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Vermont 2007 Archives

November 29, 2006

Initial Planning Stages

Okay - we're back from Israel, and I'm working on that trip journal (along with London and Paris - yikes) but since we always like having something in the hopper, I'm starting to plan our summer trip to Stowe Vermont.

Both girls are going to encampment this summer (a one week sleep-away camp sponsored by United Synagogue), so Chris and I figure we'll go away. Though I want to be somewhere within driving distance of the kids, in case something happens. Thus, Vermont.

Our plan is to do some hiking, biking and hopefully, some good eating to go along with that. We're still torn though on whether or not to do a vacation rental or a B&B for the week. I'm leaning towards the rental so we can cut costs and cook, plus we'll have more space to spread out. Though there is a 'social' aspect to the B&B/hotel that I sometimes miss when traveling but I think that sacrafice is worth the extra space of a rental.

November 30, 2006

Goldilocks - For Your Consideration

Here's one of the rental places we're looking into (I still need to contact the owner):

Goldilocks - VRBO.

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June 4, 2007

Stowe Bike Club

Well, doing a Google search on Vermont Bike Clubs turned up this: Stowe Bike Club. Which is good because I'm hoping it will be a resource for us in planning some biking routes for our trip. We're hoping to do three or so good bike rides and a couple of days of hiking.

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August 7, 2007

Kayaking in Vermont

Chris wants to go kayaking while we're in Vermont. So I put him in charge of arranging it. His solution? To send me three links:

Pinnacle Ski and Sports
Bert's Boats
AJ's Stowe Vermont

I do not know what he thinks I'm going to do with these. Am I supposed to call, and make the arrangements? I think not.

But now it got me thinking. We arrive on Monday night, which means we have six full days because we're leaving the following Monday morning.

We already know we're doing this 50 mile bike ride on Saturday: Mad River Valley (we'd thought about doing another century but I don't want to get up that early - it's my vacation after all). So that leaves five days. We want to hike at least two days, so that leaves three. I guess we do have time to do some kayaking too and fit in another bike ride or two. Okay we'll let that stand.

King Arthur

On another front, I realized that the King Arthur flagship store is only a few minutes out of our way, driving up to Stowe, so I'm thinking that's a must stop. The only issue is that it's a good 5.5 hours to get to the store and they close at 6:00. We won't be hitting the road until noon or so (from Metuchen though), so it will be close as to whether we get there on time or not. I guess we can always stop on the way home too.

August 15, 2007

Stowe Information Office

I noticed on Stowe's website that they have hiking maps they will send you. I called the toll free number and they said we can go right into the information office, in the middle of the village (red building) and pick them up. They're open every day from 9 until 8 except Sunday when they close at 5.

For now, we're planning on sleeping in on Tuesday, then food shopping, exploring our surroundings, stopping into the info office to get stuff, maybe a long leisurely lunch somewhere - and planning our week.

For lunch I wouldn't mind trying the Cliff House. We could ride the Gondola to the top of Mount Mansfield and dine up there overlooking everything, which sounds good to me - nice menu too.

Okay so it costs $20 per adult to take the gondola to the top - does that sound high to anyone else out there? Can we drive to the top?

August 16, 2007

Cool Store in Stowe

Chris found this cool looking store in Stowe: Col d'Lizard. I think we'll have to pop in for a visit. Maybe they can make our custom bike shirts, the ones with the pig on them that say, "I break for bacon." At the very least, I might want to buy me one of these shirts.

Stowe Away

I love the little gnome sticking out of the tree. Did you know, I once dressed as a gnome for Haloween; I'm such a geek!

August 19, 2007

Packing List Part 1

Yes, it's everybody's favorite time, time where I divulge the intrictate secrets of my packing list! Yes, feel free to skip this entry, but I like having a place where I can reference what I took on previous trips and decide what to take on the next trip. This one will be a bit different though than previous trips in that, it's a more active vacation (biking and hiking) in the US (read that as more casual) plus we're driving (read that as we can haul more stuff), so it could be interesting ... or not.

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August 21, 2007

We've Arrived

We're here. Luckily didn't hit any major rain on the way up, just some drizzles. A tiny, tiny bit of traffic around Hartford getting onto 91. And a bit more just before we arrived in Vermont due to construction. Got to the house about 7:00 (more on the house later today). After we unloaded the car, we headed into town to Mr. Pickwick's for dinner (more on that later too).

Home to sleep, and now we're getting ready to do a bike ride (40 miles); the hills here look pretty daunting and I'm a bit nervous. Will let you know how that goes.

Oh and it's cool here! Need to buy some sweatshirts today. Okay - off to get dressed and get my oatmeal. Will check in later today (tonight we're hanging out at home so should have plenty of time).

Have a good day all!

August 22, 2007

Mr. Pickwick's

We went to Mr. Pickwick’s expecting and craving a British pub, you know, with pub food like burgers, bangers, fish and chips but what we got was an “upscale” British restaurant. Not that that’s a bad thing, just a thing. But after we ordered two beers (a Long Trail IPA for me and something for Chris that he can no longer remember – reminder to self, take notes during the meal) off the extensive beer menu (we’re talking pages here), it was too late to leave and go somewhere else.

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I'll Take a Century Any Day

Yesterday morning Chris and I went for our first Vermont bike ride. We had decided to do the Stowe City Weekend ride first published by the Green Mountain Bike Club. We found the route on bikely.com, which lists maps and sometimes cue sheets for the suggested rides. When I first found this route, I posted a comment asking about the hills, to try to get a feel for how bad the climbs were/are.

Well, I'm here to tell you they're bad!

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August 23, 2007

The Chef's Table - NECI

Last night we drove to Montpellier, Vermont’s capita (and the smallest state capital in the US, by the way), to have dinner at the New England Culinary Institute. The Institute has two campuses, one in Essex and one in Montpellier and each campus has associated restaurants. In Montpellier, they have Brioche Bakery and Café, The Main Street Grill, and The Chef’s Table, their fine dining establishment. We opted for the last one, The Chef’s Table.

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The Night the Lights Went Out

So there we were, Tuesday night, hovering over my laptop, looking at how far we climbed on our bike ride that morning and trying to figure out an alternate route for Thursday when poof, the lights went out! Now night is night, and it was black out there but I’m here to tell you, Vermont night is way blacker than New Jersey night.

Using the light from my laptop screen (battery powered), Chris found the flashlight we brought with us (good thing). We stumbled around, trying to find a fuse box, but couldn’t. We walked outside, to see if our neighbors had power, but they’re not here and so no lights were on. Some landscape lights were on across the street, but they could have been solar powered. What to do?

I guess it’s times like these where you might think that renting a property has it’s deficiencies compared to staying in a hotel but then I thought, what would you, could you do if you were in a hotel? Think about it?

Anyway, we found the caretaker’s phone number, and Chris called. AJ, the caretaker was great, he made some phone calls but couldn’t find out if it was just our house or others in the area. While he was doing that, the power company showed up. Can you believe it? I mean we’re not talking hours later but minutes, like within twenty minutes of our lights going out, the power company was outside, checking to see our status. They told Chris it was a problem on the line, and they were trying to determine the cause. When Chris spoke to AJ again, he insisted on coming out though Chris told him it wasn’t necessary, the power company was on top of things.

Within the fifteen minutes or so it took AJ to arrive, we found another flashlight (so I wasn’t stuck in one location) and lit some candles, which actually made everything seem romantic, and we admired the multitude of stars in the night sky. AJ pulled up and told us the power company was working down the street but wasn’t sure how long it would take. He had brought with him though a generator, just in case. We went inside, and talked (and had a beer) by candlelight and before we could even finish half the beer (okay I had a Sprite zero), the lights came back on.

So much for our adventure. I have to say though how impressed I was with AJ and his commitment to looking out for the guests (he manages over 60 properties, some rentals, some weekend residents, and some permanent residents), and the local power company. I think start to finish, we were without power for less than 90 minutes – kudos to all.

Fala, We're Not in New Jersey Any More

One of a multitude of road these types of road signs (I'll have to try to get a picture of a bear crossing one too)!

Moose Crossing Sign


Other Things We’ve Done (Shopping Pretty Much)

So you know on Tuesday we did that 40+ mile bike ride (we’re supposed to do another one today but it looks gross outside, and I personally, could get into a day of movie watching and/or book reading). Anyway, here’s some things we did the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday.

After we wolfed down our lunch at Pie in the Sky, it was time to do some provision shopping. We had decided before we arrived that we would do one meal out a day, so lunch out dinner in, dinner out lunch in, so we needed to get some provisions. I had read about Harvest Market and it sounded interesting, so first stop, we headed up Mountain Road (aka 108) for a visit.

It’s smaller than I expected but has a nice bakery and makes a decent espresso. They also have the standard “gourmet” food stuff items (e.g., Stonewall Kitchen jams and stuff) but Chris wasn’t too impressed with their cheese selection. So we ended up buying some pappardelle, a couple of jars of Chris’s favorite hot pepper jelly, some rosemary foccacia, a couple of Cabot yogurts (when in Rome and all), good olive oil, a frozen potato bacon soup (dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow perhaps), and a couple of cookies for munching. We didn’t bother looking at the wine they sold; it seemed more an afterthought.

Next, we headed up to Mountain Wine and Cheese. They had a decent wine selection but I think the mark-ups were a bit extreme. I like to find a bottle of something I know, to see the price differential in different stores. They had Palazzo della Torre for $22. We pay about $13 for it at home. There cheese selection looked good though, and we left there with some fresh Vermont cheddar, a duck liver pate and some chevre for Chris (not to mention some kinder eggs for Sammi – who knew)?

We still needed wine though and our options weren’t looking great. Last chance, we went in search of Fine Wine Cellars. They had a tag line, something like “you should be able to get good wine at both $10 and $100” our kind of place.

We found them, closer to the village, also on Mountain Road. This place is actually more of an Internet operation, that I think the owner runs out of the basement of his home. There’s a sign on the door that says, “Open, ring bell and we’ll let you in.” And sure enough he does. And basically, you walk down into his crate-packed basement with some wines on display but way too overwhelming to browse. We described for him what we like, and our price point (the $10 to $20 range), and he came up with some suggestions – it was actually great fun, he was so enthusiastic about wines and had some real unknown things.

First, we walked away with two bottles of the Monkey Barrel Shiraz that Chris tried on Monday night at Mr. Pickwick’s. Then he recommended a merlot to us. A merlot? We had just been saying earlier how we’re not merlot drinkers but okay – this guy swears buy it. He promises it’s not the generic fruity, smooth stuff that’s been mass manufactured but something akin to how the French produce/use their merlot grapes, so powerful that it’s been in the bottle for eight years and he’s just selling/drinking it now. It’s from Kiona Vineyards in Washington and we decide to buy a bottle. He also recommends a Pinot called O’Reillys and a Prosecco. We spent a bit more time talking wines with him, got our purchases and headed out, telling him we’ll be back before we return to Jersey on Monday.

Now we’re heading back to the house, where Chris has to take a conference call, and I do some writing but it doesn’t take long and we’re back out shopping. We park the car behind the Swiss Pot, check out it’s menu (fondues are their thing), the menu of the Blue Moon Café across the street (I can definitely eat there), and pop into Col D’Lizard so I can buy my Stowe Bike shirt. Talking to the woman who owns the shop, makes me feel better because she tells me how she learned to ride the hills around here and that there’s no shame in stopping for a rest going up them. Good, I feel better about my accomplishment as we head out the door to check out more of the town.

We pop into some other stores, a sundry place, the mercantile (where we buy a martini glass, and some mustards – a chipotle maple mustard kicks butt and I’m going to have to get some more). Finally, about five or so, after hitting Shaws for the basics (e.g., eggs, milk, oatmeal) we return to the cabin to hang.

We make up a little cheese and cracker plate, pop open that Merlot (which also kicks butt by the way, we’re so going back there today to buy 1/2 a case and get some of his restaurant reccomendations), and just enjoy the peace and quiet. I watch all the bikers riding down our road and insist to Chris, I’m not going inside until I see if these bikers return up the road. I want to make sure there’s no secret passage that avoids this hill. Eventually some do and that and the cold night air forces us indoors where we start to look at elevations of the ride scheduled for today (Thursday) to make sure it’s not too strenuous (it is but that’s another story).

Anyway, while we’re sitting there – the lights go out! Ah heck, I’m going to make that a separate entry.

Okay – so that wraps up Tuesday.

On Wednesday, after our hike, we hop into the car and head down to Cold Hollow Cider Mill to get some donuts, do some more shopping and to taste some wines – Grand View Winery has a tasting room across the parking lot from the cider mill.

The donuts rock – still warm when we buy them, we scarf down to many – that and a glass of milk and I’m in hog heaven. I don’t think Delicious Orchards or Emory’s has a thing on these guys. We also buy some hug tins of maple syrup before we head across the lot to taste some wines.

They charge you a buck to do the tasting but so what. It’s funny they have some wines made with grapes (e.g., seyval) but many of their products are made from other fruits (e.g., pear). So instead of having a grape wine that has the essence of pear, you could just buy pear wine and save the trouble. And honestly it wasn’t that bad.

We tried:

  • Hard Cider
  • Pear Wine
  • Seyval
  • Some red wine with a name that escapes me (I’ll go look), but they described it as the red wine for people who don’t like red wines. It wasn’t my favorite.
  • Cranberry wine – made mistakenly from juice that they thought was cherry juice but ended up being from Cranberries.
  • Raspberry Apple wine, which smelled and tasted like cough syrup to me until he spooned some ground bittersweet chocolate into it and then it wasn’t bad.

We ended up buying some Hard Cider, some funny cocktail napkins, and the Cranberry wine. Call me crazy, but besides the fact that it would actually go well with Thanksgiving dinner (well, except with sweet potatoes, I don’t think it would go well with them), I have visions of making a pork loin, stuffed with dried cranberries and goat cheese; I think it will work.

Into the gift shop where we bought a couple of funny cow t-shirts for the girls and then back home. Chris fidgeted with my bike, trying to get the granny gears to work, and I vegged on the computer. Then he went for a run, and I vegged some more, until finally, he returned and it was time to get ready to go to dinner.

The Stowe Pinnacle

Kim Before the Hike

Yesterday was hike day. For our first hike, we chose the Stowe Pinnacle, which to some of the locals, who do it regularly, is probably nothing more than a casual afternoon stroll (I come to this assumption based upon the few of them we saw on the trail, wearing pretty much everyday clothing), but for those of us who do not hike regularly, turned out to be a moderate hike.

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August 24, 2007

A Limoncello Kinda Day

When Chris is in a hokey mood he likes to say, "When life hands you lemons, make limoncello." Well, yesterday we got a couple of lemons - three to be exact. They're the tires on my car. We slept in a bit (read that as Chris slept in; I was up at my usual 6:15) and Chris went to The Bagel for bagels (surprisingly good bagels for being outside the NY Metro area - yes I am a bagel snob). Anyway, upon his return he stated, "Your tires are bulging; we need new ones, now." Great. We knew I was going to need new tires soon but had hoped they could make this trip but there were bubbles on three of them and there was no way, I felt comfortable driving home with those tires.

So first we looked on Super Pages but then Chris followed by suggestion and called AJ to see if he could recommend someone. He recommended Palmer's in Morrisville, a few miles up the road.

Chris called Dave at Palmer's and told him our problem and that AJ recommended him. Dave made some phone calls and found four tires for my car that he said he would have at the shop on Friday afternoon (today) and what time would we like to come by? So we have a 2:00 appointment for today. The tires are going to cost about $450 which is great because our Volvo dealer had quoted us a much higher price. Oh and before you think poorly of my car or Volvo, I have over 37K on these current tires so it was time for new ones.

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August 26, 2007

Sterling Pond

Trail Going Up
On Friday morning, since Chris slept in, we decided to bag the Mount Hunger hike and opted for Sterling Pond instead. Sterling Pond is also considered a "moderate" hike and since no elevation was given on the list of hikes provided by the tourist information office we assumed it was relatively flat ... wrong!

I took this shot of the path as we were leaving; it doesn't do just to the initial climb up the stone steps.

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Limoncello Day - Part Two

Just an update on the car situation. So after our hike to Sterling Pond, we visited Stowe Dogs (1669 Mountain Road) for some lunch. Just a quick shout out to them because if you're looking for a good hot dog, with a myriad of toppings look no further. We each had a Stowe Dog (the local treat - hot dog smothered in meat and cheese) and shared some Stowe Fries (fries smothered in meat and cheese). Along with some diet Pepsi (I finally get the concept of a fattening meal but diet soda).

After lunch, we headed to Morrisville and our appointment with Palmer Automotive on Brooklyn Street. Another shout out to them - they put four new tires on my car in an hour - damage, $475 - considering when we bought the car the Volvo guy said it could be about $1000 to replace my tires, I think we did pretty good.

While they worked on the car, we walked over to Rock Art Brewery for our tour with Zeb. Zeb's a nice guy - not very vivacious though but he knows his stuff. It's a tiny operation, maybe one or two steps up from someone brewing beer in their garage but pretty darn cool. I've decided that brewing beer is the answer to making wine for those with ADD since it's less than 2.5 weeks from start to finished product. They have multiple varieties of beer (unfortunately no test tasting) and we found out they do sell in Jersey (time to call Glendale to see if they can get it for us). We bought a case of the Ridge Runner, and a 12-pack sampler for our friends, who are taking in our mail (to go along with the Vermont Maple Syrup we bought them). Now I'm sorry I didn't get the Rock Art t-shirt - oh well.

We also learned there's a Brewery Tour thing in Vermont called the Vermont Brewery Challenge. You get this little passport card, and at each Vermont Brewery you visit, you get it stamped. There are 18 breweries on the card. When you get 4 breweries, you get a bottle opener magnet that says, "Drink Vermont Beer." When you get 10 breweries, you get a "Drink Vermont Beer" t-shirt. When you get all the breweries, you get a Collector's Set of Vermont Beer Gear. We've got two stamps so far (visited another pub/brewery for dinner last night), but next summer, we're going to do a tour (we can get 3 in Burlington alone). If only we'd known about this earlier, it could have changed the entire tenor of the vacation.

After our tour, we headed over to Munchies for some ice cream - i got a creamee, what they call soft ice cream. Asked for a small, and got what I would consider to be an x-large (ended up throwing most of it out). I'd hate to see what a large is.

Then it was back home to rest before dinner. So the car thing worked out well in the end.

Bike Ride From Hell

The next time someone from Vermont tells you that a bike ride has rolling hills, don't believe them! Those hills are mountains to you and me.

So yesterday was our 1/2 Century Ride that we were doing through the Mad River Valley. Chris found the ride on-line when we were planning our Vermont trip and signed us up. I mean after all, the feedback was positive, it sounded mostly flat, through valleys - how bad could it be? Bad!

But let me back up for just a moment because funny, small world story time, before the ride, we were having breakfast at the Dutch Pancake House when I'm looking out the window and I see this guy walking down the street. I say to Chris, "Hey, that looks like David M." He says, maybe it is but I'm thinking nah. Well then I look to the entrance of the dining room and I see his daughter and then my friend Jody, his wife. Jody and I served/worked together on the synagogue board a few years ago and while we don't socialize outside of the synagogue, we do stop to chat there still whenever we see each other. Funny to run into them here - and as it turns out, they visit Stowe and stay at Smugglers Notch every summer for a week. Funnier part of the story, while we were hugging and catching up in the lobby for a minute, the bus boy started to clear our table, thinking we had skipped out on the check.

Anyway, after our hearty breakfast of pancakes, we hit the road to the Waitsfield for our bike ride. Now I was pretty damn nervous after Tuesday's ride about the hills. I felt demoralized in my biking skills, so when we found the check-in point (1.6 miles away from the finish line - more on that later), the first thing Chris asked was, "How hilly is the ride?" To which the check-in ladies replied, not bad, it's rolling hills. Liar, liar pants on fire.

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And on the Seventh Day She Rested

I've decided I put my body through enough punishment this week - though my left calf finally feels a bit better, I'm taking it easy today. Hanging out reading my book, a walk into town to check out the Farmer's Market and maybe some last minute shopping and then we've decided on dinner at home tonight - we're thinking steaks, salad and some bruschetta with some left over bread.

I still need to write some entries for restaurants, Michael's on the Hill, The Shed, Pie in the Sky and the Dutch Country Pancake House but that's it. Maybe I'll do those today and we'll close out Vermont.

Tomorrow, we hit the road about 9, hoping to stop at the cider mill for one last round of donuts, and arrive home by 4.

So page down for the last few entries, and check back later, if restaurants are your thing.

Then it will be on to Paris!

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to What I Really Think in the Vermont 2007 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Savannah 2008 is the previous category.

Vermont 2008 is the next category.

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