After a morning of school and work, we drove north towards Waterbury to take the factory tour around Ben & Jerry's ice cream facility. It is well worth a visit, we were surprised at the number of people there on a Thursday afternoon but were able to get a ticket for the tour pretty quickly. We watched a short show on how the Ben & Jerry's brand came to be, followed by a look down into the factory from the mezzanine. The end of the tour finished in the 'sampling' room, we all received a scoop of their flavor of the day: delicious minty chocolate.
We ate a late lunch in their courtyard before heading over to the play area and 'flavor graveyard'. The graveyard is so funny, lots of headstones with memories of flavors no longer with us, quite amusing.
Dave and I were looking forward to seeing Smuggler's Notch in the summer. We have a timeshare there and go every year to ski in February. We really never thought that we'd get there in the summer and see it 'green', so this was a surprising opportunity as it was really not too far from Waterbury. We drove through Stowe and were able to go over the pass - this is closed for about 6 months over the extended winter period. It was a beautiful drive, we did make a stop near the top for photos.
As we came towards the resort, we stopped in at the Madonna/Sterling lift area. It was so quiet, compared to the winter activity we're used to, I guess it's not used too much in the summer, other than by some very keen mountain bikers, the lifts weren't running so that would be a serious trek up the mountain! We parked the truck directly in front of the cafe area where the ski racks usually are and wandered around, pointing out to the kids where they skiied last year, where Jake's race was etc. It was kind of eerie and quite bizarre seeing the slopes covered in wild flowers, so hard to imagine that when the entire area is white in February!
....pause here as I head to bed, more tomorrow....
....well, just jumping back on while I have a few minutes this morning - finding time to do anything is tough at the moment, yesterday was busy anyway, plus we had to grocery shopping on the way home, put that away, get kids to bed, then I had to mark all their work from the morning and plan their lessons for today, hence too tired to finish this last night!...
We stopped by our apartment and we totally surprised to see that there's a road going across the mountain from our complex to one on the other side of the ski run, absolutely never would've realized! Also coming down the mountain is a wonderfully winding path from the top, what a great hiking trail.
Down in the main complex, camp activities were coming to a close for the day. It was fun to see the Smugg's entertainers in their summer wear. Dave took a photo of us in our usual spot at the bottom of the mountain so we can have a comparison. Nate was excited to find a playground at the base, that we'd failed to ever notice before. I'm so happy that we managed to fit this visit into our schedule, we'd seriously consider coming back again one year in the summer.
From Smuggs, we drove back over the pass to Stowe. As I mentioned earlier in the week, we watched The Sound of Music to acquaint the kids with the story of the Von Trappe Family. After they escaped Austria for Switzerland, they toured around the world, singing. The movie is loosely based on their real life, although there were actually 9 children. They ended up settling in Vermont and built a property in the mountains as they felt it reminded them of their native Austria. There is a beautiful lodge, still owned and operated by the family and it really is reminiscent of Austria. Dave and I could've sat and gazed at the view for far longer than the kids allowed. Becca: "but what are we going to DO?!" LOL, she is a girl who likes to be occupied and know what's coming next!
We wandered around the grounds of the lodge, so well-kept. There is a little garden where some of the family members are buried, including Georg (the Captain) and Maria. Despite the kids moving at great speeds, it was peaceful!
The lodge is huge and quite posh (dictionary definition: smart, stylish; high class - because Rebecca asked!), certainly not your Holiday Inn type of establishment! It was a toss-up between staying to eat there or grabbing a pizza. I checked the menu, the food was way too appealing, so staying won the toss! The food was very good. Dave had Austrian sausages, he probably hadn't had proper Austrian sausages since the last time we were actually in Austria (I lived and worked in Wolfsberg, Austria for a year and LOVED it, we went back often before the kids were born, hopefully we'll return again soon). Before we left, I did check to see how much a family suite would be to accommodate 6 of us: $450/night, I think I managed to keep my 'how much?' face in check - we are way too conditioned to the camping way of life at the moment - that's at least 10 nights stay at a campground, LOL!
Stopped at a grocery store on the way home, hard to believe how much milk, bread, cereal and fruit we actually go through on a daily basis! Nate crashed as soon as he got in the car, arriving back at the campsite and transferring him was not a pleasant experience, poor child, it was a long day for him.
States visited: 49!
visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800
Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)