a lot to see. Because we were there at noon the bells rang out and the sun reflected off the golden dome. We decided not to go inside the State Capitol building for fear that the bored gift shop attendants would all jump on us at once, trying to help us, for sake of alleviating their boredom. Besides, it was really hot outside and our next stop was none other than an ice cream factory. In the meantime, we had the air conditioner on full blast, for while we had wandered the town the car sat in the parking lot becoming a blazing oven.
Ben & Jerry’s was so much fun! Easily one of the best places I have been to, even though there is not a heck of a whole lot to see. It never occurred to me that most of it is contained to containers and tubes. Alas, while we were there they were inexplicably (it is summer after all) not making ice cream, so we missed out on seeing people walking around the factory floor. There was a free tasting afterwards but it threw a wrench in my plans for the flavour was the one I had decided (Chocolate Nougat Crunch) I was going to get after the tour! Now I had to choose a new flavour! I puzzled over the list of flavours for a while and finally settled on Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz. It was good, but not as good as the Chocolate Nougat Crunch. During the tour we watched a movie about Ben & Jerry’s, in it they had a clip of Jimmy Fallon talking about his ice cream (it has chocolate covered potato chips in it) and people kept laughing at his terrible jokes, Brent and I (the only people with a sense of humour) sat there stone-faced and just looking at each other as in “what the hell is going on?!” it was hilarious. The ice cream fell as flat as his jokes, it was nothing special. Unfortunately Phish Food created a super high standard for me, and everything was falling flat. There was a graveyard in back for all the dead flavours, having only recently been introduced to ben & Jerry’s I did not know any of them, except Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz (or Coffee Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz, unconfirmed which one) which I had at the scoop shop. In behind the factory there are large silos. The ones containing cream are about a third smaller than the ones containing sugar. To commemorate the momentous trip I bought a souvenir shirt, a tank top that says Body By Ben & Jerry’s (I giggle every time I wear it). The selection was very small, they had one women’s t-shirt design and one women’s tank top, whereas for men they had an entire wall, I call that discrimination. Why is there no women’s shirt with the Ben & Jerry’s cows in a field?! I want that as a shirt!
Up next was Cold Hollow Cider Mill, as if I was not on a high enough sugar rush, I indulged in some apple cider donuts, I guess it is a Vermont thing? This one was not sugar-coated and was slightly greasier, but still good. At the mill we found a brochure for the Green Mountain Coffee Company, which we were supposed to have passed on our way from Ben & Jerry’s to Cold Hollow, and as it turns out, it was south of the highway we were on. No use backtracking half an hour each way for a cup of coffee so we continued on to the Stowe Resort. Somehow Frisbee golf on a stomach full of donuts and ice cream did not seem like the best idea. And I was wrong. We were going to Stowe Resort for a race track down the mountain and to go up to the top of Mt. Mansfield. I was wary of the track; basically you ride down the mountain in a little plastic car with brakes in what is like a cement waterslide, keeping you in place. I had read before about people getting hurt on these things, and the girl taking our ticket sternly asked if we had read the instructions and disclaimers, it was mildly disconcerting that she was in a back brace from a serious injury. The ski lift to the top was mildly scary (I had not been on one in almost 15 years). The ride down was also mildly scary to begin with but I slowly started having fun. Slowly being the key word, I rarely let go of the brakes to go full speed. So much so that a woman and her child eventually caught up to me and were stuck behind me. I do not care; I came out of it in one piece, and that is all I am concerned with. I was using the brakes so much that I kept getting a mild static shock through the brake handle.
We wandered around the grounds for a bit looking for the gondola that was to take us to the top. We gave up and went to ask someone. It turns out we were supposed to drive a little bit down the road, but she made a drama out of it by saying “you’re so close”, I was so sure I had just made an ass of myself and it was like right around the corner. Before boarding the gondola I grabbed a map of the trails in hopes that it would illustrate what it is I would be looking at from the top. Instead I found out we were not going to the summit, to get to the summit we had two options: go back to the bottom, get in the car, pay to go on a small sketchy dirt road and drive and then hike the last easy bit or hike from the gondola place. Sounds easy right? Not so much, the trail was marked as DDD as in the most difficult trail there. We decided to go have a look at the trailhead, just for kicks. It was entertaining to look at; it was a narrow and insanely steep rocky staircase that twisted upwards. We had no water, no food and I was in sandals. We wandered around the top, looking at the scenic views, but the gondola place was in the way of where Quebec could be seen from. We did see the White Mountains in New Hampshire and a lake. On the way down my ears popped.
From there we drove to the Von Trapp Family Lodge, our hotel for the night and the actual location of Frisbee golf. I was finally going to play Frisbee golf after having chickened out of it years ago in Asheville, NC. We checked in and unpacked only to find out that Frisbee golf was down the road! Back in the car we went. The guy let us play for free, he seemed genuinely surprised that anyone wanted to play, must not be very popular. He gave us three Frisbees (one was lighter, to be used as a putter) and a map and that is it, we were on our own in a giant field. It took us a while to find the first basket, only that was the practice basket. We threw the Frisbees a few times and deemed ourselves ready, seemed easy enough. Then it took a bit of map reading to find the first hole. It was a lot farther of a throw than either of us had anticipated. And the epic fails ensued. We were scoring 6, 8, and sometimes 10 on a par 3 hole, I tossed the Frisbee from close up and it bounced off the edge. Our worst fail happened at the 4th hole. Brent threw his Frisbee and like a boomerang it came back around and landed behind him, further from the basket than where he started. I stepped up, threw mine and it went quite a distance, over to the left as well. We took off in opposite directions and a mad search ensued, neither of us could find our Frisbees in the tall grasses. As we were about to give up I found mine, so I went over to help Brent and after much stomping around we finally found it. At the 6th hole we found out we were aiming for the 8th hole’s basket and rather than figuring out the confusing layout we gave up and just went for the final hole, the 9th one. We were tired, scratched up, itchy and still covered in sunscreen. There were times when it felt more like a scavenger hunt than a game of Frisbee golf and now I understand why no one ever plays it.
While waiting for our dinner reservation we sat around watching, what else, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives which only made me hungrier, even more than usual because he was in a Polish restaurant talking about perogies. I would periodically moan about how hungry I was. I could not watch any more so we went downstairs to browse through the gift shop, alas it was closed so we just wandered looking at old (sort of creepy) photos. What was also creepy was that before I went to shower I put my earrings in the paper lid from the glasses in the bathroom, but when I got out of the shower, one had moved onto my manicure kit case! Dinner was not a price fixe this time, so we learned from all our previous days of overeating and decided to skip appetizers and go straight for the main courses. I was set on having some delicious Vienna sausage, only to be disappointed by the lack of it on the menu, so I settled for applewood smoked pork loin at the very last minute. Up until then I was considering chicken, but that same type of chicken had been on so many menus during the week that I thought it was something fishy (turns out it’s a small Vermont farm). Brent got the real deal, ordering schnitzel. At least for dessert we had something kind of more Austrian: lindsertorte with apple streudel ice cream for me and apple streudel with lindsertorte ice cream for Brent. And what goes better with that than an Italian coffee. The only downsides were that the service was unbelievably slow and the items offered on the tasting menu (highland cattle beef, they keep highland cattle on the land there) were not on the regular menu.
Now it was back to flipping channels, our options were The Real World or Diners Drive-Ins and Dives (yup, we left for dinner, came back and it was still on). We settled on a (sometimes) hilarious special edition of 20/20 about cheaters.