Tag Archives: travel

Getting my geek on.

 

Day 5 of vacation dawned and it was screaming museum.

(Okay, maybe only I heard that. But I’ve found it pays to listen to the voices in my head.)

 

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Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium…  a bizarre place.

 

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It was built in 1891 to house a wealthy man’s cabinet of curiosities which had quickly overtaken his house. It was a big house, but hey… he had 175,000 curiosities. Things can get cluttered quickly.

 

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The building itself was a marvel of stone, turrets and arches.

 

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And the first floor was dedicated to specimens.

 

 

No.

Not that kind of specimen.

 

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This kind.

The natural world kind…

 

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(A little bear butt for your viewing pleasure.)

 

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Apparently filthy rich Victorians liked to the travel the world, kill what they saw, then bring it home and stuff it.

 

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And old Fairbanks must have been a taxidermist’s dream.

That’s not to say things didn’t go wrong at times.

 

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And sometimes, horribly wrong.

 

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I’m pretty sure that cat wasn’t grinning during his last seconds on earth.

 

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To say this man was bird obsessed is an understatement.

 

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And while I enjoy a good Black Headed Goatsucker ….

 

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And Common Hoopoe as much as the next girl….

 

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The seemingly endless glass cases filled with dead fine feathered friends began to wear on me.

 

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The Noisy Pitta wasn’t noisy…

 

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And the Jungle Babbler certainly wasn’t babbling.

 

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But I did manage to find some bugs before the scheduled planetarium show.

 

 

And what wonderful bugs they were.

 

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You’re welcome.

 

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A snow day.

 

We had plans for our fourth vacation day, but Mother Nature said….

 

 

We woke to non stop snow.

 

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It didn’t look too bad at 5:00am.

Yes, 5:00am. Insomnia doesn’t care if you’re on vacation, it still says

 

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By 7:00am it was starting to pile up.

 

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And I crunched out on the deck in my pj’s and boots.

 

 

 

The husband was still asleep with his cure for light breaking through the bedroom curtains firmly attached.

 

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Yes, that’s a fork.

 

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Determined not to let snow defeat me, I showered and got ready for the day. Which in that funky bathroom with the whirlpool tub and tv… meant squeezing into the tiny little stall and watching myself bathe.

 

 

Exactly.

I didn’t want to… trust me on this.

But the way the room was laid out,  it was hard not to.

 

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See?

And yes. Those are polar bears on my jammies.

Don’t judge.

 

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By the time we ventured out, the roads were sheer ice.

 

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And the husband was less than pleased to scrape it off the windshield every 500 feet.

Please note the temperature is 15 degrees.

 

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At first it looked as though the sun would come out…

 

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And it made for some interesting through the dirty windshield pictures.

 

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But the wind was starting to howl, the roads were getting treacherous…

 

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And it was getting darker by the minute.

So we did what any snow tormented vacationer would do….

 

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We got pizza, (at Positive Pie, because who wants a negative one?) went back to the resort, lit a fire (in the fireplace, we’re not heathens) and snuggled.

 

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(Well, it would have been. We did go back to the resort and light a fire, except the husband snuggled with the tv remote instead of me and watched John Wayne movies all day. But hey, at least he wasn’t naked in the whirlpool tub.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flavor graveyard….

 

Because I told you Ben and Jerry’s was a funky place.

 

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When the factory tour was complete, we were told not to miss the graveyard.

 

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And never wanting to miss a graveyard, up the hill we went.

 

 

I thought it would be a joke, but no.

 

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There were actual granite headstones.

 

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One for each of the flavors that didn’t quite catch on.

 

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I was sad to see Maine had been laid to rest…

 

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But couldn’t fault killing this one off.

 

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Most of them I hadn’t even heard of..

 

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Which in this case…

 

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Was a good thing.

 

 

 

 

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And so as the sun set on the ice cream cemetery…

 

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We left Ben and Jerry…

 

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And their giant vats of creamy and sugary goodness behind.

 

 

 

 

 

I scream, you scream…..

 

 

 

Calm down. No one’s going Postal….

But we are going to Ben and Jerry’s for ice cream!

 

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Nestled on a hillside in Waterbury, Vermont….. it’s the must stop tourist attraction that we’ve managed to avoid for years.

 

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You enter through a forest of metal trees.

 

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Follow the signs…

 

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And find yourself in a cow filled world.

 

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They’re on tee shirts in the gift store…

 

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On the vintage Ben and Jerry’s bus…

 

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Basically, everywhere you look.

 

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Cow-Posts

 

I could, but how about a blurry shot of that rare genetic mutation… the clucking cow?

 

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Having a few minutes to kill before the tour, the husband found an exhibit of antique ice cream scoops.

 

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Some of which were kind of interesting.

 

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Our tour guide was young and enthusiastic….

 

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But you would be too if you took home 3 free pints of ice cream every day.

We were herded into a cow filled room (herded, get it?) and shown a cow filled film about the company’s origin.

 

 

When the tour commenced, I was told absolutely no pictures…

And a little part of me died.

 

 

We were given free samples, which I couldn’t photograph.

 

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I know, but I did manage to bootleg this shot of their secret new flavor..

 

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The tour included a history of the company’s charitable works and environmental programs…

 

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Because you see, they were basically hippies who made good and had a strong commitment to social justice. If you’re interested, read this.

I admit to being disappointed that the company is no longer is privately owned, and was sold to Unilever (who make Breyers and Good Humor) for $326 million back in 2000.  Ben and Jerry are still on the board of directors however,  with 7.5% of profits going to the charitable foundation.

The tour ended with the wall of fame….

 

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And the top ten flavors.

Mine came in #2..

 

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Ooh la la! Best meal in Vermont….

 

 

We had to drive to Montpelier to get it, but this little unassuming place was worth the wait.

 

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It was funky inside..

 

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With fabulous lighting and quirky decorative touches.

 

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Red leather, white marble and deep circular booths, smooth jazz playing in the background…

 

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It had that laid back, 1950’s Rat Pack vibe.

 

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I loved it at first sight.

 

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The cocktail list was delivered on a leather bound iPad, and while it was full of maple goodness…. I opted for the fresh raspberry mule.

 

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The menu was endless…

 

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With a whole page devoted to salads. The husband ordered the Vermonter.

 

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And then the French Onion Soup…

 

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And finally the Vermont chicken with roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower.

 

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Me?

I’m a burger girl, and when I find a good one I will happily crow.

 

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Oh yes….

 

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I’m surprised you couldn’t hear me squeal from there.

Let’s deconstruct this tower of mouth watering goodness shall we?

Buttered and toasted Brioche bun, bacon blue cheese slaw, perfectly cooked rare ground sirloin glazed with a sweet and spicy sauce, topped with fried onion strings and a cherry tomato.

 

 

(We won’t mention the mountain of garlic parmesan truffle french fries I shamefully inhaled. Seriously don’t…. It wasn’t my finest hour.)

And if that gargantuan plate wasn’t enough, I had to try the highly recommended strawberry cake.

I had to…. really.

 

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Yes, it was as divine as it looks….

And I swear if I lived anywhere near this restaurant, I would happily pitch a tent out back and scrounge their dumpster. It was that good!

 

 

Clearly, I would be better dressed…

But you get the idea.

They’re dying to get in….

 

Stop number two on day 3 was Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont.

 

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Yes… I said cemetery.

But not just any cemetery… au contraire mon ami. This final resting place is in Barre, Vermont… the granite capitol of the United States.

 

“Established in 1895, Hope Cemetery consisted of 53 acres designed and planned by the renowned landscape architect Edward P. Adams. By that time, stone cutters from all over the world, especially Italy, were flocking to Barre, Vermont, to enjoy the booming granite industry in the city. It is estimated than one out of every three memorials found across the United States was made using granite mined in Barre.”

“Barre is also known for having an uncommonly high death rate, but that, too, is related to the industry that made it famous. Silicosis, a respiratory disease that is caused by inhaling granite dust, led to an abnormal number of deaths in the area. When the Spanish Flu swept through the area, many knew that death could be just around the corner and got to work designing their own tombstones. This tradition has carried on ever since and about 75 percent of all of the tombstones found in Hope Cemetery were carved by the occupants of the graves they sit above.”

 

So we strolled among the dearly departed.

 

 

 

Have we met?

The weird thing is… it really isn’t.

 

 

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We walked and we marveled…

 

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And knew right away this wasn’t your ordinary cemetery.

 

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And while it felt disrespectful to chortle in a graveyard…

 

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Sometimes you just had to.

Instructions. What’s to learn…?

Die. Get planted. Take the eternal dirt nap.

Easy peasy.

 

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Some of the carvings were lovely.

 

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Some were serene.

 

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Some were intricately wrought.

 

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Some a little narcissistic.

 

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Some were odd.

 

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Some downright strange.

 

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Cat lovers wanted everlasting furballs hawked on them…

 

 

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And soccer players wanted giant balls.

(I can’t prove that, but I know it’s true.)

 

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This was a testimony to love everlasting.

 

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And this a heartfelt sentiment about mothers.

 

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This chicka is famously known as the Bored Angel… seeming to say, “Come on, die already. Get it over with.”

 

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There were hands clutching posies…

 

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And massive monograms.

 

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There were ducks…

 

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And a fair share of art deco.

Here’s a door for my Thursday Door people.

 

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But the one that really got me?

 

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The chair.

Really… wth?

 

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Chairs are made to be sat upon.

Did this dearly departed’s family members really think, “Hey kids… want to plant your tuchis on Uncle Shmuel for generations to come?”

The husband dared me to sit on it and have my picture taken. And don’t think I didn’t imagine some interesting selfies….

 

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But walking around a cemetery, gawking and taking blog pictures seemed blasphemous enough.

A girl doesn’t want to push her luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So…. cheese.

 

Never let it be said we don’t know how to have fun on vacation.

November is an odd month in Vermont. Since it’s after leaf peeping season, but before ski season… many places close down for a we’re sick of the stupid tourists month long winter siesta. This leaves explorers like us with limited opportunities, hence cheese on day 3.

Cabot, Vermont is home to Cabot cheese…. and they take it very seriously.

 

 

It’s cheese, how can you not?

 

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A tour of the creamery and free sampling is a must, so off we went.

 

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Only to arrive and be told they no longer give creamery tours because the government shut the program down due to food contamination concerns.

At first I was bereft….

No cheese?

 

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Then I was mad.

 

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No cheese at the cheese factory?

 

 

The salesgirl must have seen my  “I have PMS and a handgun, any questions?”  face because she immediately directed us to the tasting station.

 

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Slightly mollified, I got my cheese on.

 

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I made my way around the table, but still must have looked  homicidal  dissatisfied, because the salesgirl made a special tasting plate for us with the expensive limited reserve cheese and pairing jams.

 

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I must have smiled…. she retreated behind the counter.

 

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This was as close as we got to the creamery.

 

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But there were cow facts.

And a gift shop full of tasty treats.

 

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We bought the elderberry.

I believe I heard the salesgirl exhale loudly in relief when we left. Clearly she realized how close she had to come to death…..

Do not come between me and my cheese.

 

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