Creaky Seats & Frozen Treats

Trip Start Feb 15, 2010
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Trip End Feb 14, 2011


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Where I stayed
Wal-Mart (Berlin, VT)

Flag of United States  , Vermont
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I began my rainy day by learning a little about the foundations of Vermont at their Historical Society's Museum.  After giving the museum a look around and learning a few things about Vermonters, I headed over to the capitol next door.

I made my way through the building and took photos of a couple of unique areas before heading to the senate and house chambers.  They both had plenty of paperwork strewn over the desks, so I did my best not to be intrusive while taking a couple photos.  While I was in the house chamber, the representatives started to file back in and take their seats.  Since I had never actually observed any legislative branch inaction, oops...in action, I decided to stick around for a little while.  I wasn't able to follow too closely on what specific topics were being discussed, but I found one thing interesting.  They seemed to be taking verbal votes person by person.  Most capitols I have been to have installed simple electronic devices for legislators to push a yes or no button and get instant results from every member.  This technology dates back to 1869, and it was actually Thomas Edison's first patented invention; although, at the time it was considered too slow and was never used.  In any case, I stuck around for about half and hour observing the constant commotion of public servants getting up and wandering around the room to chat with each other while others attempted to present information and arguments for or against different bits of legislation.  Along with that, the constant groans and creaks of 150 old wooden chairs as 150 people took their turn shifting their weight.

After departing the state house, I made my way to the town of Waterbury, home of the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory.  There I took a tour of the large production facility that all started because friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield wanted to open a small business.  Apparently, the only reason there wasn't a Ben & Jerry's Bagel Company is because the ice cream mixer was cheaper than the bagel maker.  The two friends opened their first small scoop shop after taking a $5.00 correspondence course (they both aced the open-book test).  Now the factory houses a 1,000 gallon mixing tank, multiple 500 gallon base mix tanks, two freezers capable of freezing 700 gallons an hour, "chunk feeders", "variegators" (for flavor swirls), a "pint filler", and a multi-story "spiral hardener" that remains at 60 degrees below zero and freezes the ice cream from 22 degrees above zero down to ten below as it travels up the spiraling conveyor belt to the top.  The factory is capable of producing 190,000 pints of ice cream each day, and each employee is allowed three free pints each and every day.  Most of the employees use these pints as a sort of trading currency with nearby restaurants and bars.  One bar has a popular "pint for a pint" deal at their tap.  During the tour we sampled a flavor called Choc-Cow-late Chip, and I also stopped at the scoop shop outside the front door to try scoops of Cherry Garcia, Maple Blondie, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  While enjoying my ice cream, I wandered up the hill behind the factory to a small "Flavor Graveyard" that has small tombstones for each of the company's failed flavors.  Ones such as, "Miz Jelena's Sweet Potato Pie", "Holy Cannoli", and "Economic Crunch."  Each flavor had a little rhyming epitaph to mock its demise and prove that this is one company that knows how to laugh at itself.

After leaving Ben & Jerry's, I drove to Burlington, VT for the night.
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