Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Family Vacation Part VII: Homeward bound Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory and the Vermont Hills.

Homeward bound on Wednesday July 10th, we set off towards Vermont for a visit to Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory as a side trip before we got back to Mark's mothers house in the Lake George area.
We drove through Maine, and into New Hampshire and the White Mountain region, which was absolutely beautiful. As we rode along I continued to search for moose in the woods, and eagerly anticipated any moose crossing road signs along the way.

I caught a few mountain ranges with the morning steam rising off them. We talked about ascending White Mountain, but decided against it and hurry along to Waterbury VT.

We made one last stop in New Hampshire at a visitor center (something, I forgot the name reservoir pictured above), and guess what I finally got to see my MOOSE.
Okay, so he was stuffed. What can I say, I did look for one of these guys. Glad at least I got to see one that wasn't made of plastic, pictured on a shirt or hat, a cartoon or made of cement.
On to Vermont, we past through the capital of Montpelier, and made our way to Ben and Jerry's!
Vermont's state capitol.

 WE FOUND IT! Ben and Jerry's
 I had wanted to visit Ben and Jerry's for years after I found out it was only (on the map anyways) a jump, skip and a hop away from Mark's mom's house. Of course it is much father then it seems, and I never made it, but since it was on the way (sort of) we had to stop and get a glimpse of where one of our favorite ice creams come from.

I was actually surprised to see how touristy the place was, as well as how crowded. They must get tons of visitors. We decided that we would take the $4- factory tour,(kids FREE) but first we had to make a visit to the flavor grave yard.

We checked out the headstones of the "buried" former flavors enjoying the comments on the stones. I never had PB and J ice cream, but I can see why it only survived a few years. Yuck!
 Rainforest crunch was not buried because of a dislike of consumers, but rather the nut factory they had been purchasing for the ice cream went out of business. I don't recall ever eating the stuff, but I know it had been a hit, I also recall, the proceeds went to help the rainforest.
Another flavor I never ate, but certainly one with a name you don't forget.
Oh my! For being on the shelves for so long time, this was the first time I had heard of Turtle Soup.

This is a view of the factory from the flavor graveyard.
After exploring the graves, we headed back to the factory for our 12pm tour.
 The current flavors.
 Check out the ice cream scoop door handle. First stop on the tour, "cow over the moon theater" where we were entertained with a brief history of the Ben and Jerry company.
"Soooo, after splitting the cost of a $5 correspondence course on ice cream-making from Penn State University, they combined their $8000 life savings with a $4000 bank loan, leased an old gas station building in Burlington, Vermont, and opened for business on May 5, 1978.
Using an old-fashioned ice cream freezer, they began churning out all the rich & creamy, fun & chunky ice cream flavors they’d always dreamed about, flavors loaded with all their favorite chunks of fruits, nuts, candies, and cookies.
Soon there were long lines stretching out the door of the old gas station, as more and more folks clamored for a taste of Ben & Jerry's flavor creations.
Their ice cream was such a hit, it wasn’t long before they began selling it to local restaurants, then grocery stores and supermarkets throughout Vermont and beyond. Way beyond.
And the rest, as they say, is history. (Or, as we say, it’s a long, strange dip, most of which just won’t fit on this page!)"  I took this directly from the Ben and Jerry website.

What they failed to mention and what possibly got the company "on the map" so to speak, was after a low in sales they decided to tour the country giving away their ice cream in a hippie Volkswagen van after the tour and on their way back to Vermont the van blew up. The story caught national news and the sensation began.

NO PICTURES ALLOWED in the actual factory area. I suspect it has nothing to do with secret formulas, but more out of respect for the employers since it is an actual working factory. The claim is employee's get 2 pints of ice cream a day. Now that's an employee incentive.

Exit the factory into the best part, the Tasting room. Todays flavor; cookies and milk.

What a nice way to end any tour! Yum
After the tour we took in the gift shop, the boys got ice cream; Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and my favorite Phish Food.  Then it was back on the road, only about another 2 hours to NY and Bubbe's.
I continued to get pictures out the window on the way home, and Mark even stopped at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory so I could get in a quick visit. The boys refused to come in with me, it really isn't their thing. The Teddy Bear Factory is very close to Ben and Jerry's so if you are in the area I recommend both. I didn't take the Teddy Bear Factory tour, and I actually spent the most time in the rest room while I was there, but if you love these cuddly creatures, you'll love this place. I got a few pictures, (took a look at the price of an actual Vermont teddy bear....OMG!!!!) and meet back up with my family.
 The factory had several fun activities for kids, things like creating your own bear, dressing them, parties etc. The actual factory tour might have been interesting, but knowing my family was waiting in the rain for me got me on my way out the door.
On the way back to NY I caught these funny guys on the side of the road.

They seemed to be everywhere. I tried to find some information about them online with no luck. Perhaps this is just fun to do. There were just so many and in several different locations along the road I thought it was some sort of contest or something. If anyone knows...please comment, I' nosey.
There were so many strange road side attractions along the ride home, I wish I could have been faster at getting the shots. In one town there was a giant metal reproduction of The Predictor and a store sign vacuuming up a man, only his legs were exposed. I did catch this about some thing you don't see in the pasture on a regular basis.
CAN YOU SEE HIM??????  Yep! Its a camel. Of course Mark had to quote the "hump Day" commercial. We all laughed as it was a Wednesday. I could have easily just stopped and took pictures of the things along the way, but NY was just over the bend, and we were all ready for home.