The drive to Vermont was long and pretty dull until the weather started to clear up, allowing us to see the gorgeous scenery. It was just getting dark when we arrived at the Hilltop Inn, our home for the next two nights. Having carted all of our stuff in, we ventured down to the onsite restaurant “Suzanna’s” for dinner. How to describe it…? Well, with 3 different patterned wallpapers, frilly white curtains and no two plastic tablecloths alike, not to forget the still present Christmas decorations on every windowsill. The menu was somewhat basic, Liz had to choose between the two vegetarian choices on the menu, one of which was spaghetti with garlic butter… That said, included in the price was the salad bar, where we both piled our plates high with vegetables. Deciding to forgo dessert in order to take advantage of the Ben and Jerry’s ice  cream sold in the lobby later on, we had a brief rest to let our food digest before we tried out the pool. Continuing with the theme of the whole hotel, the pool was slightly dodgy, with slightly murky water and surrounded by a plain concrete floor. But we braved it nonetheless, Liz managed to stay in longer that I did, my chlorine allergy kicking in sooner than it usually does sent me back to the room and straight into the shower. We settled down to watch TV with our pint of Ben and Jerry’s AmeriCone Dream and all was well. Except that the heater even when turned off seemed to enjoy turning itself on and blasting freezing air into the room. The first guy that came to look at it shrugged and said that it would be fine if we kept it on all night, helpful since it sounded like it was descended from a jet engine. After over an hour of it turning itself on we called the front desk again and were moved to another room, it was only a few doors down but had a fridge and a more user friendly heater.

We were up bright and early the next morning and after a breakfast of dry cereal and an apple we headed out to the place we have been talking about since we arrived in the States… The Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory!

It was everything we had hoped for and more. On arriving we purchased our $3 each tickets for the tour and browsed the shop while we waited for it to start. We discovered a display with all the different flavours available in North America on display and decided that our mission is to try all the flavours in the remaining five months of the trip. A ringing cowbell signaled the start of the tour and we headed up the twenty five steps to the Cow Over the Moon theatre to watch a “moo-vie” on the history of the company, from two friends opening a shop in an old gas station, through to the world famous brand we all know and love. Then it was onto the mezzanine above the production room (no photography please) to see how the ice cream is made. We watched as hundreds of pints of Peanut Brittle were made, packaged and sent in the direction of the freezer while the whole process was explained. Then it was onto the tasting room for the sample of the day, Mint Chocolate Chunk… yum! The tour ended here and we were given the choice, leave through the door, or through the tunnel… do you need to ask how we left?! Returning to the gift shop we both bought some small souvenirs, then it was onto the Scoop Shop to sample another flavour. After watching it be made Liz had to go for the Peanut Brittle and I tried out Milk and Cookies, also amazing. We are going to catalogue our progress in trying all the flavours, with reviews of each one, which can be found on Lizzie’s blog here. Hyped up on sugar we raced around taking photos and braved the unplowed route up to the Flavour Graveyard, where unsuccessful flavours go to die.

It was well worth it, as each gravestone includes a short epitaph for the dearly de-pinted flavour as well of the dates it was produced.

We were both disappointed to discover, however, that The Full Vermonty, although discontinued, does not have a headstone in the graveyard. Our Ben and Jerry’s outing complete we headed back towards the hotel in search of a Maple Sugareworks in the nearby town. Although Morse Farm, is mostly seasonal, we were able to watch the video, sample the different grades of maple syrup and go to look at the sugarhouse. Although the sugarhouse was being renovated since it is not maple syrup season, we ran into Bert Morse, who showed us all the different parts of the machinery and explained the process, all the while apologising that there wasn’t much to see at this time of year. Deciding that the cross-country skiing also on offer was a bit too strenuous we headed to Montpelier to have a wander. In hindsight, an hour and a half was maybe too much to look around the town, but we did manage to find a supermarket to restock our food supplies. Back at the hotel it was a quiet evening of TV, reading and yet more ice cream. Tomorrow marks one month into the trip, we will be beginning our long journey south to Florida, starting with returning to Boston to collect my mobile… sorry Liz.

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