Let's just get this out in the open here and now: I unabashedly love Vermont and New Hampshire. Not a mild like or a general interest. Nope. It is a true love affair with these two New England states.
It's been that way since a ski trip during high school, more than 30 years ago. Since then, I've been back more times than I can count for assorted vacations -- skiing, hiking, and just general galavanting about.
This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of taking a solo business trip to Long Ridge Farm in New Hampshire for an indigo dyeing class and then on to the Vermont Fiber Mill to drop off some fiber for processing. I met the nicest, most interesting people at both places and I promise a post about them tomorrow.
But today, this post is a general, open love letter to the two states I adore the most. Sorry Ohio. I do love you. Really, I do. But would it have killed you to leave behind a mountain or two when you were doing that whole glacier thing. I'm not asking for much here. Just a couple of 4,000-footers. Something along these lines:
Beautiful. Simply beautiful.
I arrived in Vermont late on Friday afternoon. With GPS in hand, I set out to find Vermont Shepherd in Putney, Vermont.
Lesson learned. GPS devices and mountains don't mix. Neither do high-tech cell phones with all the latest bells and whistles. Take a map! After many wrong turns on dirt roads heading seemingly nowhere, I arrived at the farm of this award-winning cheese producer. It was feeding time for the lambs.
Now really, is there anything cuter in life than a lamb? Even one that sticks it's tongue out at you is as cute as cute can be.
Vermont Shepherd has a tiny retail store at the end of their driveway to purchase various cheeses, soaps and yarn.
O.K., I may have found that thing in life that is cuter than a lamb. This tiny, bright yellow store is pretty high up there on the cute-o-meter.
I bought some delicious Vermont Shepherd Invierno cheese. Luckily, I had a bit of it for dinner on Friday night, because on Sunday morning, when I checked out of my hotel, I left it in the fridge. Broke my heart when I remembered it -- 2 hours away. Oh well, no use crying over spilled cheese.
One of the great things about traveling the unmarked back roads of New England is the unusual things you'll see, such as this round schoolhouse.
I screeched the car to a halt and jumped out into the road to nab its picture. Yes, I am the type of tourist that gives tourists a bad name.
But I learned something. Now when Alex Trebek asks the three contestants on Jeopardy, "In what state is the only round school house in the country located?" I can shout at the television, "What is Vermont." It will be the only question I get right all night, but I will earn the right to feel superior and say things like, "I can't believe they didn't know that." A little road-side sign knowledge goes a long way.
On another dirt road near Woodstock, Vermont, I again came to a screeching halt, this time for obvious reasons.
I. Want. These.
In a big way. Really, who wouldn't?
Vermont. New Hampshire. You never fail to surprise me. Llama/alpaca sculptures on an unmarked road heading into the woods. This is a delightful part of the country.