The plan was to follow the Kancamagus Highway across the White Mountain National Forest in northern New Hampshire. However, Google Maps did not like that idea and kept re-routing us on the shortest most expedient route. I caught it a few times and I changed our course to a route that mostly went the way I had intended. All in all, it only took about three and a half hours to venture across the stem of Maine and the entire width of New Hampshire. (New Hampshire is 168 miles long and 90 miles wide at the widest point.)
After crossing over into Vermont (which actually means “green mountain” in French), we stopped for lunch in St. Johnsbury followed by a quick run through the roadside “Sugar House Museum” and gift shop. Due to the season, the syrup evaporator was not running, but the sugar house did smell heavenly in a (breakfast sort of way). We loaded up on maple candies from the sample trays and set off to finish our days’ journey. Just an hour later, we had arrived in the capital city of Montpelier, our home for the night.
After checking into the hotel to rest for a bit, we decided to head out to see a few sights before dark.
East Montpelier is home to Bragg Farm and Sugar House. Again, because it is summer the sugar house was not in operation. We did watch a short video that explained the syruping process from collecting the sap, to the evaporation process and finally the bottling. There was a nice lady that answered all of our questions and explained the four different grades (light to dark) of maple syrup. We even got to sample all of the different grades. There are very strict rules regarding the production of pure maple syrup and maple syrup products and Vermonters are very proud of their maple products. It was an interesting experience. We came away with plenty of treats from the gift shop, as well.
Next we drove 30 minutes over to the town of Waterbury, the home of the main Ben & Jerry’s factory. We made it in time to catch one of the last factory tours of the evening.
First, we learned about the founding of Ben & Jerry’s in Burlington, VT in 1978. Next, we got to see the production line produce hundreds of pints of Chunky Monkey ice cream. Last, we got to go to the flavor test kitchen where we got to sample a new flavor Salted Carmel Blondie – delicious!
After polishing off our ice cream, we took a short walk past the factory to the “flavor graveyard” where they have gravestones paying homage to defunct flavors.
Tomorrow: More Vermont and then on to Canada!