|First morning in Vermont, looking across lake Champlain to the Adirondacks|
My host, Timo Shaw, President of Country Walkers led the charge up Mount Mansfield, just north of the famous ski town of Stowe, on the morning of my arrival. Well, the truth of the matter is that his son Alec led the group, putting us all to shame by bounding up the slippery, smooth rocks to the summit at breakneck speed in nothing more than a tee shirt and shorts.
The older, wiser members of the group attempted to keep up along the popular North Ridge trail, each hiding how out of breath we were in our eagerness to show that we, too, had kept our youthful vigour!
|Summit of Mount Mansfield, 4395 ft - apparently, the views are great!|
|Typical Vermont farmstead|
Our accommodation for the stay was at the delightful Round Barn Inn, an old farmhouse dating back to 1810, with a traditional round barn to one end. The round barn was a feature of architecture of the religious 'Shakers' movement, who built structures without corners so that there was 'nowhere for the devil to hide'! The Round Barn Inn sits just south of the farming community of Waitsfield and is highly recommended for its quaint rooms, great food and knowledgeable hospitality.
|Country Walker's 30th Anniversary Group in Vermont|
|Yes, owned by the real Von Trapp's (of 'Sound of Music' fame)!|
My last evening in Vermont began with a cheese and wine tasting in the gardens of the Round Barn Inn. But this was not to be any old cheese and wine event. Our hosts were local farmers Larry and Linda Faillace, owners of a small local creamery. Over the last few years they had achieved fame in the USA by attempting to start a sheep milk cheese business which required the importation of specific breeds of sheep from abroad. This led to a widely publicised confrontation with the US government authorities which culminated in the seizure of their flock, supported by 40 armed federal agents. A tragic abuse of power it seems, but Linda has since published a best selling book 'Mad Sheep' and a Hollywood film is being planned. Great story, a real David and Goliath tale. But real, and shows how nasty vested interests can be. Check out http://www.threeshepherdscheese.com/
In summary, Vermont is a pretty state, rolling wooded hills with quaint towns and villages, heavily geared to winter tourism. Apparently, blackfly are a problem in May and August, and mosquitoes are a summer nuisance, although, thankfully, none were encountered on this trip. Snow is about two months away, enjoyed by the locals for a couple of months, but driving everyone nuts by April.
A pleasant spot indeed.