Friday, June 15, 2018

Vermont - Day 15 - Waterbury

Maple Grove Campground, Fairfax
Friday, 15 June 2018
today's route


We came through Barre (pronounced berry) again on our way northwest today.  I stopped to take a photo of an interesting statue in a prominent place in town, and on the way took a photo of another one as well.

The one on the left is in honor of Italian-American stonecutters who made a great impression both in the quarrying business and in the town's culture.

The one on the right I think is supposed to represent Youth, though I can't say they look much like that today.  It's a great piece of sculpture, anyway.  You can see Dexter appreciates it.

I'd intended to stop at the Hope Cemetery on my way out of town but forgot, and it would have been seriously difficult to get back to it so I didn't bother.  But I'd heard there are marvelous examples of stone carving there so maybe sometime I'll go back.  Barre's a nice little town.

I saw a sign at a house that said "Skates sharpened" and suddenly remembered it gets cold enough to ice skate up here.

About 10 or 15 miles down the road - I took the scenic route again and it weaves back and forth around the interstate.    When I got to Waterbury I was behind a car with a Vermont license plate that said VAMONTA, which I slowly translated to Vermonter with a Yankee accent.
Vermont State Hospital
Route 2 is also the main street of town and we drove right by the state hospital building.  About a block down the street I found a nice little municipal park, so we parked and the dogs and I walked back down so I could take a picture.

Less than 2 miles from where we were was Waterbury's claim to fame: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream plant.  I am now in a position to tell you that the 2 met in 7th grade gym class.  When they first sold stock to finance building a factory, they sold only to Vermonters.  Unilever owns it now but under an unusual agreement that they can keep their own independent board of directors.

This plant produces 350,000 pints of ice cream a day and employs 175 workers.  Each of their flavors is certified Free Trade and non-GMO.
Dexter watching the spokescows

Daisies and lupins at the plant

The company is seriously pushing civic awareness and in particular The Poor People's Campaign, named after Martin Luther King's campaign of the same name.  They quote him as saying what's the good of being able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if you can't afford a hamburger.  They say poverty is a key ailment of our society.  When you buy a ticket for the factory tour, they include a card asking you to text "Pledge" to 40649.

And we all got a free sample at the end of the tour.  Today's flavor was Americone Dream®.  Pretty good.

Smugglers Notch
I'd originally intended to bypass this route because the map says it's closed in winter, which I figured meant it was a difficult road.  But there I was in Stowe at a crossroads and just decided it was fewer miles and today's a beautiful day so the road's probably fine.

At the beginning of the road is a sign that says tractor-trailers prohibited, but I figured that was for some reason that wouldn't apply to my little guy.  Then about 2/3 of the way along, I saw another sign that said RVs and trailers strongly discouraged, or something like that.  So I stopped at a visitor center and the visitor information guy looked at my RV and said I'd be able to make it through the notch okay because I was so small.  He said the problem is that there's a place with huge rocks on either side of the road, and the road is snaking around between them, and it's a 1-lane road.  That's why trailers and long vehicles can't fit through, because they can't negotiate the hazards.  But he was sure I'd be okay.

And I was.  But trust me: don't take this road if you're in a vehicle that's even an inch bigger than mine.  It was an incredible experience.  There were actually several places with huge rocks on either side and snaky 1-lane roads.  Going uphill.  The guy had told me I could see the oncoming traffic but he was lying.  I couldn't see a thing because there was a rock as big as a house blocking my view.  But if you've got an ordinary vehicle or a motorcycle, it's a beautiful drive - thick forests and views of mountains.  Sort of on the order of Highway 1 on the California coast, only with mountains instead of ocean.

I haven't seen the stars in weeks.  I can't even remember the last time.  Up here, we get more daylight than Texas.  At this place, the forecast is for first light at 4:29 AM, sunrise at 5:05, sunset at 8:40, and last light at 9:17.  In Austin, first light is at 6:00, sunrise at 6:29, and evening times about like here.  Because I go to bed between 8:30 and 9:00, I never see a dark sky at night.  And with first light by 4:30, the few times I've been up earlier than that it's been overcast or raining.  I'd love to see where the Big Dipper is here, but I'm not setting the alarm for 3:00 AM just for that.

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