Of the many rewards of this adventure of being Owners and Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn here in Stowe, Vermont, one of the most special to us is the opportunity to welcome back guests, rather, friends.
We recognize that part of the experience of staying in an intimately scaled Bed & Breakfast such as ours is the sense of place that is only available in this unique style of lodging. In our search for a lodging business we were continually attracted to those B&B’s that were in the 8 to 12 guest room size. With our 9 guest rooms, and, both of us directly involved in the day to day operations of this Inn, we then have the reward of meeting and hosting so many wonderful guests that when they can, and in every way, return as our friends.
Just this past Memorial Day Weekend I was able to slip out of the Inn (thank you Mary Anne!) and go mountain biking with a friend who has stayed here multiple times over the past 7-1/2 years of our tenure here. And due to the generous offer of another returning friend, I have had the chance to drive a Ford Mustang, “Bullitt,” created in similar style to the 1968 Mustang GT and movie of the same name, starring Steve McQueen. Remember those car chase scenes through the streets of San Francisco? Ok, in my little tour through the back country roads of Vermont, I kept all four wheels on the ground (as we of course want our friends to return…). It was just so much fun getting behind the wheel of 300 horses.
Through the various stays of our friends, we catch up with guests who have become engaged, married, are expecting their first child, are taking their first trip away from the kids, visiting their kids for Parent’s Weekend at one of the local colleges and universities, and/or, just returning in search of a peaceful retreat. We continue to share book recommendations with our friends both while here during their stay and through e-mail, exchange holiday cards, etc. We have “regulars” affectionately regarded as “Inn-mates” but always, always recognized as Friends.
As those who have stayed here or other small lodging properties can most likely attest, the social component of interacting with the Innkeepers, staff and other guests is just one of the things that make a stay at a B&B a positively memorable stay. We recognize, very directly, the gift of each guest who stays here and for those who return whether only once or regularly of each friend that through their direct support of our business we are permitted the “pinch-me-to-make-this-real” kind of lifestyle.
“Arrive as guests, depart as Friends” – the photo at the top of this post, is a custom designed and created tray by one of our Friends!
May 9, 2017
Getting out of town can be so refreshing and, admittedly, can also be somewhat stressful. We regularly hear from our guests that traveled here by car, either from our neighboring states of New England to several states away, that shortly after entering Vermont they feel a sense of calming retreat.
Perhaps part of that feeling is from the scenery that the Green Mountain State of Vermont provides as you make your way to the Brass Lantern Inn. There is a wonderful and unique opportunity that is afforded to those who travel through Vermont as our small state does not permit billboards along our roadways. No billboards, anywhere, period. Whether you are making your way up Interstate 89 or via the iconic and historic Route 100 through the Mad River Valley, or Route 7 along the eastern edge of Lake Champlain, your views of this special corner of New England are unencumbered by these unnatural elements blocking those views. It is just one of those special conditions of this amazing place.
As I write this post we are actually away from our Inn as we take a brief retreat ourselves from our role as Innkeepers. We are in Bozman, Maryland, just outside of the town of St. Michael’s. It is an area we know fairly well from our life prior to our 2009 relocation to Stowe, Vermont. This area is rich in the qualities similar to Vermont; friendly locals, unique restaurants, shops, culturally rich and diverse events, peaceful, and just stunning vistas.
If you venture deep enough into this area known as the “Eastern Shore” you will notice a particularly interesting feature. As you drive along the quiet back roads of the area you will note that locals will give you a little wave from the steering wheel of their vehicle. It is just a two to three finger wave, just to say, “Hello, and Welcome.” In Stowe, and perhaps other small towns in Vermont, our special feature is to yield to others trying to make a left turn on Main Street. A simple gesture of unexpected courtesy, but one that is clearly special to experience first hand.
To be sure, the views are quite different here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland than from the back porch of the Brass Lantern Inn, as much of this area that provides the soft edge to the Chesapeake Bay is low and flat, all dramatically different than our view out of the Inn looking up at Mt. Mansfield. Sixty to seventy percent of some of the counties that make up that transitional area from estuary to land on this side of the Bay are considered and protected as wetlands. I know, sounds amazing, right, that we could see what some would perhaps term as swamp land to be so serene.
All this to say it is really calming to the soul to venture to a place, whether far, near or somewhere in between to experience either as the first timer or as a regular migratory traveler a place even subtly different than what you have at home. I think it is the peacefulness of being in a new place that then allows one to appreciate their own special retreat of home that in turn makes whatever stress or effort needed in that process of traveling to reach this place all worthwhile.
As I write this post on the evening of March 13, 2017, we are positively giddy with excitement waiting for our next big dump of snow. The National Weather service and local reports are calling for snow depths of anywhere between 16 to 20+” of snow between tomorrow, mid-day through Weds., evening, 3/15. And we say, “it’s about time!”
Admittedly, it has been a schizophrenic kind of winter. We were skiing, as if on cue, on the Saturday right after Thanksgiving, 2016. We received more than 5 feet total of snow in the month of December, 2016, alone. Then, the dreaded January thaw hit us. And hit us again in the second week of January. The Stowe Mountain Resort crews did an amazing job taking whatever Mother Nature threw at them and turning it into (for the most part) some really great conditions. Ok, there was a day that we did two runs and called it and then had a early lunch in town! So yes, you had to have the luxury of an extended stay this past January to get in any consistently good skiing/riding conditions.
February was ushered in with, and I really do not use this term lightly, some epic powder days. We had a couple of days where we easily hit 16 to 18″ of absolute champagne powder. There was so much excitement in town during that period I heard of people, and felt some of this myself, having trouble falling asleep the nights before, because of the anticipation of the stellar conditions that we were predicted and hit us with even more than what was predicted. It was truly a nice little reward for getting through those January thaws.
After President’s day Weekend we had our February thaw. We actually hit 62 degrees and a few follow up days of mid to upper 50’s. Oh, and I forgot to mention, rain, yes, lots of it during that brief period. Fortunately, the mountain had a 60″ base or more on the vast majority of trails but the couple of days of 1/2″ or more of rain did take its toll. When the temps. the snow guns were fired back up and greatly improved the conditions.
All that to say, we have a full house set up for this weekend and anyone who skis, snowboards, cross-country skis, snowshoes or even if you just like to drink hot chocolate (or perhaps a Vermont Craft Beer) by the fire and watch it snow will be in the perfect spot this week and weekend here in Stowe, Vermont. Typically, March is one of our best months of the year to play outside with our snow equipment. The sun is getting closer to the position of vernal equinox as our days are getting longer, the temperatures resist those below zero (and more with that silly wind chill factor) levels and many times, we can have lunch outside at the Midway Lodge. Also, many times, the snowfalls in March are more legendary than any other time of the preceding winter.
We are hopeful that with this pending Vermont snow storm and perhaps another one to to finish out the season we will be able to keep the skis firmly in place within the truck to allow us, on a moments notice, to spring for the mountains. And a “Last Hurrah” offer – watch the forecasts, plan your “sick day” or “snow day” (call it what you will) and if you can make a last minute trip to get outside with us, we can offer you a wonderful stay here at the Brass Lantern Inn, fabulous breakfast, that we can make early if you want, so that you can grab that “first chair” up Mt. Mansfield.
See you outside,
Have you experienced winter in Stowe? If you have, you understand the wonderful transformation of the Stowe Area and Mt. Mansfield from our summer playground to the most scenic winter wonderland. While of course Stowe is well known as the ski capital of the East, there is so much more to experience here in the winter for those who may not be as enamored with strapping a couple of fiberglass boards or a single snowboard onto your feet and gliding down the mountain, testing the laws of gravity and feeling that rush of sheer joy of being outside.
And while we do happily and graciously host many skiers and snowboarders each winter we actually have just as many guests who come here at this time of the celestial calendar for the sheer beauty of our winter scenery or to perhaps experience this winter landscape in other ways; snowshoeing, cross country skiing, dog sledding, outdoor ice skating, snowmobiling and not just limit their options to downhill skiing or riding. And then many may just be looking for a peaceful retreat with a book, glass of wine or mug of hot cocoa, next to the fireplace in our common areas, or your personal fireplace in your guest room, all the while watching the snow fly beyond the windows. Can’t you just picture that?
We love Vermont for so many reasons, but, certainly the opportunity to experience each of our distinct and memorable four seasons is a huge part of why we think we have such a special place here to share with our guests. We look forward to sharing our “backyard” of Stowe, Vermont with all who, for any length of time, look to call our home their home away from home.
See you outside,
George and Mary Anne
The skis, snowshoes, snow shovels and winter gear have all been put away. We took our last turns on Mt. Mansfield at the Stowe Mountain Resort on the last Sunday in April followed up with a great tailgate party with friends to celebrate the passing of winter and the full onset of spring. The bikes have now been tuned up with tires inflated back up to optimum road/trail pressure.
We have begun to turn some dirt preparing our garden beds for the summer season. The daffodils are now in full bloom and the tulips that we snuck into the ground before the hard freeze of last November are just about ready to break open in bloom. Pansies have been added to the window boxes adding some welcomed color to the front of the Inn. Vegetable seeds will go into the freshly turned soil by this coming weekend. We have to be careful, though, and not get too far ahead of mother nature as our last frost can and has come as late as Memorial Day Weekend.
We do truly enjoy our four distinct seasons here in Vermont. We feel a bittersweet sense of loss with the passing of the winter season though we are more than encouraged by the signs of spring as his new season upon us brings a whole new set of opportunities to get outside. While spring is typically a quiet time here in Vermont the secret of all that there is to do and see here in this follow up season is quickly becoming a secret that is being spread far and wide as though dandelion seeds of the season.
Mountain Biking is our new sport to explore this spring/summer. George is taking a six week Skills Clinic through our friends at Four Points Mountain Bike School and Guide Service. He is very excited to check out our mountain trails from the seat of a bike versus the hiking boots on the ground. We are so fortunate to have the Stowe Mountain Bike Club here for outdoor recreation development and advocacy for mountain biking in our community.
And we have readied the Inn to be bike friendly with an outside, bike, hose off wash station, dry/secure storage areas within the Inn, and lots of maps and recommendations for rides from a light stroll along the 5.5 mile rec. path to the wide variety of terrain options in places such as Cady Hill Forest.
So, pack your bags and your bikes (or rent here) and join us as we get outside and enjoy life.
George and Mary Anne