Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Scream, You Scream.....

Friday, August 21, 2009

The decision to stay at this campground all weekend meant I needed to plan ahead for how to spend the next couple of days. One of our must-sees was the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, about 30 minutes from Burlington. Because they don’t make ice cream on the weekends, we wanted to see it when the factory itself was open. So today we took a drive down the interstate to Waterbury, VT. The drive was very easy (our campground is only about 4 miles from the interstate) and it was certainly simple to find the B&J Factory. The weather looked pretty threatening as we parked in the special RV lot and walked through the multicolored entry. A tour was starting just as we got there, so we jumped right on it.

The tour started with a very cute “moo-vie” about how Ben and Jerry, “the two slowest kids in their junior high gym class”, became friends while “bringing up the rear” in all the activities. After hearing their famous story of splitting the cost of a correspondence course from Penn State about how to make ice cream and how they “passed the open book final with flying colors”, we learned about their first shop, their expansion from Vermont to national exposure (they drove across the country in an RV handing out free ice cream!), and finally their purchase by Lever Brothers. We also learned about their community support and outreach. As I said, the movie was very cute.

Then we went to the observation room and looked out over the factory area. Today’s flavors were Chunky Monkey and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and we watched as the pint containers rolled endlessly off the conveyor belt. I have to say, though, that there really wasn’t THAT much to see in the actual factory. But after the whole explanation as to how the ice cream was made and shipped, we did end up in the most important place—the tasting room! The tasting flavor of the day was mint chocolate chunk, and I was a good sport and ate Joey’s share . (There was plenty!) I took the opportunity to ask the guide why B&J don’t make a sugar free ice cream. She said that they do make a sugar-free chocolate chunk, but it is only available at scoop shops. Luckily, of course, there is a scoop shop right at the factory!

At that point the tour was over, and before I had even gotten through the tunnel leading to the gift shop, Joe was ahead of me and was already eating his ice cream. I was pretty stunned to see when I got out that the shop was PACKED with people—when we’d come in only about 30 minutes earlier, it had not seemed so crowded. It turned out, though, that part of the issue was the fact that it was teeming rain outside. So I took my time in the shop, perusing the B&J and general ice-cream-related offerings before stopping at the scoop shop myself (I had a wicked chocolate craving by that time, and after all, it WAS the place to eat ice cream!!) Soon the rain let up a bit, and we went back to the RV. By the time we got there, it pretty much stopped raining, so we were able to go up the hill and visit the “Flavor Graveyard”, the area where the sad flavors which didn’t make the permanent roster are memorialized. I took some photos of the gravestones, since they were so clever (much like the ice cream names themselves.) We also visited with a few genuine Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream cows who were grazing in the field next to the parking lot.

We left the ice cream factory, and headed down the road a mile to the Cabot Creamery Annex. Cabot makes a good cheddar, and Joe’s quest is to taste cheese throughout Vermont. So we visited there, and then went into the downtown area of Waterbury, where Green Mountain Coffee has a visitor’s center and a cafĂ© in the town’s very cute old train station. Just as we got there, the skies opened yet again. We sat outside drinking our coffee, but it didn’t look like the rain would stop. So Joe made a run for Mo, drove by me so I could jump in, and then we parked again on a side street next to a nice park and a pretty garden. We relaxed, made some lunch, and just enjoyed ourselves for about an hour or so before driving back to Shelburne. I do have to say that this kind of experience—just relaxing in Mo while the rain goes on outside, and us with no agenda and no place we need to be—is one of my absolute favorite RV experiences. However, we finally did get back on the road, and returned to the campground (after stopping for groceries) by about 4 pm. While Joe read, I spent several hours writing up the last two blog entries about the Shelburne Museum.

Just about when we were ready for dinner, we began to have a bit of a water problem…. That is to say, it had been raining again, and our roof started leaking. The source of the problem seems to be the seal around the air conditioner. Joe pulled out the entire unit and resealed it not long after we got Mo, but it’s been several years, and it appears that the seal has finally become compromised again. So the roof leaked right over the dinette. We were very NOT happy, but will have to work with it, since taking out the AC is a big job and not one to be doing on the road if there’s any choice. We ended up putting down towels on the table to absorb the dripping water, which finally stopped when the rain stopped.

I have some concern about the weather report for the next couple of days (more thunderstorms), but we’ll just have to deal with it, I guess. I did look at some other options for destinations, but it seems like the whole northeast is likely to have thunderstorms through the weekend. At this point, we are considering driving through New Hampshire (rather than exploring it) and going to Acadia National Park in Maine. It’s been exactly 30 years since we were last there. The only downside is the lack of hookups, and of course Internet. However the weather should be much cooler than it’s been this past week, and perhaps a fan at night is sufficient. I did hear from a fellow camper tonight that the mosquitoes there were horrific, though. I suppose we could camp at a private campground. But we do prefer to be IN a national or state park when we have the choice, and we’ve been wimping out with the private parks now since last Sunday when we left Woodstock. Time to toughen up again maybe?? No guts, no glory--and no fresh Maine lobster!

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