Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Pinnacle of the Week So Far

Today, we stood on top of the world, or at least on top of this particular state. But before and afterwards, it was all cream.

Our morning started with a quick morning excursion to the Round Church in Richmond, just outside of Burlington. The story behind the church is that there were several denominations in town, but they only had the money to build one church, so they made it round-shaped and as undenominational-looking as possible. It's very cool, but it wasn't open when we got there, so we moved on.

Our next stop was the Ben & Jerry's factory tour in Waterbury. The tour starts out with a short movie showing the history of the company, then we got to see the ice cream actually being made and packaged (they have two assembly lines running concurrently, so they can make two different flavors a day). After that, we get samples in the tasting room. One of them was a specialized, local-only flavor called The Last Straw (featuring strawberries and chocolate chunks) and the other one, available everywhere, is Dublin Mudslide, which I heartily recommend to everyone. Go. Buy some. Now.

Just like on the trip two years ago, we hiked to the top of Mt. Mansfield today; it's located just outside the resort village of Stowe. (links later, not working now). The elevation is 4393 feet--the tallest in Vermont--and we started our hike at a ranger station at around 3800 feet (the station is reached by a winding toll road that switches back and forth over the now-dormant ski trails). Fortunately, it's not all a vertical hike; it's partially sideways. It's part of the Long Trail, which starts in Canada and runs all the way through Massachusetts. I'll have pictures from the top, eventually, but suffice it to say, it's breathtaking up there (it was also really windy and much hotter than usual for up here). Oh, and the funny/bizarre thing was that the two guys in the band who smoke made it to the top (and back down again) before everyone else. Go figure.

We stopped by another covered bridge after we got to the bottom of the mountain, cooling our feet in a frigid mountain stream. After a dessert stop (which was a return trip to Ben & Jerry's), we repaired to the hotel pool and pretty much had a chill day once we got back. I'm not sure what's up for tomorrow, besides the rest of the band getting here, but I'm hoping to catch some more music somewhere.

Fun fact of the day #1: Vermont appears to have no sales tax on clothing. Though I know that the "meal and room" tax is 9%, you can evidently buy apparel and end up paying only the listed price.

Fun fact of the day #2: Every Ben & Jerry's employee receives three free pints of ice cream a day. Needless to say, a lot of it must be stockpiled in the freezer or given to family and friends, because I didn't see any employee who could be described as a "chunky monkey" (heh).

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