Tuesday, July 22, 2008


While Ken and Kim were here, we decided to take a trip to Burlington, Vermont to visit friends (Katie and Dave) and do some sightseeing. Well, ok. . .so it just happened to coincide with the Vermont Brewers Festival, but that was accidental! No planning involved! Well, maybe just a little planning on the guys' part.
But Kim and I stood our ground and made sure that if beer was going to be drunk in large quantities by the guys, we had rights too! So, just outside of Burlington, Vermont is Waterbury - Home of Ben and Jerry's! Guess where we stopped on our way there?

So, what's good at Ben and Jerry's? Well, Kim and I sampled a new flavor in honor of Elton John's first ever Vermont concert - Goodbye to Yellow Brickle Road (yum!), Tom had Coconut Seven Layer (he was in coconut heaven, but it melted really fast!), Melanie had Sweet Cream and Cookies, Kylie enjoyed a Strawberry Cheesecake milkshake and Ken had (ready for this??) Vanilla! It was fun taking the factory tour and seeing how the ice cream is made and visiting the flavor Graveyard where all the retired flavors are gone and buried, but the best part was the actual ice cream eating!

Next stop, Burlington and our hotel. I have to say it was the best hotel stay we have ever had because our room opened right up to the pool. At first they put us in a non -pool room, but because of some rowdy beer guzzling neighbors and the fact that our reservation said "pool side" I asked to be switched. I'm so glad I did because the girls had a blast and half the time had the pool to themselves. While having fun, they also worked on their swim skills. Kylie put her head ALL the way under for the first, second and third times and Melanie learned to be more confident with taking breaths while swimming without stopping to put her feet down and jumping into the deep end.

The view from our room

Our personal poolside porch

Dave and Katie did a great job finding us a babysitter so we could all enjoy the beer fest. Her name was Brianna and she is working on being a lifeguard - so perfect. She brought her suit and swam with the girls, got them ready for bed, turned on a movie and they were both asleep by 9:00. Amazing! And she cleaned our room - straightened our shoes, organized the movies and untangled the portable DVD player cords that I have been ignoring for months! I wonder if she travels to babysit????

I didn't take my camera to the beer fest, but here is how it works - you paid one flat fee and got a souvenier glass and 10 drink tickets. Then you go stand in line after line after line. You get one drink and get in the next line and drink it while you wait. By the time you get up to the front your last drink is gone. I tried many different kinds of brews, none of which I really remember the names of. Spuyten Devyl comes to mind (sour apple flavor), Pomegranate Ale was another one. Tom took a ton of pics, so you'll have to wait until his blog update for those. I left my camera behind. Luckily the drink glasses were small enough that 10 drinks really only felt like 2.

Sunday we went to breakfast with everyone; Ken, Kim, Dave, Katie and their two kids - Grace and JD. Here are some breakfast pics:

We said goodbye to our friends and then went on to do our own family activities. First up: The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. It was a fun, informative trip into how they make teddy bears and of course after the factory tour, we were let out into the gift shop where the girls were very eager to be able to take home their own genuine Vermont Teddy Bears. But at $49 each, we were strong and led them to the smaller $10 Bear-O-Gram versions of the Vermont Teddy Bears and left with a few dollars.

After the Teddy Bear factory, it started raining, so we took a break and headed back to the hotel for some pool time and naptime (Tom). Once we were refreshed we walked through the rain to the ECHO Aquarium and Science Center that sits right on Lake Champlain. We had fun digging for Beluga Whale bones, learning about the formation of Lake Champlain and the surrounding mountains, seeing a variety of marine animals, making a weather report, learning about Champ, the Lake's mythical creature similar to the Loch Ness Monster and making a music video (may appear on Tom's blog).

Then it was off to dinner at the Vermont Pub and Brewery. Unfortunately this was our least favorite dining experience of the weekend. Melanie was freezing cold after being in the rain and then the air conditioner, so she shivered throughout the meal and our sweet potato fries were cold. Oh well, it can't all be great. Another swim Sunday night, then to bed for us. It was a long day!

Monday we woke up early, had ANOTHER swim and then packed up to leave. Before we left Burlington we enjoyed breakfast at a cute little diner and then browsed up and down Church Street.

I had to take a picture of the table and chairs at the diner because I think we had this same set when I was a kid - maybe in a different color, right Mom?

Church Street

The Red Sqare - a place us grown ups went after the Beer Fest

After leaving Burlington we headed to Shelburne Farms. What had been a pretty nice day turned into another rain shower, but not to be deterred, we went to the farm anyway and toured the facilities. It would have been better had it not been raining because there are miles and miles of walking trails around the farm's beautiful landscape. The kids enjoyed the indoor stuff, though too. They got to pet some cows, goats, sheep and chickens, play in the farm kids' area and witness cheese making.

All in all, it was a pretty low budget (for as much as we did) and educational trip. The kids learned how to make ice cream, teddy bears and cheese (and almost Magic Hat beer, but we ran out of time for that tour).

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