Two Brothers, Two Coasts: Driving Vancouver to New York
Ice Cream and New England hospitality in Vermont
I could feel myself actively exhale as we left the grime of Montreal for the green mountains of Vermont. Most of this trip has had me feeling exactly the opposite, the mountain air of Canada acting as a balm to the boozy city stops in the US, but this was New England, and things are different here.
On the way in we let our inner child win out and stopped off at the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Waterbury.
“If it’s not fun, why do it?” — Jerry
On the way out of Tennessee we had stopped at the Jack Daniels distillery to take the tour, and this was that experience dumbed down for kids. Whereas the JD tour was a sprawling walk through every aspect of the process, punctuated with great anecdotes about the founding of the company and the unique way they make bourbon there, not to mention the sweet irony that JD is produced in one of the very few dry counties in the USA, this was more of an extended advert for Ben and Jerry’s.
We were told the old tale of how two college buddies started slinging ice cream out of a converted gas station in a student town in little old Vermont back in 1978. It is pure American Dream. Then we were forced to watch a promotional movie which lacked the normal B&J’s sense of humour. The facility where the good stuff is made looked more like the lab where Walter White makes meth in the later series of Breaking Bad than Willy Wonka’s sweet factory, barring the huge boxes of chocolate chips that we saw dumped into a flowing river of ice cream.
We had booked in to stay with Marjorie and Jeff in Vermont and were welcomed in like old friends. Jeff shared my Uncle Red’s mannerisms and knack for storytelling. His wife, Marjorie, is the first AirBnB host we have had that treats the business like an actual Bed and Breakfast. Our room was made up to look like an Inn, with iced water waiting for us and a binder of local restaurant menus and directions to the local cinema. It didn’t stop there. Marojorie and Jeff went above and beyond any hospitality I have encountered before, ferrying us around town to get our car fixed and even coming out to find us in a bar when the heavens opened and they saw that we hadn’t taken our car.
“How did you find us?” I asked Jeff, “I’m looking for the only two English guys in town, so I went straight for the pub.”
Then there was the breakfast. Just look at that spread.
Due to the car trouble I didn’t get to see as much of Vermont as I wanted, but what I did see was gorgeous. It is wall to wall green, with green mountains rising up in all directions and arterial creeks running along the roadside, teeming with fly fisherman. We passed through small town after small town, each one looking like a scene from the Gilmore Girls.
We went to see Inside Out at the Bijou cinema and then took a walk to Lost Nation Brewing, not expecting much in such a small town. When we got there the weather still hadn’t turned and everyone was sat out on the front deck, where pints of beer brewed in the warehouse next door were being drunk and a pit BBQ was smoking away at the back. I had a spicy pork sandwich with blue cheese slaw and Ted had fall-off-the-bone ribs with beans and corn on the cob, washed down by the best beer I had tasted on this trip so far: Lost Nation Rustic Ale. Gems like these just keep popping up in the most unusual of places.
Next Stop: Maine, USA