Today was factory tour day. We started with the Ben & Jerry's factory
in Waterbury, Vermont. It looks just a B&J scoop shop, but more so ...
more signs, bigger signs, lots of posters, brightly colored buildings.
The tour costs only $3, so the price is right, and even though the
tour is short, it is interesting. It includes a humorous movie that
talks about the history of the company, and the founder's current
social-improvement activities. The tour itself is really just one
room, but you do get to see a lot, and the whole process and the big
machines are fascinating. We were told not to take any pictures so as
not to let out any trade secrets! As if we weren't spies from the
evil HD empire anyway ... he he. So you expect that after seeing this,
I'm now ready to duplicate the process at home! Fat chance. Speaking
of which, my favorite hat in their store says "Body by Ben & Jerry's,"
and I resemble that remark, which coincidentally we heard again later
in the day.
If you go, don't miss the "flavor graveyard," where all the discontinued
flavors have gravestones and poetic epitaphs.
Back to Burlington and a little beyond, we found little Shelburne and
the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. This is the place where you can call
and order a custom teddy bear with custom clothing. You can also grab
a teddy bear "skin" and fill it yourself ... in person only, not via
the mail. The tour is again just one large room, and very tongue-in-cheek.
At one point he showed what happens if you overstuff the bear ...
body by Ben & Jerry's. Twice in one day. Anyway, the way they construct
these things is pretty clever, and the way they cut the fur into pieces
is impressive ... a huge Sizzix-like stamping machine that can cut out
dozens of bears in one cut, through eight layers of material.
We got a bear for Mary's mom, who has been in the hospital. The bear
is shipped UPS via in a brightly-colored box that includes an air hole
so the bear can breathe, some candy so the bear has something to eat
on the trip, and the inside of the box is printed with board games
in case the bear gets bored while in transit. We got the "hero bear;"
when you buy that one, another gets sent to an organization that
hands out bears to kids who are going though disasters.
(Mary's mom got the bear on Thursday and she loved it.)
We took a relaxing ferry across the lake into New York. The ferry
driver suggested we go to Lake Placid, where some Winter Olympics
were held. He even gave us a map, but I got lost anyway. Well, not
exactly lost, but we went the wrong way, a longer way, but we got
there eventually. A tourist trap town but not much activity. Down
the road past another lake we found a grocery store to get some
meat, and we found a nice room with a rustic theme and a photo of
a moose in the stairway.
We have been looking everywhere for moose, even asking for suggestions
on where to look, and praying to see one. But not a glimpse yet. One
guy in the teddy bear factory said a moose wandered into his back yard
some time back, but he's only seen two in his life, both years ago.
I guess the trick is having both patience and time; we're short on both.
We did buy a stuffed moose in Maine for a gift. Who wants a stuffed
moose for Christmas?
(On Thursday, as I'm writing this, we saw a store called the
Elusive Moose, which summed it all up.)