Northeast Kingdom, Ben & Jerry’s and Church Street

In hopes of seeing a Vermont sunrise, I set my alarm early… only to be greeted by grey skies and mist.  But, since we had a big day ahead of us heading North and West, getting an early start wasn’t so bad.

We headed up the Connecticut River Byway toward St. Johnsbury.  I took a lot more pictures along the way.  And YAY, today I was able to capture not only Witch Windows, but cool misty mountain photos.

The byway led us through more farmland than we had seen the previous day.  Along the way we found fields of Pumpkins, Brussel Sprouts, and my favorite, farm animals like the adorable (Scottish) Highland Cattle.


I’d never seen long haired cows before and made Jim turn the car around because I was udderly clueless what I had seen – were they huge sheep with horns?  Of course, Jim made fun of me just like the day before when I declared, “Boy they have big black birds here.” And he promptly corrected me that they had RAVENS.  Whatever, they were big, black and birds. 🙂

The City of Bradford was between all this farmland. As we came into town, I spotted a cool mill, but Jim quickly pulled into the parking lot because he spotted the waterfall that once fed the mill.

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We kept on for St. Johnsbury, and I pulled out our handy Tourism Guide which led us to the Museum of Natural History and the Athenaeum.  The museum guide was friendly and we opted to visit at our own pace.  Filled with taxidermy from around the globe, and unique items across many cultures, it is definitely worth the visit.  They also have a planetarium, but we opted not to stay for that show.

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Museum of Natural History, St. Johnsbury, Vermont

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The only Moose we saw in Vermont.

We wandered into the Athenaeum, which is loosely translated into “a place to encourage learning”.  In St. Johnsbury, it hosts the Public Library as well as an incredible Gallery featuring many paintings, sculptures and original books from the 1700-1800s!  The docent there, Ewa, was passionate and steeped in knowledge about not just the Athenaeum, but fine art, architecture and history.  She was clearly excited to have visitors and give a tour. On our own we would have spent far less time, and had almost no appreciation for what the Athenaeum offered. Not to mention, having someone else tell the stories beats reading articles and museum signs any day!

After our tour, we headed toward our next major destination: Ben & Jerry’s.  Not too far away I spotted a sign for Cabot Creamery and made Jim follow the sign because I remembered reading that they had a factory tour.

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We sampled many delicious cheeses, and learned about the industry, co-op and cheese-making process.  Did you know cheddar is lactose-free?

The tour wasn’t long, and we were back on the road heading to Montpelier, the state capitol. Being Saturday, the Vermont State House was closed, so we snapped a quick selfie and set our sights on ice cream.

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Ben & Jerry’s isn’t too far away from Montpelier, and we pulled up to what could be mecca for many an ice cream lover, or hippie, or both!  The factory overlooks the town, so there is a winding ramp or stairs to take to get there. We went in and purchased tickets for the tour.  Although ice cream wasn’t being made on Saturday, our guide was quite comedic and did a good job explaining, or perhaps making stuff up, about the process.  We had samples at the end of the tour and mozied to the Flavor Graveyard before departing Waterbury.

Ironically, I grew up in Wisconsin, the Dairy State, and until our trip to Vermont, I had never experienced the cheese-making or ice-cream making processes.

It was late afternoon, and knowing we had a limited amount of time the next day to tour, we opted to travel onto Burlington for the evening.  We chose the fastest route in hopes of beating sunset, and found our way to the hometown of the University of Vermont. As with many college towns, Burlington is bustling with life, even after 5:30pm!  We stopped in a maker space, Generator, and took a tour and made our way to Church Street Marketplace on total accident.  My goal was to find the Burlington City Arts Gallery, and turns out it’s right in the middle of this awesome area that’s like the towns you see in the old Christmas Movies when folks are window shopping.  After visiting the Gallery, we strolled the three blocks, popped in a few shops and then decided to find a place to eat.  We ended up at The Scuffer, and were able to sit at the bar and eat, good food, nice bartenders.

Up Next: Last Day in Vermont – Manchester

 

 

 

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