Of Food and Friends

Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
Trip End Nov 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Eve's House (Mick's sort-of aunt/cousin)

Flag of United States  , Vermont
Sunday, September 19, 2010


Day 1

Before we fell asleep we agreed to get up before sunrise and drive to Acadia National Park's tallest point: Cadillac Mountain - "the tallest mountain on the eastern seaboard north of Brazil." More superlatives! We couldn't make it out of bed in time to see the sun rise, but we did get up to the top in the early morning with bagels in hand. We didn't stay at the peak for too long - when you're used to the Sierra Nevadas, Cadillac Mountain seems more like a tall hill. No offense Cadillac! We did take some great pics and videos though, and the excitement from the loads of cruise ship tourists was infectious.

When we got back to the car, we noticed our Rocketbox was getting some attention. In addition to storing our camping gear on the top of the car, we've been writing each city we stop in around the edge of the rocket box, which has inspired some comments from friendly strangers. This time, the Rocketbox admirer was a bicyclist from Santa Cruz. He was very friendly and enthused about our adventures, and we shared some travel tips before heading out for our 8 hour journey to Vermont.

The drive was beautiful. We decided to take the advice of a few friends and drive the slightly longer route through the White Mountain National Forest. We were in awe of the fall colors - dark reds and oranges and bright yellows blanketed the mountains surrounding us. . . and all those pretty New England Churches, we were living in a post card.

We arrived at Mickey's mom's cousin's (Eve) house just before it got dark. Eve lives near the capital of Vermont, Montpelier, in area called the Mad River Valley, "Mad" because their river flows from South to North. Eve showed us around her amazing home, complete with barn and tree house, and then we headed out for dinner at one of the Mad River Valley's favorite hangouts. "American Flatbread" makes pizza on it's own farm, in it's own big red barn. We got to sit right next to the wood oven and watch the pizza makers at work.

This pizza was the closet thing we've found so far to our favorite Bay Area pizza, Cheeseboard. They both have seasonal and local ingredients, delicious cheese, and a perfectly chewy thin crust (Brit still favors Cheeseboard’s sourdough crust, however). Cheeseboard is always vegetarian though, and we were pretty excited about American Flatbread’s local, organic sausage.

When we finally returned home to Eve’s place, we were  so tired we didn’t even turn on the TV we’d been so excited to see on our arrival, and instead crashed immediately on our comfy pullout bed.

Day 2
Our second day in Fayston began with adventure. After a pancake breakfast with actual Vermont maple syrup, we headed out into Eve’s driveway to saddle up for a ride in her horse carriage. Yes, you heard that right. Not a horse, but a horse carriage – a little two-person bench mounted  on some mountain bike wheels, with the whole thing somehow strapped to Scooby, Eve’s cute, though feisty, horse.

Eve prefaced the whole thing by saying that she might have to jump out of the carriage at some point if Scooby started heading for danger, and that we might be required to take the reigns in the meantime. Instilled with fear at the thought of being stuck on a runaway carriage, Mick mounted up beside Eve and they were off. The going was bumpy, but surprisingly fun. Scooby would slowly plod down a steep hill, working to brake the extra weight behind him, only to shoot up the next hill, gathering momentum at top speed so he could make it to the top. Mick was thoroughly enjoying himself, despite continuous flow of horse hair blowing directly into his face, making him sneeze the whole way. Eve circled Scooby back toward home so that Brit could get a chance to ride as well – we both agree that it was surprisingly fun, and a great way to see the Vermont countryside.

Next, we hopped in Eve’s car for a tour around town, which consisted mostly of stopping at these amazing farms to pick up produce for that night’s dinner. These farms were unlike any produce vendors we’d ever been to. Most were just wooden stands at the end of each farm’s driveway. You grab as much corn, tomatoes, squash, or any other veggie you want, and just leave the your payment in a jar sitting right there.

One farm in particular was a real treat. It’s called Gaylord Farms, and we highly recommend it to anyone passing through the Mad River Valley. Here, we not only got to grab some amazing produce and meat, we also got to meet the farmer who runs the place along with many of his animals including a massive bull (“Freckles”), some enormous pigs, and probably the cutest thing we’ve ever seen in our entire lives: baby piglets whose frolicking was the most convincing argument against bacon that we’ve come across.

We finished our tour at a deli across the river, where we got some sandwiches to eat overlooking the water. Then it was back to Eve’s house to get ready for the barbeque she’d planned for that evening. Lucky for us, Eve had invited some of her very cool friends, including the Faillaces, a great family with some amazing stories. Most noteworthy is their ongoing battle against the USDA, who wrongfully confiscated the sheep they were raising in order to divert blame during the mad cow scare. The family has published a book on the subject, called “Mad Sheep,” which we’re excited to read and recommend to all of you as well.

Dinner was scrumptious and the conversation was very interesting. We were grateful to have met the Faillaces, and wished them the best in their ongoing efforts (they gave us a signed copy of their book too!). At Eve’s beckoning, we left the dishes for the following morning and headed to bed.

Day 3
We woke up late and leisurely once again, and breakfasted on Eve’s tasty huevos rancheros. Then we headed out back to take a peek at her awesome tree house, which is a real work of art. Eve and her husband Gene worked with a local design and build school, called Yestermorrow, to complete the project as part of one of the school’s classes.

Eve had been telling us how cool Yestermorrow is the whole time we’d been in Vermont, so we decided to visit them for our next excursion. While there we saw Yestermorrow’s very own tree house (not quite as cool as Eve’s), toured their various workshops and classrooms, and spoke with some of the instructors about the possibility of getting involved in the future. We both agree that the prospect of spending a summer in Vermont, learning about green building techniques, eating local produce, and swimming in the Mad River sounds pretty good.

After returning to Eve’s for some rest and relaxation, we headed out for one last meal at “Big Picture” a combination movie theater and restaurant not far from the house. It was becoming clear that all food in Vermont is top-notch, and this place was no exception. True to the restaurant’s claims, the burgers were out of this world, and the salads were fresh and flavorful. Mick insisted that we share a slice of chocolate cake for dessert, which was the final straw. Full beyond repair, we headed home to rest our weary stomachs.
Slideshow Report as Spam


Aunt Sandy on

Hi Mick & Brit! Great commentary on your fabulous adventure. Did your dad ever tell you that we also went to Cadillac Mountain as kids? Our father took us on a big adventure driving from NY to Quebec and we drove through Vermont and Maine. At the time none of us had been out West so we thought Cadillac Mountain was a HUGE mountain. After living in California and seeing the Alps I agree that Cadillac is more of a rolling hill...but the scenery is beautiful. Thanks for keeping in touch and we look forward to the next stop. Sending lots of love your way.

Aunt Sandy

frerddy on

hola me alegro que la esten pasando muy bien y que sigan haci cuidense mucho los dos y mike tienes que seguir con el proyecto queiro ver resultados
y uno tiene que lleavr mi nombre jajajaja
hasta pronto los queiro

Jeannie on

I hope you're keeping a record of all these great eating places. Maybe you need to publish a travel-eating guide!

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