Almost three weeks ago now, Melissa and I drove to Vermont to visit our dear friend Cara. It was our second time visiting (we made the trip at the end of July last summer) and our goals for this trip were to spend time together, do a bit of exploring, and to have fun. We also wanted to eat yummy food.
I think the girls would agree with me that we were successful! Time spent together? Check! Exploring (and getting lost)? Check! Fun? Check! Yummy food devoured? Check!
Here are some of the highlights that made this road trip a success:
The scenery. Vermont is beautiful; it isn't called the Green Mountain State for nothing. Rolling green hills, flowers in bloom, peaceful roads to bike, run, or drive down. I could feel myself breathing more easily and deeply as we drove to Cara's house Saturday evening. In fact, I'm doing so now just remembering the drive to her house. Cara knows how beautiful her neighbourhood is so she took us on a Sunday afternoon drive to show it off. I am so glad she did.
The first thing we did when we got to Vermont (after exclaiming about how happy we were to see each other and chatting for a couple hours, of course) was go in search of food. We drove to Burlington and ate at American Flatbread. Committed to good food and sustainability, their ingredients are organic and local. The three of us ordered a large flatbread (pizza) to share. We decided on half "New Vermont Sausage" and half "Punctuated Equilibrium."
Although the pizza was delicious, my favourite part of the meal was the house salad. The "Evolution Salad" consists of organically grown sweet leaf and mesclun greens tossed with organic carrots and celery, arame seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, and a fresh ginger-tamari vinaigrette flavoured with their homemade raspberry vinegar. I also decided to add handmade Vermont goat's cheese. When we placed our order, I was hesitant because I do not like fruit in a salad at all, not even in the dressing. Our waitress assured me that I wouldn't be able to taste the raspberry vinegar and guaranteed I would love the salad or she would remove it from my bill. She was right. If I go back again, I might forget about the flatbreads and gorge myself only on the "Evolution."
Our next stop was Ben and Jerry's because how can you visit the company's birth place and not indulge in expensive (but delicious!) ice cream? After sampling a couple of flavours, I decided on "Late Night Snack," vanilla bean ice cream with a salty caramel swirl and fudge covered potato chip clusters.
On Sunday morning, Cara took us to the nearby city Vergennes for brunch. We went to 3 Squares Café. As soon as I walked through the door, I knew I would love it. It was decorated simply but whimsically, and their products were homemade and local. I had a hard time deciding what to order because everything sounded amazing. In the end, I had an omelet with wild fiddleheads, Champlain Creamery triple cream, portobello mushrooms, and leeks. I left the café wishing I lived nearby so it could become a regular place to hangout.
The weather was gorgeous Sunday afternoon so we decided to hike Mt. Philo. It's not supposed to take very long because it's not a big mountain but we ended up taking a couple of detours (ahem, Cara :) It was a lot of fun though and the view was worth the extra time we spent getting to the top. We thought we might be able to spot Cara's house, as she lives just a short distance away. A friendly woman joined us on the way down and the four of us had a great conversation about education. We didn't learn her name but later that afternoon we decided 2 things: 1) She looked like a Michelle, and 2) We should have properly introduced ourselves.
One of my favourite parts of the trip was checking out all of the little shops. Cara bought a loaf of bread at Vergennes Laundry (delicious!) and the three of us bought penny candy at the Shelburne Country Store. We went to Frog Hollow, a gallery that exhibits local art, and I ended up buying a print by Dug Nap. Nap was actually at the gallery as part of an exhibit on the day we went and it was fun chatting with him and getting him to sign the print I bought. The three of us also did a lot of window shopping!
We spent our final afternoon exploring Church St. in Burlington and I was so happy with our decision to eat lunch at The Red Onion. Eating outside is one of my favourite things ever! And it helped that the sandwiches we ate were pretty darn good, too. Melissa and I shared the sandwiches we ordered so that we could try two different kinds. My favourite was their signature sandwich, "The Red Onion": Turkey, bacon, apples, onions, sun-dried tomato mayo, Vermont smoked maple cheddar, heated. Perfection between two slices of whole wheat.
Other highlights from the trip were the little things: Woodchuck's Summer Cider, honey balsamic vinaigrette, sunroofs, making wishes on dandelions, yogurt and fresh fruit, a super soft bed, a shower big enough to dance in, People magazines, freshly brewed coffee, dance parties on the porch, lots and lots of laughs.
Of course, the main highlight was the people. Being able to spend the whole weekend with my girls. Joe, Kathy, and Tom. We even Skyped Rose, Cara's sister.
On the way to and from, and the entire time we were in Vermont, I kept thinking, "Sometimes life is really, really good."