America through the Windshield--Getting to Know the First Americans travel blog

We finally made it to the RV park, after driving through Burlington. Our RV park was actually in Colchester, a suburb of Burlington. I always get nervous when we arrive at the RV parks. Will we be ok getting through the streets? (Sometimes the streets are super narrow, with tight curves, left and right hand turns or with crowded RV hookups and possibly low hanging limbs). This one was not too difficult to maneuver. It was a “pull through”-no backing up to get parked and no backing up to pull out when we are ready to go!

We really enjoyed VT. Lake Champlain was beautiful; the clouds looked different when you were near the water. Obviously there were lots of boaters, fishermen, sail boarding, paddle boarding, beach camping, and generally spending time at the beach. There were campers, campgrounds, parks, museums everywhere. There were “moose crossing” signs all along the interstate highways.

One of our great VT experiences was spending the afternoon at Shelburne Farm (non-profit, still privately owned, still a working farm). It was built privately by George Vanderbilt’s (builder of Biltmore in Asheville, NC) sister and her husband. WOW! It looks like a grand hunting lodge; all built of spectacular woods and stone. It faces Lake Champlain. The barn looked almost like a castle. It was built as a summer (vacation) home and the farming (per farm animals, crops, harvesting, etc) were to use the most modern techniques that were research supported. It was to be a “model”/”teaching” farm; and with new techniques and procedures to be developed and shared with others. The family’s decision to save the farm (rather than sell it) meant that its purpose had to be redirected. It is now open for educational purposes as a museum; the house has been opened as hotel; the local crops are available in the restaurant open to the public; a kindergarten program is at the barn; part of the barn is used for the dairy and the making of cheese; part of the barn is used as a bakery; various livestock continues to be raised on the farm; camps are held at the camp; the farm is open for field trips and higher education research; even a solar forest has been established to assist in supporting the farm. It was not only beautiful; it was very forward thinking.

Two other adventures were lots of fun for us. A field trip to a granite quarry; the largest and deepest granite quarry in the world, Rock of Ages. We learned that granite is the densest rock known. It is so heavy that the unused stones are literally dropped to the side of the mountain and lay as waste for eternity—too heavy to be moved. The Italian immigrants stone carvers marveled that the granite carved like marble. The dust proved to be deadly since it was inhaled daily. Most of the carvers died as young men, carving their own monumental tombstones.

The absolute “top just for fun” tour was the tour of one of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factories. We were there after Memorial Day and the crowd was manageable; however, we learned that during the summer months the wait for tours could be hours (we waited less than 10 minutes) with lines winding out the door for tickets and to purchase ice cream servings (after getting the freebie serving provided at the end of the tour). We discovered a new flavor to us, “Bonaroo Buzz”. I must admit that it is at the top of my BEST ice creams. It is a chocolate ice cream with caramel and toffee chunks (like bite size candy bars) stirred in. We were told it was initially only sold in the Ben and Jerry Ice Cream stores; however, just this week we discovered that it is now available in the ice cream freezers in the grocery stores.

We did see lots of STORM damage in VT and NY, roads washed away; bridges standing without any roads connecting to them; dam toppings (added height) washed away; water levels that were at the front doors of homes and businesses; trash trails left by rushing water; sand and mud covered fields, parking lots, roads, etc.; roads closed due to roads being washed away; hay bales washed into streams; streams that looked like rivers; waterfalls that were raging where they are normally scenic; sites where houses had been washed away; home and businesses with their water-soaked contents laying beside the building. It was overwhelming to absorb. When we ate at a local farm (pancakes their specialty) we learned that full time farmers had their entire crops washed away. For example, potatoes were washed out of the ground with the potatoes and potato plants gone. Productive farm soils washed away and replaced with sand. The stories were non-stop on the news and among the locals. Who would have ever thought that such torrential rains would be experienced so far inland.

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