Monday, 18 June 2012

Down at Heel Buffalo to Beautiful Stowe

Wet, grey, cool and a long drive to Buffalo where it was still grey and dreary. Buffalo is a very big city, but its glory days are long past, I think. That said, I think I had my best meal there at the Chocolate & Martini Bar – Pecan crusted chicken breast with citrus salsa, fresh corn and sweet potato chips.  Tomorrow to Niagara Falls.

Another grey day to begin but in the short drive to Niagara Falls, the weather cleared up sufficiently so that the white mist rising from the falls did not merge into the misty rain and low cloud. There certainly were a lot of nationalities queuing for the “Maid of the Mist” boat ride to the base of the falls. Blue plastic ponchos were handed out to everyone – mine reached to the ground, but Peter’s barely made it to his knees. Once the boat was loaded up, it motored up towards the falls. Plenty of photo opportunities but once we were directly in front of that huge rushing waterfall, it was impossible to take photos with the amount of water spraying onto everything. The trip only took about 15 minutes then we were back at the dock disembarking. It certainly was an experience not to be missed, but I think the Victoria Falls and the Iguassu Falls are more impressive.

Back on our mini coach for the long drive to Vermont, arriving at the Trapp Family Lodge at Stowe about 10.30pm. Waking in the morning we could see the beautiful trees and mountains all around. Vermont is a stunningly beautiful part of America and we can only imagine what it would be like in autumn.

After a very nice breakfast, we drove into Stowe village for an hour or so browsing the lovely shops there before moving on to Ben & Jerry's Icecream factory. It is a very popular excursion for both adults and children learning how this company began and viewing the automated room where the icecream is made. Everyone got a free sample at the end of the tour – in our case it was a ‘new’ flavour  which was icecream with pineapple. Our group did not think it had a future! They have a huge range of flavours but some do not ‘make the grade’ and are discontinued and so the company has set up a small ‘cemetery’ to commemorate these. Only in America! Another stop was at The Cold Hollow Cider Mill where the make beautiful apple cider. Stowe village is very pretty with interesting and different shops – and plenty of quality souvenirs as well.

Back at the Lodge and on our way to lunch, we found an elderly lady who had fallen down in a quiet part of the garden and could not get up. Peter and I helped her up and guided her along to where her tour group were waiting with a very impatient American tour guide. “Hurry up – you were supposed to be here at 2 o’clock”, she was not at all sympathetic to the poor lady.  So uncaring and downright rude!
Later I went off to the Fitness Centre for an hour’s massage – bliss. Peter stayed in our room with the computer and was visited by a dog – an Australian Shepherd (must have recognised the Aussie accent!). The people in the next room had their 4 dogs there for the next day’s Dog Trials being held at the Trapp Family property. As a result later on we had an enjoyable and friendly chat with them on the adjoining balcony.  In the evening, our group had drinks together before heading into town for a lovely evening meal together at O’Grady’s Pub.

Sadly, we left this lovely mountain top lodge in the morning and drove through beautiful Vermont (so green!) to Portland by the sea. We stopped in at York, Maine by Nubble Lighthouse for fish and chips sitting outside in the sunshine and then continued the drive along the coast to Portland passing through Kennebunk Port. This old seaport was just lovely and is very popular in summer for vacations.

We only had a short stay in Portland but took a ferry boat ride around the many islands off the coast. Many people live on these islands and commute by the ferry. It also brings and offloads ordered goods for the island people. It was lovely cruising back to the Portland ferry terminal as the sun went down on another beautiful day.  

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