I thought we came to Vermont for scenery and bicycling, but apparently we came for food and drink. The day began with George’s delightful breakfast at the Brass Lantern, which was Belgian waffles (with maple-blueberry sauce) and scrambled eggs. The inn provided complimentary tickets to Stowe’s Chowderpalooza, so that was on our agenda for mid-day, but we really didn’t have a plan for the morning. Since it was too muddy for hiking—especially given we had only one pair of shoes each and no hiking poles—we opted for a drive up Mountain Road towards Stowe Mountain Resort. Once there, we continued in the direction of Smuggler’s Notch. It was a beautiful, and very steep, drive. We stopped at what we believe was the top (the Notch) for a few photos, then headed back down.
On the return to Stowe, we paused at a small visitor center for the Long Trail. Built from 1910 to 1930, the Long Trail is actually the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the U.S. it runs the length of Vermont, 272 miles. I’m surprised I had not heard of it before we went to a talk on “thru-hiker speed records” at the Pueblo Library last year. At the visitor center, we took a short walk on a boardwalk (nicely avoiding the mud) to a beaver pond. Along the way we encountered some frisky salamanders in the very clear mountain water. (No salamander pictures sadly.)
After a short and productive visit to Pinnacle Ski & Sports, we returned to the inn and changed into warmer weather clothing for the 3/4 mile walk into Stowe to enjoy Chowderpalooza. I enjoyed it more than Maureen did, as most of the offerings contained shellfish or pork or both. We both enjoyed the red curry chowder by CORK. I also liked the Green Goddess Cafe’s smokey sweet corn chowder. We voted for our favorites, then went in search of lunch for Maureen. We found sirloin flatbread and cider at The Whip in the Green Mountain Inn.
Our successful shopping meant we were a little shy on luggage space, so after lunch we headed back to the friendly environment of Vermont Trailwear to acquire an additional duffel. We took the scenic route there, passing by the supposedly haunted Emily’s bridge (we experienced no paranormal activity while driving by) and got to see more of where people actually live in Stowe/Waterbury. While we were in the Vermont Trailwear shopping center, we HAD to stop in for more samples of Cabot cheese. We’re not doing “van life” this trip, so sadly no cheese could be purchased for later consumption.
Our hostess Mary Anne had recommended that we check out Stowe Cider, noting that they would have live music on this Saturday evening. So we headed back up Mountain Road once again. Stowe Cider has a fantastic system for their tasting room. You get a little chalkboard, upon which you write your name and the numbers of 4 ciders you’d like to try from the menu. The bartender dispenses your ciders from numbered taps and serves them to you on a wooden carrier. We actually liked the gin collaboration that we tried. If I hadn’t been sharing with Maureen, I no doubt would have tried the gummy bear cider. The music was also great. Local artist Abby Sherman and her all-Vermont band entertained us with folk music for the duration of our visit. Of note, this place was very mellow and family-friendly, at least in 4-5 p.m. time frame.
We had decided on The Bench for dinner, mostly because Maureen wanted duck. The duck was quite good, as was the Mac & Maple Cider from Champlain Orchards Cidery. The dessert offerings, on the other hand, were quite pedestrian. And it was our last night in Stowe/Waterbury, and Ben & Jerry’s is open until 7. So we drove the 5 or so miles back to Waterbury (again) and ventured up the stairs to the scoop shop outside the factory. The scene was much different than our first visit, during which we had walked right up to the scoopers for tastes. Now there was a snaking line, extending beyond the queue barriers and the canopy. This soon became important as it started to rain heavily. Luckily, we had NOT left our raincoats in the car and we stayed comfortable while we waited to get under the canopy and then to purchase our (Caramel Crisp and Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz) ice cream. Now we could really get ready to move on from this little mecca of eating and drinking.
The evening brought more rain and some fireworks (?), but despite the dampness I was much taken by this area. The beauty, the food, and the kindness of the people really won me over. I would come back—not something I say lightly in a world filled with so many places to see.