I loVermont!

We were so happy to return to southern Vermont last weekend, for the first time in many years. The best, of course, was a weekend away from Hartford with Sue and Jose!

Chewey's place in the car


The trip north was not our best – it rained off and on (mostly on) for most of the journey. Chewey lay behind us on the platform where we had folded the seats down and put Diablo's kitchen bed. He was clearly nervous the whole way and did not sleep a wink! 

After about 9 ½ hours we pulled into the Grey Ghost Inn – a ski lodge along Route 100 just south of Mount Snow – alongside a couple dozen BMW R-1200C limited edition motorcycles. Chewey was welcomed by Loki, the innkeepers’ black Labrador, and a neighboring dog who visits at will. The bikers were friendly and happy to have a dog around.

Chewey and the hens

We tried to convince Chewey to ignore the hens, which were responsible for our fresh eggs every morning, but to no avail. They were as fascinated with him as he was with them.

After settling in, we left Chewey at the inn and met Sue and Jose in Wilmington, VT, for dinner at the Anchor Seafood restaurant.  We had a leisurely dinner, reasonable food, and great wine. Chewey, we were led to believe, didn’t make a peep while we were away – we figure he was so tired from the trip that he slept the whole time we were gone.

The next morning we headed for the Crowley Cheese “factory” and, following the route prescribed by the GPS, found our way to its beautiful site from the west – not at all our usual path to this small log-cabin facility we have been visiting for decades. We first found the factory when the kids were small and we used to camp nearby in a state recreation area near Peru. Today the founder's descendants still make cheese the same way they always have – pour the milk into the vats at the same time each day, add the rennet, and then let it sit until time to separate the curds from the whey. We missed seeing the operation because they no longer make cheese on Saturdays, but Robert and I remember watching on past visits.

We used to get a five-pound wheel of cheese for about $10 and use it sparingly over the next year. Today they sell a five-pound wheel of extra-sharp cheese for $65. We found a bargain – a wheel on which the wax was cracked, reduced to $30. Something tells me we’ll find at least $30 of good cheese in there! Besides, mold is good for cheese – right?

Our stop in Weston also brought back memories of travels with Allison and Loren, though it was not without disappointment. We had looked forward to visiting the Weston Bowl Mill and the Weston Toy Works, both favorites from our camping days – but both were gone. We shopped in the Vermont Country Store and had dinner in the adjacent restaurant before heading across the street to the Weston Playhouse for a production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” It was cool in the evening, so we had no problem leaving Chewey in the car while we enjoyed professional theater in the Green Mountains.

On Sunday we went to Bennington. Touring Bennington Potters was particularly fun – Sue asked questions only a potter would know to ask, and another fellow on the tour with us installs industrial ovens for baking ceramics. Instead of bricks, their kilns are lined with a blanket of insulation that keeps the heat inside while allowing the surrounding area to stay at a reasonable temperature. Because it was the weekend the work areas were not being used, and I suspect we received a more intimate tour of the work spaces than we would have during work times. Chewey was welcome also and fascinated by the smells …

Robert, Jose, Sue and Chewey (foreground) at lunch in Bennington

Bennington Potters still uses the same processes, equipment, formulas for clay and dyes, and designs created by the founder, who died a few years ago. They have eight employees, some of whom have been doing the same work for 50 years. They make lovely ceramics – stoneware and brown pottery – just as they have for decades, and people buy it. That seems to indicate they will remain stuck in the past for some time to come.

After the tour we headed for downtown Bennington and were lucky to find this nice place for lunch where Chewey could enjoy the attention of passers-by. The sun had come out, so we were glad not to have to search for a parking place in the shade. For dessert, we headed around to Friendly’s – so happy to be back in New England with plain, un-froufrou, delicious ice cream!

In addition to spending wonderful time with wonderful friends, Robert and I were so happy to be back in Vermont. We slept in fresh air and were rejuvenated being away from the bustle of the city. The bikers and innkeepers left us (and another couple) to ourselves for the night, and we left on Monday morning relaxed and happy.

On to Lobstah-land!