A Country Store
Overlooking Lake Champlain, Charlotte, Vermont, is a quiet town that's been around since 1762. Just south of the larger and busier Burlington, Charlotte offers a great place to stop if you arrive in Vermont the same way I did - by ferry from New York.
The place to stop is the Old Brick Store, a country general store that's been in Charlotte for more than a century. It's located at 290 Ferry Rd. and offers exactly what you think a country store would and should offer - sodas, snacks, newspapers, penny candy, postcards, and more. There's even a community bulletin board here. Outside it offers benches on the porch and a cool mural on the side of the building.
If you've come to Vermont for a traditional New England experience, this is a great place to start.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Mt Philo State Park
A small mountain to climb or to walk up. It is close to 2,000 feet and provides incredible views of Vermont and the Adirondak State Park into New York. The park sits about 3-5 miles from the New York ferry. Take a right onto Route 7, then a left onto Mt Philo State Road (kind of hidden). Continue straight until you hit the park. The person at the watch stand will direct you where to go.
Camping is available along with showers and drinking water. I don't advise camping here unless it is for a night simply replacing a hotel room. Not very much to do there. I met some friends to camp out and we were just hanging out and the park ranger kept coming by and told us to whisper. It was barely 10:00PM and we were honestly being quiet! I don't like campsites where they discourage hanging out by the fire.
Sorry of the quick complaint. The view alone is worth the stop. Stay for an hour and drive back down and continue on.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Hill House is at the end of a quarter-mile (one-half-kilometer) dirt road, which served as our driveway. In the summer it was dusty, and during the "mud season" in March when the snows were melting, it was deep in gooey mud. In fact, it was so muddy that our car frequently became stuck. Sometimes in the winter, the snow drifted so deep that it would take an entire day for the town crew to plow the road.
The landscape of Vermont is characterized by rolling hills, forests, fields, quaint villages, and farms with historic barns. Most of Vermont's barns were built in the mid-1800s as small subsistence farms were converted to relatively larger dairy operations. Big barns were needed to house the herds of dairy cattle.
Unfortunately, many of the small-scale family farms in Vermont cannot compete with enormous corporate dairy farms, especially in California and other places in the West. As a result, many of these farms are not able to survive, declare bankruptcy, and go out of business. The barns that once housed herds of dairy cattle are no longer used or maintained.
There are an estimated 12,000 historic barns in Vermont. Around 1,000 are lost every ten years. Barns that are no longer used or maintained will fall into disrepair and will eventually collapse. When that happens, Vermont loses part of its history and heritage. To help combat the loss of these historic barns, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and several nonprofit organizations can help property owners apply for grants and other financial help to preserve the barns that are so important to the state.
Hill House, where I used to live, was once a dairy farm. Its typical long, red barn (pictured here) had many purposes. The dairy cows were housed on the main floor; hay was stored on the upper floor; and manure, used to fertilize the fields in the spring, was stored in the cellar. However, since the barn is no longer being used or maintained, I am afraid that it will collapse one of these days.
One of the iconic symbols of Vermont is its numerous dairy farms and their red barns, white farmhouses, and black-and-white Holstein cows. Vermont is known as a state dedicated to dairy farming, and has been so since the early 1800s.
The Vermont dairy industry is the largest in New England. The average herd size is 115 cows, and each cow produces about 17,500 pounds (7,938 kilograms) of milk per year. About 90 percent of the milk produced is exported to the southern New England states. In addition to milk, many farms are beginning to produce cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products. (Cabot Creamery is producing Cheddar cheese which has been judged best in the world, and Ben & Jerry's famous ice cream is produced in Vermont).
Despite the importance of the state's dairy industry, it is difficult for the small family farms in Vermont to compete with enormous corporate farms in other parts of the country, especially California. As a result, the number of dairy farms has been decreasing steadily in the last 50 years. In 1949, there were over 11,200 dairy farms in Vermont; today there are only 1,500. However, over that same period, the production of milk has doubled thanks to advances in technology.
Hill House, where I lived as a child, is no longer a working dairy farm as it used to be. However, a neighboring farmer has leased the land so his dairy cattle can graze in the pastures (pictured here).
Peacham was established in 1776, and most of the historic houses along the main intersection in Peacham Village date from the early 1800s. Architectural styles that can be seen in Peacham Village include Federalist, Georgian, and Greek Revival.
Many ponds and lakes dot the Northeast Kingdom, including Keiser Pond. Keiser Pond is shared between the towns of Danville and Peacham since it straddles the town line. The 33-acre (13-hectare) pond is fed from the west by Sawyer Brook, and is surrounded by northern white cedar swamps. The shallow waters of Keiser Pond contain yellow perch, chain pickerel, and brown bullheads. Aquatic mammals such as beaver, mink, muskrat, and otter can be found in the vicinity of the pond.
In 2007, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department acquired a package of shoreside parcels totaling 39 acres (16 hectares), including a 3,800-foot (1,158-meter) section of pond frontage, meaning that Keiser Pond has been forever preserved from any development.
Up on the hill in the distance is the house and barn that make up Hill House, which is where I lived from 1968 to 1973.
The American-Canadian Border Marker
Outside the Haskell Free Library in Derby Line, Vermont and Stanstead, Quebec, there is a stone border marker which marks the border between the United States and Canada.
There are no border formalities here. Visitors can freely cross between the two countries to take pictures of the border marker, and to stand with one foot in each country.
The Haskell Free Library
The Haskell Free Library is probably the most unique library in the world. The building housing the library straddles the international border, and half is in Derby Line, Vermont and the other half is in Stanstead, Quebec. The library has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is also a Canadian historical site.
Most of the library's collection of books is on the Canadian side of the border, so it has been said that the Haskell Free Library is the only library in the United States with no books. The collection includes 20,000 volumes in both English and French.
The Haskell Free Library was built in 1904 in the neo-Classical style of architecture by American sawmill owner Carlos Haskell and his Canadian wife Martha Stewart Haskell for use by the people of both countries. The library has since been donated to Derby Line, Vermont and Stanstead, Quebec. It is currently run by a private international board of four American and three Canadian directors.
The black line painted on the floor marks the border between the United States (left) and Canada (right). When I took this picture, I was straddling the border, with one foot in the United States, and the other foot in Canada.
Sugarbrush Farm, Woodstock, VT
My wife and I love this place. It is a working farm in the hills above Woodstock, Vermont. One-hundred percent pure maple syrup and several varieties of cheese are their primary products. They collect the sap and burn it down into syrup in their on-site smokehouse (I would love to watch them do this in late winter/very early spring sometime) producing four separate grades of syrup depending on what time of the spring the maple sap was harvested.
The lighter, sweeter syrup is harvested earliest in the spring and the thicker and more robust flavors come last. Personally, the two middle grades, Grade A Light and Grade A Dark, are my favorites; however, they let you sample each one at their shop so you can pick your own fave. They also let you sample their dozen types of cheese, some of which has been aged up to five years.
We have ordered from Sugarbrush Farms three times, twice in person and once through mail-order and have been pleased each time. They dip their bars of cheese in wax to make them travel and store better so you don't have to worry about eating $50 worth of cheese in a week.
One word of caution: if you visit the farm in person it is a working farm and not a grocery store. Concrete floors and the smell of cows not too far away are not for everybody. I love the place.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
A great view of Manchester..
While Bromley Mtn is known for it's skiing, it is also a good summer hike. Once you get to Bromley, take the West Meadow, Pabst Havoc, or any of the main trails from the base lodge. Hike to the top and picnic there before stealing a ride down on the chairlifts. The view is great from the top.
Alternatively there is a trailhead 1/2 a mile past the main mountain entrance with trails of varying difficulty.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Even with a map that marked the locations of these rural delights, we struggled to find many of them. But they are worth taking a turn down a side street, headed for the river or stream, to find. This one is in Fairfax, Vermont.
(keep an eye out for a travelogue featuring many of these symbols of old-time Vermont)Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
A short drive northeast from Burlington, Fairfax is a tiny little spot on the map. My mother had an uncle (or some sort of relative) who was a pastor at the church here for awhile, a long time ago. It still looks like the classic church most people associate with small New England towns.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Vermont Brewers Festival
This was a great time that we decided to do just a couple of days before we left for Vemont. A quick bit of advice would be to order tickets and hotel room before hand. Luckily, we ordered tickets and did not have to wait in a line (about a 30-45 minute wait). A hotel was also a little bit hard to find. Digs into the beer drinking!
The Brew festival has a lot of Breweries from New England. I don't think Massachusets was represented (a little hazy). Plenty of room to walk around and more beer than you could ever hope to taste on your best day. The sight of the festival is a city park that sits on the shores of Lake Champlain with the Adirondak mountains in the background. The cost is only $15-20 for four hours of drinking. They also have live music and food.
Check out their website for more information.
The picture was taken from their website.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
- Road Trip
The Woodstock Inn
This is a beautiful little town and the hotel has a great golf course. Very expensive so we didnot stay here. Some very quaint shops and the town has the typical New England central square.
If you are interested, the Woodstock Inn and Resort telephone number for reservations is 1-800-448-7900. Rooms are from $199 to $609. Their golf cours is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design and the green fees run fom $52 to $85.
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