Vermont has to be one of the most beautiful states we’ve been to yet. Known as the Green Mountain State, it wholeheartedly lives up to its nickname. The entire state seems covered by rolling hills and mountains covered with lush, thick forest. The trees are a hundred shades of green, shining against the blue sky. It’s gorgeous.
Our first three nights we spent in the little mountain town of Stowe. Actually Stowe is only at about 1,000 feet elevation but it felt very much more mountainous. It’s almost ridiculously pretty – white wooden buildings reflecting the green and blue of the trees and skies. The little church in the middle of the town, where the Dude and I went on Sunday afternoon, is a good example of how gorgeous the whole place was.
We stayed at the Riverside Inn – a little motor lodge run by fellow Brits. There were two big advantages here – the first was that they had free hybrid bikes for guests to borrow whilst staying and the second was that it was literally on the Stowe Recreational Trail, a 5-mile paved path that wound its way from Stowe village along the valley. It was pretty much perfect for us.
That first morning, we explored the little downtown of Stowe. Good coffee, good bookshop. We got the bikes from our hotel and cycled the entire length of the rec trail – 10 miles in total. The path was ridiculously pretty and well-used by locals and tourists alike. Bridges crossed the river – there was a bridge near our hotel and we could hear the rumbled of bikes as they crossed over.
We used the Rec Path to run the next morning as part of our family 2-mile running challenge, Operation Garmin and I ran on it a couple of times in the mornings – it was such a lovely place to run that I wanted to make the most of it whilst I could. On one morning run, an otter ran across the path down the bank and into the river.
One thing I wanted to see in Stowe was the Trapp Family Lodge. My favourite film of all time is the Sound of Music, and the real-life von Trapp family settled in Stowe when they left Austria and had established a hotel/ski-lodge up there, so I dragged the boys. (I’d looked at staying there but it was super-expensive). It was pretty… chalet-style with wonderful views over the mountains and a network of trails for cross-country skiing/hiking/running/MTB at the back. I was thrilled that Maria von Trapp had her own trail system 🙂
We didn’t do any mega hikes whilst in Stowe but we did an easy 2-mile walk through the forest to Bingham Falls, where we could swim in the cold water at the bottom of the falls. The weather was perfect whilst we were in Vermont – months in the swampy South has made us very grateful for weather where you can actually do stuff.
I also took the boys cider tasting. Vermont is well-known for its cider and the Stow Cider tasting room was near our hotel, so the Husband had a nap and the boys and I did some tasting. The boys had apple cider and I tried a flight of four alcoholic ciders. They were all good but the Safety Meeting one was DELICIOUS!! The tasting room was great – really kid-friendly with board-games and big screens showing Red Bull extreme biking footage!
On our last day in Stowe, we celebrated Mothers Day (and Evil Stepmother’s Day). Mothers Day was about three months ago but we had just started our trip and we didn’t get round to it, so we celebrated it in Stowe. My surprise was to do the Trapp Family Lodge history tour and then to get an hour to run the trails there. Perfect, full marks for the
husband boys. They drove me up the mountain and then headed off to play mini golf. I joined a small crowd of old people and Japanese tourists to listen to tales of the real von Trapps and to see Maria and the Captain’s graves in the sweet family graveyard on site. At the end of the tour, one of Maria’s grandsons came to greet everyone and to take questions. I tried not to be too excited to meet a real von Trapp. The biggest thing I learned was that in the movie, when Maria (Julie Andrews version) is leaving the abbey to go and work for the Captain, the real life Maria (actual German lady) can be seen as a cameo in the background. I KNOW! ME NEITHER!
The tour took longer than expected so I ended up only getting half an hour to run the trails but I had a lovely time running through the forest. I ran up to the tiny chapel on the hill that one of her sons hand-built as a promise to God having survived a grim WW2 battle.
Mothers Day ended at the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour where we each ate the biggest ice-cream in the entire world and felt very happy and very sick.
Our next stop was Burlington, on Lake Champlain. Burlington is much bigger than Stowe, it’s a university town. We spent a morning exploring the town and had our picnic lunch at North Beach, where we got to splash around in the lake.
That evening, we did our next family run at Tree Farm Park near our hotel in Essex Junction and celebrated with dinner at Chipotle. THIS Chipotle somehow had a license for beer and margaritas. This should be every Chipotle!
Our time in Vermont coincided with the start of August and, with it, something shifted in our minds. August is the month we land back in the UK (the 23rd) so it feels like we are coming to the end of our trip. The Husband and I have started talking about our new house, the house we bought off the internet without having seen. We are SO excited to finally see it, to move in and to start shaping it into the home we dream of. We’ve both been pinning up a storm on Pinterest…pinning ideas of decor or features that we’d like to incorporate into our home. I lay awake until 2am one morning getting so excited about it. The marvel is that somehow we have very similar ideas, which is a total blessing.
The challenge for us is to stay present for these final three weeks. Yes we are excited to see our family and friends. Yes we are excited to see our house at long last. Yes, I am beside myself at being reunited with my darling, beloved ginger cat. But we have three weeks left in upstate New York, New York City, Montreal and Iceland and we need to wallow in every single moment remaining rather than count down the days.
We left beautiful Vermont on a little car-ferry across Lake Champlain. We floated away from the Green Mountains towards the blue haze of the Adirondack Mountains. Our final state was waiting for us.