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AmeriCone Dream

September 21, 2012

Vermont – Wednesday Sept. 19

It ended up raining most of the night, but was sunny and clear this morning. I had read a little about the Shelburne area, and I wanted to do some walking at Shelburne Farms, which is a 1400 acre working farm, with an on-site organic bakery and cheese-making, and nearly 8 miles of trails around the farm. I decided to do the 4.5 trail that sort of looped around a lot of the farm, and had to leave Tula in the car because of the animals and visiting school groups. The farm was gorgeous, and the huge building that housed the education areas, bakery, cheese-making operations etc was one of the most interesting buildings I’ve seen. My walk took me around the animal enclosures, big gardens, bigger meadows, through the woods and by the shore of Lake Champlain (again – it’s about 120 miles long). When I got back to the big barn building, the cheese-making process for the day was well under way, and they were getting ready to drain the whey from the curds. They use over 5000 pounds of milk, a day, from their own cows, and end up making about 500 pounds of Vermont cheddar 7 days a week (as the guy said, they haven’t been able to train the cows to give milk only on Monday – Friday, so it’s a 7-day-a-week operation). Once the whey was drained, the cheesemaker started working on packing it to squeeze even more liquid out – it’s a very labor-intensive process that needs a strong back! I sampled some of the different cheeses.

I also stopped by the bakery where they’re baking and cooling bread on big wire racks all day – I can say the chocolate croissants are very good!

The farm had several school groups touring, and they have a whole education wing in the farmhouse, and their mission is to “cultivate a conservation ethic for a sustainable future.” It was pretty much a no-brainer that Shelburne Farm would be my donation of the day.

After the farm, I drove a short distance to a big park to get Tula out since she’d been left in the van for a couple hours – I got in another 1 1/2 miles of walking with her. Then I began to suffer from a severe calcium shortage and I knew I had to go on the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour where I would be fed ice cream – I was miraculously cured! The tour was fun and I learned a lot about the background of their ice cream and we got to watch the plant at work – the flavor they were making today was their version of mint chocolate chip, which I wrongly assumed would be the sample of the day. Instead, the sample of the day (we had no choice) was perfect for my American adventure – it was AmeriCone Dream – vanilla ice cream with a little caramel and chocolate covered waffle cone chunks stirred in – YUM! I had not realized that this company strongly supports Fair Trade and environmental practices – it was nice visiting 2 businesses today that think beyond just their profit statements.

At this point I was close to Stowe, and I figured no visit to Vermont would be complete without visiting Stowe. And oddly enough, it did not live up to my expectations. Maybe it was the time of day or something, but I found it to be crowded and congested (and the leaf-peepers are not out in full force yet because the colors haven’t changed a lot), and almost difficult as a pedestrian to have to frequently cross busy streets – it just wasn’t the enjoyable walk that so many of them are. I had to pay so much attention to traffic and other people, I didn’t enjoy the actual town as much. And maybe snow and holiday lights add more to the charm. I finished my 2 miles of walking, and didn’t mind leaving town!

At this point I needed to figure out where to stay. I am finding that Vermont doesn’t seem to have as much “affordable” lodging as PA and NY had. There’s plenty of choices if you want resort-type accomodations, or historic inns, or bed-and-breakfasts, but those types of places don’t suit someone on a budget with a dog! And I didn’t want to drive halfway across the state in the evening (not that that would have been so far considering it’s a skinny state!) So I decided to camp nearby at Little River State Park, even though I knew it would be a chilly night. I got everything set up, and then spent an hour in the van writing in my journal while Tula slept on the air mattress – if I’d been out writing at the picnic table as usual, she would have been lying on the damp cold ground, and I didn’t want to do that to her. I heated up the van good before trying to sleep, but it was chilly, and I had to start the van twice throughout the night to warm up enough to fall back to sleep. Serves me right for being stubborn about motel costs!

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2 Comments
  1. Erik permalink

    Calcium shortage? Now I finally know the nature of my daughter’s “affliction”.

  2. Hahah! Glad to help you with the diagnosis!

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