Friday, January 16, 2009

Thanksgiving in Vermont

The decision was made - no long distance travel for Thanksgiving. Once we made our 'no fly' rule it was just a matter of where Amtrak would take us...back to West Virginia? Maybe Washington DC? Michael found the perfect spot: Vermont!

We left on Thursday and had a delightful dinner in our first class seats (there was so much leg room I could barely reach the footrest in front of me - OK I know I have short legs, but it really was spacious). I joked that we were going to have turkey jerky, Craisins, and sweet potato chips - but come on, you all know me better than that. For the main course I made a really tasty chicken pasta salad with home made pesto, fresh kettle corn (my homage to the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving), and gin and tonics.

And what was the best part of the night? When our shuttle pulled in to the hotel parking lot and I spied a Michael's Craft Store just across from the hotel entrance! Yes, our hotel was located next to a strip mall and Friday was the ultimate shopping day of the year. I had written off Black Friday, but now I was going to be right in the thick of the action. I was up by 7 to enjoy my free breakfast and then it was time to hit the stores. Michael was up and decided to check out the deals at Staples. He managed to find some great stuff and even came in to the craft store to show me his early morning special buys. I had a blast - next to the hotel we had a strip mall with Michael's Crafts, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Staples, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Dick's Sporting Goods, and a grocery store. Everything a person could need or want was within walking distance of the hotel.

Totally caught up in a shopping high we drove about an hour away and spent the afternoon at a huge outlet mall in Vermont. It was interesting, not just a big mall but tons of little stores all in one area. The crowds were light and the savings were huge - made for a fun day, but so many treasures to carry home. I am stocked up on fabric for many projects to come. One thing that was hard to find in Vermont, a Star of David cookie cutter - go figure.

Saturday we headed north and drove through the cutest little town - Woodstock. It had a great covered bridge.

We stopped to take photos and visit this hotel (yes, I wanted to see the hotel because I needed to go to the bathroom - but it ended up being a really cute town with plenty of photo ops).

And what could have topped shopping on Black Friday? Yes, a craft fair - that's right, inside the hotel there was an awesome craft fair (oh and the bathrooms were nice too). I found some really neat items - hand crafted big jingle bells, carved wooden ornaments, and the catnip mat. (A small quilted mat with catnip sandwiched between layers of fabric. I was inspired by the idea and purchased more fabric to make some for all of the kitties in my life. Read: I ripped off the idea and had to go buy more fabric so I could make them for Christmas.)

Annie brought me the cutest scarf from Alaska - I wore it the entire trip and it was a huge hit with the Vermont locals, especially at the craft fair (I bet someone will be "inspired" to make something similar next year).

(It's hard to read - it says "Santa we need to talk".)

Woodstock was so quaint, even the parking meters and mail boxes were old timey.

After Woodstock we made our way to Sugarbush Farm - a family farm that offers tours and tastings. They make some darn good cheddar cheese and maple syrup.

The tour was pretty low budget - but the family was very nice and generous with the tastings. My favorite part of the tour was the sugaring barn, where they produce the maple syrup.

They had a short video and then the eye opening display of syrups that contain "0% Maple" - shocking!

After our fill of cheese and syrup we headed to New Hampshire for a quick visit to Dartmouth college. The campus was beautiful, but seemed small. Maybe we missed some of the buildings?

In the little town surrounding the college we found this great spot for lunch. The door was solid wood and super thick, I'm guessing it was made to last and has been around for many years. It was probably one of the better meals we had in Vermont- they served this smoked tomato soup that was fabulous.

And what did we find on our way back to our hotel? The King Arthur Flour baking center! (I didn't plan it, but this really turned out to be a trip tailor made for KO!) They had this huge store that sold so many different types of baking products my head was spinning - and at last I found the Star of David cookie cutter.

We took Amtrak back to reality on Sunday, as usual our vacation was way too short!