Day 02 of the trip, a Sunday, was to be a “roam around Vermont” day (photo 1-2). We wanted to see a large lookout, go to Montpelier, and maybe see some waterfalls and/or covered bridges down towards the middle of the state. We managed to do all of the things we wanted, but not quite the way we expected.
We had breakfast at the hotel (one of the few perks, although they also had a pool), and headed off to Mount Mansfield for the Gondola SkyRide. It is the tallest mountain in Vermont and of course a major ski hill in the winter, with a summer gondola ride for lookout views of other mountains and valleys. It had amazing views, we saw lots of mountains in the distance, with great weather for our visit. There was an option to walk up or down, but we’re not crazy — it’s 3600 feet, although that isn’t including the full summit up behind the chalet. We bought a t-shirt for Jacob as a souvenir and took lots of photos (photos 3-60).
For our next jaunt of the day, we headed for Montpelier. We had been thinking that in every state, we would visit the state capitol building, look around a bit and move on. But Montpelier had an added reason to visit. They had been experiencing huge flooding issues in previous weeks, but they were supposedly into full recovery mode and we thought we could throw some tourism dollars their way, give them some business, even if only mild. News of their recovery efforts were greatly exaggerated. Montpelier is the smallest of state capitals by population, and the downtown area is about 4-5 blocks long plus 2-3 for the government buildings. All of it was closed off, with almost no easy access to any of it, and almost all of the businesses with huge piles of debris stacked outside of their doors. Note that to get to the area, the river had to rise a good 8-10 feet to flood it. All of the businesses were still closed, so we ended up stopping at a gas station across the river, and ate at a Dominos for lunch. The State House itself was impressive (photos 61-68), and there were lots of huge old houses above them on the hill.
We reversed course from Montpelier on the big highway, past the turn for Stowe, and on to Waitsfield which has a covered bridge (photos 69-84, with one video of the river, showing how clear it was which was NOT the case for much of the river elsewhere in the state). It is the oldest covered bridge still in use, and the second oldest in the state. It goes over Mud River, with people floating down on tubes, swimming, jumping off the edge. We enjoyed creemees (soft ice cream) in an old barbershop building that was destroyed by water levels from Hurricane Irene — up the bank, over the ground, and up another 8 feet. Almost to the level of the bridge itself, if not over. Yet no apparent damage from the recent flooding.
We then headed towards Moss Glen Falls. There are two falls in Vermont with that name, one down by Granville (where we were headed) and one near Stowe that we would visit on Day 03. We took a lot of back roads down to Granville, and our GPS took us WAY out of our way at one point instead of doing a simple turn-around back to the highway. We drove by it on the way down and there was almost no signage, so we had missed it. After our loop through a backwoods area on rugged dirt roads, we got back on the highway and found it relatively easily. Just really a pull-off area on the road, followed by a small boardwalk to the falls. I confess, I wasn’t expecting much given the lack of signage and infrastructure, even though it was on the list of the best 15 falls in Vermont. But I was too pessimistic — it was very peaceful, with a wide waterfall and definitely worth the stop (photos 85-102).
We could have just taken the same route back to Stowe, but that seemed uneventful, so we decided on an alternate route to the West. It was nice, and went over a steep mountain that I would ABSOLUTELY NOT want to do in the winter, with switchbacks and steep grades with turns at the bottom. Reminded me a bit of some of the roads in Cape Breton, actually. Overall, it was a long relatively boring drive back. We stopped for one fall and lookout, but the rain started and we mostly just drove up to Richmond. Only to find out that you can’t get ON the highway to Stowe at Richmond but have to go really far West to get on again. I’m sure there was probably another road to the East that would have done the same thing, but well, you rely on Google Maps to your detriment (photos 103-107).
We stopped at a grocery store outside Stowe on the way back, near the main highway, and then back to the hotel. Andrea and Jacob went for a swim while I had a nap.
And then it was time for dinner. One of the things that Stowe is known for is the that the real family from the Sound of Music, the von Trapps, settled in Stowe after the war and opened a hotel and restaurant. It has grown over the years, and while we thought of staying at the hotel, it was a bit more expensive than we wanted to pay. So we settled for dinner at their beerhouse. Really good Austrian food, with a laid back atmosphere. Afterwards, we drove by the hotel just to see it, and could see just how much property they own! In the winter, they push cross-country skiing too, and some of that is just on their own property. The beerhall is shown at photos 108-111.
Oh, and for stats — about 230km driven, 276 photos taken curated down to 111 (including 1 video).