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21 Jun 2007
Montshire Museum in Norwich VT and Green Mountain Railroad

“Toy story” makes debut in Vermont this summer
By Kevin Coburn
Manager, Public Relations
Montshire Museum of Science

If your parents never let you break open your Etch A Sketch® to find out how it works, you’ll love Toys: The Inside Story, now open at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt. The new exhibition illustrates simple mechanisms commonly found in toys, and lets visitors create their own toy-like combinations of gears, pulleys, linkages, cams, and circuits.

Toys will be on display every day at the Museum through September 9. The museum unmasks the amazing collection of switches, cams and motors that make an Elmo doll dance and Mr. Machine® run. Adults will discover the “inner life” of favorite toys from their childhood like the Etch A Sketch® and the Operation® game while children will delight in the many hands-on components.

Toys: The Inside Story is free with Museum admission. (Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for children ages 3-17, with children under 3 free). The Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week throughout the year, with new extended hours 10 am through 7:30 p.m. each Friday.

By the way, Green Mountain Railroad is now operating weekend trips to the Montshire every weekend from June 30-September 2. The White River Flyer leaves the White River Jct. depot at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 2:30 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday, arriving 25 minutes later at the museum's front doorstep.

The Flyer also offers short round-trip excursions from the Museum to Thetford, Vermont, and back (these trips leave the Montshire at 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. These excursions last about an hour round-trip. Visit the White River Flyer Summer Schedule for more details.
posted by  grunhaus at  11:32 | permalink

16 Apr 2007
Travel Plan Idea Blog About Burlington
The Travel Plan Idea Blog is enjoyable to read because it covers many intriguing places to visit all over the world. As the blog name says, it's a very good source of ideas for planning your travels. Recent in-depth articles focused on Thailand, Italy, surprising new trends in honeymoons, and St. Barts.

Out of curiosity, I recently tried the blog's search function using the term "Vermont." The results came back with a few hits including an article entitled "What To Do in Burlington, Vermont" written by the blog's owner, James Trotta. It turns out he was a camp counselor in Burlington back in 2000. He wrote the article last summer with the caveat that some of it may be outdated. Most of the information is still good and I have updated a few items below.

Sweet Tomatoes Trattoria is still there and last year received an excellent rating on one travel website.

The Wine Works bar he mentions is now called "drink" while the rest of the operation is a wine retail store that retains the original Wine Works name.

JP's Pub on Main Street is a smaller venue that's big on fun and it continues its popular karaoke tradition.

Church Street is a four block former street that was converted to a brick paved pedestrian mall. Lined with restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, and distinctive stores, it is the center of entertainment in northern Vermont. There are also pubs and restaurants on nearby streets.

Burlington is VT's largest city (population, 45,000) and it's also a big college town. The University of Vermont (everyone here calls it by its Latin initials, UVM, Universitas viridis montis, the University of the Green Mountains); St. Michael's College; and Champlain College make up the triad of higher education in this clean and pleasant city.

The other great area to visit in town is the waterfront which also has a fine lineup of restaurants, museums, marinas, cruise boats and a wonderful view across the lake to the Adirondack Mountains in NY. It's a popular place to watch bright pink and red sunsets in the evening. James mentions The Spirit of Ethan Allen cruise ship that is still in operation but is now on its third new ship which was launched about four years ago. Another cruise line started a few years ago. It's called Northern Lights, a smaller ship but more upscale.

The Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream factory is about five miles from our inn and it still has the tours that James mentions. The factory and its tours are the number one tourist attraction in Vermont. During the late summer and fall foliage periods, the wait times for the tour can get long so we recommend to our guests that they get there either early or late in the day in order to avoid the crowds.

I have had a link to the Travel Plan Idea Blog on my Vermont Travel Notes blog for some time now and it is one of the web sites that I take a look at every day.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
posted by  grunhaus at  19:26 | permalink

25 Jan 2007
Robert Frost Museum

Everyone thinks of Robert Frost as a New England poet and it's therefore surprising to learn he was born in California and spent the first eleven years of his life there. That's just one of the interesting tidbits you can learn about America's most famous modern poet at a museum and web site dedicated to remembering his life.

The Robert Frost Museum is located in the C. 1796 stone house where Frost lived from 1920 to 1929. Located in Shaftsbury Vermont (southern part of the state), the house is just a few minutes drive from Frost's burial site in Bennington.

The museum is maintained by the Friends of Frost group which also has an online Frost Free Libraryof downloadable books and articles about Frost, plus an audio recording of him reading some of his poems.

(c) 2007 (except the photograph from the Friends of Frost) Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  14:23 | permalink

23 Jul 2006
"News from Vermont"
I just received an email from my friend Burr Morse and I thought I would share it with you.

Burr and his brother Elliot are seventh generation Vermonters. They, and others of the Morse clan, run Morse Farm, a few miles north of Montpelier, and about 20 to 30 minutes from our inn.

Like many Vermont farms that originally relied upon dairy farming to make a living, the Morse’s turned to other activities when the price of milk dropped years ago. In order to keep the farm going, they added other revenue sources. Like many Vermonters, they already made maple syrup. They expanded that business and opened a store to sell the syrup and other Vermont products.

The operation grew to include a small, rustic theater where they present a multi-media show on how syrup is made, a demonstration area, and some small, whimsical displays. In winter, they operate a cross country ski area through their fields and woods.

Next came the tour buses, and now Morse Farm sells products online too. When people ask us where they can find a maple sugaring operation, this is where we send them.

One of the things Burr does to market the business and, I suspect, keep his muse going, is write an email newsletter called “News From Vermont.” Mostly, it’s stories of friends, relatives, adventures, memories, mishaps, and observations of childhood, life, the passing of life, travel, music, literature, and experiences.

The stories often contain humor. They're interesting and give a glimpse into a real Vermont family and way of life. The most recent newsletter tells the story of Burr being invited to give the sermon at the Methodist Church in Adamant, Vermont.

That’s right, there really is a town named Adamant. That’s not its original name and you’ll be surprised to see what it was named originally because of its reputation. The town has a, let’s say, colorful past and Burr does a good job connecting it to the present and how it intersected with his, and his ancestors’, lives.

Burr collected some of the newsletters into a book entitled "Sweet Days and Beyond."

Here is a sample of a newsletter from a while back:

“Hi again. It's Burr from Vermont.

“Did you ever hear a hummingbird scream? Well, actually they don't really scream but make a sort of a feeble peep..."feep, feep, feep". The other day I was going home for lunch. As I passed through our loading dock, there was a tiny hummingbird fluttering against the roofing between two rafters. He was in great distress, feep, feep, feeping, and taking quite a battering. He could have escaped very easily by simply losing a few inches in altitude and flying out the large opening over the loading dock but was bent on only going up. I felt sorry for the little guy, but thought he would surely figure it out while I was at lunch. Half an hour later I returned and there he was, still in a panic between those rafters. Clearly the little guy needed my help so I got the step ladder and climbed to where I gently grabbed him and released to the freedom of the great outdoors.

This reminds me of a story my father, Harry, used to tell. He came across a skunk one day whose front end was firmly stuck in a jar while its back end was a rigid turret, poised and ready for action . . .”

Go to the newsletter page to read the rest of the newsletter, then sign up to receive future newsletters. If you can, please buy some maple syrup and his book while you’re at it so all the rest of us can continue enjoying his newsletter.

I mentioned at the beginning of this screed that Burr is a friend of mine. Actually, I’ve only met him a couple of times and chatted for just a few minutes each time. But I feel like I know him very well because of the newsletter he sends me. If you sign up for his newsletter, soon you too will find yourself looking forward to hearing from an old friend.

(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus LLC
posted by  grunhaus at  14:06 | permalink

15 Jul 2006
Ben & Jerry's Flavor Graveyard
Here is a link to a July 14 Christian Science Monitor article about the Flavor Graveyard at the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory here in Waterbury. Ben & Jerry’s is the number one tourist attraction in Vermont. They have an entertaining tour of the factory that is available every day except a few holidays such as Christmas day.

The graveyard is for "retired" flavors that did not sell well enough to keep around. Ben & Jerry's introduces upwards of a dozen new flavors every year so some of the old, slow-selling flavors have to be deleted from the lineup.

Each failed flavor has a tombstone with a clever epitaph such as this one for Cinnamon Ice Cream: "When this flavor passed there was no outpouring. For most found it dull and the rest found it boring."

If they move the article on the Christian Science Monitor website, just put the newspaper's name and the words Ben & Jerry's in a search engine and you will probably find it easily enough. The title of the article is "Ice cream that's put out to pasture," and it was written by Teresa Mendez.

You can see more information about the flavor graveyard at the Ben & Jerry's website.

(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus LLC
posted by  grunhaus at  19:56 | permalink

4 Jul 2006
Cruise / Sail Lake Champlain
Cruising Lake Champlain is very enjoyable and different way to see Vermont and New York from the wide vistas of the water instead of the road.

The Spirit of Ethan Allen has been plying the waters for 22 years. Four years ago, they purchased the spirit of Ethan Allen III, which holds 500 people.

The Ethan Allen III is heated, air conditioned, has three decks, and is handicap accessible. It sails out of the Burlington boathouse and operates from late May to mid October. There is a 90 minute scenic narrated cruise that sails four times a day and there are brunch, dinner, sunset and music cruises as well – see the schedule for more details.

Keep this in mind for fall foliage viewing as well. Note the $1 discount coupon button on the home page.

Northern Lights is a newer operation that began a couple of years ago but it is owned by the company that has been operating car ferries on Lake Champlain for more than a hundred years. Northern Lights can carry up to 150 people.

“The M/V Northern Lights is a 115 foot long cruise boat built in 2002 with the traditional lines and layout of 19th and early 20th century lake steamboats.

“The mahogany finished main lounge is a beautiful setting for any event. The open upper deck allows full enjoyment of the beautiful summer weather on Lake Champlain.

“The boat's name is inspired by the breathtaking displays of the Aurora Borealis that is sometimes seen shimmering over Lake Champlain after sunset.”

Like the Spirit of Ethan Allen, it sails out of Burlington. There are two scenic cruises every day plus luncheon and brunch cruises.

TIP: for both cruise ships, it’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure the cruise has not been booked for a private group. It does not happen often but you might like to know ahead of time unless you don’t mind wandering the waterfront or downtown Burlington for a couple of hours until the next cruise. Of course, if it’s the last cruise of the day, you may have to wait until the next day. Spirit of Ethan Allen phone number is 802-862-8300 and Northern Lights is 802-864-9669.

Another enjoyable way to see the Lake is on one of the three car ferries. There is one on the northern part of the lake (12 minutes crossing time), one in the middle of the lake (one hour crossing time), and one at the southern end (20 minutes).

There are eight ferries making the three crossings so the wait time is not very long for any of them. I’ve taken the southern crossing several times and enjoyed it a great deal. There are wonderful views of the Green Mountains of VT and the Adirondacks of NY.

The northern crossing and the southern crossing operate year around. The middle crossing from Burlington to Port Kent NY begins in May and ends in October.

The rates for all three vary and get a little too lengthy to explain here but there are full rate schedules on the web site. No reservations are needed. You don't have to take your car on the ferry - they are happy to accept pedestrian passengers and they charge less for that. There is a parking lot near all three ferries where you can leave your car.

If you are looking for something more exciting and closer to the water, try the Whistling Man Schooner . It sails from the same dock as the Spirt of Ethan Allen. It's a beautiful and classic sail boat.

From their website:

“The Friend Ship is a boat design that has been built all over New England for over a hundred years. The type is named after the town of Friendship, Maine, where builders such as Wilbur Morse brought them to the state of refinement that you see today. On the coast, they were built and used by fisherman and lobstermen for hauling traps, while shipwrights right here in Burlington built them for light cargo and recreation. . .

“In the late 1970's, a Maine boat builder named Jarvis Newman discovered an old lobster sloop named Dictator. He took it upon himself to completely restore her to original condition. Once he finished, he took a mold off of her hull, and over the years, built numerous reproductions of the Dictator. . .

"Our boat, Friend Ship, was built from that mold by Jarvis Newman in Southwest Harbor Maine in 1981. She is gaff-rigged and her spars are varnished solid spruce. Friend Ship is Lake Champlain's only US Coast Guard certified sailing vessel, and can accommodate up to 17 passengers.”

It usually sails three times a day from May to mid October but is weather dependent. The cost is $30 per person. Reservations are recommended. Contact Captain Glen Findholt, (802) 598-6504, email wmsc1@attglobal.net

Sailboat and yacht charters are available from the Winds of Ireland Their fleet of seven sloops ranges from a 30’ Hunter to a Hunter 410. You can rent for a half day or full day, or charter for longer periods. For details, call (800) 458-9301. Also located on the waterfront in Burlington.

In addition, there are fishing charters and small boat rentals available at marinas around the lake.

(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus LLC
posted by  grunhaus at  21:02 | permalink

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