22 June 2008
Dog Day Afternoon
On Friday morning (June 20), we got up early at Katy's and had breakfast and chatted with her for a while. We had so enjoyed our time at The Princeton, and we were not as eager to get into our car after such wonderful hospitality. But we did, since Katy had wedding planning to do and we had miles to cover! Thanks a gazillion, Katy (and Chal) for having us and treating us to a delicious meal and a gorgeous sunset! While we had been talking at breakfast, Katy mentioned that there was a Champy (Lake Champlain's sea monster) in Vergennes that we had missed the night before, so we started off heading south instead of north. We found Champy and then went on our way towards Burlington. On our way, we saw one of several old round barns we've noticed on this trip. This particular one is in bad repair, but it's cool all the same.
Since it had taken us so long to get from Waterbury to Burlington the day before, we voted to try the interstate for the short drive from Burlington to Montpelier, the state capital of Vermont. So far on this trip, we have been very close to several capitals that we have not stopped to see the capitol buildings, but this one is practically right on the way. It's a beautiful building that is the oldest State House still being used for its original purpose. Out on the front lawn was an interesting sculpture of bicycle parts, which turned out to be only one of many odd bicycle sculptures we viewed around the town. At the front door of the building (which was HUGE!) was a statue of Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys. Once inside, we met a nice man (we're pretty sure he was a congressman) who told us some fun facts about the building and told us to take our time looking around. He also told us about a Maple Sugar farm not far from town. We took some time to tour the capitol and then took off for Morse Farm Maple Sugar Works. The first thing we saw there was a miniature of the capitol building!
There was a great self-guided tour at this farm (go to the Woodshed Theatre and pull up a stump while you watch this DVD) and some funny and good sculptures and really life-like mannequins. I especially liked this one of the horse's ass...
Our congressman had also suggested that we be sure to visit Barre, which is famous for its granite works, so we drew a bead on "Rock of Ages" and headed in that direction. We got there just in time to miss the last tour before lunch, so the friendly lady at the desk suggested that we go down the hill to the Hilltop (go figure) Restaurant and then come back for the after lunch tour. So we did! We had some delicious chicken and rice soup, and I had the salad bar and Kim had a ham sandwich. It hit the spot, but we had to wait so long to get our check that we thought we would miss the next tour, too! It turns out the tour was a caravan tour, and we got back just in time to be the last car. We tuned our radio to the designated station and then followed the leader up to the quarry. Wow - was it ever impressive!!! They are now on the third hole being quarried, and it was so deep the workmen looked like little play people. It was 600 feet from top to bottom, and the blocks they dig out and bring up are humongous! When we got back to the main building, we watched a video and then went to the outdoor bowling alley that was built out of granite as an experiment that obviously didn't take. From here, we went to the Hope Cemetery, which is full of interesting monuments that some of the area granite artisans had made. Most interesting... On the way to the cemetery, we learned why the Hilltop Restaurant was so named - even though it was at the bottom of the hill to us, it was at the top of a very steep hill!
After touring the cemetery (don't you wish you were on this trip seeing all of the highlights we're seeing?), we went to Cabot to see the Cabot cheese factory. Once again, we just missed a tour, but they had samples of about 25 different cheeses, spreads, dips, sauces, and popcorn for us to nibble on while we were waiting. That was a good thing, since the samples were about 100% better than the tour itself. It was getting late, and we wanted to see the Dog Chapel in St. Johnsbury, which is right on the Vermont border. It was time to put Jill to work, and she sort of got us where we needed to be. On the way, we saw this funny moose at the miniature golf place. Jill didn't exactly know where the Dog Chapel was, so we asked her to take us to the St. Johnsbury Athenaum. We had no clue what that was, but Jill got us there and it was this totally cool old building that is now home to an art gallery and the library. Even better, the librarian gave us directions to the Dog Chapel. Unfortunately, it closed at 5:00, and it was about 5:05. So, we did what any resourceful and sassy sisters would do - we called and begged them to stay open til we could get there. Actually, we didn't have to beg - they very kindly agreed to let us see the chapel, so we were off. I'm not sure what I expected, but this wasn't it. After experiencing a near-death experience, the artist, Stephen Huneck, was inspired to build a chapel honoring dogs and the friendships humans form with them. Out front is a sign that says, "All breeds, All creeds, No dogmas allowed" and inside, the pews are decorated with dogs on the ends. All that I was expecting. What I was not prepared for was that every square inch of wall space was covered with notes, photos, and drawings to and of dogs and pets who are deceased from their owners who clearly miss them terribly. I was sobbing by the time we left. I have never even had a dog in my whole life, but now I want one because I feel like I must be missing something very special. I'm so glad we got to see this dear, special place.
From St. Johnsbury, it was a short trip to Littleton, New Hampshire, where we were staying at a Hampton for the evening. I was so excited that we would have an early day, internet, and a great bed! I would have plenty of time to catch up on the blog. Wrong. It turns out that I did not have a reservation for Friday night, but we had gotten to pay for our room on Thursday night...and of course, they were FULL. Bummer. We just got back in the car and drove on. I was rapidly losing my personality. In Franconia, we were looking for the "Rustic Log Cabins" that the Garmin told us about, but when Jill led us to them, she commanded us to turn right into our destination. Into a CHURCH. Thankfully, we had passed a couple of B&B's that advertised vacancies. We stopped at one, and Kim went in to get us a room. Amazingly enough, although the door was open, no one was home. There was a note on the door to the people they were expecting, telling them to pick a room and the innkeepers would be there in a couple of hours. We considered picking a room, but we went on. You know, sometimes things happen for a reason. We got a room at the Sugar Hill Inn, which was built in the late 18th century. After a quick tour, we went in search of food at the Dutch Treat. We shared some pork dumplings, and Kim had a grilled rosemary chicken salad and I had Thai Vegetables over pasta. Maybe it's just me, but I was expecting Japanese noodles or maybe cellophane noodles, but I never considered penne. Oh, the culinary delights we are experiencing! Actually, it was pretty good, and dessert Chocolate Chambourd Torte) more than made up for it. Back at the Inn, which miraculously had wireless internet AND a bar, we dragged the laptop down to the lounge and prepared to get to work. There were two couples already there, so we quietly sat at a table by the windows. Before long, though, we had made new friends! Joey and Jean, who are brother and sister, and their respective spouses, Kathy and Keith, were vacationing together from Taunton, Mass, and we had a blast sharing stories with them. We were laughing and talking so much that a couple (Clive and Sheila) from the dining room joined us (they were from Australia) and then later another Boston area couple (Alan and Tracy) came out, too. Turns out Susan, the bartender, makes a fantastic margarita (we agree!) and before long, it was midnight and everyone was still up. Nothing new for me, but our Boston friends are early to bed and early to rise (and run) kind of people. We were corrupting them already! Thanks, Joey, for that round of drinks - you made what had been a grumpy evening turn into a fine, fun one!
Cheers to friends,