Monday 1 December 2014

Vermont Trip 2014

I have to admit that visiting Vermont never interested me. Maybe because I never got into skiing or snowboarding or perhaps because there’s a million other places I want to visit. Or maybe because I didn’t know too much about Vermont. Either way that all changed when Brian and I traveled there for our first anniversary back in 2011. I fell in love with Vermont! We stayed at Smugglar’s Notch Resort which is part of my dad’s timeshare and had an excellent vacation. We went the last week of October and had great weather (cool autumn days where you only needed a sweater or light jacket) and only had a little bit of snow towards the end. We used the outdoor heated pool everyday, walked around the forest areas and did a lot of sightseeing in the Stowe/Burlington area, at places like the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory and Ben and Jerry’s. The resort is located around the mountain from Stowe and there is a SUPER SCARY overpass road that connects the area in about 15-20 minutes which we used daily to visit all the nearby towns and attractions. Overall it was a wonderful trip.

This year Brian and I wanted to get away someplace and the resort had availability. Smugglar’s Notch is busy in the Winter and Summer but not as much in the Spring/Fall. Many of the resort amenities shut down (restaurants, spa, entertainment, activities etc) so it is easy to get a unit at a discounted price. Unfortunately we had to go after our anniversary which changed the trip a bit. Brian’s permanent residence came through at the end of April and one condition of his health card was that he couldn’t be out of the country for more then 29 days in the first 6 months. We didn’t know this beforehand and had booked our 25 day Europe trip, which meant once we were back Brian couldn’t be out of Canada until after November 7th.   So that’s when we booked for.

The inside of our unit 

The outside of the unit 
We had a nice drive to Vermont and our unit was incredible. Unfortunately the two-week’s made a difference and the overpass road was now closed. At first I was happy about this, but soon realized how much easier it made everything! Day trips now took an extra 30-50 minutes, as we had to cross around the base of the mountain to get anywhere. It was also much colder with frequent snowy days, meaning we were bundled up in jackets, boots and mitts. Still we had a great time seeing new places and going back to others.

We spent a lot of time at the Cabot cheese outlet sampling all their delicious cheeses and trying to decide which ones were worth bringing home – for the record their Habanero cheese is the best in my opinion! (If you ask Brian it’s their super aged cheddar). And they have the best cheddar popcorn topping I have ever tried – heck, I don’t even like cheddar popcorn topping and am obsessed with this one. We also spent a day in Burlington where we wandered in this crazy antique shop which was packed to the brim with things. You name it, it was likely there – Christmas ornaments, furniture, toys, records, books – so many cool things you could barely move. It was called “Shedsales Antiques” and was located on the main road in Burlington – Shelburne Rd. The owner was an interesting man who I spent some time talking with as Brian browsed the record selection. I enjoyed hearing about how he got into this and the various ways he collected the items. On one hand it was a little overwhelming just how much stuff there was but then again its nice to think that he’s helping to give these once-beloved items a new home. A much nicer sentiment then hauling them off to some garbage dump when people tire of them or pass away.

Being silly at Cabot 

While in Burlington we also stopped at the BEST Christmas store ever – The “Christmas Loft”. This store is Christmas heaven with displays, ornaments, decorations, everything Christmas-related. I could have spent hours and hundreds in there – but instead only spend one hour and only bought a book and some Christmas jewelry. I wish I lived closer to this store because it is one of my happy places. I remember visiting Disney with Aunt Honey and Uncle Beau the first time they brought the kids there and the second we walked through the gates Aunt Honey began to tear up for many reasons - one of which was just being so happy to be there with her family. While I don’t have the same emotions and connections to the Christmas Loft, I get the same sense of sheer happiness at just being there. I know it’s silly since it’s a store in the middle of Vermont, but it really is a special place. If you visited the store and knew me – you would likely understand.   

We made a few trips to my favorite local chocolate place – Lake Champlain Chocolates –, which to this day still makes the best hot chocolate. It’s their Aztec blend and is an amazing mix of sweet and spicy.  We also returned to Cold Hollow Cider Mill, which is an adorable little cider place near Ben and Jerry’s. It had changed a bit in the past few years (they added a restaurant and a few other things) but they still have a cute shop, amazing cider doughnuts and the best apple cider ever!

We drove to a few of the covered bridges in the area and walked around a few of the small towns. We only went into Stowe once and didn’t spend anytime looking around. The weather was cold and many of the businesses were closed for winter-prep. I guess the first few weeks of November are a good time to do any repairs and close down for employee holidays before the winter rush begins. Which makes sense if you think of how popular the area is in the fall for the Autumn Foliage and then jumps into ski season. That was definitely a bit of a downfall to our trip. The main reason we went into Stowe was so that we could have dinner at the place we celebrated our 1st anniversary at… this little Mexican restaurant. Sadly when we arrived it too was closed for renovations so we ended up at this strange Bennihanna-type knock off up the mountain. They had a special on so the food was really reasonable and the taste/cooking show was enjoyable.

The indoor pool closest to our unit was also undergoing repairs and we didn’t have access to an outdoor one this time. There was another indoor pool but we would have had to drive to it since the shuttle wasn’t running. Still we made the best of everything despite these little things. We had a fondue night and made really great cheese and meat fondue based off of Melting Pot recipes. We had chocolate fondue the following night – since we had been too full for it on the fondue night! We made a few other dinners and had a movie marathon where we watched all three Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVD’s.

It was a relaxing trip and one that we both enjoyed but we decided that November isn’t a time we would return to Vermont in. Either we would go in September/October or at some point return for the winter ski season. The resort seems to have some amazing amenities during that time and it would be fun to check out. Either way, Vermont remains one of my favorite states and I recommend the area and resort to anyone traveling out that way.

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