Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Bits of Juice from the Road Trip: Part 4

The last two legs of the journey. I drove from Vermont to upstate New York, spent the night, and continued on to DC the next day. It was a lot of driving but I certainly found sights to amuse, distract, and make me think over the course of the two days.

 On my last morning in Vermont, which was Sue and Nigel's second-to-last morning there, they did a morning run to the Harvest Market in Stowe. Their website may not be much, but their shop is gorgeous and chock full of gourmet delicacies, not to mention fresh baked goods. And we mean FRESH- we ended up waiting for about 30 minutes for garlic sticks that were coming straight out of the oven. They were amazing.
 Once I sadly departed from friends, I toodled through Vermont and came upon a Civil War days fair-- didn't think they had those north of the Mason-Dixon line? Well, neither did I. But apparently, country is as country does, and part of country is remembering heritage. Here I heard a lecture about troop badges, and spied some lovely baked goods, as well as women in antebellum costumes. Nevermind the rain, we're tough Yankees!
Dakin Farm is the site of ... my weakening resolve to not buy everything kitschy and delicious-looking in sight. There was lots of good stuff there, and I bought cheese and fudge, both very good!
But really, the stop at Vergennes, VT is where I hit the big time. The couple thrift shops I was going to investigate turned out to be closed, but then this popped up, as well as a different thrift shop, where I found a couple books. The Daily Chocolate has really amazing flavor combinations- I picked up one type of bark named "Nibby" (milk chocolate with a generous helping of coconut and sesame seeds), and another named "Moroccan" (dark chocolate with pecans, raisins, and Garam Masala spices). They were free and easy with their samples, had a reasonable code of conduct on responsible sourcing, and ... so I also bought a little container of maple roasted cacao nibs. Obviously I was totally sold on their creative approach and wonderful flavors! So do try them out if you're in the area...
These next few photos illustrate the totally captivating sense of whimsy I felt while trawling through the picturesque countryside. Perhaps there is a hipster site dedicated to haystacks dressed up as creatures, but I'm completely content to post these as my only sample. Two are haystack creations of a dog and cat (and thank goodness it was a lonely stretch of road, because I had to make a few U-turns), and one is a trailer painted like a cow. Perfect Road Trip scenery, really.

This deserved a mention, even though it was closed (basically a miniature golf course, but with a tailor-made theme ... to please the locals?)
After passing through scenic park land, I came upon this, the Pocono Bazaar, a sort of swap meet writ large for locals and curiosity hunters. I found it a strange, somewhat surreal experience, because I've always heard of the Poconos as a sort of midcentury luxury getaway destination. Here I was confronted with empty lots, creaking structures, and bathrooms serviced by attendants hoping for tips, like Mom and I saw in southern France.

Civil War Memorabilia...
My last stop before the long journey home: Oregon Dairy! I had stopped for gas at a spot that looked like it had a restaurant or two, but turned out to only be Chili's and a bar. So I persevered in the interests of health and foodie-discovery, and came here, unfortunately too late for their dining room. Apparently they close their restaurant at 2 PM on Sundays, and my Pocono visit had made me arrive later than the usual lunchtime.
I found more than enough to satisfy me, even without the restaurant: the supermarket had a great bakery section: see baked oatmeal above- delicious and entirely unknown to me before this. I also tried shoo-fly pie, something I'd heard of as a legend but was fairly disappointed by-- figgy consistency and lacking flavor. OD also had a bulk section, where I found some grains and spices I'd been looking for at a good price. Plus, mini-marshmallows! My resolve, and my hunger, were too weak, and strong, respectively, at this point to resist the cuteness. I had the equivalent of a slider sandwich, then proceeded to the ... Milk House (an ice creamery, truth be told).

I may not have appreciated the sizing titles, but the teens serving me were country-considerate (nothing like the Montreal uni students!), the ice cream was great, it was shelter from the rain, and I wasn't sitting in my driver's seat for a bit-- deliverance! Thus ended my awesome Solo Road Trip adventure. Full of good food, good fun, and dear family, both related and in spirit.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Montreal and The Road Trip: Part Three

 For this post, I think I'll follow a different blogger's example and just lay it out there...
Attendez le signal...until signaled forward!

Corn, Canada

Yellow field, Canada


Happy Friends

Notre Dame

Les Couleurs de Notre Dame

McGill University

Le "Mont" de Mont-Real

Architecture gem

Crouching Statue

International Commerce Center hotel chandelier

International Commerce Center Statuary

International Commerce Center Indoor Architecture

Canada Substation

Pylon Landscape

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Vermont and The Road Trip: Part Two

So there I was, halfway to Vermont.
 I began to see many landscapes like this one above, composed of single barns, silos, and happy cows.
The weather was accommodating, with only a slip of sprinkles and general overcastness making it easy to leave the windows cracked.
 Then I arrived at Smuggler's Notch (what a name) to find Sue and Nigel, all ready to go with gorgeous snacks (a small meal!) and ideas for outings to see waterfalls before the sun went down. Don't mind if I do! :-)
 As you can see, it was really hard on the eyes.
 We even saw fresh evidence of beavers! This fallen tree was neatly chewed through, a few feet away from a serious beaver dam (difficult to get a good shot though-- you'll have to go visit).
 We finished with seeing a covered bridge. Why does New England have (so many) covered bridges? Sue and Nigel expected me to know since it was Americana, but I come from the complete opposite coast, where such things were quite rare: Strike 1 from me. So we asked the waiter at our restaurant that first night, who, while quite entertaining, turned out to be from New Jersey. Strike 2 from Vaughn.
But don't think we were completely without contribution ladies and gentlemen-- I gave it a college try. My theory was triangulated from the facts: the large amounts of snow, the timeframe these bridges were built (before steel was commonplace) and the remoteness of the location. It was probable that a sloped roof was necessary to slough off the snow so that it didn't weigh down and destroy the wooden bridge, making the way impassable all season.
Vaughn seemed to support my theory.
 Again, hard on the eyes, waking up in the Green Mountain State.
 This after the sun warmed itself up and got out of bed.
And this is one of those shots I made Nigel pull over for-- Sue told me to do it!
It was just the perfect time for fall foliage/ leaf-peeping/ whatever you want to call it, and I am so glad I was able to make the time to visit such grand friends and experience such beautiful vistas!
Near Jeffersonville (I think), the eminently competent driving team stopped at this 'Old Mill' so I could snap another couple photos. What caught my eye was the river flow- so full!- after a night's steady pounding of rain. You know, just enough to make cozying up with a good book inside a resort just the thing.
The Mill was also the site of a museum on a local celebrity: Wilson A. 'Snowflake' Bentley who proved that no two snowflakes were alike under the microscope. I didn't go in, but Sue and Nigel had been fascinated when they saw the exhibit. I was more interested in the interesting effect of the cross-hatched wooden outer wall- never seen anything like it!
Finally, there was a foodie find here, ladies and gentlemen, that I hope none of you miss if you are ever in the neighborhood (meaning Vermont). It is an unassuming, prepossessing place called The Family Table. We all indulged in appetizers, which meant that unfortunately 2/3 of my entree was toted home in a take-home container. But hold the phone, Irene, what was the appetizer?
"Fried calamari tossed with hot peppers and black olives, garlic, lemon, basil, white wine with a side of marinara" 
I haven't tried making it at home yet (still experimenting with those Scottish delicacies), and I must say calamari is pretty intimidating, but... it's definitely earned its place on The List. It had that combination of spice and sourness, crisp and crunch, that rendered one incapable of stopping shoveling it into one's mouth.
Next up: Day Trip to Montreal.