Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Mittwoch, 13. August 2008

Vermont- Part IV

We spent the weekend after our Massachusetts trip at home. I figured that it made more sense to be home on the weekend, so that Joern could visit with more of the family.
So, after a fun weekend, including a cookout at my godfather's and a night at the races, Joern and I headed out for Vermont on Monday morning. The drive took us up through the middle of Connecticut and Massachusetts. It was quite a nice ride. We also drove up through quite a bit of Vermont, to Stowe, about one hour from the Canadian border. The coolest part, to me, was the rest stop in Vermont. It was so unlike any CT rest stop. It was quiet, clean, they had tons of information about the area, and FREE Green Mountain Roasters coffee!

The ride was about 4 hours.
When we got to Stowe, we decided to check-in to our bed and breakfast first. Wow! The B&B, the Timberholm Inn, was the quintessential Vermont B&B. Nestled in the mountains, the Timberholm was amazing.

Our bedroom, the blue room, was so cozy. The owners were extremely kind and accomodating, it was so enjoyable just to talk with them. Sadly, while we were checking- in, and checking-out the B&B, it started raining, so we left most of the exploratory activities to either in the car, or indoors.
Stowe, itself, is a winter-sports heaven. But, in its other life, it is a traditional, charming small New England town. The center is adorable. The skyline is dotted with simple church steeples, unlike the highly ornate church spires in Europe.

After looking at some maps and brochures, we decided to head out to Ben & Jerry's, which is actually in Waterbury, but located along route 100, just like Stowe. We were immediately drawn in by the cow print bus and gigantic factory with those distinctive white puffy skies on a blue background. Yeah, it was like heaven. We were so excited to take a tour, only to find a sign that stated ice cream is not made on Mondays on the desk of the ticket-seller. Of course, we could tour the factory, but where would the fun be in seeing a video instead of the real thing?
Dejected, we left Ben & Jerry's determined to return the following day to see the full show.
We drove back along the main road, and found a shopping center, with all Vermont products. We went to the Cabot Cheese sales annex, and enjoyed many samples :)

I also went into the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, and finally got to see them in person. After doing some shopping, we decided to head out to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Although I was disappointed to find out that we could not tour the factory, there was quite a bit of information available on the coffee and the region. Plus, they had many, many flavors of coffee available that were quite difficult to find in the stores. I bought two packages of my new favorite, Wild Maine Blueberry, and some Hazelnut. Yay!
While we were in getting coffee, the weather cleared. We decided to drive towards the mountain area. What we encountered first really made us laugh. As one drives out of the town center towards the mountains, you encounter many little shops and hotels, all with Austrian names. There is a heavy Austrian influence, beyond the Trapp family, that exists here. Unfortunately, the area resembles much less the Austrian Alps, and much more the Black Forest. Weird, huh?

We drove through glorious mountain forests, and stopped to enjoy the sun and a little babbling brook.

From there, we drove toward the Trapp Family Lodge, yes, the Sound of Music Trapp Family. It turns out that it is a lot more than a lodge. It is a huge hotel, with rental villas and now a growing community of private villas. Their property is huge and glorious! The funny thing was how very Austrian the hotel looked. I realized just how spoiled I am when I remarked to Joern, "why would I stay here, when I can stay in any hotel like this in Austria?"

Boy, where did I come from?

We finally made our way back to real life, and got dinner at a great restaurant, Gracie's.
We decided to head back to the B&B after dinner and enjoy the relaxing common room. There are couches and plenty of reading available, and of course, incredible sunsets. Also, they provide homemade cookies and tea at 4:00 in the afternoon. The owners keep the leftover cookies out, so we had to indulge. They also offer hot chocolate and tea until about 11:00 pm. In the common room, we also met another woman staying at the B&B, she was from Canada. We had a very long and interesting converstaion that wove through Canada, the housing markets in the US and Canada, and all the way to talking about our families.
It was a lovely, relaxing evening, just what I was expecting from Vermont.
Of course, the major surprise was what we came upon when we entered the dining room of the B&B on Tuesday morning. Breakfast! The owners of the B&B are hobby chefs, but incredible hobby chefs! Breakfast consisted of fresh pressed orange juice or fresh Vermont cider, a homemade sweet potato bread, and the most incredible ham quiche I have ever eaten made with fresh eggs from the owner's chickens. It was amazing! After we had stuffed ourselves silly, one of the owners came out and asked if he could get us anything else, Joern said, "sure, a little more quiche." The owner explained that he couldn't give us more quiche because he had made only enough for all the guests, but instead he made a ham and cheese scramble. Joern only regretted asking because he was stuffed beyond all means by the time we left the breakfast table!

These are some of the beautiful Vermont natives who showed up on the balcony while we ate breakfast.

As we waddled our way out of the B&B, we decided that due to the extreme cloud cover, going up Mount Mansfield would not be a good idea. So, we returned to Ben & Jerry's for our factory tour, which on Tuesday, included seeing the acutal production process.

The factory tour was really cool. After a brief video about Ben & Jerry, the co-founders, we went to the production area. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures, but what we saw was really cool. You can see the entire process, if you are there long enough. We got to see the cartons being filled. And towards the end of our stay, we got to see a huge vat of ice cream pushed over to the swirl filling area. They added a caramel swirl- yum! After seeing the production, we went downstairs to the sample area. Samples are free, you get to try one of their newer ice creams. Ours was One Cheesecake Brownie. Okay, not really my favorite, to me it was an odd combination. But, it was free, and it was Ben & Jerry's, I am not complaining. After the samples, the tour is complete. You can return to the gift shop, where we bought a few t-shirts and an ice cream scoop :) Of course, we then went to the ice cream shop, where Joern bought Cinnamon Buns ice cream, and I got Coconut Seven Layer Bar. Both flavors were EXTREMELY delicous!!!
Before we left, of course, we made our way to the Flavor Graveyard, and paid our respects to flavors like, Cool Britiania, Economic Crunch, and Wild Maine Blueberry.

Since our tummies were now extremely full, we decided that since the sun was shining, we would take the gondola ride up to the top of Mt. Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont. The gondola ride was a little expensive, $20 a person, but to do once was definately well worth it! The ride goes up to the summit of the mountain, which is 3625 feet above sea level. That is amazing to a girl from a seashore community. The view was unbelievable! It looked like a wonderful place to start a hike- yes, since I am not the most active of all people, hiking up would be a bear! I would be willing to hike down. We walked around for a while, just taking in the incredible scenery, and letting nature hit us full on.

We decided to go to the Cliff House Restaurant. The restaurant, which is also at the summit, has won many accolades, and was named an Editor's Choice Restaurant in Yankee Magazine. Since we weren't very hungry, but had to take advantage of one last Vermont food opportunity, we split a Vermont cheese platter. It was so delicious!
Afterwards, we headed back down, and enjoyed the views of the Green Mountains, Stowe Mountain Lodge, and the mountain.
Before leaving for CT, the clouds started coming in again, and since we weren't ready to leave cuddly little Waterbury, we stopped at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Vermont is well known for cider, and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill is the number 2 most visited attraction in Vermont after Ben & Jerrys. It turned out to be a gigantic store, with all Vermont made products, which was actually pretty cool. The cider press is in the back of the store, and they offer free samples of the sweet, cloudy drink. It turned out that we spent quite a long time there, and bought many Vermont treats, like a maple syrup sampler, maple walnut pancake mix, maple mustard, and honey which was also made at the cider mill. These small memories of Vermont are serving us well here in Germany, and every time we see them and use them in our kitchen, we begin discussing our wonderful trip this summer!

After the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, we decided it was time to go home. We desperately want to return to Vermont, as there was so much that we didn't get to see and do. Our two days simply whet our appetitie to return and experience all that the Green Mountains have to offer.

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