Time for another road trip, courtesy of Chevrolet and their all-new 2019 Blazer RS which they kindly provided along with a stay in beautiful Woodstock, Vermont for me and my family. As usual when traveling I sought out some good eats and drinks. While not as abundant a culinary town as Portland, this trip still revealed a lot of local deliciousness. But first, the wheels.
The Chevy Blazer arrived the day before we were set to leave on our trip, so I was able to take it out to run a couple of errands, which was a good thing, since I barely drove it once my wife Brenda got her hands on it! As I’ve mentioned before when writing about these sponsored trips, I’m not the driver that my wife is. I’m very content sitting in the passenger seat and playing with all the features while she hugs the road.
I realize hugs the road seems a bit of an out-of-place description for an SUV like the Blazer, but the RS trim version that I was loaned seemed to have more in common design-wise with its sister Chevy model the Camaro than a larger SUV like a Chevy Tahoe, right down to the back grille, black Chevy bowtie emblem and wide aluminum wheels and dual exhaust. Though I’m pretty sure a Camaro doesn’t come with all-wheel drive and towing capabilities like the Blazer has. We didn’t get to tow anything in the few days that we had the Blazer, but we certainly gave the AWD a go on one serious backroad in Vermont.
First up, loading the four of us into the car for the a three-and-a-half-hour drive to Woodstock, Vermont. As you would imagine, there was plenty of cargo room for a family of four, even with both our daughters insisting on bringing way more than anyone would need for a weekend away. One great feature, which my girls got a kick out of—literally—is the Hands-Free Gesture Liftgate. Much like if you have the key fob on you your door would unlock, this feature allows you to open the rear hatch just by lightly kicking your foot out at a certain spot under the rear bumper. If you haven’t used this feature on a car before it’s easier to ask you to watch the video here than to describe. There also a very useful floor-mounted rail Cargo Management System so you can customize the cargo space for your needs.
Once the car was loaded up, Brenda drove us through the rain from Rhode Island to Vermont while I set up the Apple CarPlay, hands-free charging and other newer features I hadn’t seen before. I’ve never used ventilated seats but could see how that could be a welcome feature with leather seats during the hotter months. The Blazer also has cameras upon cameras to see behind, in front of and around the vehicle. We’d gotten familiar with the Surround Vision from the Bolt EV back in October, but a new one for us was the Rear Camera Mirror. By flipping the switch on the bottom of the rearview mirror the whole mirror turns into a video screen with a wide view out the back of the car. It took some getting used to but was pretty neat and the girls enjoyed watching it. Though without a doubt my daughters’ favorite feature, especially for a long car ride like this one, was the built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
Onto Woodstock, Vermont where we checked into the 506 On The River Inn and the girls immediately went to check out the pool, which was a very nice pool, but I was more in the mood for their beautiful bar and cocktail list. I had a Maple Manhattan. It was kind of an inevitable drink. I know Vermont is land of maple syrup, but wow did I see a never-ending parade of syrup and syrup-centric products all weekend long. That said, it was an excellent aperitif for me. When the girls came out of the pool, we were treated to dinner at the Inn’s 506 Bistro which all four of us greatly enjoyed. We had chicken wings—Maple Chili of course—along with three excellent pasta dishes and a steak for one of my daughters. The desserts didn’t disappoint my daughters either. I thought my youngest was going to scream when she tasted the flourless chocolate torte.
After dinner we checked out the Inn’s Games Room and I wandered around for a bit taking in a photographing the tons of wonderful antiques the line the halls and pretty much every open space in the Inn. It’s a beautifully designed space and was excellent for the family, as we further discovered in the morning during the breakfast that’s included with your stay. There’s a Farmhouse Kitchen that has a gorgeous workbench/butchery table in the center where they put out a big buffet of pastries, fruits, home fries, pancakes, bacon—you name it, and of course several local Vermont products, some containing the ubiquitous maple syrup.
The 506 On The River Inn is next door to Farmhouse Pottery, so we wandered over there after breakfast. If you’re not familiar with their creations, you should take a look at their site and social media pages. The best part about visiting their flagship store in Woodstock is you can walk right into their workshop and watch the master potters at work, which is precisely what my daughters did. Every single one of the potters couldn’t have been nicer or more informative, showing all of us through the process of creating several pieces. It was fascinating and delicate work and the final products are iconic.
From there we headed for the Sugarbush Cheese & Maple Farm and we got a chance to test out the All-Wheel Drive features of the Blazer. Not only did we switch to AWD, which you can do while driving—no need to stop to switch modes—but Brenda tested out driving in Off-Road mode. As you can see from the video, the road to Sugarbush Farm was pretty washed out after a very rainy winter and spring. Brenda noted she could definitely feel the change between modes while driving and could tell she was getting better traction on the muddy, pockmarked road in the Off-Road mode. The Blazer also has a host of safety features including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and Departure Warning, Rear Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Alert and Forward Automatic Braking. Sugarbush Farm posted on their Facebook page a few days after we visited that the town sent out a crew and regraded the road for the year.
As we pulled into up at Sugarbush Farm we saw a trio of 1920’s Model A cars in the parking area. What made these antiques stand out even more was they all had Rhode Island license plates. Brenda parked the Blazer alongside what we learned was the oldest of the three. The owners were all gathered by their cars and were happy to chat with us. They showed the girls the engine, the interior and the actual trunks strapped to the back of their cars.
Inside at Sugarbush Farm we sampled a wide selection of Cheddar cheeses and of course, maple syrups. The sugar shack had stopped production for the season but was still open to walk around and see how they produced syrup from their 550 acres of approximately 8,500 sugar maple trees. The cattle were still in the barns and not yet out on pasture but would be very soon. There’s a great little store at Sugarbush Farm with all the cheese and syrup you could ever want to buy and after some shopping we headed down into the town of Quechee.
Our first stop in Quechee was at Simon Pearce which has a gorgeous store, restaurant and glass-blowing production facility on the Ottauquechee River. We spent some time in the gallery watching the glass blowers work and walked outside along the river. Then we did another quintessentially Vermont thing and drove through our first covered bridge. Down the road from Simon Pearce we sampled some more cheese at the Cabot Company Store and, while I do love some cheese, next door was the Vermont Spirits Distilling Co. I took the opportunity to try a couple of excellent gins and, of course, a bourbon with maple syrup and a spirit distilled from maple syrup.
From there we found ourselves at the Quechee Gorge and took a brief, muddy hike down into the gorge and back again. Fiddleheads were starting to come up and there were hordes of foragers on the side of the trail filling all the bags they had. After that hike I wanted a beer. A little past the 506 Inn on the River on Route 4 in neighboring Bridgewater is a brewery. Wow did Long Trail Brewing Co. pick a beautiful spot for their brewery and brew pub right on the banks of the Ottauquechee River. To end the day, we drove back into Woodstock for dinner at Worthy Kitchen and another swim in the pool at the Inn.
Sunday morning came and sadly had to check out, but before we did, we had another Vermont breakfast and played in the Games Room. I highly recommend the 506 On The River Inn, especially for a family, and would happily stay there again if in the Woodstock area. Before getting back on the interstate we took another drive through a covered bridge and made a stop at Artisans Park in Windsor on the Connecticut River where there is a collection of great local businesses. There’s a sculpture garden and Great River Outfitters give float and camping trips from there. Simon Pearce has storefront and there’s more cheese from Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company. But I was really interested in Silo Distillery and Harpoon Brewery, though I couldn’t resist checking out Blake Hill Preserves. After a lot more tasting, we were back on the road home, with one stop for dinner at Volturno, one of our favorite restaurants in Worcester, Massachusetts. If you haven’t been, Worcester has come a long way in recent years and Volturno is in a great area that includes Wormtown Brewery, though that would have to be another trip.
Thank you to Chevrolet for the Blazer loan, hotel stay and two dinners. You can learn more about the Blazer here.
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