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Ski Woodstock. Learn where it all started.

Fall is around the corner, and winter closely follows.  We look forward to winter here at the October Country Inn. It brings a new set of options to the recreational activity menu; snow skiing being principle among them. As a fitting precursor, Woodstock—site of first ski lift in the U.S.—hosts an “Excursion to Gilbert’s Hill,” a look back at how it was in the old days to more fully appreciate how it is today.

Woodstock winters in the early 1930s, as in much of New England, were tough times for the local folks. Road travel in the snowy winter months, if possible at all, was usually done with horse and sleigh. Naturally, due to an abundance of snow, locals developed ways to amuse themselves in snowy, hilly terrain. Sledding, snowshoeing, and skiing were popular. Pretty soon, visitors from New York city began showing up to ski the local hills. In order to accommodate these visitors, local folks, idle for the winter, began renting out rooms, ferrying visitors around, and providing other tourist like services. All of a sudden, economic opportunity was recognized and exploited. It was in this climate that Bunny Bertram began teaching the New York visitors how to ski. Hearing constant complaints from his clients about having to spend so much time walking up the hills in order for a brief trip down, Bunny began tinkering with the idea of using a rope tow to transport skiers up the hill.

The first lift ticket.

The story gets interesting at this point, and we don’t want to spoil it, but it resulted in a flurry of interest in Woodstock winter skiing and an influx of skiing enthusiasts that led to the creation of four separate ski hills in Woodstock alone, one of which, Suicide Six, remains to this day. Mark your calendar: Sunday, August 25, 1 to 3 pm. Gilbert’s Hill, 1362 Barnard Rd., Woodstock, VT. Learn the full story.

By |2019-08-10T10:34:21-04:00August 10th, 2019|Historic Roots & Local Lore|

The Bridgewater Grange preserves and nourishes Vermont’s rural roots.

Agriculture abounds along just about any local road.

Whether aware of it or not,  many of our guests find their way to the October Country Inn to connect with nature and the rural spirit that envelopes our corner of Vermont.  There are countless opportunities and varieties of ways to connect with Vermont’s nature and spirit.  One way unfolds before your eyes as you drive down almost any local road.  Agriculture abounds.  In partnership with nature, farming is baked into Vermont’s roots and its spirit–both past and present–and is indelibly housed in the nearby Bridgewater Corners Grange.  You could drive by this unassuming 1875 era building nestled next to the Ottauquechee River without any clue as to its historical significance.

From its 17th century beginnings in the U.S., agriculture has always been a significant economic enterprise.  After the Civil War, much of rural New England was locked in a downward spiral of popularion decline, abandonment of farms, reversion of cleared land to forest and shrinking of villages, all of which contributed to widespread feelings of melancholy and loss among its residents.  The economy was struggling and farming was even more difficult than before the war.  Unlike farming, industry in the north had grown tremendously from supplying the war effort, and had amassed significant economic leverage.  In response, in 1867, the National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of

Bridgewater Grange today.

Husbandry was founded.  It published a Declaration of Purposes that identified middlemen and monopolists as the economic enemies of farmers, urged farmers to engage in crop diversification and economic cooperation, and declared the Grange to be nonpartisan.  Using the force of numbers to negotiate for cheaper prices worked well for awhile.  As a result, the Grange movement grew quickly and reached its maximum of 760,000 members within ten years of its founding.  However, disorganization, poor communication, and greed led to an equally rapid decline.  After its main focus of maximizing a farmer’s profits was tempered with more focus on advocacy for the agricultural profession, education, and general community enrichment, the Grange movement again began to grow, and remains to this day as a lighthouse signaling the importance and value of community in rural America.  Keep your eye out for the Bridgewater Corners Grance during your local travels.  It’s on Vermont Route 100A, just south of the Country Store, and north of the Mennonite Church.


By |2019-06-30T20:13:47-04:00June 30th, 2019|Historic Roots & Local Lore|

The Vermont Gran Fondo is a great bike ride, and a huge challenge.

Vermont is renown for its natural beauty, and country living life-style.  Of the long list of potential outdoor activities, cycling is a favorite. The combination of stunning scenery, clean air, lightly traveled roads, and challenging terrain attract cyclists from afar, and the October Country Inn has long been a home-away-from-home, and base of operations for many, many visiting cyclists. So when a special cycling event comes up, we think our cycling friends would like to know about it. Mark your schedules. The 2019 Vermont’s Gran Fondo is slated for June 29. Go online to vermontgranfondo.com for information and to register.

Gran Fondo is Italian for ‘big ride.’ Typically, Gran Fondo events are long distance, mass-participation cycling events—not races—that are immensely popular in Italy and the rest of Europe and are quickly becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Participation is open to cyclists of all abilities. While the Vermont Gran Fondo is not a race in the traditional sense, it goes well beyond the scope of most recreational or charity rides. In some ways, the Vermont Gran Fondo is similar to a 26-mile running marathon. Its a personal challenge. Rather than racing other participants, participants are challenging themselves in a battle against the course, and the distance.

The challenging nature of the Vermont Gran Fondo is due to a road course that crosses the Green Mountains at four different locations. Called “gaps,” these mountain passes all involve some serious climbing. The southernmost Brandon Gap is a category 2 climb with 1,178 feet of elevation gain in 3.2 miles with an average grade of 7%

Vermont Gran Fondo course.

and a maximum grade of 18%. Next to the north, the Middlebury Gap is a category 3 climb with 1,018 feet of elevation gain in 3.1 miles with an average grade of 6% and a maximum grade of 27%. Next to the north, the Lincoln Gap—distinguished by being the steepest continuous mile (20% to 24%) in the U.S.—is a category 2 climb with an elevation gain of 1,059 feet in 2.7 miles with an average grade of 15% and a maximum grade of 24%. The northernmost Appalachian Gap is a category 2 climb with 1,163 feet of elevation gain in 2.7 miles with an average grade of 8% and a maximum grade of 24%.

Pick the challenge that suits you from among the four course choices: The Gran Fondo course is 108 miles with 11,400 feet of climbing over the Appalachian Gap (west to east), Lincoln Gap (east to west), Appalachian Gap again (west to east), and the Middlebury Gap (east to west). The Medio Difficile course is 66 miles with 6,900 feet of climbing over the Appalachian and Lincoln Gaps. The Medio Facile course is 77 miles with 7,000 feet of climbing over the Appalachian and Middlebury Gaps. The Piccolo Fondo is 37 miles with 2,600 feet of climbing but no Gaps. The Vermont Gran Fondo is truly a challenge. Ride it if you can.

By |2019-05-31T15:02:07-04:00May 31st, 2019|Bike Rides|

Vermont is the place to take a balloon ride for Father’s Day.

Everybody here at the October Country Inn understands that time spent in Vermont is never wasted.  That said, as a bonus, during the Father’s Day weekend, June 14th thru June 16th, the nearby town of Quechee once again hosts its annual Quechee Hot Air Balloon, Craft & Music Festival.

Besides being the longest running hot air balloon festival in New England, with up to 20 hot air balloons rising at 6 a.m. each morning and 6 p.m. each afternoon, there will be continuous music, 60 craft artisans displaying their crafts, food vendors, and a beer and wine garden.  And there are activities for children such as Euro Bungee, a ninja warrior obstacle course, bounce house, and more.  Now is your chance to take that balloon ride you’ve been thinking about.

By |2019-05-17T09:27:43-04:00May 17th, 2019|Sightseeing & Local Culture|

Quechee Lakes, a downhome ski hill alternative.

Snow covered hills and meadows defines Vermont winters, and offers another universe of options for outdoor play. Many of October Country Inn’s winter weekend guests come to ski or snowboard at one of several local resorts catering to this dynamic activity. Some choose big-mountain venues, such as Killington or Okemo, where you can ski all day and never cross your tracks, but also pay top-dollar for a lift ticket, struggle to find parking, and share the mountain with many, many others. Or, some choose a smaller, local hill, such as Suicide Six, or Quechee Lakes. These smaller venues don’t offer quite the double black diamond thrill as the bigger mountains, but still offer quality skiing and snowboarding without many of the logistical problems of finding somewhere to park within walking distance to the lifts, and are generally much more family friendly, and considerably less expensive. Let’s take a closer look at Quechee Lakes.

Grown from picturesque rolling farmlands, The Quechee Lakes Landowners’ Association was established in the winter of 1970. It’s a homespun Vermont village community just east of Woodstock that’s part of Quechee Village, a small town rich in heritage. Everything about it is a demonstration of the well-known fundamental Vermont culture. Founded close to half a century ago, Quechee Lakes was a vision of developed land to host families of all ages as a premier four-season resort community. The Quechee Club, with its wide open post and beam architecture, overlooking the Ottauquechee River, is well-known for two of Vermont’s most acclaimed golf courses, which are converted into more than 10 miles of top-notch Nordic trails in winter months. It also

Take a sleigh ride to the base lodge.

includes ice skating facilities, a sledding hill, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and The Quechee Ski Area.

Quechee Ski Area features generally novice and intermediate terrain, with upper mountain trails emptying into open slopes. A centerpiece of winter recreation in the development, the Quechee ski area opened with a double chairlift for the 1970-71 season. A T-Bar was added half a decade later, serving novice lower mountain terrain. The original double chairlift was replaced with a new quad chairlift in 2005. Today, the Quechee Ski Area operates with three lifts, a quad chairlift, a T-bar, and a handle tow, 13 trails, a terrain park and some woods skiing when conditions permit.  There is also a big focus on snowmaking and grooming. Uphill travel via backcountry ski, or snowshoeing is also available. Quechee Ski Area is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as winter holiday periods. Lift ticket prices are nearly a third less expensive that the big mountain venues.

By |2019-02-22T10:17:43-04:00February 22nd, 2019|Winter Ramblings|

An often overlooked legacy of stone.

New England in general, and Vermont in particular, is known for its rocky soil.  Thousands of miles of stone walls, piled-up over the years by early American farmers clearing, and planting their fields, remains a testament to this work.  Such walls mark the western and northern property lines here at the October Country Inn.  In addition to stone walls, the quarrying of Vermont’s extensive marble and granite deposits have supplied regional stoneworkers for centuries, and still supply them today.  Consequently, there is a lot of really beautiful stonework in the neighborhood

Used granite curbs waiting to be repurposed.

A common use for granite, often overlooked, is for street curbing.  Not usually seen in the western and central U.S., granite curbing predates the use of cast concrete, the most commonly used material.  Although initially more expensive than cast concrete, granite lasts many times longer.  Granite curbs don’t wear out.  And even when they are removed in order to reconfigure a street or some other reason, the used curbing is in high demand for use as stone steps, decks, pathways, or other landscaping features.  Among industry experts, granite curbing is superior to cast concrete in strength, abrasive resistance, durability, cost of maintenance, reusability, and aesthetics.  Although granite is the best choice for virtually every curbing application, over the past 25 years there has been a significant increase in the use of cast concrete curbing due entirely to an assumption that granite curbing is expensive relative to concrete.  Based on research studies the facts are clear that granite is the superior choice when long-term costs of maintenance, repair, and disposal or resetting expenses are calculated along with initial costs.


It’s for this reason that street curbs in Washington D.C. are made of granite instead of cast concrete.  There are plenty of things to gripe about when it comes to the federal government.  But at least they made the right choice when it came to curbs.  It’s not just money or longevity that justifies the use of granite.  Stone just looks better.  Washington D.C.’s street curbs should be as stately as the rest of its grand exterior.

By |2019-02-18T12:04:10-04:00February 18th, 2019|Historic Roots & Local Lore|

Drewski’s On the River, an amazing culinary resource besides a great breakfast.

Although, at the October Country Inn, our guests are always served a freshly cooked country breakfast, if Edie and I want to treat ourselves to breakfast out when we don’t have guests, or have a leisurely lunch, Drewski’s On the River is our first choice.  Formerly known as Blanche and Bill’s Pancake House, it was a long-standing local favorite breakfast and lunch spot when Blanche retired and left it in the capable hands of Chef Andrew Geller and his wife Francine.  Chef Andrew is a Culinary Institute of America trained chef.  He brings his considerable training and skills to this small, family owned and operated Vermont eatery as if it were a four-star Paris bistro.

Chef Andrew, Francine and Lucas.

Drewski’s On the River is located at 586 U.S. Route 4, West Bridgewater, Vermont.  Just 1.5 mile east of Killington Ski Resort’s Skyeship Base Lodge.  Chef Andrew and Francine took over in May 2016 and continue to serve Blanche’s famous pancakes and waffles.  These recipies have been perfected for more than 40 years, and continue the tradition of serving fine, homemade, fresh, locally sourced food, in a warm and friendly atmosphere.  It’s Chef Andrew’s promise to prepare to order, and serve, only the best food Vermont has to offer.

But it doesn’t stop with breakfast and lunch, Chef Andrew expanded his culinary service to include seasonal, bi-weekly Tuesday Night Dinner at Drewski’s On the River, as well as making his restaurant available for private events, dinners, or parties.  Whatever the need, Chef Andrew will cook for you.  Most of Drewski’s On the River menu items are made to order, guaranteeing the highest quality, and best tasting home-cooked meals possible.  Drewski’s On the Rive strives to uphold its long standing tradition of preparing fine food, and serving it with friendliness, and humor with the aim of enticing you to return with a smile and an appetite.

By |2019-01-31T19:22:27-04:00January 31st, 2019|Recipes & Local Foods|

Local ski resorts offer a less expensive lift-ticket option–earn your turns.

Lift-ticket prices at ski resorts have been costly for some time.   Lately, since lift-ticket prices have dramatically increased, it’s no surprise that backcountry skiing and riding is the fastest growing segment of the snowsports industry. It’s easy to gear up for backcountry with the widespread availability of Alpine Touring gear (ski bindings that have both a free-heel setting for uphill travel, and a fixed-heel setting for downhill travel), as well as splitboards (a snowboard that splits into two halves with central binding positions for uphill travel, and can then be joined back together with binding positions shifted to each end for downhill travel).  Consequently, “wrong way” travel on local ski slopes is becoming commonplace.  If you’re new to backcountry
skiing or riding, take advantage of a ski area’s controlled environment. Groomed trails are easier to safely check equipment, practice technique, and develop physical conditioning before heading into more wild backcountry terrain.

Fortunately for our guests at the October Country Inn, all of the nearby ski resorts allow uphill traffic.  Each also has differing rules and restrictions.  For example, Killington and Pico Ski Resorts both require an “uphill travel pass” that is free for season pass holders or $20 for the season.  Killington also designates certain routes be followed. Other local ski resorts, like Okemo and Magic Mountain, don’t charge for uphill travel and have less restrictions on trail use. Also, most ski area’s are tolerant of trail use during off hours, including night-time use.  Many ski areas allow dogs as well.  Before venturing off, check a mountain’s uphill policy on their website.

Even if backcountry isn’t your thing, ditching the chairlift—besides being a lot less expensive—provides a different perspective of a mountain that you have skied for years. How about a late night run under a full moon,  or early morning laps with your dog?  Or, start at Killington’s Ramshead Lodge, travel uphill alongside Header, Easy Street, and Swirl.  Go past the top chairlift station and up Old Swirl to the top of Ramshead Peak.  Duck into the woods toward Pico Peak for a brief downhill to the Pico Peak interconnect trail.  Convert to uphill again and climb the interconnect trail to the Pico Mountain ski area.  Convert back to downhill mode and head to the base lodge where you can catch the local shuttle for a ride back to Killington.

By |2019-01-08T18:05:00-04:00January 8th, 2019|Winter Ramblings|

Fabulous farm-to-table dining on a real farm.


You may have chosen to stay with us here at the October Country Inn because you’re looking for an authentic Vermont experience.  What could be more authentic than staying at a Vermont farmhouse converted into a family owned and operated country inn?  Well, you might want to dine at a Vermont, family owned and operated working farm as well.  Farm-to-table dining has become an marketing ploy that is often quite a distance from the farm to the table.  Not so at the Cloudland Farm.  Located four miles up a dirt road near Woodstock, with the Appalachian Trail running through the property, Cloudland Farm offers dinner service by reservation most Fridays and Saturdays.  This is true farm-to-table dining, the table is on the farm.

Jake Webb plates fresh local greens.

Cloudland Farm is a diversified working farm which has been in the Emmons family since 1908.  The spectacular views on the four-mile drive up scenic Cloudland Road are part of the whole experience.  At the farm, visitors are free to take photographs from the road of the farmland and any of the animals that may be in view.  This may include black Angus cattle and calves, horses, laying hens, Cornish-cross meat chickens, turkeys, the barn cats or pigs.

Coudland Farm also offers farm products for sale.  The on-site market features natural Angus beef steaks, ground beef, roasts, beef sausages, beef jerky, pastured pork, and pickles.  The Farm Market also offers local maple syrup, local cheeses, and other made in Vermont products.  The farm market is open on Thursdays from 10 to 3 and on Fridays and Saturdays 10 to 5.  Call (802) 457-2599 to make a reservation, inquire about the market, or ask for directions,

By |2018-12-17T19:03:49-04:00December 17th, 2018|Recipes & Local Foods|

Shakespeare meets Calvin Coolidge.

The Labor Day weekend at the October Country Inn signals the end Summer while also signaling that Fall is just around the corner. If you have put off taking a Summer break, or are just looking for an end-of-summer outing, consider visiting us to take in the Labor Day weekend event at the Calvin Coolidge Homestead and State Historic Park in nearby Plymouth Notch. Besides just letting the pure Vermont country surroundings wash over you, amble over local walking trails, peruse the Coolidge homestead, schoolhouse, and the oldest Vermont cheese production facility, recently revived, before the Stand Up Shakespeare Company presents a free public performance of their Bard-Based Variety Show after which the annual Plymouth Folk and Blues Festival fills the air with live music performances for the rest of the afternoon.

Stand Up Shakespeare Company Troupe.

Stand Up Shakespeare is a collective troupe of New York City-based actors who have traveled to Vermont each Labor Day weekend annually for the last 13 years to present a new one-hour show made up of romance, tragedy, history, and comedy, all based in the works of William Shakespeare. The show is held at noon on Saturday, September 1, at the 173 year-old Union Christian Church located on the grounds of the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. Starting at 2p.m., and running until 5p.m., Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine, the 14th annual Plymouth Folk and Blues Festival showcases Vermont and internationally know musicians for a two-day festival of folk and blues music performed in the pure Vermont country air.

For a little historical context, the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site preserves the birthplace and homestead of our nation’s 30th President. Also on the grounds are the Wilder Barn which examine Vermont farm life at the turn of the 20th Century; The Vermont Cheese Company first started in 1890; Coolidge Hall, used as the Summer White House as well as Grange meetings, dances, and other events; the Coolidge Homestead, birthplace, and nearby nature trails. Combine an end-of-summer visit to the Vermont countryside (time spent in Vermont is never wasted) with a dose of history, culture, and a down-home good time. Labor Day weekend at the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. You won’t regret it.

By |2018-10-19T16:44:53-04:00August 20th, 2018|Sightseeing & Local Culture|