50 States, Day 139 Quechee to Montpelier to Stowe and Back, 170 Miles
"I am as resolutely determined to defend the independence of Vermont as Congress are that of the United States and rather than fail, will retire with hardy Green Mountain boys into the desolate caverns of the mountains and wage war with human nature at large."
Montpelier (pronounced in English rather than French), the Capitol of Vermont, boasts of the nation's smallest Capitol building. This building, completed in 1859, replaced an earlier one that burned. Surprise, surprise. It featured a rotunda, complete with gold leaf. A statue of Ethan Allen stood in the entry. He was named after a furniture store, weird.
A mom played with her baby on the front lawn. We little people walked right in the front door, and no strip search. The flooring, black and white, was made from Vermont marble. Funny, as so many capitols bragged about their Vermont tiles.
No tour today, so we wandered about and read the flyer. The original statue on top of the rotunda, wooden, rotted and threatened to fall, so 87 year old Sergeant-at-Arms Dwight Dwinell carved a replacement and he and the janitorial staff got it up there. I like this state.
Portraits of big people line the halls, like Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the US, and Chester Allan Arthur, the 21st. I swear I never heard of him. If I could live my life over, I'd have paid attention in history class. Arthur? Slap me with a history book.
The 'Free Vermont' people took up the second floor and addressed the House, in session. I read their Manifesto, and parts of it were really good. Most of it? My opinion, they are idiots. Exercising their free speech. Me too. After seeing what happened after the last time states attempted to secede, they better watch what they ask for. I can see them succeeding at seceding (say that three times) and the US government demands they pay them for the roads and bridges. Then they slap a 200% tariff on Ben & Jerry's. Ouch. Could get dicey, without a shot fired. The ladies in the gift shop were particularly nice as we got the three for a dollar postcard deal.
This building is small, and they use it. Really cool.
Speaking of Ben and Jerry's, we headed off for a tour. And a fun tour it turned out to be. The factory and guides are as wacky as B & J, and we all had a good time learning about how ice cream was made. You start with hay... I'd tell you more but they would hunt me down and kill me. No photos on the production floor, no exceptions.
But free samples of 'Americone Dream,' delicious. They call it something else in Canada, no idea why. But not chintzy on the sample sizes either, each one about the size of a medium scoop.
I love B & J's story too. In the sixties they took a five dollar correspondence course from Penn State U. and opened a shop in an abandoned gas station in Vermont. And the rest is ice cream.
Off to a maple syrup... Farm? Ranch? Factory? Anyway, they make maple syrup there. Now I know how it's made. You start with hay. Okay, maybe not.
Each mature tree can produce up to three buckets of sap, which comes out in a thin liquid form. What threw me was I was thinking pitch. Sap is thin in early spring when they harvest it. Then they cook it down until the consistency is just right. Early batches make light to medium syrup and later ones make syrup, for breads and such. The trees are up to 300 years old. Like a sapling in 1712. A forty year old tree in front gave its first bucket of sap this year.
I asked Mr. Bragg (owner) if removing the sap hurt the trees and he said no, unless one takes too much, but with trees 300 years old and not giving sap until 40, they treat the trees well. I bet they do.
Who ever thought of carving a hole in a tree, drawing sap out of it and boiling it down? The Indians did, but how would anyone think to try that? What else did they try and fail? Rocks?
Back on the scooter (aren't we going places today?) and we toured a cemetery. Many Italians settled here, and they can carve stone. So the cemeteries teemed with awesome quality monuments. Like a race car. Or the couple in bed. Very well crafted.
We jumped on the freeway, violating one of our Ten Commandments and rocketed back to dinner and the tent. The weather today was perfect, 80 degrees after the sun knocked the morning fog away.
Tomorrow, New Hampshire. See you then.
Ben and Jerry got a little wacky too. My opinion. But they have great hearts.