There are so many things to love about the summer months. Long days, sunshine, Great Places, weekends. And – Ice Cream !!!!
Remembering the sound of the neighborhood ice cream truck still makes me smile. At 4102 Monroe Street, we thought we hit the jackpot when buying a PushUp standing on the curb under the shade of our Maple Tree. Chances are, the sprinkler was still going at the time, and our bikes were left in a big ol’ heap in the driveway.
And then came 31 Flavors in the strip mall at Miracle Mile. Sundays meant family trips to get ice cream – where all six of us could choose our own flavors. Two scoops even. My Mom and Dad loved Pralines and Cream. That seemed so “adult” at the time. Every Sunday, without fail, my choice would be ….. drumroll, please ….. one scoop of Chocolate Chip and one scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip. To this day, I might side with Mint Chocolate Chip over anything else.
Fast forward to this summer, when we all need a little more to smile about – and dance for joy about – to celebrate. Let’s celebrate Ice Cream (… you scream, we all scream, for ice cream … go ahead, I know you were headed in that direction).
Quick fun fact: Did you know that ice cream has been around since 200 BC? Holy buckets of milk and rice packed in snow! So glad we don’t have to work that hard to enjoy this tasty treat today.
I have many memories from a more recent seasonal job I had working as a Barista and scooping ice cream – A LOT of ice cream – just outside of Yellowstone National Park, and at times it felt like all 3.3 million visitors were standing in line. I can still recite the most frequently asked Ice Cream Flavor Question: “What’s Stuck In A Rut?” The answer: French Vanilla Ice Cream with Caramel Swirls and Chocolate Covered Caramel Cups. I’m not sure Stuck In A Rut was named in homage to the Bison Rut that happens every August in the Park, but lets go with that just because it sounds fun.
If you know Montana – you know that Huckleberry Runs Through It. So much Huckleberry, so little time. Huckleberry is a wild blueberry. The ice cream is a lovely shade of purple (because no food should be blue), and I confess that I would wince just a little when I received an order for 4 Huckleberry Milk Shakes – yes, that’s about 12-16 scoops all total, scooped and made by hand.
Now let’s get the scoop on other regional delicacies. I had a “screaming” blast calling Ice Cream shops from Sequoia to Acadia to research Ice Cream in Great Places.
Maine is a blueberry and strawberry heaven. So “Maine Blueberry” rotates with “Maine Strawberry” and when I asked if it was Vanilla Ice Cream with a few blueberries, my friendly scooper said, “Oh no – it’s Blueberry ALL THE WAY!” Nothing wrong with that.
Popping down to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains – I can’t vouch for this, but how about The Old Mill Ribbon Ice Cream with a local distillery Moonshine and homemade Fudge! Whoa Nelly.
Speaking of Fudge, at the Grand Canyon, not to steal any thunder from Ice Cream, the Fudge Counter fuels the Canyon hikers with flavors such as Mule Riders Rocky Road, Condor Crunch, Colorado River Rush and the Harvey Girl Swirl. These names were created in an Employee Fudge Naming Contest!
At Mount Rushmore, the legend is TJ’s Vanilla, based on Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe from 1780.
At Mount Rainer, the National Park Inn serves up a warm Blackberry Cobbler with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. Not to be outdone, down the coast near Sequoia National Park, you’ll find Reimer’s Three Rivers Wild Blackberry – Vanilla Ice Cream loaded with local Blackberries! On the Island of Hawaii, you’ll find Kona Coffee and Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Ice Creams.
Had enough just yet? Wait, wait. Let’s plunk just one or two more scoops in your waffle cone before we wrap up this wild and bumpy ride. The Hudsonville Ice Cream Company’s Traverse City Cherry Fudge – Sweet Chunks of Cherries, Thick Fudge Ripple, blended into a Creamy Amaretto Ice Cream. And, if you’re exploring Wind River country in Wyoming, stop by Dolce in Lander, Wyoming and ask for the Inferno Sundae – Vanilla Ice Cream, with Bacon (you read that right!), Chocolate Drizzle and just a hint of Chile.
Cheers to all the Ice Cream we’ve had a summer fling with, and soon will have to leave behind. But don’t worry – there’s plenty more – on the road, in your next Great Place, or right in your own sweet home town. Enjoy!