Well, it all started when Cynthia turned 39 last August. When I realized it was a year before the “Big 4-0,” I honestly felt a little panicked. Cynthia is GREAT at birthdays, and I already knew that she was planning something awesome for my 30th. I felt a despair that there would be no way that I could plan anything for her turn of a decade as amazing as what she was planning for mine.
(And my birthday was awesome, and I failed to blog it because we were moving.)
Add in the fact that we ended up moving a few months prior to her birthday, and I really was in trouble.
HOWEVER, we were very blessed and circumstances all lined up for us to take a girls’ trip to visit Tiff in Vermont!!! Since neither of us have been to this part of New England before, and neither of us even fly on a regular basis, this was just the most exciting opportunity! We were pretty much giddy the whole weekend (OK, maybe that was just me,) and I still am trying to figure out why all those other people in the airport were not visibly excited to be getting on a plane!
We were just delighted to go to Vermont and would have been happy to hang out with Tiff at her house, but she was super awesome and planned an itinerary for the weekend. I have decided that having a local person show you around a new place is the best way to vacation.
A big perk of the trip for me was I brought my real camera and took pictures of everything possible! I don’t really travel with it because my hands are full of kids, but since they weren’t with me, I could go picture crazy. Also, not a single store in New England minded if I took pictures inside (and we did ask!) Which is really strange, but I went with it!
So consider this your 70s style vacation slide show. Seriously, this is about to be the most pictures I have eeeeever put in one blog post. I hope the internets can handle it. I will also try to include linkies to these places in case you ever want to plan a New England trip of your own!
We started out Saturday morning (after flying in Friday night) at Green Mountain Coffee in Waterbury. It is a Vermont founded coffee company. It is completely fair trade, and they send all their employees to work a coffee farm (in South America or Jamaica) for a week so that they can appreciate where the beans are coming from. I was very impressed that this fair trade company still was much less expensive than Starbucks!
Next was the Cabot Cheese Annex in Waterbury! I already loved Cabot Cheese (down here you can get limited flavors at Sams,) but because they are Vermont based, there are a lot of flavors and products (butter, sour cream, etc.) that are only available in Vermont. The Annex has many flavors available for sampling – we basically made a meal out of it! I think we all agreed that the Garlic and Herb was our favorite.
There also is maple syrup EVERYWHERE in Vermont! More on that later!
In the same complex as the Annex is Lake Champlain Chocolates. There weren’t as many samples here, but we ooodled over the beautiful chocolates and then Tiff got us each one truffle, which of course we had to sit down and savor!
Next was what was possibly my favorite part of the tour…the Vonn Trapp Family Lodge! As a huge Sound of Music fan, this was just a treat! Here’s the story:
Tiff’s favorite view of the Green Mountains is from the Lodge, but when we first got there the weather was not providing us with a clear view of the mountains. So we went inside and explored the Lodge a little!
We perused the family library!
The sun started to come out so we were able to explore the grounds more than we expected.
We all wore our hair in Dutch braids to capture the Vonn Trapp family spirit. Because we are classy like that.
I had to make Cynthia take a baby bump picture every time we found a pretty spot. Because she was pregnant IN NEW ENGLAND!
OK, so let me take a minute to talk about the flowers in New England. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. Both wild flowers and cultivated! And look. Where we live is HOT, and there are not that many flowers to be seen this time of year…they gave up in June! But New England is alive with flowers right now! So even though I am not typically a photographer of non-humans…I couldn’t help but take as many flower pictures as possible! It was just so refreshing to my soul to be surrounded by the beauty! So you will be seeing a lot of them….sorry, not sorry!
Our most delightful discovery at the Lodge was the Vonn Trapp Family cemetery. Honestly, we weren’t sure if it was the cemetery or just monuments, because there was no historical marker explaining anything! But yes, this is where the actual Maria Vonn Trapp and her family are buried. Each grave has its own flower bed, and I have to see that I think it was the loveliest cemetery I’ve ever seen!
We found one of the gardens at the Lodge!
And finally the clouds started to clear and we saw the view that Tiff was talking about!
For lunch, we had bread and butter from the Lodge’s Bakery and we ate with a gorgeous view. We’re not even sorry about the nutritional value of the meal.
Next stop was the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where we enjoyed their famous apple cider doughnuts and looked at the machinery that makes the apple cider.
Tiff said that this was a quintessential view of Vermont. Vermont places a huge emphasis on the environment, so there are solar panels everywhere. (It is also illegal to not recycle!) They also make shopping local a big priority, so you will see very few retail chains in the state.
The next stop was the Ben & Jerry’s factory! We ended up not taking the tour, as they weren’t actually making any ice cream that day. We actually also did not eat any ice cream – which was a shocker, even to us! But we enjoyed walking around and seeing what we could without standing in line.
The Flavor Graveyard!
This is the back of the factory – those huge tanks are for milk and cream!
That night, we drove over to New Hampshire and stayed at a charming inn Tiff had found. Sunday morning, we made the short drive down to Massachusetts for the YANKEE CANDLE FLAGSHIP STORE!
So, this may be perplexing to some, but it was so fitting for us because all three of us LOVE Yankee Candles! We used to sniff every single candle in the Tallahassee store, which of course led to us not being able to smell at all.
And I will tell you. I was a little confused as to why Tiff only scheduled this store on that day’s itinerary. As it turns out, it is an ALL DAY EVENT! It’s not just candles. It’s ALL THE THINGS that I want to look at!
Let the sniffing begin!!!
Beach Walk is still my favorite. Always and forever. **heart hands**
Just a few tarts to pick from!
Although we opted to eat at the snack bar instead of the fancy restaurant (note the nachos!), Cynthia still got the fancy restaurant’s bottle!
And then there was the Christmas Bavarian Forest and village! Tiff wouldn’t let us enter it until the end, and it really did blow us away!
We even got to experience a New England snow! (And this picture feels very Narnia!)
Inside the castle!
Channeling her inner Viking duck face!
Of course there was a Santa’s Workshop style toy store at the end. Love the Shel Silverstein quote!
And we had to pick up some of this magical stuff before heading out of the state…Dunkin Donuts was born in Massachusetts, so it was only right!
On our way back, we stopped at Tiff’s favorite rest stop. It has a botanical gardens using the waste water from the restrooms!
I bet it’s nice to stop here and get a little green in the winter!
The rest stop also afforded us the most clear views of the weekend.
Did I mention their goldenrod is blooming at the same time as the wild flowers?! Which I guess is an allergy nightmare…but it’s gorgeous!
Had to get a baby bump picture in the goldenrod!
On Monday we hit the streets of Montpelier. It is such a fun, European feeling town!
Flowers still everywhere, even in the streets!
Tiff’s favorite bookstore! They had a Beauty and the Beast style sliding ladder!
And this is in the public library!
We went into this store. There’s a giant selection of both already made jewelry and beads, and the shop girl makes jewelry in between waiting on customers. Good thing I didn’t have any room in my luggage to spare!
The Winooski River runs right through the city, and there’s all these awesome looking bridges. I do love a truss bridge!
The Capital Building!
The girls humored me and took some bridge pictures!
Fun view of the city from the bridge!
For lunch we ate some incredible sandwiches at their local co-op and sat with a view of the river.
We picked up Tiff’s girls and headed out to our last Vermont adventure…the maple syrup farm! We taste tested and learned all about the process of making maple syrup.
IT’S A HEALTH FOOD, FOLKS!
We even got to see how they tapped the trees!
Soft serve ice cream is called Creemees in these here parts, and apparently the maple creemee is a particular delicacy!
And this was our creemee eating view!
And that was our adventure! We were up at 4:30 the next morning to catch our flight. We were back in Georgia by 9:00 AM!
We just had such a good time! Since I can’t live near my besties, this opportunity to spend time with them AND see a new place was just such a blessing!
And we are already talking about what we’ll do next! Eventually, Tiff is going to turn 35!