Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

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Our last stop this day was the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. This is a store loaded with all kinds of apple products and other specialities. They have cider donuts to tempt you available at every register. There is a free tour of the cider making process. Once again we encountered a bus group of senior citizens. Despite that, we were able to see after a while--patience is key. At least they didn't pull the blinds like some other place we went. The bus did have us blocked in when we tried to leave and we had to ask them to move, but that was happily our last encounter on vacation with a bus group.

Ben + Jerry's Ice Cream/Green Mountain Coffe

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The next day we headed out for the Green Mountain Coffee Visitor's Center which is at a railroad station. We were hoping that it was a place that you could tour. They have a short video and picture displays explaining their company. There is a store--no bargains to be had, though. They are a company that certainly gives back to the community.

From there we headed to Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. Again, we were unfortunate enough to find there were several bus groups there at the same time. The management decided to combine two groups together. When we went into the room to watch the video, there weren't enough seats and some people had to stand behind and on the sides. We overheard someone say that in season people have had to wait 3 hours for a tour--listen to me, IT'S NOT WORTH IT!. After the video, you go to the observation area of the factory. This was the only tour on our vacation that wouldn't let us take pictures--like we could see any secret formula or something. Also, because the group was so large (and if you haven't heard, I have shrunk 2 inches!), we couldn't see too well. I decided to stay at the end of the group and get a better look--No! They have these blinds that automatically come down to move you along. I barely got to see anything.

At the end of the tour you are treated to a sample. Along the way, you are teased to try something new. Well, they only had one kind to sample and it had chocolate which George doesn't eat.

To top it all off the gift shop prices are insulting. I wish I could take a piece of paper, paint it black and white to somehow represent a cow and sell it for $5! Yes, they give to the community too, but I don't know if I appreciate their political stands. My ice cream tastes are more conservative.

There was one fun thing, though. If you walk way to the back of the yard, there is a ice cream flavor cemetary of flavors they tried but had to retire. There are headstones with clever sayings. That was the best part of the Ben & Jerry tour and it was free. Skip paying for the "can't see a thing" factory tour and "standing room only" video. If Ben & Jerry really cared about people....

Omin Globe, Fairbanks Museum

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Looking at my pictures I realize I have to backtrack. I told you about the bug art, but I did not tell you about the Omni Globe at the Fairbanks Museum. We were fortunate, since it was late in the day to be the only ones to "play" with this fantastic "toy"--a very expensive, informative globe. By the push of a button, you can get this globe to highlight the people population of the world, the tree population, the path of hurricanes and so much more. We pushed the button many times and could have stayed there a lot longer.

If you are not interested in bug art or a planetarium or the other displays, this is definitely worth the visit.

Cabot Creamery, Cabot, VT

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From granite to cheese. Next stop was the Cabot Creamery in Cabot, Vermont. This tour which only charges a modest $2. starts with a video about the history of the Cabot Creamery. Afterwards there is a nice tour of the factory. At the end they are very generous in all the different types of cheeses and other products that you can sample. The sizes are small, but that is good because there are so many to try! (And we did!). Of course, we bought some too. This tour rates 5 yums!

Rock of Ages Quarry Factory Tour

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After the bus tour, we took the factory tour. When I planned our vacation, I did not know (but George informed me when we got there) that our memorial stone which we already have in place, was purchased from this Rock of Ages Quarry. Our stone is pink. They ship in pink granite from South Carolina or Canada, then it is cut and etched here.

At the end of the tours, there is a place where you can pick up your own souvenir piece of granite, which being a rock lover, I most certainly did.

Rock of Ages Quarry, Graniteville, VT

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Our second day of vacation started with a tour of the Rock of Ages Quarry. We were shuttled by bus to the top of the quarry to look down the 600 feet into what they claim to be the world's largest quarry hole. We had an informative tour guide who explained the process. It is impressive to see the cut blocks and the depth of the quarry.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

John Hampson's Bug Art

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This was quite an unique display. The Fairbanks Museum hosts the complete collection of the nine Bug Art creations by John Hampson. Born in England in 1836, he came to America at the age of 26. He was a mechanical genius, inventor and entomologist. He worked in 13 different states and at one time worked with Thomas Edison. It is said he left that job when he learned that he had to milk a cow.

He ended up in Newark, NJ in the 1870's. He had a passion for collecting insects and saw the aesthetic potential of the many colors and shapes which led him to start creating bug art. Each one of these pictures is made up of 6,000-13,000 common insects, mostly butterflies and beetles, and took him years to complete each one painstakingly with pins and glue. He was a machinist by day and created these artworks in his spare time.

When you first look at these pictures, you don't think much of it, but when you look closely and realize those shiny things are beetles, the first reaction is "eeewww"!
Then you look again and you realize the years of work that had to go into each image. It is amazing. I feel sorry for the butterflies. Yes, I'm the type who wouldn't harm a fly and wish I could say, "no insects were harmed in the making of this artwork."

John Hampson collected and exchanged bugs with people from foreign countries amassing such a great collection that it is now at the Smithsonian. After his death, his daughter searched for a museum to take his artwork and found that the Fairbanks Museum would take it. It is said that people have travelled from all around to see this display--it's one of those things that makes one say, "And now I've seen everything."

An interesting antidote is that when he was 73 years old in December 1906, he fell from a trolley and tried to sue the North Jersey Street Railroad for $10,000 because he could no longer pursue his favorite hobby of butterfly and insect collecting. He claimed before the accident that he could travel 40-50 miles a day. And we thought outrageous lawsuits were new to our century!

Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury, Vermont

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I will have to admit that I read there was a museum in St. Johnsbury and I wasn't sure that I was going to include it on our trip. It turned out we could squeeze it in as our last stop on our first day. We're glad we did.

The Fairbanks Museum has a planetarium which we did not go to, however, there was plenty for us to see and to amaze us. There were animal and bird displays. It was fascinating to see the many types of birds. There was a foreign section with all kinds of hand made items from different countries. This small museum packed a big punch of a large variety of things on 3 floors. It doesn't look that big from the outside. The downstairs has a weather gallery. Anyone interested in weather can find plenty of resources here.

More in the next blog, so I can post pictures...

More to see in St. Johnsbury, VT

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While we were in St. Johnsbury, we happened across the Farmer's Daughter's gift barn. What an interesting collection of unusual gifts and novelties. We had fun looking at everything and even picked up an oddity.

After that we went to Maple Groves Farm. They no longer give tours, however, there is a barn set up describing the maple sugaring process. The store has every maple syrup product you could want including maple ice cream, which we sampled. This was the first of many stops on our vacation that we encountered senior bus tours resulting in lines.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dog Chapel--Making it Personal

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Now if you look closely at the walls of this chapel, you will see that people are encouraged to post pictures in memory of their beloved dogs. There are notes and pictures covering almost every inch. I knew about this ahead of time and came prepared with a picture of our dear friend, Patches. It was our honor to post his picture in this beautiful chapel. Stepen thought of everything--even a box of kleenex, which was needed. I encourage any dog lover to visit here. It is an amazing tribute to dogs and to a wonderful artist.

The Dog Chapel

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Throughout the chapel and on the grounds are statues of dogs. Next to the chapel is an art gallery with Stepeh Huneck's artwork for sale in various forms. He had a special eye and often a sense of humor and warmth in his work. I say "had" because unfortunately he passed away too young, this past January.