October 23, 2001

As mentioned earlier, Rachel and I spent three days and two nights roaming around Vermont.

We had timed our visit to coincide with the annual Everett Soiree at Southern Vermont College in Bennington. We had first come across the Everett Soiree last year, during a similar trip to Vermont. The ride up to Vermont hadn't gone that well, I was bored and cranky, and we were checking the local handout papers for something to do that evening. We saw a description of the soiree, and for want of anything better to do we went to check it out. It turned out to be a terrific and unique party held in a great old mansions in the hills of Southern Vermont, and we had an absolute blast.

For whatever reason, this year I didn't have as good a time as I did last year. We ended up getting there a bit late, I was worn out from waking up early and the long drive, and some of the surprise element was obviously gone. I did have fun, though, and enjoyed closing out the evening by dancing with Rachel. The fireworks against the clear, starry sky were also spectacular.

Some other highlights from the trip:

The traditional Sunday brunch was had at the wonderful Blue Benn Diner, a Rachel tradition for years. We enjoyed pumpkin pecan pancakes, cornbread french toast, turkey hash, and some nice cups of coffee.

A nice little surprise stop for me was the Norman Rockwell Exhibit in Arlington. While driving around the area, Rachel and I took a little detour over a covered bridge in order to stop by a yard sale. There was nothing much at the sale, but it turns out that a large, white house near the covered bridge was Rockwell's home from 1939-1953 (the bridge and the house can both be seen on the linked-to site). The Exhibit is located in an old church, and is devoted to Rockwell's years in Arlington. Rockwell used local residents and locations as models in hundreds of his paintings, and the Exhibit focuses on the history and memories of those models.

The Exhibit hosts are all former Rockwel models, and I spoke for a few minutes with Paul W. Adams, who was nine when he posed for Rockwell's "Do Unto Others" painting in 1961 (Paul is the African boy in the middle of the painting; his sister is at the lower-left of the painting. Paul didn't live in Arlington, but his mother was friends with Grandma Moses, who was friends with Rockwell. Rockwell was looking for a variety of model subjects for his multicultural work, and was connected with the Adamses. I bought a reproduction of the painting and had Paul sign it.

Unfortunately the Everett Soiree came a bit late in the foliage season, so we didn't get to see too much in the way of spectacular colors, though the mountain views were often amazing. We headed up towards Killington, which was right in the middle of its slow season, between the busy fall foliage and winter ski seasons. That was probably a good thing for us, as we were able to find comfortable, affordable lodging at the Inn at Long Trail. The Inn seems like it would be a great place to spend a few days all by itself, with an Irish pub, restaurant, a huge den with great wooden furniture. Rachel and I stayed in a suite with a fireplace, a first for both of us.

We splurged on dinner that night at Hemingway's Restaurant, a nationally recognized restaurant (named one of the Top 25 in America by Food & Wine in 1992; one of the Top 50 by Conde Nast Traveler) located a few miles down the road from the inn. I had an amazing meal, starting off with a goat cheese soufflé with endive, having the vermont quail stuffed with wild rice and duck liver as the main course, and finishing with an incredible warm apple tart with maple sauce for dessert. Rachel had less luck with her choices (ravioli of duck, pork tenderloin, poached pear), but I was completely satisfied.

The next day we began a winding path back to New Jersey. My favorite part of the day was our visit to the Sugarbush Farm, a busy (okay Rachel, somewhat mercenary) dairy and maple farm with lots and lots of cows. We went on a maple walk, yelled MOO at cows, dipped cheese in wax for retail sale, and enjoyed a cheese tasting. I bought a bunch to bring back, including some razor-sharp five-year-old aged cheddar.

Our last bit of luck was finding a terrific Thai restaurant for dinner in the middle of Nowheresville (also known as Catskill, NY). Wasanas Thai Restaurant is lcoated on Main Street in Catskill, and is might be the only Thai restaurant for 20 miles in any direction. We enjoyed some fine food served by the owners, who had started the place 3 1/2 years ago and had kept it going in various locations in a town more attuned to pizza and fried chicken places. If I lived anywhere near there I'd be a regular, but I could only wish them luck as we left.

Well, that's the travelogue; I'll try and fill in some gaps if I get a chance tomorrow.

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