Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Vermont Tale

It's raining here in Lake Lure again today which prompts me to begin the tale of my September ride to Vermont, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island...the Maritime Tour.  I have two riding buddies, Ron and Jim, who still must work for a living, and therefore can not often take extended time off for a long ride.  We usually manage one 9 to 16 day trip together per year.  On the rare occasion when they can manage two weeks off, we generally head out west.  In the past we've visited many of the western national parks, including Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef.  This was a one-week-off year, so we had to stay closer to home, and decided on Vermont as the destination.  The wives would fly to Burlington, rent a car, and rendezvous with us at Mount Snow, where we would all spend three nights and take some day trips around the area.  Why Mount Snow?  Because the Concours Owners Group held their National Rally there last year and we had all read an article about it in Rider Magazine.  Vermont has an abundance of beautiful back roads and quaint villages where you can visit cheese makers and maple syrup producers and sample their wares.

Ron and Jim and I left Jim's house in Pounding Mill, VA on Friday morning Sept 7 and began making our way towards southern Vermont, sticking to the many scenic back roads in VA, WV, PA, and NY, passing through county seats with populations measured in the hundreds.

For example Craig County, VA has a population of 5,200 and New Castle, the county seat and one-and-only town in the county, has a population of 150.

one really nice road and riding area was PA State Rd 44 through the Tiadaghton State Forest west of Williamsport. We stopped at McConnell's Country Store and Fly Shop in Waterville where Ron was fascinated by the stuffed boxing raccoon...and he has the gall to give me a hard time about Little Buddy.

The National Taxidermists Association Hall of Fame and Museum is in nearby Haneyville, Pa.

We arrived at The Grand Summit Hotel at Mt Snow on Monday at about 6 pm.  The girls arrived about an hour later.  They were already partied-out from the two nights on their own in Burlington.

Ron was ecstatic to see Little Buddy again.

Tuesday dawned clear, bright, and warm, and we took an all-day circle-ride through the Vermont countryside, stopping at covered bridges, cheese factories, and famous estates.

We watched Vermont cheddar being made at the Grafton Village Cheese Company.

Lunch was at the historic Marsh Tavern in Manchester where the fledgling Vermont government used to hold meetings during the Revolutionary war.

After lunch, we rode a few miles down the road to Hildene, the summer home of Abraham Lincoln's son Tod Lincoln.

The valley views from Hildene's mountain perch were quite nice...no doubt the reason Tod Lincoln chose this location.

After Hildene, it was back to the Grand Summit for a picnic supper of Vermont cheese, sausage, and other goodies collected on the day's ride.  On Wednesday we visited Bennington and Arlington. Penny and I had stayed at the Four Chimneys Inn B&B in Bennington on a previous motorcycle trip in 2003. Our first night there, a Tornado crossed Lake Champlain from New York and took dead aim on the Inn, decimating the beautiful old oak trees surrounding the Inn. A photo from 2003:

The Inn today:

The Walloomsac Inn was an important stagecoach stop in Bennington dating from 1771 and had many famous visitors in its early years, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The Inn still stands today as a private residence of descendents of Walter Berry who purchased it in 1891.  The current condition of the Inn would not lead one to imagine the importance of the building to early Bennington and the early colonies.

After a hearty lunch at Madison Brewing Co on Main St in Bennington, we rode up to Arlington to see the Norman Rockwell exhibition housed in the Sugar Shack.  The owner was very personable, and regaled us with stories about Rockwell's years in Arlington. His father had been one of Rockwell's models for some of his famous paintings.

Where the syrup is made.

A new $60,000 maple syrup machine.

It was getting late by the time we left The Sugar Shack and headed back to Mt Snow. Dinner Wednesday night was at West Dover Joe's which was about the only thing still open, but turned out to have excellent food. Wednesday was our last night at Mt Snow.  On Thursday morning we parted ways...the girls drove back to Burlington to catch planes for home, Ron and Jim headed south towards home to go back to work on Monday.  Since I'm retired and carefree, I pointed my front wheel north and headed for Nova Scotia for another ten days of riding.

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