Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Green Mountain Majesty

Magnet # 354:  Sites of Montpelier Photo Montage

Material:  Plastic

Purchased By:  Me

I entered Vermont north of its capitol city, Montpelier, and headed down toward it.  For most of the trip, I was off the Interstate and it was nice to take in all of the scenery just off the highway, especially the farm buildings and silos that the state is known for.  I arrived at where I was staying, a bed and breakfast not far from the downtown area of Montpelier.  While the location was good, I was not pleased with other parts of my stay there, particularly safety concerns.  I'd rather not mention the establishment by name, but I will say that if I'm ever in the area again, I'll opt for a chain hotel.  It's too bad - that was the place I was the most excited about staying at during my entire trip.  But I still had fun in the rest of the Green Mountain State.  The first attraction I visited in Vermont is also it's most popular - the Ben & Jerry's factory tour in nearby Waterbury.  It was one of the busiest spots I visited on my trip and the lines for ice cream at the Scoop Shop were very long.  The tour was brief, but it was also only three bucks and included a free sample of ice cream.  I think it's a great place to stop by, especially if you have kids.  For dinner that night, I ate at the Main Street Grill and Bar, which is operated by students of the New England Culinary Institute.  While the food was very tasty, it also came in rather small portions - ten bucks for half an entree got me one scallop and a few items with it.  I guess that's gourmet cooking for you!

After breakfast, which was pretty good, I headed over to Morse Farms Maple Sugarworks just on the outskirts of downtown.  There, I was able to sample several varieties of maple sugar and learn about the process by which it's made.  It's a charming, rustic place that's been run by the Morse family for years and it's free to tour.  Of course, they also had a very nice collection of souvenirs, so I was able to get some magnets there as well.  And after buying a couple more in stores off of Main Street, I headed over to the Vermont State Capitol.  It's run by the Friends of the Vermont State House, a group of dedicated volunteers who appeared to be mostly retirees, and very knowledgeable ones at that.  Their enthusiasm for their state and its capitol building are very obvious and I was impressed with the tour I received there.  The capitol itself may be a little small when compared to others, but it's very attractive and has easily got one of the most devoted groups of caretakers of any in the country.  It's too bad more states can't follow in their example.  After I was done there, I hit Interstate 89 and headed out of the state.  But before I was done, I drove over to Woodstock, near the New Hampshire border, to see the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Vermont's only attraction run by the National Park Service.  It's also the only location in the Park Service that is concerned with the history of land conservation.  While I wasn't able to see much of it, I was able to tour the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion and with its detailed woodwork and Tiffany stained-glass windows, it was stunning.  I also dropped by the Billings Farm and Museum, but by then, all I really had time to do was buy a magnet.  After a scenic trip back to the interstate, I was headed off to New Hampshire, and toward the final destination in my trip.  While I didn't get to spend much time in Vermont, I was still pleased with it - it's a very natural and lovely state and I wouldn't mind returning there to get another shot at seeing more of the great attractions they have to offer.

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