While you’re at the lake, it’s just a short hike for a great view.

Location of the vista trail in relation to surrounding terrain.

Guests at the October Country Inn often ask where they can rent a kayak or canoe, or just hang out at a nearby lake.  We recommend the Plymouth State Park on Echo Lake.  It’s close by, it has a large grassy area with shade trees, picnic tables, and a sandy lakefront beach.  Boat rentals are available, and the lake is great for swimming or wading.  Also, there’s a vista trail from the park that climbs to a great view of Echo Lake.

The Echo Lake vista trail’s round-trip distance is about 1.5 miles, and the trail climbs about 1,500 feet to an elevation of about 2,000 feet.  The trail is well marked with blue blazes, in both directions, which make it a good candidate for winter snowshoeing as well as summer/fall hiking.

An upper section of the vista trail

The trail-head can be found on the mountain side of the park where the paved portion of Scout Camp Road turns to dirt.  The trail starts by following the remnants of an old road under the canopy of a mixed hardwood forest of birch and beech that serviced the nearby Tyson-Pollard Cemetery.  After about .1 of a mile, a vista trail sign marker signals a turn to the left off the old road.  This blue blaze marked trail begins to ascend and goes through red oaks and red spruce as it ascends to higher elevations.

This trail combines again with the old cemetery road and passes through the upper end of the old Tyson-Pollard Cemetery.  At this point the trail narrows and starts to climb in earnest.  The upper section of the trail is rutted, rocky, and quite steep in sections.  If taken slowly, however, it’s not that strenuous.  Fortunately, it is not very long.

View of Echo Lake with fall colors starting to show.

In short order you will emerge into a small clearing that provides a great view of Echo Lake with some of Okemo Mountain’s ski trails visible in the distance.  The view during fall colors is  even more dramatic.  Once you get back to the lake, go for a well earned dip to cool off.

 

Things you’ll see in Vermont, but might not notice.

Visitor: (pointing) Hey buddy, what do they call that funny window over there?

Vermonter: Which window?

Visitor: Thanks ! (drives off.)

This may not be the way it came to pass, but angled windows placed under eaves on second story gables, which are peculiar enough to Vermont to be called “Vermont windows,” are alternatively known as witch windows, because–as is well known–witches cannot fly through an angled window.

These oddly placed windows are also known as a, creepily, coffin windows, because, to justify this name, it is easier to get bodies down from a second story through a slanted window than down what is usually a narrow staircase.

Typical installation of a Vermont window (witch window) on a gable end.

To someone visiting Vermont, what might seem at first to be the humorous product of an eccentric builder is really a bit of practical problem solving on the part of generations of resourceful Vermonters.  This oddity occurred on homes starting from around the 1830s onwards and can still be seen on new homes today, although to a much lesser extent.  Smaller side wings added to the main block of a “cape” style of house obscured much of the gable wall.  A standard vertically oriented double-hung window simply wouldn’t fit.  Constructing a dormer is costly, uses precious materials, accumulates snow and ice, and contributes greatly to heat loss in the cold winters.  The solution: turn the window at an angle to match that of the roof pitch between the eave of the main house and the roof of the addition.  This eliminated the need for additional construction or having to find (or make) a custom window to fit the space.

Apple Cheese Tart, a New England farmer style dessert

Apple cheese tart, which is  cheesecake with a fruit topping by another name, is a favorite dessert at the October Country Inn that we often serve our guests with our French Country dinner.
A bite from a slice of this delicious pastry is a journey across the range of your taste buds.  First stop is the spiced tartness of the sliced apple topping quickly followed by the calming softness of the mildly sweet cream cheese filling, and finishing up with the crunchy richness of the butter-cookie crust.  Sound good?

The apple peeler, corer, slicer that we use.

Making this dessert involves  a few items that may not be found in your kitchen.  One such item is a 10 inch spring-form pan.  This two-part circular pan has a latch on the side piece that allows the side to be opened in order to gracefully separate the pastry from the pan.  This also allows easier removal of the pastry from the bottom piece because, with the side removed, a thin, long spatula blade inserted between the crust and pan bottom allows for the complete extraction of the cheesecake in one glorious piece.

Crust mixture of flour, sugar, vanilla, and butter in the food processor ready to be transferred to the spring-form pan for baking.

We also find that a stand-along mixer, a food processor, and an apple peeler, corer, slicer are indispensable items.  You can get by without all but the food processor, but if this is a dessert you might want to add to your repertoire, it’s definitely worthwhile acquiring these really cool kitchen tools.
This recipe is divided into three parts, the crust, the filling, and the topping.
Ingredients for the crust are:
  • 1/2 cup chilled, unsalted butter diced into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 cup sifted, all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Baked crust cooling on a rack.


Put the sifted flour, sugar, and vanilla in a food processor with a knife mixing blade and mix  thoroughly.  After mixed, add the chilled, cubed butter and mix by pulsing until a coarse meal like mixture is achieved.

Transfer mixture to a spring-form pan, spread to an even thickness, and pat down with your fingertips, especially around the edge of the pan.  Put crust in a 350 degree preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Cream cheese filling in the mixer.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling.  Ingredients for the filling are:

  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the cream cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream both together until smooth and uniform.  Place both eggs in a small mixing bowl, add the vanilla, and lighly mix before adding to the mixing bowl along with the cream cheese sugar mixture.  Mix all this together until smooth and uniform.  Set aside while preparing the topping.

Apple slices tossed with sugar cinnamon mix.

Ingredients for the topping are:

  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Mix the sugar, ground cinnamon, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Chop the pecans into small pieces.  Cut the peeled, cored, and sliced apples in half, place them in a large bowl, add the sugar cinnamon mixture and toss until the apple slices are evenly coated.

The finished apple cheese tart fresh out of the oven.

By this time the crust will have cooled enough so that a piece of aluminum foil can be wrapped around the bottom and side of the spring-form pan.  Add the filling mixture on top of the baked crust in the spring-form pan and spread it around until its a uniform thickness and level.   Place the coated apple slices around the outer edge by hand, one slightly overlapping the other.  Repeat for the smaller inner circle.  Sprinkle the chopped pecan pieces over the top.  Place in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, just turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees, without opening the door, and bake for another 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven when done and let cool until it settles to about half its height.  Serve in 3 or 4 hours if you can’t wait, or refrigerate until cool before serving.  It’s delicious either way.