Vermont Bliss

What a weekend in Vermont. Technically, it was a long weekend, and Livingston Style,  it was jam-packed with excitement. The main event was Saturday’s USAT Age Group National Championship in Burlington, but when stacked against all of the other highlights, it just blends in. We hit so many of our favorite spots, towns, and roads, that it will be hard to cover all of it.

On the drive up, we visited the Guilford Welcome Center just north of Brattleboro on Interstate 91. I love that building.

We had lunch at the Putney Co-Op where we are members.

Other than a quick pit stop for gas, we didn’t stop again until we reached Burlington. Our time in the city was brief, but action packed. We hit a South Burlington playground with our kids. I did the race. We stayed with our friends, the Padgett’s. After the race, we toured the Amtrak 40th Anniversary train and exhibit, which was right next to the finish of the triathlon. This was a fascinating look at American rail travel.

Then, we walked through the city center and visited the Farmers’ Market. We had lunch at American Flatbread. The Canton, Connecticut Flatbread is a sponsor of the Horst Engineering Cycling Team, so it is good to visit the other locations and return the support.

We left Burlington and drove through Shelburne, where we toured the world-famous Vermont Teddy Bear Company. What a business. It seems far less complicated than manufacturing aerospace products. We enjoyed the factory tour and all of the cute little aspects of their customer oriented culture. Our kids each built their own bear, which was the correct tourist thing to do.

We hit the road again and drove south on Rt. 7 to the quaint town of Middlebury. We went through Middlebury Gap on our 2006 Long Trail hike, but I hadn’t been in Middlebury proper for years. They have a great co-op and some really neat shops on the main street where the Otter Creek cuts through town. We had dinner at a new restaurant called Jackson’s on the River. It is only a year old, but according to the proprietor, a restaurant has been at that location for 40 years. Eating on the deck with perfect Saturday evening weather was a fine experience.

Our final destination for the day was Branbury State Park in Salisbury. Located right on picturesque Lake Dunmore, Branbury is a true gem. I hadn’t been in Lake Dunmore since the 1990’s when I frequented Vermont bicycle races, including the Killington Stage Race, Mad River Road Race, and Burlington Criterium. I miss all of those events. My aunt and uncle had a beautiful family camp on Lake Dunmore. I visited them several times as a kid and again during my road cycling years. We really enjoyed our stay at the park. We camped in an open field after calling ahead for site. We were fortunate to get a spot. We swam with the kids and then went to bed.

On Sunday morning, we took a three-hour hike through the park in to the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, which is part of the Green Mountain National Forest. We visited the Falls of Lana and then did a loop hike on the Aunt Jenny and Rattlesnake Cliff trails. We enjoyed some great views and our kids did a fair amount of walking. When they were tired, we put them on our backs. I had the heavier five-year old load while Debbie got the little one. After the hike, we cooled off in Lake Dunmore, and got the party bus rolling south again.

We drove through Brandon, one of my favorite towns, and then stopped for lunch in Rutland at another new restaurant, Roots-the Restaurant. They had all kinds of fresh local vegetable dishes to choose from. Both Jackson’s and Roots were vegetarian/vegan friendly. The Rutland Criterium is one of my all time favorite bicycle races. I did it many times and had some great results on the technical course. After lunch, it was time to head home. We hit some massive thunderstorms on Rt. 100 and Rt. 103 as we went through Rutland and Ludlow. The downpours were torrential in spots and the chain lightning was impressive. Both of our kids slept for two hours. The roads were wet all the way until the Massachusetts border.

Overall, we had a fantastic trip. It was great to spend a few days in the Green Mountain State.

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