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So far Chuck Janisse has created 112 blog entries.

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|

There is fungus among us.

Photo of Indian pipe plant.

Indian pipe shows its single flower.

It’s been rainy for the last few days here at the October Country Inn.  An uncommon dip in the jet-stream opened up a path for moisture laden Gulf of Mexico air to sweep north in a procession of wet thunderstorms.  The rain is welcomed.  It’s what gives the Green Mountains their name.  The rain-soaked earth also produces the explosive growth of  myriad varieties of mushrooms, fungus, and unusual plants. I came across many on this morning’s walk in the woods.  One such plant, called ghost plant or Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora), only appears when the ground gets moist after a dry period.  Unlke most plants, Indian pipe is white because it does not contain chlorophyll.  It is parasitic.  Instead of generating its own energy, it gets the energy it needs to grow from trees through a complex relationship with certain host fungi.  In western herbal medicine Indian pipe is used to calm the nerves.

Photo of yellow patch mushroom.

Yellow patch mushroom.

Another eye-catching mushroom that I encountered along the path is called yellow patch (Amanita flavoconia).  The genus Amanita contains about 600 species including some ot the most toxic, as well as some well-regarded edible species.  Amanita alone is responsible for about 95% of mushroom poisioning fatalities.  One species, death cap, as the name implies, accounts for about 50%.  For this reason, although I like the subtle taste and texture of mushrooms, I leave it to the experts to pick them out for me.  I often find various species of Amanita along the path, they’re often colorful and unusual looking and fun to take pictures of, but I leave it at that.

Photo of chicken of the woods fungus cluster.

Chicken of the woods cluster on a maple tree.

On the other hand, there’s chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus).  This is an edidle variety of bracket fungus that is relatively easy to identify due to its bright orange color.  Although wild mushroom connoisseurs claim they have the texture and taste of chicken, and often use them as a substitute for it, I still didn’t harvest any from this healthy batch.  I’m not all that fond of chicken.  Sadly, this live maple acting as host for this fungus is doomed.  It will not survive.  Personally, I’d rather have the tree.

 

By |2018-07-29T11:54:50-04:00July 29th, 2018|Short Hikes & Natural Life|

Bookstock: Woodstock celebrates the arts on the Green.

Woodstock's Book FairChuck and Edie, hosts at the October Country Inn, with an eye toward keeping our patrons informed about local events of interest, thought that you would like to know that we noticed that they’re putting up the tents on the Town Green for Bookstock, Woodstock’s annual bookfair, and literary festival. Bookstock is presented in support of cultural richness and diversity, and celebrates the arts. New England is home to many talented writers representing diverse genres, from national Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners to emerging young writers and those who have found their compelling voice at midlife. Bookstock encourages appreciation for good writing and other artistic endeavors by introducing residents and visitors of all ages to writers, musicians and artists.

Donald Hall reads poetry

Local poet Donald Hall reads some of his work.

This year, Bookstock is a three day event held on July 27, 28 & 29. Events are all free, and most events take place in historic buildings around the Woodstock Green, a short walk from the center of Woodstock village.  In addition, ArtisTree Gallery in nearby South Pomfret, hosts the opening reception, as well as the UnBound exhibition of book art. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park hosts a writing workshop and presentation. Bentley’s Restaurant holds a brunch reading Sunday morning.

Bookstock workshopBookstock hosts two book sales at once. Norman Williams Public Library (NWPL) offers a selection of vintage books of interest to both serious and casual collectors. In addition, NWPL and the North Universalist Chapel Society collaborate to put together an extraordinary used book fair. Thousands of quality secondhand books are available at yard sale prices under a tent on the Green, carefully arranged by genre and topic. Check out the schedule at www.bookstockvt.org.

 

By |2018-07-07T10:52:11-04:00July 7th, 2018|Art & Artisans|

20 Mile Stream Road loop – a local bike ride favorite.

Town of Ludlow

Town of Ludlow

The 20 Mile Stream Road loop bike ride is of modest length that starts with a long gentle downhill section, adds a quiet, slow (mostly uphill) ride along an idyllic country backroad, and then finishes with a breezy, brake lever clutching downhill. The ride starts out though a lake front residential section along a scenic state highway, then goes through the towns of Ludlow, and Cavendish before you turn off the highway, your thoughts and concerns dim as you become one with Vermont’s bucolic splendor. If you want to extend the ride, start and end this ride at the October Country Inn for a total of 44.3 miles.

20 Mile Stream Road

20 Mile Stream Road

For the 20 mile option, park at the Tyson Church parking lot off Route 100 across from the Echo Lake Inn. Ride south on Route 100. The road has narrow shoulders, and winds through a residential area that front lakes (from north to south) Echo, Rescue and Pauline that are fed and drained by the upper reaches of the Black River. Turn left where Route 100 south intersects with Route 103 south (3.4 miles) and continue into the town of Ludlow where Route 100 and Route 103 split (5.4 miles). There are several opportunities for restrooms, food, and drink in Ludlow. Continue through Ludlow, about 2 miles, and beyond on Route 103 south.  Turn left on Route 131 east (8.5 miles). Singleton’s General Store, in Proctorsville, is on the right (8.9 miles). A little bit further (9.0 miles) you will come to Depot St. Two blocks down, on the left, is the Opera House Café & Bakery. Riding on, following Route 131 east, without warning, and for no apparent reason, the town of Proctorsville suddenly becomes the town of Cavendish. Be sure to keep an eye out on your left for Twenty Mile Stream Road (9.3 miles) It’s the longest street sign in Vermont.

20 Mile Stream Loop MapTurn left on 20 Mile Stream Rd (9.3 miles), it’a paved road with no marked shoulders, but little traffic. It begins as a bit of a climb and then goes up and down, mostly up winding through a haphazard mix of residences before it opens up through a meadow filled valley. It just feels good to ride through it. The pavement ends (13 miles), turns to hard-pack dirt and steadily increases in pitch until it intersects with the Tyson/Reading Road (16.3 miles).Turn left on Tyson/Reading Road, and slip into the big ring. With the exception of one small up and down section by Colby Pond, the rest of the ride is a peddle free downhill ride on a winding paved road (no marked shoulders but little traffic) through shaded forest and open meadow until you reach the end of this loop a the junction with Route 100 (19.3 miles).

By |2018-07-03T15:58:05-04:00July 3rd, 2018|Bike Rides|