I love a good road trip. Heading out early in the morning, ample supply of gluten-free snacks to nosh on, route all mapped out for me. I’m headed to Stowe, Vermont, to the Sysco Food Show being held at the Stoweflake Resort. (Hotel, resort, couldn’t really tell the difference.) Getting to Stowe took a little longer than I had planned for. Like 3 hours longer. Shame on me for not checking on the ferry departure times at Port Kent. Arrived around 9:30 Wednesday morning, quickly learned I had about an hour to kill before the next ferry would be leaving.
And not to get side-tracked, but why are there no bridges connecting upstate New York to Vermont? The ferries freak me out a little, I kept having flashes of CNN new tickers about the ferry off the coast of somewhere that capsized, the fire on the ferry, the ferry that was too heavy and sank. Having already paid the fare and not wanting to miss the food show, I headed back to the Au Sable Chasm to poke around for a bit.
Didn’t really see much evidence of Irene, something I can’t say for all the little mountain hamlets and villages I drove through in Vermont. Got some great shots of the Chasm, from the part of the bridge that is the closest to the road.
More Chasm pics can be found in my Flickr feed. I occupied my time on the ferry doing my makeup, was so much easier when not operating the vehicle. I took a power nap. Uneventful ride, as ferry rides should be.
Wish Iwould have had more time to explore a bit in Burlington, looks like a very cool little town. But on to Stowe and the food show.
Here’s the part that pains me to admit: the food show was underwhelming. It was very well organized, reception desk had my name, standard run of the mill logo bag for chotchkies, price lists and the expected business cards I would most likely collect from each exhibitor. I realized when I got home that I didn’t any pictures of the food. For a foodie at a food show, I know I should probably be ashamed of myself. And it’s not that the food wasn’t nice looking, it just didn’t move me at all. The displays were pretty standard, tiered plates, colorful dishes, the combination of sales people in front of their tables looking to hook you into conversation while the chef behind the table looks like he would like to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. Lot of pasta, processed meat and of course, dessert vendors. Not one had anything gluten-free by the way. So I’m making my way up and down the isles feeling slightly claustrophobic, shaking hands, listening to pitches, getting business cards for people who quite honestly, I’ll never buy from. Feeling sorry for myself and cheated out of a dining experience, I decided to head out into Stowe to see if I could find some lunch. Yelp brought up 3 or 4 restaurants categorized as gluten-free, so at least I had some options. Apparently everyone else in Stowe had the same idea; every place I went to had a huge line I wasn’t willing to endure. I drove down the main street and saw the calico cow statue, the outdoor sculpture park and a sign for the Trapp Family Lodge, 2 miles that way. The Trapp Family? As in Maria von Trapp, the hills are alive with the sound of music von Trapps? Ok, I’m intrigued and I still needed to find lunch.
Made my way up the two mile winding road, every once in a while a little nondescript sign would let me know I was still headed in the right direction. And what a lovely surprise I found at the end of that road. Now I had found some Kodak-worthy material. Sorry Sysco. The majority of the pictures taken in Vermont were from some part of the lodge grounds or the garden. And the lunch wasn’t bad either.
And in a world where we tweet, email, tag, blog and check in on our phones, I have to give the Trapp Lodge some major golf claps for the way they manage their social media. I know, this has nothing to do with being gluten-free or food at all, but is an amazing example of how to interact with your guests, how to have a dialogue via social media without trying to sell something.
I arrived at the Trapp bakery/deli, placed an order and while waiting for lunch, checked in on foursquare. Didn’t think anything of it. Last night when I was uploading my pictures, I noticed a tweet from @trappfamily acknowledging my check in and wishing me a great lunch and awesome day in the foliage. I responded to thank them, and mentioned it would have been nice to have gluten-free bread at the deli. @trappfamily responded again! Whether or not they actually end up having gluten-free bread at the deli is so not the point anymore, the point is they were interactive! They acknowledged me as a visitor and guest. And they wanted to see some of my pictures too. Was it a sincere request? Who cares! It was a good reminder for me, as a business owner and social media junkie, that it shouldn’t always be about what my special of the day is or what interesting gluten-free article I’d like to share. It’s about a personal connection, not a tech connection. So what’s the morale of the road trip? Check ferry departure times. Allow time to explore. Interact with people more than phones.
Signing off from the Smokehouse,