Rose and Laura’s June 2005 trip
Day 5, Friday, June 17
Mother had a full day of activities planned for today as usual, so once more we were up at After another cold cereal and toast breakfast, we headed for the state capitol building. Montpelier is a town of about 8,000, so it was not hard to find the capitol building with its gold dome even thought it is not nearly as large as others. Actually, we had driven by it the previous night as we looked for places to eat supper.
Unfortunately, it is drizzling again today. It looks like it could be wet all day. Not fun. The capitol tour is self-guided and took less than an hour. The capitol building gift shop was not open as its staff was undergoing some training since the legislature is not in session. Someone directed us to a shop downtown where we might find what we were looking for.
I headed back to Main Street. Although there are not many people here, there is a lot of traffic. And, it is nearly impossible to go around a block when you need to. I finally found a Main Street parking place and we put a couple of dimes in the meter. I went into a drug store and asked about souvenirs and was directed across the street to the Capitol Stationery. We walked the mid-block pedestrian crossing and were pleased to see that the traffic really does stop for people on foot. We found everything we were looking for except Christmas ornaments. Mother was thrilled. The Artisan’s Hand was another shop that had been recommended to us, so I moved the car several blocks up the street to another parking place. We were there just before the shop opened, but it was worth the wait. There were many beautiful hand-crafted ornaments. We were happy with our selections.
Then it was back to the car where Mother started consulting her guide book and map. Next she wanted to go to Barre to see a granite statue of Robert Burns and then the Rock of Ages granite works. The rain persisted, but we found the town just a few miles from Montpelier. Like the capitol city, the traffic in Barre is heavy and it is hard to find just where you need to go. We managed to find the Burns statue. Mother took a picture from the car rather than get out in the rain. Next, I drove to the granite quarry and its production facility.
There was a lovely visitor center at Rock of Ages, an informative video to watch and a guided tour ($3 for Mother, $3.50 for me with senior and AAA discounts). We had donned rain wear for the tour. Sure glad I brought my good rain jacket that I bought at Cadelas last summer. We road on a yellow school bus through the quarry area with two other couples, one from North Carolina and the other from Iowa. Both the tour guide and bus driver took care in helping Mother up and down the steps on the bus. At the production facility, they used a lift to get her up a flight of steps so she could join the rest of us looking down on the 250,000 square foot area were granite grave makers and other stone items are made. It was very impressive. After the tour, we needed lunch. The tour guide recommended a place called the Hilltop right down the road.
We found it easily. Mother had a Reuben sandwich, and I had a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and grilled onions. We shared a side of potato salad and left full. The waitress had given us directions back through Barre so we did not have to backtrack. One thing I have discovered is everything is up hill or down hill in this are. We managed to get through town although I was in the wrong lane at one intersection. We motioned to the woman in the car next to ours that we needed to get over a lane, and she nodded that she understood and waited for us when the light turned to green. Most drivers are kind and very courteous. That’s nice when you are not sure where you are going.
We got back on the main road and then the freeway to find the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory tour. Mother found the right exit for me, and we headed through Waterbury toward the factory. It was still raining lightly, and I was uncertain just where the left turn corner was located. I guess 30 mph in a 35 mph zone was not fast enough for the guy behind me who laid on his horn and flipped us off as he sailed passed us as we were turning into the driveway. I guess not everyone is as kind to tourists as the other drivers we have encountered. That’s too bad.
I parked the car and we threaded out way through a horde of young people to purchase tour tickets. “Two seniors,” I told the young gal behind the counter. We went inside to sit down to wait the few minutes for the next tour. Fortunately, there is an elevator to the second floor where you watch a movie about the start of the ice cream company. Then it is on to an area where you can actually watch the production. We left all the kids file down the stairs to the tasting room where you get two small samples of ice cream. Mother and I walked the stairway very carefully (there is no elevator to the tasting area). We sat at a small ice cream table, and again waited until all the kids got their samples first. The ice cream they were offering were Appley Apple and something with oatmeal and chocolate pieces in it. We were not impressed with either one. Both of us prefer Hagen Daaz ice cream.
From Waterbury, we backtracked to Montpelier. Mother had wanted to visit a maple sugar farm, but the place she had selected was about an hour away. We were way too tired for that. I looked at her Vermont map and saw that there were two maple sugar farms not far from Montpelier. So, we decided to try one of them instead. I picked the wrong road out of town and had to trace my way back the three miles and tried the other road (Mother told me I was on the wrong road. This time she was right.) We found the Morse Farm Sugarworks easily and parked the car. We went into the Woodshed Theater to watch a DVD about the operation told by the senior member of the family that has been making maple syrup on this land for eight generations. He was really charming on the video we watched. In the shop we sampled maple syrup and maple crème. I picked out a quart of syrup, a jar of maple crème, a Vermont cookbook, a maple syrup cookbook and a loaf of locally made rhubarb streusel cake. Mother bought some maple sugar candies for friends at home. I treated us to small dishes of soft-serve maple flavored ice cream. It was really good. Tired and full, we headed back to town.
We both were exhausted when we got back to the motel and stretched out on the bed and napped for about an hour. We finally woke up and decided we needed some supper, so I headed back downtown Montpelier. The streets were crawling with traffic and people. It was almost impossible to get around. I finally found a place near where we wanted to eat only to discover the little coffee shop was nearly out of all menu items. The young woman working there directed us to a bar and grill about a block and a half away. We walked, rather than try to find another parking place. We sat at a table in the noisy place for several minutes without getting waited on, so we left and walked the block and a half back and across the street to a small Mexican restaurant called Julio’s. We split a turkey sandwich with cheese and fries and good cilantro slaw. It came with a basket of chips and great homemade salsa. The total bill with a tip was $9.
I drove back to the motel and we packed it in. It had been a busy day, and tomorrow is a long driving day to Bar Harbor, Maine. Maybe the sun will shine.
"Go confidently into the direction of your dreams. Live the life you always imagined" Thoreau
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.