Life on a farm starts early, even if that farm is a VT tourist trap destination. Someone came by to feed James and Rex (the farm goats) at sunrise. Long before the first tour buses were due to arrive, employees were checking in. And parking. And almost blocking us in. I guess we were parked in their usual spot. I was able to get the SUV backed up to the trailer and get everything hooked up, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to when I first saw how they had parked.
A few years back, on an earlier fall trip to VT, we had stumbled onto the Stowe Foliage Arts Festival. It was a terrific, juried arts and crafts show, and when I saw that it was happening again this weekend I wanted to go back. So, we headed northwest toward Stowe. I was wary about the driving, because I didn’t know whether we would be on main roads all the way. I am cautious about low bridges whenever we get onto secondary roads. (In the town I live in there is a low railroad bridge that regularly takes the tops off trucks, so I know these things do exist.) We were able to get to our destination by about 10:30 without incident, and we saw a lot of great foliage along the way. We parked in a grassy field, with an easy exit plan, and headed out to explore the handiwork of this year’s artists.
By about 1:00 we had seen all that we wanted to see, and it was time for a new destination. Elaine had noted the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center on our way up to Stowe, and she was interested to see what they had to offer. (Cold Hollow is one of the VT Harvest Hosts. We could have stayed overnight there but opted for a “real” campground for tonight.)
Our drive back to Waterbury Center was an eye-opening experience. Although we were on rural roads, miles from anywhere, the traffic was bumper-to-bumper in both directions. In some areas it was also stop-and-go. This, apparently, is VT during leaf season, on a holiday weekend. Wow.
Can’t really complain, because we were part of the problem, weren’t we? Might as well just sit back and enjoy it.
When we got to Cold Hollow Cider Mill we found out that a very large percentage of this traffic had the same idea we had. They actually had traffic cops directing traffic in and out of the place. Literally hundreds of cars (and – yes – tourbuses) filled the parking lot. They directed us all the way out back to a grassy field where we would have room to park and to turn around for an easy exit.
Are you familiar with the old children’s book, Homer Price?
I think a chapter of the book could have been derived from what we saw here at the cider mill. In the book, a donut-making machine goes out of control and produces hundreds of donuts, and it won’t stop. What we saw was a donut-making machine that reminded me of the one in the book. I asked Carter, the donut-machine operator, how many donuts they made in a day. The answer: 15,000. Really! (Seems a little hard to believe, but I did the math, and that would be about 31 donuts per minute for an 8-hour operation. I guess it’s plausible, but still pretty amazing.)
The rest of the visit to Cold Hollow was another adventure in Vermont tourism. Another store with everything a person could want. Another store with a steady stream of customers. The real difference was that this also was an operating cider press. We spent some time watching them create their delicious cider. We love factory tours, and this one did not disappoint. The samples of the fresh, ice-cold cider were the highlight of our visit.
After the cider mill we re-joined the traffic and headed toward Burlington. Our overnight plans had us in the North Beach Campground, a campground operated by the City of Burlington. It is located right on the shore of Lake Champlain. I’m sure in the summertime it is an awesome place to be. It was still nice, even though this was no longer beach weather. In fact, this evening was the coldest we have yet faced in our new-to-us trailer. As the temperatures dropped into the 30’s we were glad to have a heater!