I’m sure you’re guilty of this, too. At every family gathering, every Christmas and wedding, we tell Josh’s Aunt Sue that we really want to visit her in Vermont. And trust me, we REALLY mean it. Not only is she awesome, but she runs a farm and apparently has the most stunning views from her old farm house.
But then things happen. We traveled for other reasons, we got married, things got busy. So when she announced she was leaving Vermont for good this spring, we were like whoops!
We aimed to drive out for Easter, and then Josh had to work. Last weekend was the only alternative. Which was great ’cause it meant we were visiting Sue five days before she packed up her house and moved halfway across the country.
Probably not an ideal time to have guests, but hey, we did bring back some of her stuff. Like four whole bags worth!
Josh and I left home at 4:30 on a Wednesday. We dialed Sure’s address into GPS and boom. 1,296 miles.
I immediately felt a wave of panic wash over my body like a Victoria’s Secret model rolling around on a Caribbean beach. Except waaaay less sexy, cuz all I could think about was how I was going to have to sit in the car for 20-some hours… and then do it again two days later! I’ve done long road trips before, and I love them, but there is something unsettling about knowing there’s 20-some hours of driving between you and home. I dunno, maybe I panic because I recently had the flu. Oh god, what if I get the flu?! Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it.
Luckily, I did not get the flu, a bladder infection, food poisoning or any other illness definitely not suited to distance driving. We made it as far as scenic Gary, Indiana, catching a few hours of shuteye at the Best Western (they allow dogs!). When we plotted our course the next morning, I was thrilled to see we’d be driving through Cleveland at noon!
I’ve wanted to check out Cleveland for years. I word vomited at Josh about Michael Symon, Jonathon Sawyer and West Side Market. For three full hours. We decided to hit up West Side Market, one of the most beautiful and oldest markets in the country.
After searching out a parking space for 15 minutes, we marched right up to door, ready to mow down on pierogies and sausages and who knows what else.
Look how cool the building is!
And then, like a cold hearted slap in the face from a feisty Polish grandma, this:
Apparently, these weens are only open Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday. WTH!!! There is a restaurant onsite that did appear to be open. So we walked over there and some employee said, all irritated, we close at noon.
Oh, of course! Just in time for lunch.
So we grabbed lunch at a brewery next door, which wasn’t that good but hey. Beer. An hour later, we were back on the road.
We arrived at Sue’s around 10 pm and chatted for about an hour before hitting the hay so hard.
When we woke up, this:
About 1,300 people call Danby home. In some ways, it reminded me of Wisconsin, except more rural with way less bars. I think we decided the nearest one to Sue’s house was a 20 minute drive. Sconnies would not stand for that. For what Danby (maybe most of Vermont?) lacks in city conveniences, it more than makes up for it with nature!
We took lots of long walks with the pups, exploring the 5,000 acre farm Sue’s called home for eight years.
There’s an olde timey cemetery on the property, which is catnip for anyone carrying a fancy camera.
I even got to drive the tractor, which was scary at first (Hey Eleanor!), but fun after I figured out how all the gears worked.
Since it was Sue’s last weekend in town, we headed to the winter farmers market in Rutland so she could say her goodbyes to her fellow farmers. She’s normally selling maple syrup and grass fed beef. But this time, we all just got to go as regular ol’ people. Here’s some of our faves.
Chaga Moon Tea
It’s tea made from mushrooms foraged on birch trees. Sounds disgusting, but it is delicious (and way good for you!). We bought a half gallon of the orange ginger stuff. It’s a bit like chai tea, only you can’t get it at Starbucks.
Both Josh and Sue are from Wisconsin, which means they were born with a palate for fine cheese. We bought some of this stuff, plus squeaky cheese curds. I don’t know about you guys, but unless cheese curds are fried to perfection, they do nothin for me. But the Sconnies loved ’em.
We were hungry after the 45 minute drive (which is close, in Vermont terms), and this pulled pork empanada from Ana’s hit the spot.
Sauerkraut & Bison Sausage
I’m starting to think Vermont is Wisconsin’s east coast doppelgänger. Kraut & sausage! All they’re missing is beer.
We found beer, too. The Long Trail Brewery taproom offered tons of IPA, plus a few lighter ales.
We ordered a sampler and it arrived in a muffin tin. That’s genius!
Soft serve ice cream infused with real maple syrup– my favorite ice cream topping of all time. Worth ordering, even if you might have to say the word creemee. Ew.
Though we spent less than 48 hours in Vermont, it was still completely worth the drive. So much fun, so pretty and lots of good food. Plus, who doesn’t love an adventure?!
On our way back, we decided to make a pit stop at Niagara Falls. It added about an hour to our drive, but worth it– especially since I’m very committed to my goal to see more of America. Can you believe I did the Grand Canyon & Niagara Falls in a month-ish? By the way, for as beautiful as Niagara Falls is, the town is the exact opposite.
The Canadian side is all huge hotels and casinos, so I’m not sure if that’s better or worse.
Apparently THE Niagara Falls view is from the Canadian side, but since we didn’t have passports, were toting a dog and a cooler full of meat, we stayed on the American side. Fun fact: I’ve been to all seven continents, but I’ve never been to Canada. Canada is a six hour drive from my house. Adding it to my to-do list right now!
Here’s Bridal Veil Falls. Check out that serious ice.
We made it home at 11 pm on Sunday night. 2,600 miles, 44 hours of driving, five days. What can I say? It was a little bit crazy. But sometimes you just gotta embrace the crazy.
A shout out to Sue for hosting us (she’s probably doing this same drive as I write this!), as well as to the folks at Invisibilia, Nom Nom Paleo, The Lifesize Liberation, and The Podcast Method for keeping us entertained with hours of podcasts. Listen to them all on your next cross country trip. The time will fly.