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So far Chuck Janisse has created 117 blog entries.

Uphill ski travel: Spend less, earn your turns.

Two young women cross country skiing across a gentle hill with the sun just peeking over the background hills.

Two uphill skiers reach the top.

As we at the October Country Inn well know, lift-ticket prices at ski resorts have been costly for some time.   Lately, 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.  There is 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).  Additionally, splitboard sales have greatly increased.  A splitboard is a snowboard that splits into two halves like two skis. It has a 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.  

Most ski areas allow uphill travel on specified trails.

Photo of a skier in the foreground and two snowboarders in the background sliding through the forest in deep snow.

The downhill part of the trip is the payoff.

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.

Start at a ski resort, graduate to backcountry.

Photo of four cross country skiiers walking up a snowy hill at night.

Uphill ski travel isn’t always limited to daylight hours.

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 |2021-01-07T15:03:28-05:00January 8th, 2019|Winter Fun|

Cloudland Farm: Woodstock’s farm-to-table dining.

 

Meadows with iris at Cloundland 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.

A diversified working family farm since 1908.

Sous chef Jake Webb finishing salad servings.

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.

Farm raised beef is for sale.

Evening diners at Cloudland Farm.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 |2021-01-07T15:06:08-05:00December 17th, 2018|Local Foods|

Stand Up Shakespeare & Plymouth Blues Festival: Labor day weekend at Calvin Coolidge homestead.

Calvin Coolidge homestead in Plymouth, Vermont

The Labor Day weekend at the October Country Inn signals the end Summer while also signaling that Fall is just around the corner. Did  you put off taking a Summer break?Are you looking for an end-of-summer outing?  Consider visiting the Calvin Coolidge homestead.  And be sure to take in the Labor Day weekend events.   The Calvin Coolidge Homestead and State Historic Park is located at Plymouth Notch. Invite the pure Vermont country surroundings to wash over you.  Amble over local walking trails.  Peruse the Coolidge homestead, schoolhouse, and the oldest Vermont cheese production facility.  Additionally, the Stand Up Shakespeare Company presents a free public performance of their Bard-Based Variety Show.  Afterwards, the annual Plymouth Folk and Blues Festival kicks off.  The air is filled with live music performances for the rest of the afternoon.

A performance by a collective troupe of New York City based actors.

Stand Up Shakespeare Company Troupe.

Stand Up Shakespeare Company Troupe.

Stand Up Shakespeare is a collective troupe of actors based in New York City.  They travel to Vermont each Labor Day weekend.  Their one-hour show is based on the works of William Shakespeare.  It includes romance, tragedy, history, and comedy. The show is held at the 173 year-old Union Christian Church located on the grounds of the Calvin Coolidge homestead State Historic Site.

Then the music starts.

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.

Plymouth used to be the Summer White House.

Plymouth Blues Festival performersFor a little historical context, the Calvin Coolidge homestead 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 |2021-01-07T15:40:12-05:00August 20th, 2018|Seasonal Events|

Local Mushrooms: Small attractions in the woods.

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.

Locals often forage for edible mushrooms.

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.

Chicken of the woods is popular.

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 |2021-01-07T15:44:23-05:00July 29th, 2018|Natural Life|

Bookstock: A Woodstock bookfair celebrates literature.

Woodstock's Book FairChuck and Edie, your hosts at the October Country Inn  want you to know that Woodstock is putting up the tents on the Town Green for Bookstock, the Woodstock bookfair, and literary festival. Bookstock supports cultural richness and diversity.  It also celebrates the arts. New England is home to many talented writers representing diverse genres.   There are national Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. There are also emerging young writers and those who have found their compelling voice at midlife. Bookstock encourages appreciation for good writing.  And encourages other artistic endeavors by introducing residents and visitors of all ages to writers, musicians and artists.

A Woodstock bookfair celebrating the arts.

Donald Hall reads poetry

Local poet Donald Hall reads some of his work.

This year, the Woodstock bookfair 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. 

Bookstock workshop

Read more books.

This Vermont bookfair 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 |2021-01-07T16:01:49-05:00July 7th, 2018|Seasonal Events|

20 Mile Stream Road: A quiet Vermont bike ride.

Town of Ludlow

Town of Ludlow

The October Country Inn has long been a favorite for visiting cyclists.  The 20 Mile Stream Road loop is a Vermont bike ride of modest length.   It starts with a long gentle downhill section.  It 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.  It goes through the towns of Ludlow, and Cavendish before you turn off the highway.  Your thoughts and concern 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.

Cyclists love a Vermont bike ride.

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.

Take a break 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. Typical of a Vermont bike ride, it just feels good to ride through it.

Visit Happy Acres Farm.

The pavement on this Vermont bike ride 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 |2021-01-07T16:14:55-05:00July 3rd, 2018|Bike Rides|

José Orozco: A national art treasure is found at a nearby library.

Panel of Orozco muralOur guests come to the October Country Inn for many reasons. Sometimes they come to hike, or bike.  Or maybe to kayak, shop, or hunt for antiques. Similarly, they come to pan for gold, or just kick back and feast on local foods. Sometimes they come just to absorb Vermont. After all, it is a special place. Certainly, for whatever reason our guests stay with us, there’s always the possibility of an unexpected bonus. The cherry on the cake. For example, who would have thought that a trip to Bridgewater Corners, Vermont puts you in the neighborhood for the option to view one of the finest Mexican wall murals ever produced.

Orozco lived nearby.

Jose Orozco

José Orozco

The Epic of American Civilization,” a nearly 3,200 square foot mural of 24 panels painged by José Orozoco between 1932 and 1934 on the walls of the reserve corridor of Dartmouth College’s Baker Library in nearby Hanover, New Hampshire. The mural depicts the history of the Americas from the Aztec migration into Mexico to the industralization of modern society. Orozco, together with Diego Rivera, and David Siquerios, was one of the big three muralists of the Mexican Mural Renaissance. Orozco was the most complex of the Mexican Muralists, fond ot the theme of human suffering, but less realistic and more fascinated by machines than Rivera. While Rivera was a bold, optimistic figure, touting the glory of the Mexican revolution, Orozco was less comfortable with the bloody toll the social movement was taking.

His mural is a historic national landmark.

Dartmouth's Baker Library

Dartmouth’s Baker Library.

This national historic landmark is considered on the finest examples of mural painint in this country by one of the greatest twentieth-century practitioners of public art. Sections of this mural are named: “Migrations,” “Human Sacrifices,” “The Appearance of Quetzalcoatl,” “Corn Culture,” “Anglo-America,” “ Hispano-America,” “Science,” and “Modern Migration of the Spirit.” In addition to the mural, Dartmouth owns more than 200 preparatory drawings and historical photographs which are not generally on public view.

Orozco also illustrated John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl.

However, Dartmouth invites you to explore this material in conjunction with the finished mural. See Digital Orozoco Project. This interactive journey reveals Orozoco’s creative process, methods, and the evolution of this great work. As a final point of somewhat unrelated interest, Orozoco also illustrated the 1947 book “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck.

 

 

By |2021-01-07T17:46:57-05:00August 20th, 2017|Art & Artisans|

Woodstock lodging: It’s better at the October Country Inn.

Visiting Woodstock Village? October Country Inn is a better Woodstock lodging option.

A view of Woodstock Village.

We are often puzzled that on some certain weekend all the inns in Woodstock seem to be completely booked, and yet, Woodstock lodging is better at the October Country Inn but we are not full.  It must be because word hasn’t yet gotten around.

We want to blow our own horn.

Not that Woodstock isn’t worthy of such attention, it’s a charming small New England village. There are good restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and plenty of shops and galleries all within walking distance from any of several inns that are located within the village. But then what? After you’ve spent a half-day wandering the village, you will want more; and more is available, but it’s all outside of Woodstock village. It requires getting in your car and driving to one or another of the many, many points of interest in the greater Woodstock Killington area.

Woodstock lodging is better at the October Country Inn.

October Country Inn provides lodging for the Woodstock area.

Woodstock lodging is better at the October Counry Inn. Vermont’s best kept secret.

At this point, staying at an inn within the Village has lost its home field advantage. You’ve already exhausted all that’s within walking distance. So, instead of staying in Woodstock, why not meet Chuck and Edie, and stay at the October Country Inn in Bridgewater Corners because it’s a better Woodstock lodging option.   We’re in the town of Bridgewater, but the Woodstock town line is in the middle of Bridgewater. The October Country Inn is slightly more than one mile outside of Woodstock’s town line.

Truth be told, we know the answer. It’s because you didn’t know about us. You are not in on the best kept secret in the greater Woodstock area. It’s not your fault. The system is set up to key on location, and Woodstock has become a name destination. You would have to be some kind of black-belt, travel master to be able to pierce the online search-engine veil of mystery to get a complete view of the area you are interested in visiting.

The internet is a complex enterprise.

Bridgewater Corners Country Store near Woodstock

Bridgewater Corners Country Store.

This is the point of this posting. Although you might argue that because this post appears on the October Country Inn blog, anybody reading it would already be in on that best kept secret. However, the internet is a complex enterprise. Perhaps this post is like the ripples of water from a small pebble that spread across an enormous lake. In any case consider yourselves let in on the best kept secret in the greater Woodstock area. Stay at the October Country Inn. It’s a better Woodstock lodging option.

Check our online reviews.

Check our reviews on Trip Advisor, Google, or Yelp. Woodstock is fine, but Bridgewater Corners’ October Country Inn is sublime. It’s still as close to everything outside the Village, closer to all that the Killington area has to offer, and is outside the Route 4 traffic corridor and all that goes along with it. It’s quiet here. We’re in the country, we have a swimming pool set on a tranquil hill overlooking the Green Mountains, the Longtrail Brewery is across the street, and the Bridgewater Corners Country Store, to serve any of a multitude of personal needs that may arise, is within walking distance.

By |2020-12-13T19:39:29-05:00August 11th, 2017|Sightseeing|

Warren Kimble: America’s most famous folk artist.

Folk artists gallery: Brandon Artists Guild in Brandon, Vermont

Brandon Artists Guild.

Life at the October Country Inn near Woodstock, Vermont can be said to be the act of living folk art. That is to say, the inn epitomizes the folk artist lifestyle. For example, it is a relaxed, appreciation for simpler living.  Moreover, we are surrounded by an understated depth of natural beauty. See for yourself.  Consequently, it seems fitting then that Warren Kimble, America’s most famous folk artist, got his start in nearby Woodstock. Kimble’s work reflects the folk art ethos.  In other words, in the fast-moving, technology-obsessed modern world, people enjoy images that speak to a slower, less complicated time. Therefore, at 80, Kimble has not stopped creating.  Look for a Warren Kimble folk art exhibition showcasing the artist’s current mood of nostalgia at the Brandon Artists Guild.

Warren Kimble started in Woodstock, Vermont.

Kimble's folk artists view of an oversized pig.Kimble’s work transports you to a whimsical world where pigs take flight, red barns perch on brightly colored patchwork farms, and everything is as American as apple pie.  Over his lifetime, Kimble has absorbed a lot. “Art is the sum total of one’s experiences. The Jersey shore, the boardwalk, the color … I love the circus. I was taken to the circus every April. That’s art,” he says enthusiastically. “So you may not use it tomorrow or you may not use it 10 years from now, but the experience always comes back to you and makes the creative process happen,” he adds.

Kimble's folk artist view of a house on a hill.Kimble moved to Brandon in 1970, and taught art at nearby Castleton College. Struggling to make ends meet he says it all came together in 1990 at

“Art is the sum total of one’s experience.”

an antiques show in Woodstock. A local couple who were launching a publishing business saw and liked his work and wanted to make prints of his pieces.  John and Laurie Chester of Wild Apple Graphics chose six of his paintings, reproduced them and headed for New York City. “So there we are in New York at Art Expo,” says Kimble, “The big, huge, art show and they’re selling these reproductions like crazy.”  The paintings included a couple of animals, a painting of a house on a hill and two cows with the state of Vermont on their rumps kissing. “I just did that for fun,” says Kimble, who says that’s just his sense of humor. “But it just took off — it just went bananas,” he says.

By |2021-01-07T17:58:25-05:00June 30th, 2017|Art & Artisans|

Battle of Hubbarton: A Revolutionary War enactment.

Hubbarton battlefield.

Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site.

Many of our guests at the October Country Inn come to Vermont to sample its rich and varied place in U.S. history.  In this vein, the Battle of Hubbarton is the only Revolutionary War battle fought in Vermont.  In short, it took place at Hubbardton in 1777.  Visit the Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site.  You might get to witness reenactors stage this fight on Vermont soil between the British and American troops.  The Battle of Hubbardton involved approximately 2,230 troops–1,000 to 1,200 Americans, 850 British, and 180 Germans fighting for the British. It resulted in the deaths of 41 American, 50 British, and 10 German soldiers. Of the 244 wounded, 96 were American, 134 British, and 14 German. The British took 234 American prisoners. Total casualties, including prisoners, were roughly 27 percent of all participating troops.

Battle of Hubbarton, Vermont’s only Revolutionary War battle.

British troops marching in a Revolutionary War enactment.

British reenactors on the march.

In June 1777 British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne began implementing his plan to split New England from the rest of the Colonies.   The plan was for Burgoyne’s troops to head south on Lake Champlain and join two other British leaders.  One group traveled from the west along the Mohawk Valley.  And the other group moved from the north up the Hudson River. All were to meet following their victories in Albany, New York.  As Burgoyne drew near Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga in early July, Major General Arthur St. Clair made the tough decision to withdraw the American Northern Department Army from these forts and save his troops for another encounter under more advantageous circumstances with the British.  The roughly 4,000 American soldiers retreated as quickly as possible with little time to gather up supplies and under the cover of darkness on the nights of July 5th and 6th.

Vermont’s Green Mountain Boys were outnumbered.

Reenacting the Colonial battle strategy.

Reenacting the Colonial battle strategy.

Major General St. Clair and the main army marched over 20 miles to reach the hills of Hubbardton.  There he appointed Colonel Seth Warner of the Green Mountain Boys to take command of an expanded rear guard of 1,000 to 1,200 soldiers, while the main army continued southward to Castleton.

A rearguard action delayed the British.

Rear guards have been a standard military security strategy to protect retreating troops.  Their mission is to delay the enemy in their pursuit, force the enemy to deploy all their troops into action with the rear guard, engage the enemy in such a way as to avoid close combat, and to then withdraw safely as quickly as possible.  The American rear guard successfully accomplished its mission, fully deploying the pursuing British, delaying them long enough so St. Clair and his main army could safely retreat southward.  The rear guard soldiers also skillfully disengaged their enemy, fighting the British to a near standstill, and avoiding further American casualties and pursuit by the British.

By |2021-01-07T18:12:09-05:00June 22nd, 2017|Historic Roots|
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