Thursday, September 01, 2011

Summer ‘11 Travels: Bennington VT

Bennington Sign
Summer 2011 has been packed full of travel! We love to see new places and experience new things, and this year, we indulged. During September, I’ll be highlighting some of it, although not in order.

I’m starting with a place I’ve wanted to visit for at least 3 years, ever since I decided to set Off The Moon partly in Bennington, VT. Why? It worked for the story, it’s in the northeast (which I love), and it gave me a good excuse to want to explore a new state. I’ve been to most. Now I can add Vermont to that list.

My husband and I have talked about taking a bike trip for some time. Now that our youngest is 18 and my husband had leave time built up, we grabbed the chance. We set up 5 days of leisurely travel on the Harley, packed light (there’s only so much you can fit on a Harley, even with two saddlebags), left enough food for the kids and dogs, and took off … under iffy skies. Luckily, it held out well. Other than finding, on our first long bike trip, that taking back roads adds more than twice the time interstates take, we made our way through the west edge of scenic PA along Route 6 through the Alleghenies to the west edge of scenic VT by evening of the second day (600+ miles).

Coming into Bennington

We’re used to rolling hills, and we love them. But VT has Mountains! I couldn’t stop staring out at them and taking far too many photos in the hopes some would turn out well (while riding on the back of a bike with sun glare on the view screen and dark sunglasses on, it’s hard to tell what you’re getting.)  In this one, you can see the tip of the Bennington Battle Monument.

We talked about staying at Four Chimneys if they had space available, but since we wanted to be off the bike for the night and walk around town, we opted to drive into the middle of Downtown Bennington. We found a quaint Motor Lodge right beside this gorgeous Episcopal church. (How can you not sleep well with this at your side?)  As it turns out, the lodge is run by one of the Chamber of Commerce members (maybe he said president? we were tired by then and my memory is faulty) who directed us to some nice choices for a nice meal.

We chose Carmody’s, an Irish restaurant and pub, established around the year 2000, although it was there under different names long before that. It turned out to be a wonderful choice! Have you ever had Irish Nachos? Incredible, and I’d take the fried potatoes topped with corned beef and cheese over regular nachos any day. And then there was the meatloaf with Guinness sauce. Mmm.. I think hubby will agree to visit Bennington again just to enjoy that luscious Irish gravy again! They’re also super friendly. (I only got the left edge of Carmody’s in the photo – thought I had a better one.. sigh. But if you check the white sign on the green building, that’s the Bennington Banner.)

Downtown Bennington
Here’s what we saw as we walked from the motel up the street into the main part of town. It’s a beautiful and well-cared-for town that shows its pride in being a large part of the battle for American Independence, as well as a wonderful tourist stop.

This is Evan’s Country Store. Fans of Rehearsal will understand why I had to grab a photo of this little shop that has souvenirs of Bennington. Across the road is Doug’s, a sports bar we didn’t visit this time. Apparently, there is also a Ryan’s Café on Main Street, also a bar, which we didn’t see, but we sure would have stopped in if we had! (Yes, only those who have read Off The Moon will get the reference.) We did stop for a drink at Madison Brewing Company, a microbrewery where families stop for a meal, as well.

We also stopped at the library the next morning. Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, its hours are currently limited and it didn’t open until 1 pm. With our schedule limits, we had to bypass it this time.

Bennington Bookshop
The Bennington Bookshop was open, though! I stopped and grabbed a few postcards and browsed their fairly large local author rack. With limited space on the bike, I figured I’d better be good and only browse. I did leave bookmarks for Off The Moon. Thank you to the manager for allowing it, and if any of their customers happen to find this post, they can order it for you.  Winking smile

Simply walking along town is a nice relaxing treat. Along with being clean and pretty and having hand-painted brick-like crosswalks, the street is lined with both these advertising cultural banners (can you tell this one features a guitarist?) and the Bennington Flag. We asked why they had “76” flags out when we visited the Monument and were proudly told that the Bennington Flag commemorates the town’s part in the victory of American Independence and can be used in place of the Stars & Stripes.

More on the monument in the continued entry to come…


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