Excited to cozy up in front of the fire at our condo in Vermont, we checked out of our hotel in Danvers, Massachusetts bright and early and hit the road for our nearly 3.5 hour drive to Vermont. Once officially in Vermont, our first stop was to Cold Hollow Cider Mill for some delicious fresh cider donuts and warm apple cider to tide us over until we made it to Smuggler’s Notch for lunch at the Morse Mountain Grille. While browsing the shelves at Cold Hollow, we found some game sauce to try on our steaks that we were making that evening for our anniversary dinner. Let me tell you, it was a total success! So much so that we purchased several more bottles on our way out of Vermont to bring home.
Our lunch was delicious and just what we had been craving since the last time we were in Vermont – we both got the chili and an order or wings. I tried the maple glazed wings since I of course didn’t take Russ’s word for it that we had tried them the previous year and weren’t huge fans, while he got the buffalo wings. The maple glazed wings were okay, but didn’t quite make the cut for something that we would want to order again. A few days later, we tried the chili lime wings when we went to lunch with Russ’s mom and step dad (they were visiting Vermont during the same time we were) and let me tell you, they’re my new favorite wings at the Grille (Russ still prefers his buffalo wings, though).
After lunch, we headed down the mountain to hit up Hanley’s General Store and the Jeffersonville Country Store for the groceries we needed for the next week. Maybe it’s in our heads, but the meat in Vermont looks so much better than what we get back home. Maybe that’s because it’s fresher since we tend to purchase from larger grocery stores instead of from butchers or farmer’s market type places. After unloading the car at our condo, we got our steaks marinading in the game sauce we purchased at Cold Hollow and relaxed for a bit before making our anniversary dinner steaks. The steaks were so delicious and tender and Russ was able to cook them perfectly. After dinner, we cozied in front of the fire to enjoy an early start to our Christmas movie marathons.
Our second day in Vermont we woke up to a winter wonderland! We spent the day relaxing in in front of the fire place and watching Christmas movies. Once the snow died down a little, we bundled up and ventured out into the snow to admire the winter wonderland we were in and stop by the Smuggler Notch Country Store for some board games – we wound up with Jumanji! We made some delicious tikka masala for dinner and spent our evening playing Jumanji and drunken Jenga. It was a total blast, especially once we FINALLY beat Jumanji!
November 3rd was our “official” anniversary dinner out. We spent the majority of our morning and early afternoon playing games and watching Christmas movies before we got ready and headed to Edson Hill for our anniversary dinner. Edson Hill was so charming blanketed in snow. The atmosphere was lovely with a romantic feel, the music was on point, and the food was absolutely delicious. We both got the ribeye, which was good but came paired with some mouthwatering rosemary infused mashed potatoes that we definitely recreated for our Thanksgiving dinner this year (and they were a huge success)! The cocktails were unique, with the favorite of the night being the Thyme After Thyme. It came adorned with a sprig of fresh thyme that was very aromatic and really enhanced the drink. For dessert, we split that Autumn Sundae, which was absolutely delicious.
After dinner, we stopped by a Dollar General we saw while on our way to Edson Hill in search of more games since we forgot to bring any with us from home. We wound up with (another – we probably have 10 different versions of Uno) deck of Uno, a second deck of Dos, and Rival Editions of Monopoly and Sorry. Que an entertaining night of games! Pro tip: Don’t brag about slaughtering someone in Monopoly because karma will bite you and you will lose horribly the next round.
Much of the rest of our trip was consumed with games and walks through Smuggler’s Notch to enjoy the scenery and the peace that comes with visiting a ski resort during the in between time. On Friday, November 6, we went to our favorite winery – Boyden Valley Winery – and enjoyed some delicious wine and came home with a stash of their mouthwatering wines. Afterward, we headed to LaJoi Stables and went on a trail ride – something Russ will say he hates, but I think he secretly loves it by how he looks when on the trail ride and how he will talk about it right after. :p Because of all the snow and rain, the ground was pretty muddy. Russ’s horse didn’t like the mud so he would constantly try and take him off the path and through the trees, which was very funny to watch and listen to Russ’s commentary. The views were beautiful and it’s definitely something we recommend doing since you get to see different parts of the places you visit that you don’t see while doing the normal “touristy” things.
For dinner that night we went to another one of our favorites, The Matterhorn. On our way over we had been talking about wanting to find a good pizza place for when we’re in Vermont, and we think we may have found it. We started off with appetizers, which we keep doing even though we know we won’t be able to finish our meal. I got some sushi and Russ, of course, got an order of wings. Then came the colossal pizzas. We each had to get our own since we can never agree on a pizza because I tend to like white sauces and Russ loves his reds. Russ got his usual meat lovers type of pizza while I got a chicken pesto pizza that was delicious. We both wound up with a majority of our pizzas coming back with us to be enjoyed over the next few days at the resort.
Our next day was full of adventures. We explored the covered bridge near the resort that we found the previous year and the park around it before taking a drive through the back roads and heading up the notch road to explore Smuggler’s Notch cave and some of the trails around it. It is always one of our favorite areas to explore in Vermont since the mountains tower over you and give a sense of magic. Unfortunately, my boots wouldn’t grip the stone of the cave very well, so I wasn’t able to explore it as much as Russ. So, note to self – time to buy new hiking boots! After exploring the cave, we headed across the street to hiking up some stone steps to a trail to take in the scenery some before darkness completely engulfed us and we headed back to the car.
It was our last full day in Vermont, so that meant packing when we got back to our room. It’s always so bitter sweet since we absolutely love it in Vermont and love the peace and quiet that we can’t get back home. Once the car was almost completely packed, we headed back up the notch road to take in the stars – a sight we don’t get to experience the same back home since the sky is so polluted with light. It was pitch black – so black that I couldn’t see Russ when he was only a few inches in front of me, and it was quiet. We couldn’t hear a sound outside of our own breathing. We didn’t want to leave and our hearts squeezed as we headed back to our room for our last night in Vermont.
After checking out, we headed back up the notch road for one last hike and boy was it way more crowded this morning than it was the previous evening. On our way back down the mountain, we even passed a girl who had her cat perched on her shoulders with a harness. I so wish we could take our cats hiking with us, but I’m pretty sure they would freak out and claw us to death before disappearing under a rock or up a tree. After our hike, we headed back to Smuggler’s Notch to grab a small bite at the Morse Mountain Grille before heading to Cold Hollow for some souvenirs, Ben and Jerry’s for some ice cream, and then on to Burlington to see Lake Champlain and the World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet (I know. Weird, right?) before grabbing dinner and heading home.
Lake Champlain was beautiful and even more so at sunset when we saw it again on our way back from diner at The Gryphon. Once again, we both got the same entree – the New York Strip, which was on special that day. We did, however, get different appetizers – wings (shocking, I know) and sesame tuna. The wings had a very interesting and slightly sweet flavor with a hint of fresh squeezed lime. I found the steak to be just okay since there was too much gristle. The Brussels sprouts, though, were on point and that’s saying something since I’m not usually a fan of Brussels sprouts. The restaurant was attached to a hotel and had a charming atmosphere.
After dinner, we walked back to Lake Champlain and enjoyed watching the sunset before we hoped back in the car and started our very long, almost 12 hour, car ride home to our extremely excited puppy. We got home around 5:00am and immediately hopped in the shower and cozied up in bed for some much needed sleep. When we finally did wake up, Russ almost instantly went to detail his car and “wash Vermont off of it” – aka clean the salt, sand, snow, and road dust off of it.
While he tended to his baby, I unpacked and got everything put away so it wouldn’t be hanging over our heads all week. Since it was our final day of “vacation” before having to go back to reality and work, we decided to treat ourselves to one final dinner out and headed to Sakura. Having not gone to Sakura before (since we usually go to a different Japanese Steak House when we go), we were very pleasantly surprised by how delicious everything was. We had a phenomenal time and now have a new favorite restaurant. It was a perfect way to end our anniversary vacation and we can’t wait for our next adventure!
Until then, we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!
Lindsey & Russ
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