Lost wallets aside, Vermont was fun. We drove the entire loop of the state, going so far north at one point that we crossed the border into Quebec.
First stop: Ben and Jerry’s! It’s Vermont’s biggest tourist attraction, and for four dollars (or free if you check in on Foursquare) you can take the tour of the factory. I honestly figured it would be epic levels of corny, but as someone who loves small business (uh, not to mention ice cream) I found it fascinating. And we got to pose in this thing:
The tour doubles as a test kitchen, so they gave us samples of ice cream that hasn’t hit the shelves yet. This is brownie salted caramel, and it is AMAZING.
The kids on our tour were pretty much gutted when they saw this sign, and there were a few trembly lips until they were clued into the joke.
My boyfriend is a school teacher which means he often wants to do things that give me icky homeschooling flashbacks, but I think he’s rad, so I go along with them. This was actually pretty cool, though. We took a tour of the State Capitol of Vermont in Montpelier guided by a volunteer who let me sit in a senate seat since nothing was in session for the summer. Apparently State Capitols are available to the public.
The coolest thing we saw was the Haskell Free Library and Opera House (the opera house tours had ended for the day when we got there, unfortunately). It’s all the way up at the top of the state, so far north that it’s actually built on the international border, and books are in both English and French. As long as you’re in the building you don’t need a passport, and I had a fun time hopping back and forth over the line between the US and Canada a few times. Here’s the reading room as seen from the front entrance; I was standing in the US, and the line on the floor shows the division between the two countries. I am reflected in the piece of furniture over in Canada.
Donations in both Canadian and American dollars.
I had to cross the border to get this shot, and because 1. we we wary of breaking international law and 2. I wanted a stamp in my passport, we walked through customs. The Canadians were quite happy to have us over and laughingly stamped my passport when I asked, even though it wasn’t strictly necessary. The customs agent to come back through into the United States was grumpy, though.
“Why did you go into Canada?” she snipped, and we told her it was to see the back of the Haskell.
“What’s so special about the back?” she demanded.
As it turns out, not much, but here it is. I got a photo.
With a cooler in the car, we made three stops on the Vermont Cheese Trail (which is, bless them, actually A Thing). First stop was Fat Toad Farm which is moving away from making goat cheese in favor of making goats milk caramel. A taste made it pretty clear as to why it’s selling like crazy, and I bought a jar of salted bourbon caramel, along with one of their last containers of cheese, which I am hoarding it in the back of my fridge.
The goats were friendly and eager to be pet, the dogs were friendly and eager to greet us, the people were really friendly and happy to see us, but the chickens, man. They look judgy and disapproving.
“I’m going to take a photo of you doing interesting farm things, ok?”
“Uh, well, I’m going to roll this wheel barrel away…”
She’d just added the bourbon for the salted caramel bourbon, which smelled amazing.
This chicken thinks you should have worn more appropriate slacks.
This chicken doesn’t understand why you insist on wearing your hair that way.
These chickens wonder if maybe you could stand to loose a few pounds.
Next was Neighborly Farms down the road a bit for cow cheese. We were given a tour by teenaged Darien, who is pretty much the cutest and was amused that I wanted to take his photo.
Calf number 180 was too shy to come out of her cow house. She’s only a few weeks old!
Last stop was Vermont Shepard where we didn’t see any other humans.
The store was another tiny cottage, this one next to a meadow full of sheep.
It had a refrigerator full of cheese for sale…
… and this was how I paid for it. Clearly not in New York any more.
And finally, a wrong turn brought us to a Saxtons River Distillery, where I bought maple bourbon. Not technically cheese, but a good fourth stop anyway.