Many of you know we took an epic road trip to Vermont this summer. Our family had never been on a vacation JUST the 5 of us for more than a long weekend. Since Amelia is 3 now and potty trained, we agreed the time was right to venture out. We wanted to go on a non-traditional trip to a place not often visited, AKA the non-Disney World vacation. (Disclaimer: I love Disney World. We will be going in 2011 so Amelia can see the castle her Daddy built for her.) We wanted a place that we could drive to and neither Will nor I had spent much time in the NE United States. So……Vermont. My BFF Jessica and her family had been up there visiting family quite a bit and all she could say was that it was very remote and very beautiful. Done. We’re there.
We wanted to do non-traditional and I had read about farmstays, where you stay in a room or a cabin on a working farm, you help out with the chores and the kids get to experience farm life. Perfect. So we booked a couple of nights at Four Springs Farm. Will and I love rock climbing, but the kids had never been on real rock. Perfect. So we found these guys and booked a family trip with them. Bam. Our trip was starting to take shape. Of course we had to do the Ben and Jerry’s tour and the Cabot Creamery tour, because that IS touristy for Vermont. And that was pretty much it.
I ordered Off the Beaten Path: Vermont because my friend Sarah told me so, we grabbed our computer, a few clothes and we were off! We headed out for 9 days of adventure!
It took us two days to drive, but 1,040 miles later, our first stop was at the original Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, VT.
I won’t bore you with every single detail of the trip, but I will tell you about our favorite day. We woke up one morning and set out to find the Brookfield floating bridge, which I had read about in our Off the Beaten Path book. It was definitely off the beaten path, but driving through backwoods Vermont in the middle of July was completely gorgeous. Very few people, very few houses, very few cars and NO WAL-MARTS! As we got back in the car, I realized we were near a cheese-making farm just a few miles away. What else did we have to do? Nothing. So we drove on up to Neighborly Farms. When we first got out, there were several baby calves out that Will and the kids got quickly aquainted with. The girl working there was the daughter of the people who owned the farm and we had arrived JUST in time to watch them make the cheese (or at least the fun part). So she told us all about the cheesemaking process, which is quite interesting!
After we ate cheese until we could bust, Will picked up a jar of goat’s milk caramel in the Neighborly gift shop and asked the girl about it. Well, wouldn’t you know that the farm was right up the road??? So, we hopped in the car and drove on up to the goat farm. Fat Toad Farm makes Mexican style (cajeta) goat’s milk caramel. Yes, it sounds disgusting. HOWEVER, it is the richest, most delicious caramel you will ever taste in your life. Our favorite was the Vanilla Bean Caramel. Oh. Em. Gee.
So Will asked the sweet lady farmer if beekeeping was popular up there. (Fun fact about Will Owens: he has always wanted to be a beekeeper. Go figure.) Well, of course it was! There was a guy right up the road who has bees! So she called him and the next thing I knew, we were driving up the mountain to his house. When we got out of the car, the beekeeper looked completely quintessential Vermont mountain man. He made wooden canoes. He chopped lots and lots of wood for the winter. He had a big scruffy beard. And he was wearing plaid. Awesome.
So the beekeeper showed us all around, the hives, the honeycomb press things, the process for extracting honey and wax and he let us taste the final product. It was one of the coolest and most random things ever.
The time we spent at the farmstay was fun and relaxing. We didn’t even get cell phone service, which was icing on the cake!
We toured a maple farm, and tasted all things maple, also a first! We drove up to Derby Line, VT where half of the town is in Canada and the other half is in the US. The kids ran around screaming, “Hey MOM! We’re in CANADA!!!!!!” Sadly, we didn’t have passports for them, so we couldn’t drive into Canada. We visited a fish hatchery where we got to feed river trout in all stages of life. We toured several different breweries and played in a river behind Long Trail Brewery, where Will taught the boys how to skip rocks. We toured Green Mountain Coffee and had ice cream in an old-timey ice cream shop. We just enjoyed being together.
We stayed the last 2 nights in Barton, Vermont (near Crystal Lake) in the Deer Den cabin. The 2br/1ba cabin was about 15x15ft. It overlooked a tacky-looking but river-fed pool, which was cold as ice even in July. And just a few steps down the trail was this:
What more could you ask for? We found a great hiking trail nearby and enjoyed a nice hike.
We stopped in New Paltz, New York for our rock climbing trip. Two very patient guides took us into the Shawangunk Mountains, where all 5 of climbed up a beautiful rock face.
Finally we made the long trek home. The kids were absolutely fantastic. Aside from library books and the Chronicles of Narnia on my iPod, the only entertainment they had was looking out the window. We came home refreshed, relaxed and very tired of being in the car.
I made a Picasa slideshow with the remaining photos that you can see here. Enjoy!!