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Day 24 – Vermont’s Quiet Corner

Day 24 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Pillsbury State Park

Despite no amenities, Pillsbury State Park may have been one of my most favorite campgrounds.  Trees covered in fall foliage surrounded three different tranquil ponds while a babbling brook passed my campsite.  I awoke to intermittent rain, or so I thought. On occasion I think I mistook the peaceful sounds of the babbling brook as rain.  I had a busy itinerary planned for the day, so it probably wasn’t the best time to sleep in, but I was kind of tired of being soaked to the bone and needed to catch up on some zzz’s from the very beginning of my journey.

pillsbury state park in vermont

Before we left, Scout, Petey, and I took a 30 minute hike just to soak in the magnificent color and the relaxing views of the ponds as well as a nearby waterfall.  I definitely could have spent another day here walking the trails.  

pillsbury state park in vermont

On the way out, I waved goodbye to the friendly ranger, Tracy, a proud mother of a 7 week old baby boy named Tucker.  Amazingly, she came back to work at the park 6 days after having a C-section.  While not much maternity leave for her, at least she could have Tucker with her!

Quechee Gorge

On my way to my first stop, Quechee Gorge, I took a slight detour to Hanover to get a quick glimpse of Dartmouth.  While the campus encompasses countless red brick buildings, for some reason, I expected it to have more presence than it did Sorry to any Dartmouth graduates out there.  Just as Killington, VT displayed hay bale sculptures, this area of Vermont displayed scarecrows.  I’m already looking forward to Halloween.

scarecrows in vermont

Having been to Quechee Gorge previously, my stop here was like a park-n-grab cache…stop, look, and photograph.  The bridge from which the picture is taken is 165 feet above the chasm created by Ottauquechee River.  The area offers other hiking, but is extremely commercialized, so I kept going as I prefer “off the beaten path” type places.

Quechee Gorge

Boyhood Home of Joseph Smith

My next stop on Highway 14 in Vermont’s quiet corner, was the boyhood home of Joseph Smith born in 1805 and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is here where I met Sister “Smith” who provided me with The Book of Mormon.   Furthermore, she informed me that the granite obelisk, erected in ­1905 as a memorial to Smith, is 38 ½ feet tall, one foot for every year of Joseph Smith’s life.  Christian music resonated through the cold air providing a feeling of worship.  In addition to learning about the history of the Mormons, I logged another cache, as the Home of Joseph Smith is virtual cache.

boyhood home of Joseph Smith

Justin Smith Morrill Homestead

Detouring a few miles off of Highway 14 toward Strafford, led me to the Justin Smith Morrill Homestead.  According to the Reader’s Digest book, Morrill, a three-term U.S. congressman and longtime senator, introduced the “1862 Morrill Act which granted states federal lands in order for the establishments of colleges”.  The pink mansion made me wonder if the senator ever worked with Mary Kay…just kidding.  Actually, I thought I may have missed the homestead, but quickly realized that would have been impossible as long as I was on the correct road.  It definitely stood out!

Justin Smith Morrill Homestead

Covered Bridges in Turnbridge

Veering back toward Highway 14, I drove through Turnbridge, VT , known for its covered bridges. According to my travel guide there were five. I only saw two.  I guess I’m not very observant.  Howe Bridge, on the south of town, dates back to 1879 and is almost as old as Tunbridge’s self-proclaimed World’s Fair, a festival that has been held every fall since 1860.  For a small town, the fair grounds were quite large.  I got the impression the festival is quite an attraction for New Englanders.

howe bridge in Vermont

Sunset Lake

From Turnbridge, I returned to Highway 14 in Vermont’s quiet corner. Along the way, white churches lined the roadside like cattle grazing on ranchlands in Texas.  I hope I never get directions from a local saying turn at the white church. The one on the hill, the one by the pond, the one with the clock?  I couldn’t count how many I passed before arriving at Sunset Lake in Brookfield. 

Sunset Lake, while home to an annual Ice Festival every January, is home to a floating bridge year round.  The lake was too deep to build a conventional bridge, thus the first floating bridge was constructed in 1820.  The current bridge, the 7th, was assembled in 1978 and is closed to traffic.  The dogs and I took a short stroll across it as a winter breeze erased any warmth from the rays of the sun.

sunset lake floating bridge

Rock of Ages in Graniteville

From Sunset Lake, I headed northeast on Highway 14 to Graniteville. Here, I visited Rock of Ages, a company that has been mining stones since 1885.  It is positioned next to the deepest granite quarry in the world and produces one-third of the nation’s memorial stones.  In addition to the factory being on display by a self-guided tour, outside a granite bowling lane was available to anyone who wanted to set the pins up and then bowl to knock them down.  Apparently, the company experimented with bowling lanes for commercial use in the 1950s.  Finally, for anyone who has seen the last Star Trek, I’m told the guy leaping off the ledge was filmed at the quarry. 

graniteville in Vermont

Ben & Jerry’s Headquarters

Another tourist attraction that cannot be missed on visit to Vermont is the Ben & Jerry’s Headquarters in Waterbury.  Ben & Jerry’s original ice cream shop was located in a converted gas station in Burlington, VT.  The ice cream was so good, they sold out in 10 days!  In two years, the company began shipping ice cream to local stores, and by 1985, they moved for a third time to the current headquarters. 

The headquarters offers fresh Ben & Jerry’s and a tour of the factory.  The briefly improved weather attracted the masses. It was a 30 minute wait just to tour the ice cream factory.  Being late in the day and being one not known for patience, I skipped the tour. The scoop of Half-Baked satisfied me.  I was surprised to find out which flavor was Ben & Jerry’s pint size best seller at the supermarkets. Take a guess and tune in tomorrow for an answer. PS – no googling.

Ben & Jerry's headquarters

Elmore State Park

Before I continued north to camp at Elmore State Park, I stopped for a good dinner at Foxfire.  It was fine Italian dining.  I was just craving something green, so I ordered a spinach salad with mandarin oranges, almond slices, and gorgonzola with a hot vinaigrette and mussels in white wine sauce.  It was nice to have a good meal! ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop.  Each card has a travel story associated with it.  20% of proceeds are donated to charity.

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