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Trip Report After Irene - Vermont Quickie

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Having planned to visit the Brattleboro Farmers Market on Saturday Sept 3, we weren't sure if it was going to be possible especially after watching a video that showed a raging torrent thru the market area. During the week I checked news reports and saw that the market organizers were having a work day on Thurs and expect to open as usual today. Plan B was to open someplace else. Over 100 volunteers turned out and the market was ready. Some vendors have permanent booths, simple frame structures, that had to be rebuilt but if you weren't looking for flood damage, you might not have noticed the muddy leaves 6' up in a sapling, the dirt pushed around in the parking lot, and some damp areas covered with straw. I thought it might be muddy but it wasn't.
Great job, Vermonters!

I had read that this was one of Vermont's best markets and now we know why. It's open from 9-2 on Saturdays and everyone looked liked they were staying awhile. A few picnic tables are available and there's a giant sandbox for the kids. From the list of vendors I knew we would have no trouble finding somthing for lunch as well as future dinners. We stopped at the first Thai place to the right as you enter the market area. The line was short but we had enough time to decide on sharing a red curry, a Thai iced tea and we each chose a different appetizer. Summer rolls for me and Chicken Satay for DH. He said it was one of the best he's ever had. The curry was tasty and pretty good for something that had been kept warm for a while.

Another Thai place had an even longer line. We skipped "American" food and I ordered dumplings at the Chinese stand. There was even a stand for African food (sorry, I don't remember the country) with a line in front of it.

Musicians played as neighbors visited and compared hurricane stories. Lots of people were having lunch there and lots of people were buying wonderful vegetables and fruits. I was too late to see where the long stalks with what looked like fresh ginger or galangal attached came from. Otherwise, most fruits and vegetables were familiar. There was a very nice selection of healthy potted herbs, wines, hard cider, granola, several stands with baked goods, local meat (but no eggs!). You could also get a massage or buy handmade jewelry, felted or knit items. etc. I was surprised to see strawberries as well as blueberries and raspberries. Cantaloups were huge and there were several varieties of early apples.

Our day trip covered a lot of highway miles since we could do a triangle over to Keene and Brattleboro, then north on I91 to Norwich. There was no evidence of flood damage on the NH side of the Conneticut River. We stopped in Marlborough at Homestead Antiquarian books and another used bookstore in Keene. DH hasn't been to Keene in several years. It's a beautiful college town with a Main street loaded with shops and restaurants. They too had a large market going on.

We did see the first hints of fall, some red swamp maples already colored and some distant beginnings of orange in the hills. This is typical. Stressed trees and swamp maples always turn early.

There is bridge construction on I91 just south of Brattleboro but since traffic was light, there weren't any hold ups. We could see closed roads from the interstate plus there were warnings before we got off in Brattleboro that 9W had closures. No problems at all on I91 north to Norwich where we visited Dan and Wit's General Store and King Arthur Flour.

Dan and Wit's is listed as one of the top 5 general stores in Vermont according to Yankee Magazine. "If they don't have it, you don't need it." You can easily do a week's worth of grocery shopping, pick up some sewing notions or a pound of nails or get some paint for your bedroom. The floors are old wood and the store is a maze with a few dead ends like the paint dept. Outside some young children were having a bake sale to raise money for flood victims. We got some locally made kaiser rolls, light cream and a pair of striped wool Carhaart socks for DIL. You can also pick up a bundle of birch firewood. DH spotted a nifty cherry pitting gadget that I'm probably going to wish I had next cherry season.

King Arthur Flour is undergoing expansion which will include a cafe. I picked up semolina flour, black cocoa powder and peanut butter mini cups. I didn't want to break the bank which one could easily do since in addition to wonderful ingredients, the store sells baking pans, bread machines, and all sorts of gadgets. There are so many recipes on their website that I didn't think I needed to buy a cookbook. I think I made a mistake, however, in not buying a bottle of boiled cider syrup. There's always mailorder!

DH's energy level for road trips disipates around 2pm so we headed home with no more stops. We had heard that a section of West Lebanon NH stores had gotten flood damage but we saw little evidence of damage on Rt 4 thru Enfield, Canaan, etc. We did however pass 3 convoys of National Guard construction equipment headed toward VT.

This morning there was news that all the isolated VT communities now had some access to the outside although it wasn't clear what kind of access since the article focused on folks with ATVs and lifted 4x4s making new routes to make deliveries. One neighborhood is sharing a generator to keep their frigs and freezers cold enough, having pot luck suppers wherever someone has a gas stove and generally doing ok. People with medical problems were transported to better locations.

I wish we could have spent a few days in the area because there is so much to do. I know there are devastated areas but some like the Brattleboro Farmers Market have rebounded. The cute little covered bridge near the market is still there. Other covered bridges are up high enough that they didn't get damaged. There's a lot of Vermont still open and ready for tourists.

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