Sat. June 30, 2012- Vermont:
I woke up really early and decided to photograph the Green Mountains, which you could see from our balcony, only it was an epic fail because that is where the sun rises and it was too bright, which also explained why I woke up so damn early. Another mystery, Brent could not find his glasses in the morning, they had “mysteriously” moved to the lower shelf of the bedside table. We went around the grounds, exploring and came upon the family graveyard, it is mildly creepy that it was on the property right next door to the lodge itself, not too far from the outdoor pool. Mysteries solved, it was a ghost moving my earrings and Brent’s glasses, and it is the only logical explanation. We went looking for the highland cattle but they were hiding from the already blazing heat (it was not even 9am yet) and the cow tour was not until later in the afternoon, as in too late for us. On our way from the Concert Meadow (there is a stage that proved a great vantage point to look out for cows) to the trailhead we saw a white owl fly by overhead, or a sea gull. We’re still not quite sure. We disregarded the rules that you needed a trail pass from the Rec Lodge because it was not open yet and we took off on a trail that promised to lead us to a Chapel In The Trees. The trail was marked with a diamond for difficult, but there is no way that referred to it as a hiking trail unless these people are total wimps, it most likely meant as a cross-country skiing or mountain biking trail. Regardless I was not doing too well on this trail, I had not had my coffee or any food and if that was not bad enough, the elastics in my socks had worn out and they kept sliding down past my ankle. At one point I had to stop, take my shoes off and fish my socks out, for they were almost off my foot entirely. We did make it to the chapel, and it was as promised, a small stone chapel surrounded by tonnes of trees.
Back at the lodge there was free coffee on offer but no sign of the promised pastries, so we browsed the gift shop (I was secretly hoping the gift shop sold candy). After that we had some time to kill so we drove to an outlet mall I had found a brochure for in the lodge. I did not think we would actually go, it was a nice surprise. Plus we got to see a sign outside of a pet grooming place that promoted dog beer (which is apparently a real thing!). Shopping was only half successful. Between three sports stores (Reebok, PUMA and Under Armour) I found one decent pair of shorts with pockets and no waterproof jackets. On our way we passed by two Dunkin’ Donuts which was just cruel torture to me, for I could not grab a coffee, we were going to a museum and gallery, the last thing I wanted to do was chug hot coffee on a hot day.
We arrived at the Shelburne Museum just before noon and I joked that we only had just over 5hrs to explore the museum. We went in bought our tickets, took one look at the map and hightailed it back to the car. The “museum” was really a series of small buildings of collections scattered around a huge expanse of property, namely a lot of walking outdoors at high noon. We needed sunscreen and water if we were to make it out of there. It turned out that things we had seen from the road, a ship and a covered bridge were actually parts of the museum, which only made the museum seem that much bigger. At the museum we learned about Champ the monster of Lake Champlain (does every lake have a monster?). We also saw an unending amount of: snowmobiles, carriages, dolls, tools, plates, and wooden ducks. They also featured a collection of old toys, some of which moved, one of which was the world’s scariest clown. There was video of them in action, but I was afraid to watch for fear of seeing the horrid clown. There is a reason this place is called the Smithsonian of the North, because it is just a huge collection of anything and everything. They are even expanding to make room for more. Just how much stuff is there? Well we were there for over four hours and we saw it all, that is how much stuff. Looking back I now understand why the cashier told us that our tickets were also valid the next day. We had not anticipated being there for so long and the snack bar food looked as old as the collections, we were starving but that not that badly. We drove to McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, which were nearby both the museum and our hotel. Due to the heat I went for an iced coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, and due to tiredness I opted for medium. Apparently a medium iced coffee is not the same as a medium regular coffee or I was given the wrong size, it was monstrously huge. We also caved in to temptation and split an Oreo donut, it was amazing. At McDonalds we had to show restraint (we had dinner reservation in two hours) and ordered a box of spicy chicken McBites (being advertised everywhere in the US) with a spicy sauce. It was funny because the cashier was like “I have to warn you, they are actually spicy” and we laughed. They were not in fact all that spicy and now Brent agreed with me: too much bread, not enough chicken. For dessert (as if the Oreo donut was not dessert enough) we split a s’mores pie (graham cracker crust with marshmallow and chocolate goop inside), it was much better than I had expected.
Our dinner reservations were at the Shelburne Inn (where we could not stay because on weekends they demand you stay two nights). We had wanted to go to the working farm (that provides for the restaurant) but it was only open until 5:30 and we would’ve been stuck for half an hour having nothing to do. Regardless we were still stuck for a bit, the service at the restaurant was incredibly slow. We were stuck waiting near the bar to be seated, surrounded by annoying people including a barefoot guy having the world’s worst conversation about ginger ale with the bar tender, it was awful. We were eventually seated near the window, with a nice breeze coming off Lake Champlain. The menu was rather small and there was not a lot on offer from their working farm, so I went with the stuffed rabbit leg. The rabbit leg came with a pile of mush that I thought was potatoes and after eating almost half of it did I remember that it in fact was goat cheese curds. Halfway through we switched plates and I was more than thrilled to give up having to saw meat off a leg bone and opt for the much easier to cut roast beef. I look over at Brent and one swift move with his knife and all the meat perfectly fell off the bone. The only thing other than the cheese and beef that was farm-fresh was the artisan bread and butter brought to the table before our meals arrived. We did not stay for dessert, there was nothing appetizing or outstanding on the menu and the service was slow. After dinner we walked around the Inn and the grounds, looking at the views of the lake and such, but it got boring rather quick. Driving back we went really slowly so that we could see the farm animals (dairy cows and some sheep) as well as a white-tailed deer grazing. We got to see the farm without having to pay admission. When we were driving to the Shelburne Inn we had made a wrong turn and ended up near a field of highland cattle, so after dinner we drove back to look at them some more. A few of them were intrigued by us and stared back.
There was a pharmacy two doors down from our Days Inn so we went there for an impromptu dessert, and what a feast we had! Cherry Coke Zero (I actually grabbed two, this was the first time the whole trip that I had found it) and two mini-pints of Ben & Jerry’s, we decided we would try the top two flavours, which we found out at the factory are Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mike & Ikes and a PayDay. The Cherry Garcia was surprisingly good, I was afraid of giant chunks of cherry skins and an overpowering cherry taste, but there was none of that. The Cookie Dough was just that, cookie dough bits in vanilla ice cream. It is impossible to comprehend why those two are the most popular when Phish Food exists. We settled in and streamed South Park because we could, normally it is only for US IP addresses and now we had one!
We also discovered that the mini-pints of Ben & Jerry’s come with little spoons under the lids! That right there is innovation, no more stealing plastic spoons from McDonald’s or asking the hotel front desk if you can borrow a spoon (Brent did that, she laughed and said we could keep them).
NOTE: Looking back over my pictures from Shelburne Museum there is a weird light refraction in the lens in pictures from the apothecary, or maybe it is a ghost. But there is only building at Shelburne that is haunted, and that isn’t it.