Three Great Days In Vermont
PHOTO: Stowe Mountain Lodge rests majestically against the mountains of Vermont. (All photos courtesy of Stowe Mountain Lodge unless otherwise noted)
There are states that my wife and I have missed over the course of our traveling, both separately and together, and one of them was Vermont.
So for her 50th birthday in October, she decided she wanted to head to the mountains for three days even though it wasn’t ski season yet (or, to be more factual, even though neither one of us has ever skied).
But there was something about the allure of a ski lodge and a crackling fire, so off we went.
YANKEE CANDLE FLAGSHIP STORE
Traveling from New York we decided to go up I-91 through Massachusetts, which meant the obligatory stop at one of two Yankee Candle Flagship stores, this one about a half-hour north of Springfield, Mass. in South Deerfield.
To say the store is humongous would be an understatement. If you’ve ever been in a Yankee Candle store in your local mall and thought you’ve seen everything and smelled everything, you haven’t. Not even close. The flagship store has it all, and not just candles either. If you’re even remotely close to the area, it’s a must-visit.
Our overnight accommodations on Day one were at The Hermitage Club in Dover, southern Vermont.
The phrase ‘pampered in luxury’ would be most fitting.
By all rights, we shouldn’t even have been here. The Hermitage, Haystack Mountain, the 80,000 square foot lodge, the golf course, even the nearby airport, are all private. The Hermitage is a members-only, 1,400 acre enclave that costs a pretty penny to join. Fortunately, we knew someone who invited us to stay overnight and get a small glimpse of life at The Hermitage.
Trust me when I say, life is gooooooood for members.
VERMONT COUNTRY STORE
The next morning we got up and started on our way to northern Vermont and Stowe. First stop along the way was the Vermont Country Store at their Rockingham, Vt. location. My wife gets their catalogs in the mail but wanted to experience the real thing.
Me? I was like, "Eh, OK, whatever you want."
Until I walked in the place. Once I was able to pry myself away from the section where all the old-fashioned candy was – Bit-O-Honey, Charleston Chew and more – I saw it.
Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots.
My mind immediately transported me back to my childhood and it was the most unbelievable feeling and moment. I highly advise making the trek.
MISS BELLOWS FALLS
I’ve eaten at roadside hot dog stands and at some of the finest, most elegant restaurants in the country. Our lunch at this diner just down the road from the Vermont Country Store might have been the best meal I’ve had simple for the delicious comfort food and the ambiance.
Situated near a picturesque bridge over a small river, little did we know we stumbled on a National Register of Historic Places site. The diner is a converted train car and is 30 feet long by 16 feet wide, seating 30 at the counter and a half-dozen small booths.
Everything is homemade. Try the cream of mushroom soup. Thank me later.
Photo by Rich Thomaselli
STOWE. VT. AND STOWE MOUNTAIN LODGE
Our abode for the second and third day of our trip.
From the moment you pull in it is exactly what I imagined a ski lodge would look like, right down to the amenities such as being able to hang up your wet clothes and take your boots off before you get in the room.
Since this was not ski season, that didn’t come in to play. But to suggest that this resort was sitting around waiting for the first flake to fall would be silly. There were still lifts to the top of the mountain, where glorious scenery awaited. Stowe Mountain Lodge was jam-packed on this particular weekend, and with good reason – it was the height of leaf-peeping season, and the fall foliage was spectacular.
Our room was plenty big for a king and had a refrigerator – perfect for all the wine and Vermont cheese we bought – as well as dishware and a dishwasher. It overlooked the swimming pool, and in retrospect I should have done more reporting before we left. The pool was heated, but we didn’t bring swimsuits. There was also a beautiful outdoor chess set.
Indoors, the atmosphere was rustic, warm and inviting.
The town of Stowe, and nearby, was gorgeous as well. As we pulled off the exit we were greeted with a humongous line of traffic, albeit fortunately going the other way. The holdup? Tourists invading the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory. Dinner in town that night was a terrific experience downtown at Sushi Yoshi.
The next day, we drove Smuggler’s Notch on our way to Burlington. Smuggler’s Notch, quite simply, is awesome. You climb, you zig, you zag, and you are awed by the rock formations of Mt. Mansfield before descending out of the mountain. It was so named for several reasons. Originally, Smuggler’s Notch was used in the early 180s to transport goods and livestock to and from Canada, even though the Embargo Act of 1807 forbade American trade with Great Britain and Canada. Later, it served as an escape road for slaves who were able to make it out of the south and were heading to Canada. And, of course, in the 1920s, during Prohibition, it was used to transport rum and molasses out of Canada.
All in all, it was a terrific three days and I haven’t even touched on our day in Burlington.
That, my friends, is a whole other story.
More by Rich Thomaselli
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