June 7th, 2004

hat, tophat, Evan, 2019

Vermont Trip, May 23rd - Day #4 - The Expedition to Montpelier

Such a FULL day! I won't go on about everything we did, but I will describe the highlights.

We got up early to drive to Montpelier, Vermont's Capitol (Trivia: Montpelier is the only State Capitol WITHOUT a MacDonald's. No Big Macs in City Limits!) We took the scenic route (actually, ALL roads in Vermont are scenic routes, but we chose the slower back roads for the drive up). Our first stop was the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Plant in nearby Waterbury, VT.* This was one of the reasons I decided to visit the East Coast. Unfortunately, we arrive right before the tour began, so we didn't have a lot of time to look at the Ben & Jerry's memorabilia in the waiting area; we got our tickets and had just a moment to catch our breath before the tour started. Our Tour Guide (Who claimed his name was George, but we'll just call him Raoul), led us into the theater, where we watched a movie about Ben and Jerry, and how they started (Trivia: They chose ice-cream making because it was cheap to get started, not out of an overwhelming passion for frozen dessert treats). We then went to the viewing area for the plant. Since it was a weekend, all the workers were at home, and no ice cream was being made. So we saw another video while Raoul described the process and we admired the huge machines below. While we were chatting before Raoul's talk, he had said something about looking at the machinery to make Chunky Monkey, and JQP asked if we'd get to see the Monkey Chunker. Raoul used that line in his talk. That was gratifying. The final stop was the Sample Room, which made up for all the talking that went before. We got to taste an Oatmeal Cookie flavor, and a Berry with Graham Cracker. Both were quite good, and worthy of the Ben & Jerry's alma mater. That was the end of the tour, and we took just a few minutes to admire the wares in the gift shop, before we had to head off to the New England Culinary Institute for brunch (since I couldn't give you samples, all I'll say is that the food was GREAT, and if you're ever in Montpelier, I highly recommend the brunch there).

The other thing I'll mention happened after we returned to Woodstock: We went to Eshqua Bog. Now, you might not think a bog is really a tourist destination, but if one likes Nature, it's fascinating. Two circular paths go through it, which overlap in the center (imagine a big figure 8, with the trail starting in the middle). JQP estimated that it would take ten minutes to walk one side, so we took the right-hand route. We had also agreed to only talk if needed, so mostly we heard the insects and birds that thrive there. We followed the wooden walkway (necessary to protect the bog, but it made me think of a giant xylophone), stopping frequently to admire tiny flowers, budding trees, and elusive birds. When we got back to the starting point I checked my watch: 30 minutes. Since the light was fading, we decided to go home and not see the other half. I admit that a city-oriented person would have been bored stupid, but for anyone who might find half an hour of admiring wetland ecosystems interesting, I highly recommend it.

* I originally put "Windsor", but it's actually Waturbury (I challenge anyone not FROM Vermont to be able to tell all the little towns apart. You find yourself saying things like "Was that the one with the stoplight or with the herd of cows wandering the streets?"). To be accurate, I changed it.
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