What’s Happening in Okemo Valley
Previews and Reviews of events in the Okemo Valley Region.
Previews and Reviews of events in the Okemo Valley Region.
“What winter activities can we do in Vermont other than just skiing?” As innkeepers, we are often asked this question, and when we reply with a long list of ideas (sleigh rides, snow shoeing, cheese tours, and so on), we always include snowmobiling. And this is why…
What a blast! Our family of four just got home from a 2-hour guided tour through Calvin Coolidge State Forest in Plymouth, Vermont. Not far from Killington, and less than a half hour from Golden Stage Inn Bed and Breakfast, the tour company offers tours of varying lengths and cost. Helmets and boots are included in the cost and I am happy to report that safety is only one feature of the helmet; it also provides incredible warmth!
After some brief instructions on how to use the snowmobile, we were led by a guide onto Vermont’s Snowmobile trails, up and down the rolling hills (mountains may be a better word), winding through the forests, and careening through the open meadows. (Okay, so maybe some of us were a bit too conservative to actually careen, but my memory tends to exaggerate my speed and confidence!) In the open area, we were offered some time to drive around, practicing our speed and turns, and just goof off a bit where the potential for damage was pretty minimal. Overall, the entire tour filled nearly two hours and we covered about 25 miles of scenic Vermont trails.
The customer service at Snowmobile Vermont was fantastic from the initial phone reservation through the representatives in the shop and certainly including our tour guide. We absolutely recommend this snowmobile tour as a fantastic way to see the winter wonderland of Central Vermont.
(This blog entry was submitted by Samantha.) – Recently, my dad and I went to the Weston Playhouse to see Mary’s Wedding. Mary’s Wedding was set in post World War I England. The whole drama was a dream that Mary had the night before her wedding. With a cast that consisted of only two actors, and with a total running time of 90 minutes, I thought that the play was going to feel extremely long, but every time I got that feeling, the actors did one more thing that amazed the audience, keeping me enthralled until the last line.
Mary’s Wedding was very enjoyable and I recommend the Weston Playhouse to anyone that enjoys the theater, whether you are a theater fanatic or just someone looking for something fun to plan while on their vacation!
(This blog entry was written by Sadie.) Last week, we went blueberry picking at Goulden Ridge Farm in Weathersfield, VT, just 30 minutes away from the inn. I went with Mom and some friends. The six of us arrived around 5pm and were greeted by a welcoming board with prices and bags and gallon jugs to hold the berries. The grounds were beautiful, signature Vermont hills in the background and a pond and a little brook marking the private property. There were so many berries on the bushes; you could see the clumps of bright blue from where we were standing, at the welcoming board. The sign asked anyone able-bodied enough to pick from any section but the closest section of berries, because those were marked off for seniors or handicapped people. We went to the section with what looked like the biggest and most abundant bushes to start. All of the bushes were enclosed in netting suspended to make a tent around sections of bushes. There were signs showing areas where the “Best Picking” was. The six of us had a berry eating contest on how many berries we could fit in our mouth. There was a tie at 60! We picked for almost two hours in that section until moving on to the slightly smaller bushes in the other. There we picked for about another half an hour until counting up the price of the berries and paying where we came in. When we got home, Mom and I weighed the berries we had picked and got 17 pounds! It was a great experience and we had so much fun. I would definitely recommend this place for a fun time and delicious berries!
Editor’s (mother’s) comments: I’ve done a lot of berry picking in my day, and I’ve never seen such bountiful bushes, nor such a scenic berry spot. This is well-worth putting on the annual traditions calendar! …and for what it’s worth, I came in second place with almost 50 berries!
This weather is incredible! Spring warmth has arrived but the bugs have not. No better time for a Vermont hike. Here are two hikes we took this weekend that we loved…
Our own Backyard….
From the inn, we walked down Depot Street and up hill Pratt Hill. Pratt Hill Rd takes a sharp right deep into (and still heading up!) the Proctor Piper State Forest. If there’s a path here, we didn’t find it. Our team of pre-teen trailblazers forged a new path as we debated if lichen is a plant or a mushroom, identified deer scat in the leaves, and photographed stunningly green moss on downed trees. Our goal was to find our way back to the inn via the woods. When we emerged on Route 103, we realized we had overshot our mark by 1/4 mile. Not so bad if you ask me! We backtracked slightly, found our bridge to cross the creek and were greeted by welcoming bahhs from Shayla the sheep. The overall hike was probably 1.5 miles and other than the incredibly steep entrance into the woods (on a dirt road), I would rate it as relatively easy.
Eleanor Ellis Springweather Nature Area (15 minute drive from the inn)…
Ironically, we learned of this hike from a guest (who grew up in the area). She and her boyfriend hiked these trails on Saturday and saw two bald eagles! We didn’t even see a Robin or a Chickadee, but this might have something to do with the fact that we were rambunctiously traveling with a dog and a gaggle of kids. Nonetheless, what a great place to hike. Located on the Connecticut River Birding Trail in North Springfield, Vermont, these self-guiding trails are clearly marked and offer phenomenal diversity (forest, meadows, pond, flood plain). The literature offered by the Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society details the types of trees, birds and other wildlife you may see on your hike. We spent about two hours here and covered most of the trail system. Pack a picnic lunch, borrow our binoculars, and be sure to make this an item on your Must Do list when visiting Vermont.
On Saturday evening of a slow weekend at the inn, even the weather was peaceful and calm, and the town’s advanced unfolding of Emergency Evacuation Plans felt a bit like overkill. Imagining we’d get heavy rains and strong winds the next day, we went to bed with the relaxing sounds of a steady summer shower outside our window. We woke at 1:00 am to heavy rain as we heard one of our two weekend guests returning by cab from a late-night wedding celebration.
On Sunday morning, we woke at 6:30 am to a dreary downpour and began making breakfast for our other guest who had a Fletcher Farm Craft class at 9:00. She trudged out to class, with her hood on and umbrella up, in a futile attempt to avoid getting wet. As the wedding celebrant arrived for a late breakfast, she debated the safety of her ride home to Rhode Island. Maybe she should stay another night, she wondered. She and Michael headed out into the foul weather to retrieve her car. Serious flooding had begun by the train tracks at the junction of Routes 103 and 131.
Soon, there was a knock at the door. A Volunteer Firefighter told us that the Black River may flood; they recommended that Proctorsville residents evacuate to the elementary school, just a half mile from the inn. We considered that the school is both closer to the river and downhill, so we chose not to evacuate. We urged our wedding guest to make a speedy decision. Our Fletcher Farm guest returned; the craft school was closed due to potential flooding. She chose not to evacuate but to hold the fort with us.
The phone rang: Our immediate neighbors (also noting the direction of the hill between us and the school) wanted to know if they could come to our place should the river intrude upon them. Of course we said yes (though they never did need to come). We called our downhill, on-the-river, neighbor-farmer-friends and invited them up, too. Cara hadn’t even heard of the evacuation yet, but thanked us for the offer.
Our wedding guest decided to stay. Great. We had plenty of room. We decided to make lasagna and bread for dinner.
We walked out back to our little babbling brook: It was a full-blown rushing river. The gorgeous bridge we just had built, which usually rests several feet above the water, was now only one foot above the water. The sound was awesome. There wasn’t a chance the river would rise another 10 feet to flood the banks to our house, but we wondered (unnecessarily) if it would rise another foot and take out our new wooden bridge.
We walked down Depot Street to the bridge there. A family watched as their 20-foot retaining wall was pummeled by the constant onslaught of river water and all the loot the river had stolen from areas upstream, including the bleachers from our town’s ballpark, trees, sheds, and more and more. The 20-foot retaining wall stood less than five feet above water level. We invited the family to join us at the inn, but they stood by their Up-North Independence and said they’d stay as long as their house stayed. (But we knew they were contemplating it.)
A couple of hours later, the farmer family called back: “Jeremiah won’t come as he is still trying to protect his bridge and his crops, but can we come up and bring our two kids … and our tenant and her two-month old baby?” (The baby’s dad was stranded in Ludlow. It’s just four miles away, but the river was now raging between the two towns. Not passable.) “Yes, of course,” we said. “See you soon. Bring some salad and some of Jeremiah’s homemade wine to go with our lasagnas and bread.” Mike drove down to their house to see if Jeremiah needed help. One rarely sees as much rain as saw then. Absolutely down pouring.
One of our daughters, Samantha or Sadie, hollered: “Someone’s at the door, Mom!” It was a young couple I’d never met. “We’re Christina and Andrew,” Christina said. “I live three houses down, my backyard is now a pool, it’s approaching my house, we can’t get to Andrew’s house in Ludlow, and the firefighter at the bridge told us that you are dry and have room.”
“Yes, of course. Come on in. We’ll make lasagna and bread. Let me get you a dry shirt, Andrew.”
The phone rang again. It was Cara (the farmer family). “Can our neighbors, the Ripleys, come too? Just the Mom and two daughters, as the Dad is 1/4 mile away, but the road to the elementary school is flooded and the bridge deemed unsafe. There is already water in their backyard and moving towards their house.”
“Yes, of course. Plenty of space. Plenty of lasagna and bread.”
Mike returned and met Christina and Andrew for the first time. Upon greeting Andrew, Mike said: “Hey, I have a shirt just like that!”
Er… Um… Michael, that IS your shirt.
Sadie/Samantha: “Mom! Someone else is at the door!” The most soaked person I’ve ever seen walked in. A big guy, with water splattered glasses “You’re stranded? Come in.” (shaking hands…) “I’m Julie.”
“Indeed you are!” I laughed. Michael walked up. “My name is Mike.”
“Hi, my name is Rainy.” What?! His name was really Rainy?! I thought he was joking! I apologized and explained my comment.
He dripped, “My car got stranded in Springfield. Someone helped me push the car out of the flooding but it wouldn’t start again. I hitchhiked to Proctorsville but no cars could pass. I’ve tried walking across three passes. I just can’t get home.”
“Of course we have room. Come on in. We’ll find you some clothes.”
Rainy (actually spelled Rene, as I learned from the thank-you note he later wrote) was sopping and ever so grateful and apologized for any imposition. “No, no problem, please just come in. We’re eventually going to have some lasagna and bread.”
Sadie/Samantha: “Mom, Dad, the three Ripleys are here!!”
“Come on in! We’re not sure where to put you yet, especially if the family with the shrinking retaining wall is going to come up too (as I was convinced they would), but come right in.”
“Thanks! We have sleeping bags. We’ll be happy to sleep on the floor if necessary.”
“Great. Let me get to those lasagnas.”
Everyone helped. Michael filled cheese and cracker plates, helped with the lasagnas, and got people settled. Cara made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hold people over. I worked on those lasagnas and loaves of bread. Our Fletcher Farm guest did our personal laundry. “Rainy” put out clean plates and glasses and washed dishes as they were used. Kids ran through the house looking for George the Ghost. Cara’s shy tenant fed her baby and tried her best to find some quiet space. Andrew and Christina did puzzles, watching with awe. Our wedding guest went to recover some sleep.
Sadie/Samantha: “Mom! There’s someone at the door!”
”Hello, we’re wondering if you have any room. We’re from Canada and can’t get to our hotel.”
“Of course, we do. It might be creative but we’ll work something out. How many of you?:
(I may have gasped audibly here.)
He continued, “It’s me and my wife and our three children, ages 9 and 11 and 12. It’s the 12-year-old’s birthday today.”
“Yes, of course, come on in! Get settled and join us for a lasgna dinner.”
Well, we did it. Together, we did it. We fit everyone in, sometimes three to a bed. We found and set up the Pack ‘n Play for the infant. We made and ate a wonderful dinner. Mike baked and frosted a chocolate birthday cake and we sang happy birthday to young David. The phone rang all night; people were checking in on their families. The river family’s retaining wall, within inches of being overcome by the river, hung tight, as did the family. Unfortunately, the farmer-neighbors’ bridge was taken out and their crops were flooded. Then the water actually began to recede by bedtime. At 9:00 pm, the power went out. We lit mini gas-lamps and sent each grown up to their room with one.
We woke the next morning to a bright, beautiful day. The crisp but sunny kind of day you dream of. The kind of day that makes you want to move to Vermont. The power came on at 7:00 am, but we had no running water.
By the time Michael and I came downstairs at 7:30 am or so, guests were already using buckets of pool water to flush their morning toilets. They had found different sources of drinking water in order to make a pot of coffee. We made a giant feast of eggs, bacon, ham, applesauce muffins, and juices. Slowly, people began to trickle out of here, grateful as could ever be. Pat fed all our animals before leaving. Mike drove Rene to his home, learning streets he’d never seen before in order to get from here to there.
The phone rings. They were evacuating the apartments over Six Loose Ladies and the Post Office: “Can we send families to you?”
“Yes, of course. We’ll figure something out.”
We anticipated Round Two of chaos. Immediately a mom and her grown son were at our door.
“Yes, of course, come on in.” Let the head spinning begin. But in the end, only one other young couple and their two year old showed up. All others must have found a place to go. The two families went back to their homes three days later. The young couple and their toddler stayed for a nice shrimp scampi dinner before returning. I think we all feel like we made some new friends.
Although the town of Cavendish and its village of Proctorsville suffered significant damage to streets, small businesses, and individual homes, the recovery efforts and community building that has resulted is as awesome a natural wonder as the flooding itself was to see. Imagine a world in which we all reached out to one another every day the same way we do in a time of crisis. Imagine a world in which we check on our neighbors, ask if they have enough food, and offer them a hand with something overwhelming.
It’s kind of a great image, don’t you think?
Dread holiday shopping? Hate the mall? We’ve come up a solution that’s sure to please even the most-anti-shoppers out there. (Trust us, we’re qualified for this!)
Find great gifts at local, independently owned shops during the day, unwind by the fire with an evening cocktail and a wood-fired pizza, and get those presents wrapped and ready for stashing away til the holiday. We provide you with the pizza and the wrapping supplies. All you need to do is bring your holiday shopping list and make a reservation! Book any night Nov 4 through December 15 and enjoy the rate of $129 (plus tax). A savings of over $60! Add a second night for just $99 (plus tax)!
Here’s the plan:
Step 1: Make your inn reservation with the “I hate malls!” special rate of $129 (plus tax) for any time between November 4 and December 15. (Keep reading to see why you should add a second night at just $99!)
Step 2: Read our suggested travel routes and pick which non-mall shopping excursion best matches your tastes and the needs of your shopping list. Then head out to browse the unique, independently owned shops, never once enduring a mall’s stark fluorescent lighting, Muzak, or emaciated mannequins. You’ll find original artwork and children’s toys, jewelry and pure maple syrup, funky clothing and kitchen gadgets. When you need a snack to keep you fueled, you’re sure to find a great café just around the corner, not a chain restaurant.
Step 3: Return to the inn to relax by the fire while you enjoy a light dinner of Goodman’s American Pie wood-fired pizza. Grab your favorite cocktail and we’ll supply you with all the wrapping paper, scissors, and tape you’ll need, so that you can disguise all your gifts before bringing them home. Add some homemade cookies for dessert and a great night’s sleep, then awake to have all your (non) efforts rewarded with our classic two-course breakfast.
Barely sounds like shopping, right? Let’s take it one step further. Make it a 2-night stay for just an additional $99. This allows you to come up the night before, maybe stopping at a restaurant along the way. Your travel time and your restaurant time is when you create your shopping list. Maybe you can even do a little online shopping by the fire before bed. (We have complimentary wi-fi throughout the whole house.) And then you’ll wake at the inn, ready for “Step 1” above, after enjoying our full 2-course breakfast — the best ammunition for a day of not-mall shopping!
Who needs to wait for Black Friday? Make your reservation now and and relax about the shopping thing. It’s going to be good this year!