22 May 2009 - Sightseeing in Vermont

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Our first full day in the USA was a pleasantly warm and sunny one. We checked out of the Golden Eagle and loaded up the buses. Top of the day's agenda was obviously breakfast so we drove into the nearby town of Wilmington and descended on Dot's Diner.

They couldn't accommodate us all at one time so, rather than wait, some of us went off in search of an alternative. Pip once again came up trumps by finding out from a local that the best local breakfast was to be had at the Cup and Saucer at nearby West Dover (which incidentally is only 3000 miles west of Dover). So two bus loads of us set off to find the place. And what a gem it turned out to be!

It was an authentic American diner just like in the movies. There was a horseshoe table that we were seated around with the waitress inside dispensing coffee, juice and traditional breakfast fare. Without exception, the food was wonderful and I can personally vouch for the quality of the french toast. The waitress couldn't have been more helpful and, when we asked what she would recommend as a good way to spend the rest of the day, suggested a trip up to Hildene, near Manchester (the one in Vermont!).

After breakfast, we congregated back at Wilmington and agreed to make the trip up to Hildene. So all three buses set off in convoy on the scenic route to our destination. This involved passing through the town of Bennington which was in the middle of its "Moosefest" where moose statues are gaily painted and displayed around the town. Very a-moose-ing they were, too! As suggested, we turned off the main road and experienced some real Vermont countryside and came across (in both senses) a covered bridge, just like in the film "Bridges of Madison County".

Next stop was Hildene, the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln. This proved to be a fascinating place. There was a short introductory film followed by an excellent guided tour. Then we were free to roam around the delightful gardens behind the house with lovely views across the valley (dene) to the hills beyond (hence the name Hildene). By mutual agreement, a late lunch was next on the agenda. The Hildene staff recommended Mulligan's Restaurant and Bar in nearby Manchester.

On arrival at the restaurant, we were ushered into a back room that had a number of interesting animal heads adorning the walls. Once again the food (and drink!) satisfied the Kettle Bridge gourmets both in quality and quantity. Then it was time to leave sunny Manchester (it didn't rain, honestly) to rendezvous with the next contingent of dancers arriving from England.

We met up with the "Friday fliers", namely Fiona, Sue W, Sue M and Margaret B at the Ramada hotel in Brattleboro although Alan's sat nav did try its best to get his bus hopelessly lost. Thankfully we all met up safely, loaded the latest arrivals plus luggage into the buses and sped off in convoy to Marlboro College.

Once at the college, we were ushered into the on-campus student accommodation. Then it was time to repair to the college "Pub" to meet up with all the other sides for a noisy and energetic party - that is until the jet lag started to hit and we gradually made our way off to bed.