First of all, let me say how thankful I am for my sister, my niece Abbie and my wife Lynn. They watched after my grandmother while Mom, Izzy and I went to Vermont
I picked up mom to head for the airport. My adorable grandmother was up and ready to see us off. We made it to the airport without issue and made it through security checkpoints with all of my radio gear.
Upon arrival at the Burlington airport, I knew the trip was going to be great when we got our rental car and the tag had HAM as part of the tag number!
I had been to Vermont once when I was about 13. I remembered the beautiful green mountains, Lake Champlain and all the beautiful scenery. We arrived at Johnny and Mari’s place and they were very happy to see us. Their home is a very nice New England home with beautiful mountain views. Johnny has really taken great care of the place. He has some really large maple trees, which I am told are beautiful in the fall.
We headed off to eat at the Zen barn. This is very interesting place down the road from Johnny’s house. It is an old barn tastefully decorated with bovine artwork as you might imagine. The restaurant is a true Farm to Table eating establishment. Their burgers are delicious. They have a wide variety of drinks to chose from as well. I had read in a guide to Vermont a top ten list. One of the top things the writer said you must do is try a Heady Topper. This is a world famous IPA that is kept cold from brewery until it is served. The Alchemist Brewery which makes the Heady Topper has grown considerably since it started. The brewmeister is a friend of Johnny’s and they have known each other since the start. When I saw they had these available I had to try one. You can only buy these in Vermont, so they are a rare treat and I must say they are very tasty! I don’t drink ofen, but when I do, it’s an IPA! This was one of the best. Later in the week Johnny and I made sure to tour the brewery. It is an impressive establishment.
Speaking of tours, no trip to Waterbury VT would be complete without a tour of the original Ben & Jerry’s factory. This was one of the main reasons Izzy went on the trip. She is a huge fan of their ice cream. The tour was great as was their free strawberry Cheesecake ice cream sample of the day!
One of my favorite parts of the trip as you might imagine, was climbing Mount Mansfield. Mount Mansfield is the tallest Mountain in Vermont. It is very different from GA summits. There are exposed cliffs, edges, spruce trees, bogs you have to cross with boardwalks and ski trails. The climb was no joke. Considerable elevation gain and some area you have to negotiate some large boulders. Although, we did see an Asian tourist in high heels??? Not sure how far she made it. Her companion was barefooted! Once on top I spoke with a trail ranger before setting up. This was to make sure I could place my antenna and guy ropes in areas that were not protected. He showed me the different arctic vegetation, mosses and lichen to steer clear of and wished me the best. I set up my portable 35′ fiberglass mast pole supporting my inverted V dipole. Johnny accompanied us part of the way and took some great pictures of us ascending a steep side of the mountain. You can see these on the link I will post below. If you zoom in you can see me and Izzy. I have on a red shirt. It was a little noisy, the bands were not good and I needed to get back to Johnny who was patiently waiting for us, so I kept it to the four minimum required contacts. Coming back down was fun. Johnny is the best host. He has climbed this mountain and many others in VT and is a very skilled triple black diamond downhill and cross country skier, so he knew all the details for getting us on and off the mountain. Stowe, VT, the ski town near Mt Mansfield, seems to stay crowded year round. On the way back we popped into the Alchemist brewery to sample their finest concoctions, which of course includes the Heady Topper. Very neat place.
We got to walk through Waterbury several evenings during our stay. Growing up in the South you don’t get to see many structures pre-dating the civil war. There are plenty in the North and all around Waterbury. We toured one of the oldest cemeteries in the area. Very historical.
Some other restaurants we visited on our trip were, The Reservoir, Blue Stone Pizza, The Prohibition Pig, The Black Back Pub and while we were in Quechee, we ate at Simon Pierce. These were all very good, but the best was likely Simon Pierce. Simon is a glass blower/artisan that fled the high cost of energy in Ireland and came to Quechee VT to set up his studio near the Quechee Gorge. He has his studio and restaurant at the site of an old Mill. He has converted this into a hydroelectric power generating station that powers much of the town. I have a picture or two in the link below of the studio and picture of signs with the more detailed historical facts. The food there was amazing. My mother was especially fond of the crab cakes. Quechee is a beautiful town. If you are in Vermont and have time, make this a must visit stop on your trip. Blue Stone Pizza has a very large blue stone for a large table top. They make a mean pizza. We did take out one night from there. Mari fixed me delicious breakfast’ during our stay. Her home smells really good too. She has oil diffusers around the place, which make the whole house smell fresh. Thieves was my favorite fragrance. Near our last night we crammed into the Black Back Pub and met up with Johnny’s daughter and my cousin, Meghan. It has been many, many years since we had seen her, so this was a special night to catch back up. The Black Back owners are also friends of Johnny’s. Johnny is able to tell you a little bit of history about just about everything in town.
This was a much needed get away for my mom. She and Johnny grew up next door to one another. Both are only children and are more like brother & sister or best friends than cousins. The distance keeps them from visiting as often as they would like, so it was a very special trip. Thanks to the Bramblett’s for making us feel at home. We love you guys!
Don’t forget to check out the pics: Epic VT Trip Pics