Journey’s A-Mazing Birthday in Vermont

A corn maze that you could actually get lost in always seemed like a fun thing to do. I have been in several corn mazes, but never one that was challenging and definitely not one I could get lost in. They are usually pretty small and only take a few minutes to get through. Our daughter Journey had a birthday coming and we wanted to do something different that would be fun for the whole family. When we found out that Vermont was home to New England’s largest corn maze, The Great Vermont Corn Maze, we decided it would be a great place to spend her birthday.

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How Much Will it Cost?

How much will it cost? This might be the question most asked by anyone thinking of living full time in a RV. We did a ton of research before we made the transition from stationary living to full time traveling and finding an answer to this question was elusive. It’s something everyone wants to know, but no one can answer. After making the transition I have a better understanding of why this is.

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Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour

We had never eaten Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream before, but the original factory was near where we were staying in Vermont. Since we love ice cream and it was really close by, the decision to visit Ben &Jerry’s ice cream factory was easy. This place was more touristy than places we usually choose to visit and we knew that going in. The hope was that we could learn something about how their business is run and how ice cream is made commercially. Although the tour was short and the factory floor was between flavors so only the cleaning crew was working, we still learned lots during our tour.

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The Smallest Capital in America

Montpelier Vermont may be the smallest capital city in the US, but it is a great place to visit. The Vermont State House is made from granite quarried in the state because they really like to keep things local. Walking up to the building you will notice how well they keep the grounds. It is very pretty with a beautiful display of flowers leading up to the front steps. It made for some great pictures. Our tour guide did a great job of showing us the building and giving us some interesting facts. At the start of the tour she informed us that they will soon be redoing the gold dome and she brought out a “bar of gold” that would be equal in weight to what they put on the dome. The kids were thrilled to hold a “bar of gold.”

Like most of the capitols we have toured, this one had a fire in it’s early days making them extra cautious when rebuilding, most of it is made of stone or metal. In the house chamber our tour guide demonstrated the acoustics of the building by having one of us stand on one side of the gallery and another on the other side, when we whispered we could hear each other perfectly! We always enjoy when we learn something from the tour that we wouldn’t have learned otherwise. In the Vermont state house we toured a room that has been used for many purposes, but was restored to its historical accuracy in the 2000’s. It had stained glass pictures in the ceiling which were missing when the current ceiling had been removed. They ended up finding the missing glass in the attic, but it had been broken into lots pieces. It took a couple of years before it was finally restored and put back into it’s rightful  place. The workers did such a good job of figuring out how the pieces went that it was hard to even tell that it had been broken! The Vermont state house is a beautiful building and definitely worth stopping in. After our tour we headed over to Hubbard park to have a picnic lunch. It is a very large park with lots of hiking and bike trails, we enjoyed watching the birds while we ate. We really liked the small town feel of Montpelier and that they are so supportive of small businesses. You can check out more of our Vermont experiences on YOU TUBE or by reading the following articles.

 

Rock of Ages

http://statebystatenet.ipage.com/rock-of-ages/

Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks

http://statebystatenet.ipage.com/morse-farm-maple-sugarworks/

Here are more pictures and the link to the capitol:

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/centralvermont/cv20.htm

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and Hubbard Park

http://www.montpelier-vt.org/238/Hubbard-Park

 

 

 

 

 

Rock of Ages

Rocks. This family is a big fan of rocks. The kids collect them, we all are fascinated by their different formations, and of course climbing on them is fun too! So when we got to Vermont and heard they had this place called Rock of Ages we just had to go check it out. When we pulled into the parking lot we noticed a big yellow metal rider box. This is what they use to lift workers out of the granite quarry and they had one here that we could get into. Rock of Ages makes many things out of granite including some famous monuments. One of these famous monuments is the WWII memorial in Washington DC, this was pretty cool for us because we have recently visited the monument.

The granite quarry Rock of Ages gets it’s material from is one of the largest in the world. They had a really great visitors center where we were able to watch a video about how they get the blocks from the quarry and then turn them into beautiful works of art. We read the time line of the history of the company and then checked out some of their works as well. Just outside the visitors center and across the parking lot was the real reason to visit this place. In the 1950’s they were experimenting with making bowling lanes out of granite because it is very durable and weather resistant. If you have been to a bowling alley since the 1950’s you have probably noticed that the lanes are not made of granite. The reason for this is that the granite is too hard and overtime will break the bowling balls. However they still have one of the prototypes from that experiment available to anyone that visits to try out. The only difference is that you will be bowling with a rubber bowling ball and let me tell you it is very different. We tried it many times, it was a blast.

After several rounds of bowling we wandered into the factory for a free self guided tour. Unfortunately everyone had just gone to lunch so there wasn’t any work being done but we got to see the factory floor and some works in progress which gave us a pretty good idea of the process for completing their works. Before we left we stopped by the free sample bin to pick out small piece of granite to take with us. It was a very cool and interesting place and worth stopping in if you are ever in the area.

 

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Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks

Vermont is known for maple syrup, so what better way to start our time in Vermont than with a tour of a maple syrup farm? Maple season is actually in the spring so they were not making the syrup while we were there, but we stilled learned about the process. Maple syrup isn’t something I ever really thought much about, I just knew it was way more expensive than other syrups in the grocery stores. After visiting a real maple syrup farm, the      Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, I have a much better understanding about making maple syrup. It takes forty gallons of tree sap to make a single gallon of maple syrup! The farmers need to charge more for their organic products and after tasting real maple sugar I don’t know if we will ever go back to the cheap imitation syrups. We really enjoyed exploring the farm. The kids loved hiking through the trees where we got to see the tubing hooked up that drains the sap. I especially enjoyed all the wood carvings that were scattered around the farm. It was an educational day spent learning about a farming tradition that goes back eight generations on the Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. After sampling maple syrup and other yummy goodies we decided to get the kids creemees and a maple milk shake for the adults. It seems like a tradition for many of the locals because we kept seeing people stop in to get one for themselves. We enjoyed ours outside while we lounged in the beautiful fall weather, it was delicious. The fall foliage made a quaint backdrop and added to our experience as much as the great tasting treats. Near the swings the farm has a large model of the capitol building that was built for parades. It was nice to see another work of art, especially a capitol building since we are visiting them all. Afterwards we let the kids play on the swings for a spell, then we walked over to visit the goats. The kids had a blast petting and saying hello to these friendly mammals. It was a perfect finish to our afternoon spent touring The Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks where we all learned somethings about life on a maple sugar farm.

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Beautiful Places

If you visit Maine there are two places that you will definitely not want to miss. We had already planned on staying in both of them, but especially after being told by many of the locals that they are the must see places in the state we really had to see for ourselves. These two places are Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park. Both of them were beautiful and we are so glad we had the opportunity to experience them. Not only were the places themselves beautiful, but we found some great campgrounds to stay in and made some new friends too. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to visit Maine, it is such a beautiful and natural place.

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Exploring Maine: Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park has a lot to offer and we enjoyed exploring it! Visiting Jordan Pond, Hiking Precipice Trail, and visiting the beach were fun, but the real challenge was taking the kids to the top of Mount Champlain. Watch us climb Bar Island, go on a scavenger hunt at the Wild Gardens, and then climb Mount Champlain in this three level adventure. Can we make it? Was Journey actually dangling from the cliff? Watch the video and find out.

The Maine Event

We finally made it to Maine! Our travels have been taking us up the East coast since spring and we have reached the northeastern most state at last. The New England states are beautiful and having this opportunity to see them is amazing. The people in the state have been so friendly. Our neighbors were so generous, they gave us a large amount of firewood and offered us free use of their kayaks. We were not able to take advantage of the kayaks due to my wrist still being injured, but the free wood sure kept us warm. Our first stay in Maine was near Augusta because of course we had to go tour the capitol building. We found a nice place to stay right on a lake. The Augusta West Kampground had a small beach where the kids loved catching some craw-fish. They also enjoyed participating in the Saturday night sing along! Maine is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors.

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