Now is your chance to learn to ski or ride at Killington

In our continuing examination of the many varieties and types of winter activities Vermont has to offer, we would be remiss without mentioning the obvious–skiing or riding.  If you may be inclined to think that skiing or riding is beyond your capacity, either physically, or economically, you may be suffering from a misconception, and cheating yourself out of having a great winter-time activity.  In relatively recent years, there has been a revolution in ski and snowboard technology, as well as in teaching methods, that greatly reduces the time it takes and difficulty of learning either or both of these activities well enough to safely have a good time.  Since Killington Ski Resort is home mountain to the October Country Inn, and the learn to ski or ride program they offer is the best in the area, as well as an extremely good deal, this is the place to go.

The Discovery Center at Killington’s Snowshed Lodge. Home of the Learn to Ski or Ridge program.

Generally speaking, it takes about three lessons to get to the point where you can navigate a beginner trail on your own with an acceptable level of confidence and control.  Of course, there is no substitute for experience in order to develop the muscle memory that will eventually make this activity completely natural and second nature, but having three lessons under your belt should go a long way toward getting you on the right track so that added practice is not just reinforcing bad habits.  For this reason, the Killington Learn to Ski or Ride program is set up to provide for three lessons, as well as future incentives for the continuing practice that will cement your new found skills in place.

The way that Killington packages their Learn to Ski or Ride program, you pay $199.00 and get the first two group lessons (class size maximum of 5), lift tickets, and equipment rental. When you have completed the first two lessons, you get a third lesson, lift ticket, and equipment rental for free.  After you have completed the third lesson, you get a free lift ticket for your fourth visit, and finally, you are issued a Killington Learner’s Permit that entitles you to 50% off the retail prices for lift tickets, lessons, or equipment rental through the end of the 2013/2014 season.  Wow!  Think about it.  This is an incredible opportunity to learn to ski or ride.  Of course, you may become addicted to the sport.  Killington would be happy to count you as a continuing customer, and we hope you’ll make the October Country Inn your home away from home.

Tracing the history of a lost town–Plymouth Five Corners Vermont

Since Plymouth township adjoins Bridgewater Corners, we consider it to be a part of the October Country Inn neighborhood. Originally founded in 1787 under the name Saltash, it was changed to Plymouth in 1798. The community of Plymouth Fives Corners grew from a small collection of early farmers trying to build a living in the rocky stubbornness of the Vermont hills.  They grew hay, corn,oats and potatoes. They kept cattle, goats and hens. In time the early settlers established the village, and their children and grandchildren grew to continue this quiet, country way of life.

The quiet agricultural village of Five Corners, in a peculiar twist of history, changed markedly in 1858 when William Hanerson returned from the California gold fields and noticed that the rock formations and terrain of Five Corners were similar to certain sections of the west where gold had been found. Hanerson investigated and found gold in the brooks flowing through Five Corners and started the Vermont gold rush.

Gold fever overtook not only the local villagers but people came from hundreds of miles away in search of gold. These prospectors searched energetically for the vein that was leaking gold into the streams. The Plymouth Gold Mining Company, with a capital of $50,000 was set up and began to work claims in the area. A quartz mill was built. However the source of the gold was never found, and after about 4 years, the gold rush slowly petered out. 

Five Corners was left to slowly settle back into the quiet agricultural community it once was.  This small community was very familiar to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, who was born and grew up in the nearby town of Plymouth. In fact,  a former Five Corners schoolteacher, John Garbaldi Sargent, was later appointed by Coolidge to be the U.S. Attorney General.

However, many of the businesses established to service the rapid growth of the local population fueled by the gold rush, could not sustain themselves after the gold fever subsided.  The hotel was the first of the gold rush established businesses to close.  Over the next decade the saw mill, then the grist mill, and finally the schoolhouse fell into disrepair as the community continually shrank from about 1900 on.  When the last family was gone sometime in the late 1920s, upkeep of the roads was abandoned. The deer and fox began to return. Grass grew tall, trees sprouted and the forest overtook areas that once were yards and fields, and the Vermont wilderness began to reclaim the deserted village as its own.

Today, although the only signs of this once bustling village are old stone lined cellar holes alongside the creeks and paths, people still come to pan for gold.  Walkers stroll these country roads through the quiet woods in the summer, hunters stalk deer, turkey, and grouse in the fall, and snowmobilers and snowshoers travel the trails during the winter months.  Plymouth Five Corners may be a Vermont ghost town, but much of the same lure that drew the early settlers, still drawns visitors to this area from near and far.

Vinaigrette salad dressings–a culinary staple.

In its most basic form, vinaigrette salad dressing is nothing more than 3 parts extra-virgin olive oil to 1 part vinegar well shaken or whisked, spead on lettuce or freshly steamed vegetables, and tossed.  The simplest variation of this basic combination is to change the variety of vinegar.  Red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, raspberry vingegar, and so on all add  a slightly different flavor to the dressing.

At the October Country Inn, we often get recepie requests for our red wine vinaigrette which we use with our French Country dinners.  This vinaigrette is a simple combination of 3 ounces of EVO, 1 ounce of red wine vinegar, 3/4 teaspoons of salt, 1 clove of minced garlic and a pinch of ground black pepper.

Add a few more ingredients to the above EVO/red wine vinegar mix; 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 colves of minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon of cold water; yields a garlic vinaigrette that we use with our Italian Country dinners.

For Mexican dinners, we spice it up with cilantro jalapeno dressing.  Place 1/4 cup of fresh packed cilantro leaves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 ounce of white wine vinegar, and a couple of fresh or pickled seeded diced jalapenos in a food processor.  While mixing, drizzle in 3 ounces of EVO.

For our Greek salad dressing take the standard vinaigrette mix of 3 ounces of EVO and 1 ounce of red wine vinegar; add 3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of fresh minced oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 pressed garlic clove and a pinch of ground black pepper; and whisk it all together.

Sometimes we want a more substantial dressing than a vinaigrette.  For this occasion we use a creamy dressing, such as the following creamy dill dressing.  To make this creamy dressing, in a mixer, combine and mix well:

  • 1/2 cup EVO
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar with tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese