During the drive up to Stowe the roads got smaller, the temperature began to drop, and millions of fir trees started to appear. I was in Vermont for nearly three weeks, here are some of the highlights in no particular order.
The friendly town of Stowe
I think it’s fairly safe to say that Stowe does well to cater to tourists. The ski resort brings in plenty of business to the area, and as a result the small town supports plenty of arts and crafts places, cafes and restaurants. There is a supermarket and a few general stores as well. The atmosphere in the town was extremely friendly, and very relaxed. Even though it wasn’t peak season, there was plenty of life around the place and enough to do if you weren’t on the mountain. The buildings are picturesque and colourful, and there’s a recreation path too.
Sushi Yoshi in Stowe
Three out of the four of us had Hibachi, which is sort of like performance cookery. There is a flat grill in the centre and the chef cooks there, with the diners sitting around on three sides. There was a lot of setting things on fire, and the chef cooked as well as giving us a show. At one stage he was chucking things at us to catch in our mouth and cheering when we managed. I’ve never had so much fun while performing this feat. I had a bento box and really enjoyed it, especially the sushi which was fantastic. Naturally I had a try of the hibachi as well and it was also lovely. You can see pictures on their website.
Maybe it’s more spectacular in the depths of winter, or during the summer, but this easy walkway down by the river was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I walked out of town along the roadside path, and headed back in towards the church along the recreational route. It was fairly chilly, but there was evidence in the snow of plenty of people using the route.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour
This was lots of fun. The inside of the building is pretty psychedelic, and the tour guide we had really knew his stuff (even when asked some non-standard questions about cows). We were given a free mini-cup of ice cream at the end of the tour as well. The tour itself lasted about 30 mins, and only cost $4, which is a bargain. This factory is no longer the largest factory, but it was the first one where the ice cream was produced. If you like the ice cream, it’s a fun thing to go and see. They also have a flavour graveyard, with headstones erected to flavours no longer made. This comes complete with styrofoam crows.
Learning to Ski at Stowe Mountain Resort
Definitely one of the best days ever! I had never skied before coming to Vermont, and learning to ski with my hosts was absolutely brilliant. Josh took charge of the lesson and was very patient with me all day, and I made much faster progress than I had expected with only minimal falling over and frustration! We started off on a small bump (not even a hill), then I graduated to the Magic Carpet (whose witchcraft I still don’t understand) and I managed to ski down a beginner slope (Inspiration) before lunch, with Josh helping me to improve by giving me strange feats to perform. The lessons on Inspiration continued after lunch, and my much more experienced hosts kept me company at times, practising more advanced techniques. As well as feeling good about knowing some skiing basics, I feel much more confident about trying other athletic activities now too. Taking off the ski boots at the end of the day felt amazing as my normal shoes felt like slippers… After a fun day skiing we went to the Matterhorn and had a drink and something to eat, and I was absolutely exhausted!
My time in Vermont was very relaxed. It was lovely to drink delicious milk bought from the farm in the next town, to go to the supermarket and the food co-op. It was lovely to take Loomis into the woods or on walks at lunchtimes when I was in the house, and it was lovely to meet other people who worked at the mountain. Every day I was woken up by Loomis sniffing my face and the skiiers getting ready to be at the mountain for lift-opening time, and we went to bed early too as the light faded. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a pretty nice lifestyle!