Saturday went pretty much as outlined in the itinerary with a few great surprises along the way.
First, the drive up the New York State throughway is so much more pleasant than the drive through Westchester, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Once you hit the top of the Garden State parkway, this way, you’re in beautiful scenery. The other way, you’re constantly dealing with suburban sprawl, cities and congestion. The only down side, we got off the thruway around Lake George so there was some minor (very) traffic there – though we can see how it will be worse next Sunday (end of weekend). Also, once we got off at Lake George, we were for the most part on winding, country roads which I and Chris’s car, enjoy.
As planned, we stopped at the Long Trail Brewery for lunch. There’s a small “store” when you walk in (really a counter with merchandise behind it), a large bar/restaurant and the best part a patio outside where we sat to enjoy lunch along a river. Of course we started with beer. Chris went for the Belgian White, while I let him convince me (yeah, twist my arm) to have the sampler. Four ounces each of their six beers – five regulars and one seasonal, arranged from lightest to heaviest. I had their Blackbeary wheat, the Belgian White, the Hefeweizen, the regular ale, the Double Bagger (still my favorite) and the double IPA. Don’t worry I didn’t drink all of them, but definitely did taste them. Chris enjoyed bratwurst for lunch and I enjoyed their chili.
After lunch, we did some “shopping” at the store, getting two pint glasses, two t-shirts, and two six packs for the house (the Belgian White and Doulbe IPA – both good summer brews) and our passports stamped. It was a nice way to break up the drive.
We hit the road again, and approached an area where there seemed to be people pulled off the road, and lots of people milling about. Chris slowed down as he thought there might be something cool to look at, and he was right, it was the Queechee Gorge. We pulled into the visitor center (where I used the restroom – third stop of the day), and walked back along the road to check out this incredible piece of Mother Nature’s handy work. Chris has some photos, hopefully I can snag them later to post but here’s one from my cell phone.
Back in the car, and on to King Arthur! Unfortunately, my directions were a bit off and we didn’t realize it until we were on Route 5 but apparently, when I put Route 5 South into Google, it game me directions to 5 South Street (which is actually a road off Route 5). Once we figured out what happened (as we ended up in a residential neighborhood), we got back on Route 5 drove another five minutes and found …. Mecca!
Well, actually, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, the store is fun to walk around but I’ve been in larger Williams and Sonomas plus, the bakery is a bit small (really just a counter within the store). Chris got the distinct impression that we were there late in the day for the baker, and he’s probably right. Still, it didn’t stop me from buying some of their whole grain muffin and scone mixes (each serving only three points), and a almond, lemony cookie from the bakery to go along with my double espresso (needed to counter act the beer).
We hit the road again, returning briefly to the highway to get to Barre, and the Stonecutter’s Brewpub. Still full from lunch, we didn’t try any of their menu options but of course did order a pint each, I got their firehouse ale and can’t remember which one Chris got. Both were good, (and cheap!) as they run a special on Saturday afternoons, a pint for $2!!
Back in the car, for the last time, as we drove the 40 minutes to Stowe!
Everything was familiar this time and we drove right to our house and the key was under the mat as planned. We unpacked, got situated, and guess what we did next? Yep, headed out for more beer! Since I was still missing my Shed stamp from last summer, we headed up their and enjoyed a beer on their porch with an order of nachos that were great but we forced ourselves not to finish. The beer was okay though, not as good as either of us remembered from last year. Later, I had read somewhere on the Internet that their brew master left last fall, so maybe that was the problem.
After enjoying our time in the sun, we headed back to the house for a nap before the next meal. Man, all we were doing was eating and drinking! To help Chris out, since he had been driving on and off for 10 hours and to give me a chance to walk off at least one beer, we decided to walk to the restaurant, Mr. Pickwick’s, 1.75 miles from our home.
Now, normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal – not something we’d normally do – but not out of reach either. Except this time, we were going one mile down hill, a quarter mile relatively flat, and a half mile up hill. Good plan (except when we had to walk home at 11:00pm!!).
We arrived at Mr. Pickwick’s a few minutes late, but no problems. We couldn’t decide whether or not to sit outside, but hoping for some a/c indoors, we opted not too. As it turned out later, this was a good choice because many people from outside moved in, due to the bugs.
We ordered our drinks and waited. We waited some more. And then, we waited some more. Finally, Chris flagged the hostess down and asked where our drinks were. We don’t mind not being rushed but hell, at least give us our booze first. Finally, the waitress returned, apologized and explained the bar was backed up. A few more minutes passed and she returned with Chris’s beer and my glass of champagne (I was beered out at this point).
Chris went with his standard starter of French onion soup followed by their signature Beef Wellington, which I have to say, right now, is probably the best Beef Wellington either of us ever had, better than mine, and probably worth the wait. I couldn’t face anything heavy, so started with a bowl of gazpacho (which reminds me I need to start making this soon), and a Nicoise salad, but the entrée portion, not the appetizer portion. Both were good, and my tuna on my salad was seared perfectly (cooked on the outside but raw in the middle; it was a good cut of tuna too, so no worries).
For dessert, we split a spotted dick (their version of treacle dick) which was as good as we both remembered from last summer. Completely stuffed, we headed out and had our first encounter with some Vermont wildlife. Now last year, after doing a few hikes and bike rides, my one comment was always, “Do they really have animals here?” We never saw anything, not even a squirrel (forget the elusive moose and bear). But there, plain as day, on the front porch of the restaurant sat a skunk!! We waited a few minutes for him to mosey on off before we left, needless to say.
Now as I already mentioned, while that 1.75 mile walk seemed like a good idea going to dinner, it felt pretty lousy as we embarked on the last mile, straight up hill, on a pitch black road. Luckily we had the forethought to bring a flashlight with us, but man, it seemed treacherous (and I hadn’t even considered the possibility of running into said moose or bear). The only bright spot of the walk was when Chris started stripping off his shirt as he walked next to me because he was sweating so much – yum.
Obviously, we made it home alive, after dodging cars the entire way (why was that country road so busy?) and after cooling off, climbed into our comfy bed.