|Vermont finally! We left Lake Placid yesterday morning and drove lots of hours and few miles to a tiny town between Woodstock and White River Junction, Vermont. Roads in this part of the country tend to run north and south. If you want to go east or west, you do a lot of zigzagging around mountains and valleys to get back on another north-south road that's farther east or west. On the way here, we saw our first "Moose Crossing" signs and the first covered bridge. The promised cool front with clouds, some wind, and much colder temperatures arrived on schedule. The drive was pretty, colors ranging from bright red to still green, but it was too overcast to take any decent photos. The campground here is very woodsy and quiet (except for the paving crew just outside the entrance).
Today was the best day yet -- just the kind of day we hoped for. At the recommendation of the KOA folks, we went to Sugarbush Farm. We anticipated a commercial-type operation but were very pleasantly surprised. The drive of about three miles from town went up progressively narrower and windier roads (unpaved, of course). We only saw a couple of other cars but when we arrived at the parking area, there were lots of cars parked in what is just a pasture. When we went in the house that is the tasting room and shop, we were greeted individually (as is everyone) by someone who explains the process they use to make their cheeses and maple syrups and lets you taste any or all (and there are lots of varieties of cheese, four of syrup). Then you can choose to make a self-guided tour of the syrup shed and walk through the woods where they tap the maples in the late winter. Of course, you must go back in to the store and load up with cheeses and syrup and lots of other good stuff. This is a real working farm run by the same family since 1954. The trees and processing equipment are right there on the property as are the cows that provide the milk. It isn't "prettied up" in any way but is completely authentic. We met another couple from Sterling, Colorado, and talked for some time about the conditions at home.
We packed up our cheese and syrup and headed for Woodstock. I read somewhere along the line that it has been named the prettiest town in New England; I agree completely! We had a great lunch and ran into the same Colorado folks from the farm. Small world. We browsed around town and spent quite a bit of time in the Gillingham and Sons General Store, established in 1886 (and looks like it). It wanders here and there, the old wood floors creaking underfoot. There's almost nothing they don't have. You can get parts to fix your tractor or buy modern kitchen equipment or find food or drug store items or books or wine ... I'm sure there was more but our parking meter ran out.
Just outside town is the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. It consists of a historic home (built in 1805) and 550 acres of hilly countryside that were owned sequentially by people who were determined to demonstrate the need to conserve the land for future generations. Vermont had lost 90% of its timber in one generation in the 1800's. The park also houses a working dairy farm and the Conservation Study Institute. It was nearing the end of the day so we weren't able to see as much as we wanted.
On the way home, we stopped at the Quechee (pronounced kweechee) Gorge bridge overlooking a deep and pretty gorge. The clouds are breaking up so it's going to be cold tonight. Tomorrow we head for Woodstock -- New Hampshire. There's the one here in Vermont, one in NH, but neither one of these is the REAL Woodstock. That was in New York "back in the day."