West Baden Springs Indiana

West Baden Springs Indiana
Inside of the AMAZING West Baden Springs Resort in Indiana.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Waybury Inn in East Middlebury Vermont Part 1

I previously mentioned that there were two things that I had to do in Vermont.  One of those things was to visit Will Knight and to buy a piece of art work from him.  Well, I did that.  The other thing that was a total must while in Vermont was to spend some time at the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury Vermont.

Why did I have to visit this Inn you may ask.  Well, when I was growing up in western Kentucky, I loved watching the Newhart Show.  Do you remember it?  It was easily one of the funniest shows ever made.... and it was just weird too!  The show starred Bob Newhart as an author who, along with his wife played by Mary Frann, moves to Vermont to run a historic Inn.

Well, when they get to the small Vermont town, things are kind of weird.  Newhart's character becomes friends with a pathological liar, a somewhat slow handyman, an egotistical TV producer, and the inn's maid is a spoiled rich girl worth millions.  Oh, and three backwoods brothers named Larry Darryl and Darryl become breakout stars.  Like I said the show was funny, but it was weird too.  Take away the laugh track, and the shows might almost have a Twilight Zone feel to them.  Bob Newhart, the one normal guy in town, is surrounded by exaggerated characters that simply don't make sense.

The show was so brilliant.  Bob Newhart's always deadpan straight guy worked so perfectly on this series.

Over the years I have googled the show and bits of information on it.  I don't know when I found it out, but I did find a cool fact- the exterior shots of the Inn were filmed at the Waybury Inn in Vermont!

So, the Waybury Inn has been at the top of my list for some time.  As a fan of Newhart, this was one of those sites I have really wanted to visit for a while.

Its funny, when I watched the show, I always envisioned that the Inn was up on a hill, with a long drive somewhere very secluded.

Well, the Waybury Inn is close to other homes and it is close to a road.  It is on a nice little property, with a beautiful garden, but it wasn't as secluded as the Inn on the show seemed to me.  For the record, my wife disagreed with me.  She said she figured it was in a small town area, but not out in the middle of nowhere like I imagined.

We ended up spending two nights here.  AND this was a place that I wanted to spend some time just relaxing.  I wanted to enjoy all of that Newhart goodness.

We had a very nice, cozy room.  The Inn was a perfect, New England type of place.  Just being here was calming.

There are two very cool relics still at the Inn from its days on TV.

The Stratford Inn sign (that's what the Inn was called on Newhart) is proudly on display.  The Minute Man Café sign is also up in the area where we ate breakfast.  We set by it each morning.

Obviously the inside of the Inn doesn't resemble the TV Inn at all, but the interior was still very comfortable and nice.

There is a perfect downtown area nearby in Middlebury.  We found several cute little shops selling local products.  We had a nice cup of coffee at Carol's Hungry Mind Café, and we simply loved this area....

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Montpelier Vermont

The town of Montpelier really impressed us.  After our visit to the State House, we walked around and explored.

According to Wikipedia at this time, the population of the town is around 7,000, but it increases to about 21,000 during the day thanks to employment in the area.

The town feels bigger than that though.  It has a lot of pop to it.  There are several very nice restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, etc.  It feels more vibrant than a town of 21,000.

After leaving the State House, we looked for a specific restaurant recommended to us.  There is a cooking school, and the school prepares nice lunches daily.  We stopped here for a soup and sandwich deal.  They had just run out of corn chowder, and only had a very spicy chili left (and one of the two sandwich options was a meatball).  We enjoyed our nice lunch here, and we would go back, but you could tell this was a school café.

We were able to visit a couple of nice bookshops (I picked up a couple of presidential candidate cat toy dolls at one).  I noticed one playing John Prine over their speakers as I looked for books.  I felt very at home here!

We stopped by the very comfortable Capitol Grounds and Café Roasters which had some very nice coffee.  Very cool vibe here too.

And we simply enjoyed walking around here.  Montpelier is a really pleasant town with lots to do, but it still has a friendly small town feel.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Different Drummer: The Adventures of a Civil War Hero and Artist by Phyllis Scott Johnson

After our great tour of the Vermont State House in Montpelier, we stepped into the gift shop.  I had a pleasant conversation with a couple of ladies running the place.  They were very sweet, and very enthusiastic about Vermont's history.

I went on and on about how much I loved seeing the painting by Julian Scott at the State House.

Well, one of the ladies I was talking to told me about Phyllis Scott Johnson's book, "A Different Drummer:  The Adventures of a Civil War Hero and Artist" about Julian Scott.  I picked it up immediately in the gift shop.

Julian Scott served in the Civil War with the 3rd Vermont infantry lying about his age to join (he was 15, but said he was 16).  He served as a drummer, and won a Medal of Honor during his military career!

Scott was an exceptional artist though, and his works are still very admired.  I mentioned that his epic piece, "Battle of Cedar Creek" is proudly on display at the Vermont State House.

Author Phyllis Scott Johnson is related to Julian Scott (he is her great-uncle).  She has done a great job of creating an easy to read account of Julian Scott and his life.  This would be a very nice book for a young reader who is just getting interested in the Civil War. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

State House Montpelier Vermont

We had some time to play with in Montpelier, and we really wanted to see the State House, so we made this a priority.

We parked pretty much right in front of the building.  Metered parking spaces are in demand, but they were readily available on the day we were there.

We walked up the front walkway to the glistening building and we walked right in.

I expected metal detectors or some sort of greeting by security.  Instead, a very pleasant lady asked if we would like a tour.  We said yes and we were off!

Tours seemed to be going out pretty regularly.  We had a very nice, small tour of me, my wife, and another couple.  We visited several rooms where Vermont politicians do their thing.  There is an overwhelming painting by Civil War veteran/artist Julian Scott that would have made the stop here worth it if we only got to see this painting.  More on this later.

Our tour was probably 45 minutes or so long, but we really enjoyed it.  After our tour, we talked to one of the tour guides about Vermont, and Montpelier specifically.  She made many recommendations for us, though you could tell she was a bit torn about places in town to visit.  Her indecisiveness was from a genuine love of everything in the area.  She ended up telling us about several businesses, and many places we should think about for lunch.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier Vermont

Of all of the sugarshack places we stopped at in Vermont (there are MANY) there were a couple that we really liked.  Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier was one that we really enjoyed visiting.

The main shop was clean and cozy and had a nice selection of all sorts of local things...  And you could walk the grounds and check out some of the maple syrup making process!

Plus, they had cool folk art all over the place.

While we were there, there was a huge scale model of the Vermont State House too!

We made some purchases and realized that they had creemees here!  BUT, they also advertised maple coffee!  I knew that getting both would not be right.  I asked about the maple coffee, and the very helpful young lady working there told me that they just let ya use as much pure maple syrup in your coffee that you want.  I am certain that this young girl had no idea how sweet I like my coffee or she would not have offered all of the syrup I could use.... but it didn't matter.  I was again craving a creemee.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Saint Gaudens National Historic Site- Cornish, New Hampshire

The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is in New Hampshire, right across the Connecticut River from where we were staying in Vermont.

Sites managed by the National Park service are a bit scare in Vermont and New Hampshire, so we wanted to visit here... well, since it is a National Historic Site.

AND, because Saint-Gaudens is one of those people that you know about, but you kind of don't realize it.  As we visited, I realized that I had seen several of his works of art here and there in our travels.

Anyway, Augustus Saint-Gaudens lived and worked here from the 1880s until his death in 1907.  You can tour his home here (though none of his art is in the home).  We enjoyed our house tour but we really enjoyed walking around the gardens and seeing all of the amazing sculptures. 

One work that truly impressed me was a piece recently installed this year at the site called "Standing Lincoln."

You know I love Lincoln, and seeing great works of art inspired by him.  This particular casting was made using mold pieces restored from a copy made in 1966!  The VERY friendly park rangers here gave me a book about their copy of the 12 foot statue explaining how it was made and how they got it.  When Augustus was creating his original, he used a local man who was the same size as Lincoln for a model.

This was one of those parks we visited thinking that it would be nice and pleasant, but we left really impressed.  We ended up staying here longer than we anticipated, and we would definitely go back if we were in this neck of the woods.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Rabitt Hill Inn in Lower Waterford Vermont- part 2

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the over the top meals we enjoyed while staying at the Rabbit Hill Inn.

I have already gone on and on about how perfect our stay was, and our experience at their restaurant was the same.

Breakfast was included with our stay here, but dinner was not.  And, though a bit pricey, after reading reviews and recommendations, we knew that we would regret it if we did not splurge on dinner at the Rabbit Hill Inn.

On the night we arrived, our dinner reservations were for 6:45.  There is a very nice little bar area at Rabbit Hill Inn, so we decided to have a coffee and tea there as we waited for dinner.

I don't want to get too distracted on this point, but the coffee here was perfect.  If you love coffee, you know that some places just never get it right.  There are coffee shops that I enjoy going to that have good coffee, but its not perfect.  Some places get it perfect.  I think keeping your equipment clean, and keeping the coffee fresh will do it, but few places pay that much attention to detail.  Along with everything else, Rabbit Hill Inn got their coffee perfect.

And the bar area was so nice.  There were a few small tables, a book shelf with games, and some nice knick knacks displayed.  I didn't get a photo, but the bar looked very well stocked, and I am sure that anyone wanting a beverage here other than tea or coffee would be pleased.

At promptly 6:45 Donn, who had been helpful with us since we first stepped foot in the Inn, came to take us to our table, insisting on carrying my wife's tea.

Our waitress and Donn were both aware of every need, while also giving us time to enjoy our meal.  My drink was about half full at one point, and Donn refilled me while playfully promising me that my drink would not get that low again.

I started off with a great bowl of potato leek soup, and then had salmon with clams.

I know my photos don't really show how vibrant our meals looked (I didn't want to ruin the vibe with a photo flash here) but they looked incredible.

My salmon and clams were very unique and appreciated, and I am wishing I could find something similar again.  Sadly for me the dining experience AND the food will be in my mind forever as a great one time memory.

We shared a vanilla ice cream dessert that was made at the Inn.  No national brand name ice cream here.

During our meal, our waitress brought an interesting appetizer for us to try.  It was something the chef made up that was a date with bacon on it if I remember correctly.  She also gave us another bonus of a small rich chocolate cake type thing at the end of our meal.  I took a bite and loved it, but there simply was no more room inside of my stomach for anything else at this point!

For breakfast, we enjoyed another amazing meal at the Rabbit Hill Inn.

We started with a huge table of fruits and pastries.  Check out the photo.  At any hotel, this would be considered a nice, full breakfast.  Not here though.  We were able to order a very classy hot breakfast.

We loved it all.  I must say that I felt a bit cautious about corn in a tomato which came with my meal.  After trying it though, I was pleasantly surprised.  It looked attractive on the plate, and it tasted great!

Again, everything tasted great, and I look forward to future visits (and meals!) at the Rabbit Hill Inn.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont Part 1

We were talking to some friends as we were thinking about a trip to Vermont.  They have done a lot of travelling, and the topic of favorite inns came up.  We told them about ours, and they mentioned the Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford Vermont.  Our friends said this was their favorite inn ever!

Well, as we were thinking about going to Vermont, we thought that a stop here would be a must after their endorsement.

We checked Rabbit Hill Inn's web site, and saw that for a very nice upscale place, their prices were reasonable.  Plus, they had a ton of great reviews.  We made reservations!

We arrived here after a very pleasant and scenic drive.  The location of the Inn is secluded.  There is a nice old country church across the street, and a post office/library community building nearby.  There are a few other houses here and there, but you are out in rural Vermont for sure!

We were immediately welcomed by Leslie, who co-owns the inn with her husband Brian.  Leslie was very warm and she seemed eager to help us get all settled in.  She introduced us to another staff person, Donn, who showed us to our room.

We were able to take a look in to a few rooms that were not occupied and they all looked great.  Check out the photos.

One thing that we noticed as we explored, and something we noticed the entire time we were there is that the place is flawless.  We noticed no old furniture past its prime.  EVERYTHING was clean and new.  They aren't cutting corners here.

We were staying in the Hampshire Room, which had a nice fireplace in it.  We loved reading by it in the evening.

When we checked in, we found a nice card on our bed welcoming us personally.  It included the time of our dinner reservation, and the time for breakfast in the morning.

We ate very lightly on this day, as we knew we would be in for a treat at Rabbit Hill Inn as we had dinner reservations.  Still, we were very excited to see a nice pastry display for guests.  We indulged with some (but not much) restraint.

After dinner (and more on that later) we returned to our room to find that we had received turndown service.  AND, candles were lit with romantic jazz music playing from the room's CD player.  THIS was a very nice touch.

I have more to say about the Rabbit Hill Inn.....