Recently, I finished a six week Mountain Bike Clinic through Four Points Vermont. In a class of 10 riders with two instructors led by our business to business partner and friend and owner of Four Points Vermont, Rick Sokoloff, I have discovered a new way to enjoy the mountains of Vermont. In each of the classes we typically spent an hour or more in the field going over the fundamentals of this sport followed up by a hour plus of riding beginner to intermediate double and single track trails. As Rick put it, he was working with us to “create a solid foundation that is reinforced through several skills that we will then have in our ‘tool box’ to safely and fully enjoy mountain biking.” As with so many things like this, taking lessons to understand the fundamentals of the sport is critically essential to a., doing it safely, and b., giving yourself a real chance to enjoy it.
Ok, full disclosure, I was a bit anxious to take on this sport that is probably more embraced by those in their mid twenties versus those of us in our ummm, mid fifties (and taking this up at this stage of my life). But, thanks to Rick and his assistant Shelley, I am truly hooked and hopelessly addicted to this sport of mountain biking.
This past Wednesday morning I ventured into what most would consider some real mountain bike terrain here in Stowe; Cady Hill Forest. I have driven past the parking lot/trail head for this area numerous times and always wondered what it would be like to actually ride there as the trail I see from the road seems to just disappear among the trees and dense foliage. Well, I can honestly report, it was the most fun combined with the most intense work out I have probably ever experienced since my days of youth when I used to run road races from 10K to full marathons. I realized quickly that I had not huffed and puffed so much since those running days and also realized I need to do this more to make sure I can continue to experience the outdoor wonders of Vermont directly and personally.
Unlike downhill skiing, which if you follow us on FB, realize is probably our favorite winter sport, in mountain biking you definitely have to earn your downhill rides. Now, with that said, I know there are some smart ski resorts here in Vermont and elsewhere that can provide you a lift to the top of the mountains with handy racks on the back of ski lifts. I’m sure that I would love that assistance against the laws of gravity to quickly transport me to the top myself, but, I mostly realize, I can and will certainly benefit from the healthy work out needed to find myself gliding down a pathway through the woods that’s not much wider than my handlebars. The downhills are so nice, especially when earned.
I just can’t adequately explain the joy and the feeling of riding through the woods. And as there are so many levels of terrain (similar to downhill skiing) you can enjoy this sport whether you’re an adrenaline seeker bent on finding the most technically challenging terrain to someone that is just looking for a way to get off the busy roads and really check out the back roads and bike trails that seem to disappear into the woods!
If we can help in any way to introduce you to mountain biking please let us know and please note that we have several stay and ride packages for the beginner through advanced via the intense single day, private lessons to weekend (two day) clinics on our reservation page.
See you outside,
With a “backyard” of Vermont such that we have here in Stowe, I have a lot of outdoor passions to enjoy with golf being right up there at the top of the list. While it is true our distinct seasons put a premium on the number of available days for golf, we are really quite fortunate to have so many wonderful courses right here in Stowe, within 10 miles or so radius, and at several nearby mountain resorts.
Admittedly, Stowe might not be the type of golf destination that golfers think of but I can tell you that with even some basic planning you can experience unique mountain golf setting that I believe easily rivals many other golf destinations. I have golfed at many of the courses in the area and would enjoy the opportunity to help you coordinate a stay here with several golf options.
My local favorite is Stowe Country Club which is just a five minute drive from the Inn. The course has these incredible views of the nose of Mt. Mansfield, the peak of Camels Hump, the broad face of Elmore Mountain and glimpses of Spruce Peak. Especially for a first time golf experience at SCC, it may be hard to “keep your head down” for any golf swing given the incredible scenery all around you.
Through a special partnership that we have with Stowe Country Club we can offer you an amazing golf experience for an equally amazing value. Stay two or more nights here at the Brass Lantern Inn and add our “Golf Day” Package and you will get “Unlimited Golf” for the day (replay subject to availability), range balls and cart. Total cost for TWO golfers for a day of Golf at Stowe Country Club: $159.00. I know, what a great deal, right? If you set your first tee time for 9 a.m. you can have a leisurely lunch, and have a replay round of golf in the afternoon. Two rounds of golf (36 holes each golfer), range balls, and cart for less than $80.00/person! Call us and we can set this up for you before summer and fall slip away.
Tag on a round of golf at nearby, Jay Peak or Sugarbush, both approximately 45 mins. drive away for a really special golf holiday.
See you outside,
What an interesting winter this 2015/2016 has been so far in Stowe, Vermont. Guests who have stayed with us this season can certainly attest to the typical and atypical weather patterns we have experienced so far.
Even as late as Christmas Eve, I was golfing. We hit a record high of 68 degrees that day and with a full blue sky and sunshine the greens of the golf course were just too inviting to pass up. While we typically expect to be shoveling snow and hitting the slopes this record warmth had me reaching for the summer outdoor gear.
Within a week of that event we had a full blanket of snow on the ground, thanks to an 8” snowfall, something that is much more indicative of that point on the calendar here in Stowe. And while so far this season we have missed out on a “real snowstorm,” and had serious snow envy for those who experienced the Blizzard of 2016 on the Mid-Atlantic coast, we still have had some truly amazing ski days on the mountain. With the help of modern day snow-making technology and the hard work of the snow-making crew at Stowe Mountain Resort they have saved this season from what many who may be tracking our weather forecasts from afar would assume to be an abysmal ski season into a true Vermont winter experience.
At the risk of sounding like your local Chamber of Commerce and putting the best spin on things we truly have had some really wonderful ski days so far this season. Yesterday, for example, we had a great spring skiing conditions, buttery snow, warm temperatures and no lift lines. Bonus day for sure! Granted, we have the luxury of waiting things out for a day of rain (way too many of those this season/year) or very windy and below zero temperatures and hit the slopes the following day or two. And yes, our Innkeeper ski days are a bit behind where they typically are at this time of year though some of that is due to our business needs (we are planning some major building improvements – more on that in follow up blogs) and of course some not so perfect weather conditions.
Throughout all of this winter season we know our guests have been making the most of their time here. Our incredible selection of restaurants, breweries, other Vermont local attractions in harmony with other outdoor adventures/pursuits have made for some lively discussions around the fireplace each evening.
We continue to do our snow dances as we know there is still plenty of winter left in the Green Mountain State. Call us and we can fill you in on the real time conditions.
See you outside,
Ok, as much as we love our winter activities we also embrace the upcoming Mud Season (more on that in a follow up blog) and the opportunity to celebrate the passing seasons, winter to spring with the traditional “Sugar on Snow.”
What? Sugar on snow? As you may know, Vermont is the single largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. “Sugar on snow” is a delicacy here in Vermont found this time of year at many sugar houses (where they produce the maple syrup). Essentially this dish is made by drizzling hot maple syrup over a bowl of snow. The syrup congeals and hardens to create a crystallized treat. That’s right and to complete the tableaux the traditional Vermonters will have this sugar on snow with a donut and finish it off with a dill pickle.
The coming weekend, March 28, 29 is the official Maple Sugar Festival celebrated all over Vermont. There is a wonderful weekend celebration planned at our friends at Boyden Valley Winery just up the road from here. More info: http://www.boydenvalley.com/maplesugarfestival.html and http://vermontmaple.org/events .
The Boyden family has been making Vermont maple syrup for five generations in the picturesque Lamoille River Valley using a traditional wood-fired evaporator with sap collected from over 300 acres of maple trees located on their farm. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of Maple tree sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup? Vermont farms produced approximately 1.3 million gallons of maple syrup in 2014.
There is typically only a week or two where the sap runs and the optimal conditions permit the process of sugaring to occur. The sap from maple trees flows when the trees experience an abundance of sunshine (reawakening the growing season) with temperatures below freezing at night and daytime temperatures above freezing during the day.
The whole process of how we get local maple syrup to our breakfast table from those amazing maple trees is best described at the sugar house. There you will find the true Vermont sense of tradition of producing high quality, all natural, maple syrup, nothing added, ever.
If you have never experienced sugar on snow you need to add it to the list of things to experience here in the Stowe area and of course we hope you will consider the Brass Lantern Inn as your home base, independent of the season at hand.
Of the many “perks” that we feel come with this “job” as Innkeepers, certainly, one of the most rewarding is the opportunity to welcome back friends from one or many more previous stays. This past weekend we were so very fortunate to have a full house/”no vacancy” sort of weekend with six of our nine guest rooms filled with returning friends.
We had Louise (Weezie) and Allen here (all the way from southern Vermont!) returning to the Brass Lantern Inn to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. These friends enjoy Vermont so much that they actually stay here and we are so richly rewarded to have this opportunity to host them again and again. And we were so humbled that they felt that the Brass Lantern Inn was the “perfect place to be to celebrate our 40th anniversary!” Thank you Weezie and Allen.
Bruce and Sheila have been coming to the Brass Lantern Inn for more years than we have even been the Innkeepers here. They come at least once a year, typically for the winter activities of cross country and downhill skiing but have also come in the summer with bicycles in tow. This past weekend, like all previous examples of their stays, they bring their guitar, beautiful musical voices and warm, infectious laughter. This time they brought family with them taking over four of our nine guest rooms. Thank you Bruce and Sheila.
Paul and Maria made their yearly trek from the Boston area. We joked that they had to come north to great a break from the record snowfalls that the Boston and southern New England area experienced this year. At least here they can do something with the snow other than just shoveling it out of the way. Thank you Paul and Maria.
This past Friday, the main gathering room of the Brass Lantern Inn was filled with music and good times thanks to the Bruce and Sheila. We sure wish we could have them here every weekend as it was such great way for all of our guests to get to know one another gathered around the fireplace, sharing Cabot cheddar cheese, wine or your favorite local micro brew. Our music night was shared with Weezie and Allen, Anthony and Carol from Nashville, Tennessee, as well as Susan from Toronto (and family of Bruce and Sheila). I think we all made new friends this past weekend.
I miss my family back in Columbus, Ohio and our friends from our former lives in Baltimore, Maryland. While that loss can be tempered by phone calls, social media, and the occasional off-season trips to see family and old friends, our lives are so full now with so many new friends through our current position in life here as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn. We have also had the occasion to host family and friends which is even more special here in Vermont!
How can this role as an Innkeeper be classified as a job when we have the greatest opportunity to meet so many wonderful people? Ok, when the printer breaks down during the busiest weekend of the winter or a heating valve sticks in the closed/off position on a night where it is 18 below, or the housekeeper quits on Valentine’s Day Saturday morning or any number of small issues like this you get a sense of why it might be considered a job. But truly these are all trivial matters in the larger context of this wonderful experience.
And this is all before you realize you are in this wonderful corner of paradise called Stowe, Vermont! Yes, we are so very thankful to be here and it is only through the support of our guests and friends, both new and returning that allow us this unique opportunity. We never take that for granted and hope you see that in return from us through our service and warm welcome. Thank you all!