The nice thing about following RV blogs and social media is sometimes you can just steal all their hard work for yourself. This was the case when we visited Danville, Vermont. Chapter3Travels had visited the Cabot, VT in the past and their itinerary sounded perfect to us so we just decided to plagiarize most of it. If our tour sounds eerily similar to theirs, that would be why! We did add in a visit to Dog Mountain since that was on our bucket list for a while.
Dog Mountain is home to the Stephen Huneck gallery. Stephen Huneck is known for his paintings and carvings of dogs and had built a Dog Chapel on his property in 1997 after a near-death experience. The dog chapel is dedicated to dogs and everyone is welcome to leave notes and pictures in remembrance of their deceased dogs. Dog Mountain is open to all dogs and people and contains a lake, open meadows, the gallery, dog chapel, and trails meandering through 150 acres of land. They also host events and parties, including the summer music series where we were able to enjoy some bluegrass music.
Dog Mountain is owned and operated through a non-profit and they depend on donations and sales. With all the great artwork on shirts, prints, and mugs, it was easy for us to buy a few souvenirs and support Dog Mountain at the same time. I’m sure if we didn’t live in an RV, I would have bought a LOT more from their gallery. We came back a second time since our RV friends Susan and Ken (and their black lab, Jazzy) were in the same area and we were excited for Jazzy and Opie to finally meet. The lab meetup was very anti-climactic as Opie was more interested in the lake and Jazzy in the ball but they did do some cursory meet n’ greet (sniffing of the noses and behinds) but we had a great reunion with Susan and Ken. Dog Mountain is a wonderful mecca for dog lovers and if you’re in the area, don’t pass up the chance to wander around and enjoy the various views, sculptures, and artwork.
With an 8-year-old’s taste buds, visiting Ben & Jerry’s was a requirement for me. Unfortunately we picked a massively busy day so we had to wait an hour before our tour began (no photos allowed on the tour). They start with a short movie about the history of the founders and then move us to an enclosed catwalk above the production floor. Our group got the “special” tour as there were some technical difficulties with the capping machine at the time, which means the assembly line was halted while the techs frantically tried to save the uncapped ice cream from falling to the floor. Our tour guide did explain the process and showed us each station so we could understand how it all worked. The production floor works on a non-stop 72 hour cycle then a 7-9 hour cleaning cycle (federally mandated). After the cleaning cycle they choose to either continue an ongoing order or change flavors. Ben & Jerry’s has 6 manufacturing plants across the globe. The visitors’ center makes the top 15 ice creams and they have one plant that only does core ice creams (the pints with two flavors and a core of flavor goo). The last part of the tour provides a generous free sample of ice cream for us to try. We were given CinnDOUGHrella, cinnamon/caramel ice cream w/cinnamon bun dough, shortbread cookies, and oatmeal cinnamon cookie swirls. Super rich and very delicious! After the tour, we took a walk around the Flavor Graveyard to see all the deceased Ben & Jerry flavors. Mike took a silent moment to mourn the loss of his favorite, White Russian.
Since it was nearby, we drove to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill to sample their tasty wares. We watched, strangely mesmerized, as they took fresh pulverized apples (harvested from nearby farms), placed them in layers on a large wagon, then used a hydraulic press to squeeze out the fresh juice. We sampled the fresh cider and bought half a dozen of the cider doughnuts and a couple mini pies. While the doughnuts had a good flavor, my sweet tooth liked them a LOT better once I drizzled sugar glaze on top.
Unfortunately the Cabot Creamery visitor center no longer allows tours through their factory, so we stopped at the nearby Cabot Annex a quarter mile away from Ben & Jerry’s to check out all their samples. Cabot Creamery is a co-op of dairy farmers in Cabot, VT. Started in 1919 by 94 farmers, they created the cooperative to turn the glut of milk into butter and market it throughout New England. Today Cabot is still 100% owned by farm families and exclusively makes cheddar cheese. We enjoyed sampling the huge array of cheddar cheeses (who knew there could be so many kinds!) and left relatively unscathed with only a block of the super sharp and yummy “Vintage Choice Aged Cheddar”, pepperoni, and maple cotton candy.
Another day brought us to the Goodrich Maple Farm House. They provide free tours, but we were lucky enough to receive a tour from Mr. Goodrich himself as he happened to be at the site meeting with coffee vendors to discuss making coffee infused maple syrup and maple infused coffee. Goodrich Maple Farm has been family owned and operated since 1840 when they first started with wooden buckets and huge metal staves. Currently the maple house uses pencil-sized needles that only enter the tree 2 inches deep and are connected via plastic piping network throughout the woods. We already knew that 40 gallons of sap makes 1 gallon of syrup but we didn’t realize that different amber colors are based on when the sap is taken from the tree, not how long the sap is boiled; later in the season creates a darker amber and richer flavor. Plus the freeze/thaw cycle is crucial to creating sap since the tree uses the sap to nourish the buds. We learned a maple tree has to be at least 40 years old before they begin tapping for sap and many trees on their property are hundreds of years old. Just like taking blood from a human, it’s vital to only take a small amount of sap from each tree to allow the tree to stay healthy.
Interestingly we found that other trees can provide sap for syrup but birch sap tastes terrible and black walnut sap is tough to find and therefore extremely expensive. Overall maple sap has the best flavor (I couldn’t agree more) and after the tour/information ended, we got to try the different amber syrups, coffee-infused maple syrup, maple almonds, and maple butter. Of course it’s all a trap since the products are so delicious you end up buying all sorts of tasty goodies!
After fulfilling my sugar fantasies and enjoying the pretty views, we packed up R2 and headed towards upstate NY.