Cheese, Ice Cream and Teddy Bears – Vermont

Like most folks, when we think of Vermont it’s the wonderful cheeses, maple syrup and maybe an image of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that dance through our heads.  We planned our stop in Vermont so that we’d be close enough to check some of these things out conveniently by car.  We were able to do it, and had a couple of nice surprises along the way.  Up early on our first day of exploring and off we went to the Cabot Creamery in Cabot.  The beautiful drive along highway 100 allowed us to enjoy many miles of the Mad River Byway – even though we encountered quite a bit of roadwork along the way.  Oh well, we’re in no hurry, right?  Yes we are!  We want our cheese and ice cream!

Dairy and Agriculture in Vermont

A common sight in Vermont, dairy and agriculture farms

We arrived at the creamery just as they opened and watched a short video which described how a few dairies got together to form a co-op which grew to 1,200 family dairies and works to assure that its members produce the best products possible. In our group was even one of the farmers who brought their grandkids for the tour. Then we took a tour of the very busy and noisy plant to learn how the delectable cheeses are made.  Finally, the good part – a big table full of samples of the many delicious cheeses!

After making our purchases and as we were loading them into the cooler in the car, one of the creamery employees walked up to us and just handed us a two-pound block of their premium cheddar cheese!  We were quite shocked and thanked the man profusely – now we have enough cheese to last the rest of the summer!  We hope to share this cheese with Pam of Oh the Places for telling us about Cabot Cheese.

On we went to our next stop, Ben & Jerry’s.  Another video followed by a tour, then a tasting of a fairly new flavor – cookies and milk.  As we were leaving, the girl in the information booth asked how we liked the tour.  We told her we enjoyed it but were disappointed that they weren’t selling their “Pistachio-pistachio” flavor that day.  She said, “hold on a minute” and asked another girl to watch her booth as she disappeared into the plant.  Two minutes later she came out with a pint of “Pistachio-pistachio” and gave it to us – free!  Wow, free ice cream and cheese on the same day!

I had read how beautiful the Stowe, VT area was, and since we were only a short distance away we drove up the Green Mountain Byway and stopped at the Trapp Family Lodge.  Yes, this was the home and is now a lodge of the real Von Trapp Family of the movie “The Sound of Music”.

It’s a beautiful place and would be a shame not to take pictures of the stunning hills mountains all around the area. I can just imagine how Vermont would look like in a few months  when the autumn leaves fall.

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

By this time we were getting hungry and were glad to find a great Irish pub/restaurant in Stowe.  After an excellent lunch we headed west to Burlington for a drive down one last byway, the Lake Champlain Byway.  This one runs right by the Shelburne Museum, and the Dakin Farm specialty foods store, where we stopped to buy even more delicious meats and other good eats.  After our 230-mile drive we were ready to go home and enjoy some of our cheeses – with a glass of good wine, of course!

The next morning we left early again for our day at the Shelburne Museum, which I recently blogged about here.  Since it didn’t open until 10:00am, we stopped at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory – just for the heck of it.  We learned about how the business was started and saw all the steps involved in making their popular teddy bears during the factory tour.  It was actually quite fun, but probably not something we’d drive across the U.S. just to see.  We do love factory tours, though!

We passed by Montpelier, Vermont the smallest capital city in the United States, and is a very down-to-earth kind of town.  The Vermont State House  set in a picturesque backdrop of forested hills was remarkable and I could not resist snapping a picture as we drove by.

Montpelier State House, VT

On this stop we stayed at the worst campground we have encountered so far – Lake Dunmore Kampersville.  Fortunately, our all-day outings minimized the length of time we actually spent in the crowded, noisy park.  Avoid this one if you’re in the area!  Click here for Steve’s review, if you’re interested.

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