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So far Chuck Janisse has created 117 blog entries.

Wassail Weekend will be here soon—it’s a good reason to visit Woodstock.

Photo looking down a Woodstock, Vermont village sidewalk showling colorful storefronts all decorated for the Christmas season.

Woodstock–the prettiest small town in America.

Winter is upon us. Snow covers the ground here at the October Country Inn (check us out). The nearby Ottauquechee River has started to freeze over. The morning air has a bite that makes it especially welcome when the Winter sun shows itself. Christmas will be here soon but the second weekend in December is reserved for Vermont’s most iconic Winter event: the nearby village of Woodstock hosts it’s 35th annual Wassail Weekend. Wassail Weekend is an especially unique event for an especially unique Vermont village. Often named the prettiest small town in America, the village of Woodstock also hosts the best Christmas celebration in New England.

photo of a horse drawn wagon participating in Woodstock, Vermont's annual Wassail Parade.Wreathes and Christmas trees dot the village as the three-day festival prepares to celebrate traditional local culture. It’s a unique window into one of the many things that makes the Green Mountain State so special. A wide range of eclectic activities from craft fairs, to carol singing on the steps of the library, to ornament-making at Billings Farm & Museum, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Many of Woodstock’s beautiful homes are opened to the public for charity and almost every local business and organization is involved in some way. In case you’re wondering what a Wassail might be, the word comes from a old Anglo-Saxon phrase which means “good health.”

Photo of Wassail Weekend participants warming themselves around a yule log campfire during a Winter sunset.

Getting warm around the yule log.

Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and sugar. It was served from huge bowls often made of silver or pewter.

The high point of Wassail Weekend is Saturday’s horse-drawn parade through downtown Woodstock that showcase local rural expertise and culture with more than fifty horses from all around the town and further afield taking part, the parade is truly a must-see. A performance by the Yale Whiffenpoofs, an internationally acclaimed group of a cappella singers will perform at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre on Friday, Dec. 13. Established at Yale University in 1909, it is the oldest such group in the U.S.  At 2:00 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 14, the Wassail parade invites you to line the streets around the village green for a cavalcade of clopping hooves, tossing manes, jolly jingling bells, tall top hats, flowing skirts, and merriness all around. Petite ponies and mighty Percherons pass by carrying their cargo of children in candy cane stockings, adults in historic finery, heavy carts, and Santa himself. Starting at the 3:00 p.m. first lighting, gather in the village green around the neatly stacked yule log. Check the Woodstock Chamber website for a complete listing of all the many ways to enjoy the holidays, as well as parking and shuttle information.

By |2020-04-12T19:43:43-04:00December 9th, 2019|Sightseeing & Local Culture|

A trip along Route 100, Vermont’s Main Street.

Vermont is our brand here at the October Country Inn (check us out), we do our best to provide our guests with as much local knowledge about whatever might interest them. For sure, especially during the fall, taking a drive along Route 100, also known as Vermont’s Main Street, is sure to please. Following the eastern edge of the Green Mountains for 146 miles, Route 100, now designated as a Vermont Scenic Byway, is recognized as one of the most scenic drives in New England. Along the route you’ll find great food, farm stands, brewpubs, cheese makers, opportunities to explore history and culture, museums, and country stores. There are wonderful opportunities to visit galleries and shops featuring handmade furniture, ceramic wares, antiques and contemporary art. You’ll find treasures similar to what you’d expect at an urban gallery. There’s also the oldest craft school in America, live theater venues, and classical music. There’s also easy access to Vermont’s end-to-end hiking and backcountry skiing trails. The Green Mountain Forest contains an exceptional network of cycling routes, State Parks, snowmobile trails, camping sites and lakes.

In Vermont, one thing is beautifully certain: The seasons will change. And with that change, so changes the landscape, the activity, and the way of life. With every season comes different opportunities to explore, and recreate. Vermont is a state that is truly never out of season. Spring is all about enjoying the soft snow conditions on the mountain and visiting a sugar house for some pure Vermont maple syrup. Summer is the season to soak in the warmer weather; fishing, biking, hiking, and camping are just a few popular activities to enjoy during the summer. Fall is incredible. Vermont has the world’s best foliage colors. Combine the stunning scenery with comfortable weather, hearty food and great company, it’s guaranteed to be a trip to remember. Of course, Winter brings colder weather and snow—which either invites you to play outside or drives you indoors to sit around the fire with friends. With it’s award winning ski resorts and spas, Vermont celebrates more than just the holidays during the winter months.

Regardless of the time of year that you decide to explore Vermont’s Route 100, the attractions and destinations that await are plentiful throughout the state. Truly a four-seasons state for tourism, weather is no factor in finding a good time in Vermont. Even if you’re already familiar with Route 100, enlist the aid of a personal tour guide. Download the Vermont Rt 100 Gypsy Guide before hitting the road. Available for smart phones from the App Store or Google Play, this GPS empowered app picks up from where you are, and entertains as well as educates. It’s really fun.

By |2020-04-12T19:45:13-04:00September 20th, 2019|Sightseeing & Local Culture|

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 (check us out). 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 |2020-04-11T11:32:22-04:00August 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 (check us out) to connect with nature and the rural spirit that envelopes our corner of Vermont.  Whether aware of it or not, 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 |2020-04-11T13:08:27-04:00June 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 (check us out) has long been a home-away-from-home, and base of operations for many, many visiting cyclists. Vermont is renown for its natural beauty, and country living life-style.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 |2020-04-11T12:53:11-04:00May 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 (check us out).  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 |2020-04-12T19:46:43-04:00May 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 (check us out) 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 |2020-04-13T09:11:19-04:00February 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 (check us out).  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 |2020-04-11T11:37:02-04:00February 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 (check us out), 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 |2020-04-12T10:14:40-04:00January 31st, 2019|Recipes & Local Foods|

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

As we at the October Country Inn (check us out) well know, 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 |2020-04-13T09:14:24-04:00January 8th, 2019|Winter Ramblings|
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