The last time I saw Vermont, it was cool and crisp. The leaves were beautiful shades of orange and red and yellow, turned amber and golden by the gentle autumn sun. The wind was harsh and biting, the nights were cold and clear. This time around, things were very, very different. The air was warm and heavy, the sun blinding, and the leaves green. It seems there is a very big difference between early September and mid-October in the beautiful state of Vermont.
When we set off from New Hampshire on our way to Rutland, VT, the next overnight stop, we decided to take the long way- which meant avoiding the interstate highways in favor of Route 7, a smaller and more scenic road. I was enjoying the view very much. Rolling hills, working farms, and tiny towns all popped up sporadically as we made our way through. I lifted the mask of my helmet more than once so that I could take a long, deep breath, and let the fresh, woodsy air fill the space around my head.
I was so into the scenic nature of our ride that I had to do a double take when we passed a larger than life jug of maple syrup. We swung a U turn and doubled back, pulling into the empty parking lot of the New England Maple Museum. Damn, that’s a lot of syrup! The museum and shop close at 4pm, so we didn’t get to go in. But we did manage to snap a few photos of the huge jug. Check them out at www.MapleMuseum.com if you are planning a road trip down beautiful Route 7.
We did make one other stop before getting to Rutland at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. On our fall visit two years ago, we arrived ten minutes after opening time to a nearly empty building. This time, the line for factory tours was literally out the door and the ice cream line at the scoop shop was even longer. Determined to get ice cream, we remembered the big freezer in the gift shop and made a beeline to it, pulling out a pint of Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core ice cream. We grabbed a pint coozie and a couple of spoons, paid for everything, and were under a shady tree with the ice cream between us in about four minutes. I would have liked to do the factory tour again because it was very well done, but the wait was simply too long. However, I was glad we remembered that the gift shop sold pints, because the Speculoos Cookie Core ice cream was indeed spectacular.
Something we hadn’t done last time because of how cold it had been was the Flavor Graveyard, where flavors that are no longer produced are memorialized with tombstones and amusing epitaphs. We continued to pass the pint between us as we wandered the most adorable graveyard I had ever seen (and probably will ever see). Some flavors must have simply faded in popularity, with dates on their stones indicating that they had been around for over a decade. Others, on the other hand, lasted less than a year, indicating a true flavor flop.
I wish we could have found a way to take some ice cream on the road with us, but traveling on a motorcycle in the summer made it simply impossible. So we finished our pint and went off in search of Route 7. The factory is a very small place and probably not worth a special trip, but if you find yourself in the pretty town of Waterbury, VT, pay Ben & Jerry a visit. www.benjerry.com/about-us/factory-tours
We didn’t have any plans upon our arrival in Rutland, but it turns out our visit coincided with the Vermont State Fair. Having visited the Bloomsburg Fair a few times, we were no strangers to such things, so we figured, why not? We watched a bit of the demolition derby, checked out some prize winning vegetables and pigs, and did some significant people watching. We also checked out the maple tent, where I actually learned a lot about how maple syrup is made, and it just made me hungry for waffles. There was even maple flavored cotton candy for sale, in addition to other maple treats.
After we were finished at the fair, we bought a simple dinner to eat in our hotel room, resting up for the last few days of our trip. The time we had spent in Vermont on this trip was somewhat fleeting but I am more than certain that we will be back someday.