9 days in VT / swimming holes / beer tastings / august 2013
day 1: aug. 24
Our roadtrip began in Waterbury, Vermont. After 11+ hours in the car and within 30 minutes of our first night’s destination, we stopped at the Prohibition Pig for our first taste of Vermont beer and some legit mac-n-cheese. Waterbury was an adorable little town that is home to The Alchemist — the brewery that makes the world famous Heady Topper beer.
Our first night was spent Stowe, a cute little ski town in the northwestern portion of the state. We arrived just before dusk, and made our way to a homestead found on airbnb. Our hosts, Lyndall and Scott greeted us upon arrival and showed us their beautiful 200 year-old farmhouse. We met their lovely hens and token rooster, ate some freshly picked corn and veggies from the garden, and made our way to the Matterhorn for a drink. Lyndall and Scott’s place is on 12 acres, but is oh-so-conveniently located just a short walk from a local ski bar — best of both worlds.
day 2: aug 25
We woke up to coffee, homemade bread, and freshly baked blueberry crumb cake, and ate breakfast in their beautiful garden surrounded by hummingbirds feeding and fluttering all around. One of our roadtrip goals (you have to have roadtrip goals, right?) was to find the best swimming holes in the state. I had read about Bingham Falls when doing research, and it ended up being only a short hike (!!!) from where we stayed. And holy crap was this a beautiful swimming hole. The morning was still foggy and a little chilly, but Joe took the plunge into — and through — the falls. We planned to drive straight from Stowe to Burlington, but Lyndall told us about a Bread and Puppet Theater performance in Glover, only an hour away (think giant puppets + politically radical skits + perfect amount of weird). So, obviously we made the detour, and it was well worth it.
After the Bread and Puppet Theatre, we drove to Burlington and checked into a little apartment downtown for the night. We had dinner at Daily Planet, and then headed to the Radio Bean for drinks and some live music.
day 3 and 4 : aug. 26 – 27
We started the day at Penny Clause for breakfast, and oh man, if you get the chance, go here! There was a decent wait for a table (on a weekday, nonetheless), but it was completely worth it. Joe had the best biscuits and vegan gravy ever to be had. We walked down to the waterfront and explored the city a bit more before hopping in the car, making an obligatory pit-stop for the Ben and Jerry’s factory tour in Waterbury, and then heading to Underhill State Park for two nights of camping with our friends who were also road-tripping through Vermont.
We enjoyed Underhill State Park, and had a fairly private campsite for being in an actual campground. Hilary and Rob’s dog Huxley was off-leash the entire time, and it was never a problem. We took a few day excursions around Underhill and found some caves and really beautiful look-out points. We went to the Trapp Family Lodge Brewery (yes, as in The Sound of Music von Trapp family). And, we even made the (short) trip back to Bingham Falls so Hil and Rob would have a chance to see/jump through this special waterfall. The thing about Vermont is that even though we were there only a week, the state is small enough to cover a ton of ground and even bounce back and forth from spot to spot.
day 5: aug. 28
After packing up camp, we set out to drive a few more hours north to Montreal. On the way we found a beautiful 200 year-old farmhouse for sale, and I proceeded to scheme over the next few days (…or next few weeks?) on how we could acquire this home, move to Vermont, and open our own bed and breakfast.
In Montreal, we stayed at a super affordable inn called Anne Ma Soeur Anne on St. Denis Street. Montreal was so much fun to explore — and it’s so nuts that this French-speaking, European-feeling city is just a short drive from the mountains and covered bridges of Vermont. We had an amazing dinner at ChuChai, an asian-style vegetarian spot right across the street from our hotel. And per our waiter’s recommendation, we then checked out Le Lab, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar complete with flair bartending. Despite some legitimate language barriers, we made friends with the uber-cool bartenders and the non-English-speaking Canadians seated next to us at the bar (absinthe was tasted, drinks were exchanged, flaming shots were sucked through straws).
day 6, 7, 8, and 9: aug. 29 – sept. 1
In the morning, we walked across town to the McGill University campus. We had breakfast at LolaRosa Cafe (definitely recommend, and make sure to peak inside your table drawers for secret notes from patrons past). We left Montreal in the afternoon to head back down south to Woodstock, Vermont (not without stopping by the previously mentioned dream farmhouse and getting a tour from the realtor. More scheming ensued…).
Woodstock is just adorable. This quaint little town is extremely picturesque and quintessentially Vermont. We had arranged to stay in a cabin right outside of the downtown, and our host met us in the town square to escort us to his cabin by the stream. Kevin, the host, built this remote cabin himself. It was the perfect combination of rustic and convenient with running spring water and a wood-burning stove inside, and an outhouse and open-air bathtub outside. We kept our eyes peeled for moose, and although Joe did see an imaginary moose at one point (an exciting few seconds, to say the least), no real-life moose ever crossed our paths. Darn.
We took a few day-trips while we were staying in Woodstock. We had a tasting at the Long Trail Brewery and enjoyed some beers on their patio by a peaceful little river. One day we went to the Dorset Quarry, a swimming hole in a beautiful old marble quarry filled with fresh water. And although I may not have had the balls to jump into Bingham Falls, the quarry water passed my “warm-enough-for-Julia” test, and I finally took the plunge into my Vermont swimming hole.
After three nights at the cabin in Woodstock, we had to say goodbye to Vermont. So we picked up some maple syrup and were on our way back to DC.