The Adventure Begins!
I finally got to visit the big â€śBâ€ť of the Northeast. Yes, Bennington, Vermont! I was supposed to see the other â€śBâ€ťoston six times already this summer, but it didnâ€™t happen thanks to high gas prices, crowded schedules and other various reasons. I am supposed to go this Fall sometime, but I fear I may never get there. I canâ€™t do the 50 State Project without Massachusetts, it would just be wrong as it is such a historic state. But this blog is not about Boston as I have never been there in my life; no it is about Bennington.
Now, I know a few of my friends will question why I did not go to Burlington instead as Bennington is a very small town.
The reasoning is easy. I had been to Vermont before, in fact, it is lucky number seven, but it wasnâ€™t that lucky as the trip was not all that was desired.
Scary Tappen Zee Bridge
I had originally gone up there a couple years back with friends for a snowboarding trip. I hate the cold, thus skiing and snowboarding are not on my list of things to do, but I am a team player and decided to go along. I am very athletic, but when it comes to snow activities, I am more suited for snowball fights (which we proved in the hotel on our balcony and beyond); snow angels and drinking hot cocoa in the lodge. Long story short, the trip was a bit of a disaster and I didnâ€™t even get a photo of myself while I was there. So, that can only mean one thing. Road trip to Vermont!
Now, the obvious choice would be Burlington, but I am not an obvious woman, I like to keep people guessing.
So, I decided that Bennington should be represented as itâ€™s an amazing town. Okay, the real reason I chose it was because it was close to the New York border and I had been to Vermont before and needed a photo for proof. That doesnâ€™t mean I donâ€™t have love for Bennington, it just wasnâ€™t what I expected, but I am getting ahead of myself.
My friend Chip who has been my lovely chaperone on most of my trips in the Northeast section of the country joined me yet again for my fun. He was born and raised in New York, so I guess you can say he is an expert whether he wants to admit it or not. Own it, dude!
We originally were going to spend the weekend there, but soon realized after some research that we may not need that much time there, we were right.
So, early Saturday morning we went to Dunkin Donuts grabbed our goods and hit the freeway. The weather was pretty nice that day as it was comfortably warm with no humidity. In fact most of the summer had been that way so we knew it was meant to be.
The ride was pretty uneventful, the usual talk about our week, complain about work or school, eat, argue over the music, etc. Finally, after a three hour drive, the signs began to appear leading us to the promised land of Bennington. I have to say I was a little weary of my choice as we headed down the main road into Bennington. It was pretty much one big strip mall, but I had been fooled before, so I kept an open mind.
Our first plan was to find the Bennington Memorial Obelisk, which wasnâ€™t that hard to find.
Just look into the horizon and look for the large grayish, thin, horizontal object and you are pretty much golden. Well, we found it quickly enough, but unfortunately we had no idea where to find it as there were no signs anywhere. We turned off a road only to find the local Wal-Mart. Not exactly what I had in mind as shopping wasnâ€™t my priority at this time, though they have great prices on Kashi. So, we made a U-Turn in the parking lot and decided to head up the main road in hopes of finding the Memorial. But before we could hit the main drag again our attention was distracted by a curious sign to our left. Next to us was a Mobil station. Now maybe you would think we were shocked by the rising gas prices, but you would be wrong. At the Mobil station, you can get gas, drinks, snacks and guns and archery equipment. Thatâ€™s right, if you need any ammo for any weapons, the main Mobil station in Bennington is your place. You canâ€™t miss it, just look for the large Mobil sign with a big gun on the sign and you have found your place.
But Can I Get a Can of Coke?
Now, maybe this is common place to many people, but I have never seen anything like it and laughed like a maniac when I saw it. Was this legal? It had to be! Was it right? Yes, yes it was just for the laugh factor alone. So far Bennington was looking interesting!
After a few snapshots, we headed onto the main road until we found signs for the historic center we had waited too long for the Obelisk and I was getting antsy, that or I had been sitting way too long. Either way, it was an exciting moment when the Obelisk came into view. This was the main attraction from what I had read about online and I was getting stoked.
I was even more stoked when we parked the car and found out that it was only $2 to get to the top.
We had to buy the tickets in the gift shop which was actually pretty smart because you will most likely want to buy something. I did! It was a pile of chocolate doo with almonds for my roommate, Noah. The chocolate was imported from Belgium, so you know this product was top notch! The woman who we bought the tickets from for the obelisk suggested I wrap it in toilet paper if it was a gift. You know, I liked her style!
When we got to the obelisk I was a little disappointed to see there was an elevator, I was kind of looking forward to the walk after being cramped in a car for a while, but I guess the majority of the people wouldnâ€™t be able to make the trek.
Still my vote is to leave the steps open for the adventurous types such as myself. But if you take the elevator it is a quick ride up, less than two minutes and the guy in the elevator knows a lot about the history, though you canâ€™t learn a lot in a minute in a half. I have to say I was a little surprised at how small it was at the top. I donâ€™t know what I was expecting really, but it was cramped with windows facing four directions. I guess I was expecting a little more, but Chip reminded me that the whole purpose was the view. So, I shut up and looked through the windows and enjoyed the states of New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. Does staring at the state of Massachusetts count as going there?
Something Taller Than Chip!
When you turn one of the small corners there is a large pipe that had graffiti all over it of people who signed their names.
I donâ€™t quite understand the desire to do that, but I have to say I was intrigued by one that appears to be written in Chinese, it was pretty sweet and you donâ€™t see it everyday, so I had to document it.
Welcome to Vermont!
Chip and I stayed up at the top of the obelisk for 10 minutes trying to milk our $2. Even though the view is quite pretty, after 10 minutes, you have seen it all. So, after Chip took my camera, reached his full arm out the window and took a photo out of the window (I almost killed him), we headed down the elevator and decided to take tourist pics outside of the Monument.
The sad thing was we both realized that this whole excursion which was one of our main focuses only lasted 30 minutes tops. Not good, we still had a good 6 hours to fill! So, we decided it was time to move on to our next expedition; The Apple Barn.
We Couldn't Get the Whole Memorial In...
Now, most people may not get excited by a country store, but being someone who was raised around homemade good markets, I knew this would be a winner. Also, the Apple Barn had gotten favorable reviews online and their website showed that they make homemade apple butter. Sold! Apple Butter is pretty much life to me and hard to find in NYC.
I have to say the Apple Barn was pretty large and had a great selection of canned, goods, butters, baked goods and of course maple syrup. Of course I had to buy maple syrup, the thing is, I donâ€™t even like maple, but I was in Vermont and missed syrup the first time around. I ended up spending way too much money, apple butter is expensive!
If you are in Bennington, I recommend you stop here.
It really is a nice shop with a lot of options. My only complaint was there was supposed to be a cornfield maze, but we couldnâ€™t find it. Again, we would have to come up with something else to do as we were running out of options.
The Apple Barn
We figured the Bennington Museum would keep us busy for a while. After we parked our car we headed up to the front of the building to buy a ticket. Chip was stunned to see a statue by the front door. He had heard about it online but had no idea that he would be running into it in Bennington. I have to say it was quite curious. I really donâ€™t want to go into too much detail about it as with all fine art, it is better for the viewer to make an opinion as we all have different views.
Let me just say, I was pretty proud to be part of â€śThe American Spirit.â€ť Well, for the most part. Another part of me was disturbed. Maybe, just maybe I was just disturbed to begin with and my artistic eye is severely messed up. I have no idea; you be the judge.
The Statue Entitled, "The American Spirit." Indeed!
So, after a few snapshots of the â€śmasterpieceâ€ť we headed in. The Bennington Museum houses the largest collection of Grandma Moses paintings and memorabilia along with artifacts of Bennington and Vermont history. It is in a two story building and has many different items on display, though be prepared, it is a small museum and wonâ€™t really take more that an hour to get through. It may have taken us a bit longer as they were having a concert that afternoon with a pianist from NYU who was playing a concert of sorts.
I have to say, his Stravinsky section was most impressive.
The Bennington Museum of Fun!
After about another hour and a half we had nothing to do again. No offense to Bennington, it just wasnâ€™t as happening as the reviews made it seem and we were having a hard time filling a whole day. Who ever was in charge of their tourism board did a great job!
My long list of things to do that was very quickly becoming a short list. Chip and I decided it was time to visit Robert Frost; well at least his grave site. I am not a huge graveyard person and this was on the bottom of my list, but we were getting desperate! Now, I donâ€™t know a lot about Robert Frost, all I really know was that he was a depressed American poet, who had a lot of tragedy in his life.
I have never been much into poetry unless it is in the lyrical form of music. It appeals to my sense more, but I will save that for my thesis paper, you are here for Bennington.
Is That George Bush in a Dress?!?
At first, I thought that finding Frostâ€™s gravesite would be hard to find which actually excited me as it would be like going on a scavenger hunt (no offense to the Frost family). So we entered the Old Bennington Cemetery and we were off! The scavenger hunt was soon over as there were bright signs with the announcement, â€śRobert Frostâ€™s Graveâ€ť pointing you in the direction of where he was located. Not cool! So we walked 50 feet into the cemetery, paid our respects and turned to each other with a look of desperation.
Finally, I came to the decision that famous people arenâ€™t the only people who deserve recognition.
There were many people buried in the Old Bennington Cemetery that had fought in the Revolutionary War. As I began to walk around I was amazed at how old some of the gravesites were. Half of these graves were older than most of the states on the West Coast. I mean California and Oregon became states in the 1850â€™s and these graves were from the 1700â€™s. It was kind of mind blowing. It was the same way I felt when I went to London a few years back. England was having a crazy history hundreds of years before the United States of America had come into being.
That Makes it Easy!
I could have stayed in the cemetery a little longer, but Chip isnâ€™t a cemetery man at all.
Iâ€™m usually not either, but for some reason the history really hit me this time. That and I couldnâ€™t stop thinking about how one day everyone has to end up here, well, not the Bennington Cemetery. At one time, the deaths of these people affected someone so much and now a 150 years later, there is no emotional connection any longer for these people. They are just a grave marker for their silenced life that has long past.
Whew, time to bring the mood back up; what a downer! Chip and I decided that we were getting really hungry at this time as Dunkin Donuts can only fill you up for so long. But first, we would visit at least one of the covered bridges. I had never seen one before as we donâ€™t have many or any on the West Coast, I have no idea.
It took about 5 minutes to get to one of them from the cemetery.
I have to say it didnâ€™t have a lot of wow factor for me. It pretty much was a barn on a road. We have a lot of barns in Oregon. But still, the East Coast is known for these things, so I needed to pay my proper respect. We parked the car and decided to snap a few photos. While taking the required photos for my project I spied a path down to the water below. It appeared as if many people had been here before, so we thought why not? On our way down, I noticed plants that appeared to be nettle. I remember nettle from when I was a kid. It hurt like hell if you touched it. I remember being in the woods as a kid with my brothers and cousins and we would try to throw each other into it before getting thrown in ourselves. Stupid, yes! Fun? Absolutely!!! There is nothing like the metallic burn of nettle, so I lifted up my arms so as not to get hit and I was on my way! It was a very scenic spot actually; very quiet except for the occasional sound of a car going over the bride above.
Older Than States of Oregon and California!
It really minded me of my childhood on my grandparentsâ€™ farm growing up. That was a blast from the past! So after about 10 minutes, I decided that the bugs were getting a little aggressive and that I needed to leave before I lost a few pints of blood, I am small; I donâ€™t have a lot to spare.
We headed back into town to try to find something to eat but on our way there we ran into another covered bridge. It looked exactly like the one we had just left, in fact I tried to convince Chip it was the same one and we had been going in circles. He didnâ€™t agree. I had to argue, it looked the same! So we ended up looking at the photos we had just taken to make sure that it was indeed different. It was! Chip suggested I take a photo. I didnâ€™t see the reason as I thought it was the same one we had just been to!
Finally, we headed downtown to satisfy our hunger.
I have to say the main area is quite attractive and clean; I found myself quite impressed. One thing I did find odd was that in many places there were statues of people doing various everyday things; cleaning windows, reading newspapers, waiting for a bus. These things were everywhere and at times a little disturbing. Sometimes the people looked possessed, especially the children and other times, I almost believed they were real people. Besides people, they had a lot of colorful moose hanging around. Things in downtown Bennington were getting strange. Still, everytime I saw one of these odd statues, I had to take a picture. It just seemed wrong not too!
After taking a few photos we searched the streets for food. I have to be honest with you, there wasnâ€™t a lot of options.
Pretty much bars and pubs. That and everything was closed already. Hmmâ€¦ So, we figured we would go with the pub. I have to say, for pub food it wasnâ€™t that bad and they even had healthier options which I liked after chowing down on fudge and pastries from the Apple Barn all day. Chip went for more the heart clogging artery menu, bold choice!
Yum, Apple Barn Pastery
After dinner, we realized that we pretty much were done in Bennington and as we had a long drive back. But before we left we spotted one last crazy police office statue. It was too whacky to leave without a pic. We tried to make it seems as if I was being arrested but it looked like the officer was grabbing my butt. We also tried to make it look as if we got into a fight, but this cop statue was just too happy and friendly to make a good photo! Oh, well, at least we had plenty of Apple Butter and various baked goods to keep us satisfied for the drive home.
Scolding These Horrific Looking Children
All and all, Bennington was an okay experience. It wasn't a hopping place or anything, but the people were extremely nice. Seriously, I didnâ€™t meet a mean one in the bunch, which is always a plus, especially after living in NYC. So, now my official picture of Vermont has been taken and I have made her an honest woman in the 50 State Project. Life is good, again!