Thursday, July 09, 2020

Enjoying Vermont

Well, if you can't travel to exotic places, you can enjoy your own state. And Vermont is a beautiful one. After months of not straying more than 5 miles away from home, we're starting to explore our local area. And after months of eating my own cooking, we're beginning to eat out, and literally as we are not ready to dine inside.
This last week was a busy one. We picked a piled-up flat of strawberries over at Breezy Hill Berry Farm in Castleton. Happily, it was overcast with a slight drizzle - much better than the sun beating down. They were just going by so lots of overripe ones but we managed to find a good selection. But by the time we got home, many were looking soft. The answer came quickly - strawberry jam! We pulled out our canning equipment and got to work. After a big pot of mashed strawberries were bubbling away on the stove, we sliced up and froze the rest (more than a few went into our mouths).
Our next adventure came on the Fourth of July itself. It was a gorgeous morning and promised to be a hot one. So we left early for the Taconic Ramble State Park, also in Castleton and close to the Hubbardton Battle Site (the only Revolutionary battle fought entirely in what would become Vermont). The Taconic Ramble State park was donated to our state by Carson "Kit" Davidson, documentary filmmaker and author and his wife Mickie, a children's book writer. He invested his heart and soul into the land for over 46 years, blazing trails, preserving wildflower meadows, and building a Japanese garden. He encouraged conservation, public access, and community involvement by opening his land to any who wished to enjoy it. At his death in 2016, the 204 acres became Vermont's newest State Park.
We enjoyed the Japanese Garden and expanse of wildflower meadows first and then climbed to the top of Mt. Zion for expansive views. The trail up from the rock garden had switchbacks but the trail down, clearly marked "difficult" went straight down through the cliffs. It was rather fun for us but not for anyone that feared heights. The trails were all well marked and easy to follow. A trail map is located in the parking lot.
After months of not eating anything but my cooking (not that it's bad!), we are now enjoying eating out. Recently we've been to Tozier's for fried seafood, Sugar & Spice for breakfast, and the Rustic Rooster for lunch. All were outside with well-spaced tables and the staff all wore masks.

Part of the assembly line

We added only lemon juice and sugar to
the mixture

Scott sterilizes the canning jars and lids
While we're in the kitchen, let me introduce
our new Vermont Castings stove, just
installed. Our old one had literally fallen
apart and we wanted to take advantage of
all the rebates available. 
At the Taconic Ramble State Park,
there are lots of chairs scattered around where you can
contemplate the view.
The wildflower meadows are extensive and additional trails that we didn't have time to explore wait for us at another time.
We skipped the ladder just visible on the left and took the
Garden trail more to the right. That led to the Cave trail,
Spring trail, and then the Jan trail to the top of Mt. Zion.
It took a lot of work to design and build this beautiful
combination of rock and water features. 
There is a different view every time you turn your head.
Another time I'd like to just sit awhile and take it quietly in.
We only saw one other group during our stay and that was
briefly on top of the mountain.
You can see the cliffs here in the background.
There is a long ridge on top of Mt. Zion with several views and a well placed picnic table. Next time we'll bring lunch.
Lunch at the Rustic Rooster here in Cuttingsville. We've
been lucky with beautiful weather allowing us to eat
out - literally.