Tag Archives: Vermont

From Christmas to California

Merry Christmas! I mean, Happy New Year! Oh wait, that’s passed too! This holiday season I’ve been busy as a bee preparing some classes and trying to work on my own research. I think I’ve been busier during this ‘break’ than I was during the past semester! I’m taking a break right now, but to continue to feel quasi-productive I thought I’d write a post.

Vermont House

You can see a little snow on Stratton in the distance.

Every year for Christmas my family heads up to Vermont. Me, Mom and Dad, and Auntie, Unclie and Cuzzy-poo make the annual journey on the 23rd of December. Everyone except for me and my Aunt goes skiing. This year they headed to Stratton because it looked like there were more trails open. Plus, there was a pretty nice discount because of the lack of snow. My Aunt and I head to Brattleboro to do a little shopping, because what kind of person likes skiing anywhere besides Europe?

Stratton Mountain Mascot Ursa mingling with the skiers.

Christmas Eve night brings about another tradition: fondue. And not that cheesy kind, we use beef. It’s a lot of fun, as we all sit around enjoying some tasty food, drinking some tasty wine, and of course, having some tasty conversation.

This is what Christmas means to me. It's a big bowl of meat.

Although Sister Sarah couldn't make it she was there in spirit.

The next day we all head our separate ways. I love driving on Christmas Day because there is never any traffic. For someone who drives into New York City on a regular basis experiencing a day with no traffic is truly a Christmas Miracle.

This year, however, I headed up further in Vermont to strap on a snowboard and hit the slopes. I met up with some friends from Skidmore and we enjoyed a nice day on the mountain. The conditions were way better than I had expected, so I didn’t have to complain as much as I thought I would. That might have been because we spent more time inside the lodge at the bar than on the mountain (I drank mostly water, I swear).

Next I returned to NYC with a Ms. Stacy Adams. Debauchery ensued as we rang in the new year with some friends. This lead into the next adventure: San Francisco! Thank God for frequent flier miles.

We decided to go on a tour of wine country. We secured a Zip car and headed up to Sonoma and Napa for the day. First stop: The Olive Press, my mom’s favorite olive oil store. She is a member, and gets all her olive oil shipped across the country. It’s that good. They also have a free wine tasting for their associated vineyard: Jacuzzi. We continued northward and stopped at  The Stags’ Leap Winery, which was pretty fancy…in my opinion. Any place that sells bottles of wine for more than $100 is fancy. After a $15 tasting flight we headed further north to the town of Healdsburg, CA, which is like ‘the strip mall of wineries’ according to one of our friends. It’s classier than it sounds. We stopped at Toad Hollow for another complimentary tasting, and they sent us over to Topel, with a coupon for a free tasting. That comes to 4 tastings for only $15 bucks! I ended up buying a bottle at Topel, and then brought it home with me because we forgot to drink it. Whoops! It did manage to increase the value of the bottle by about $25, since I had to pay to check my bag.

First stop: The Olive Press

The vineyard at The Olive Press. Everything is kind of dead this time of year.

These are the wines I tasted at Topel. I bought one of the Double Gold winners near the bottom. We were only supposed to have 4 tastes, but the wine guy insisted we have just one more.

It was a really fun experience all in all. And, since it was the off season, at a few of the vineyards the wine pourers would start talking to you and then insist you try another wine, even though it shouldn’t be included in the flight. Luckily, I would just have a sip or two, and toss it. It helped stave off the wine-tasting-itis, so that I drove back in to SF while Stacy rested a bit.

Many of the ensuing days we spent doing work, but we did take one more excursion. We headed to Land End National Park right next to the ocean. We stopped at Saigon Sandwiches first and grabbed some banh mi pork sandwiches for a picnic lunch. My first, and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Had to wait 10 minutes or so because there was a line out the door, but they only cost $3.50 each, and totally fortified us after the walk to the beach.

My amazing banh mi picnic lunch on the beach.

Unfortunately, we timed it so that we hit the beach right around high tide. That limited what we were able to see, because you have to walk along the beach to get at all the structures. It was pretty neat though. We sat and ate on some driftwood down by the beach, then braved the rocks to check out some old army buildings that are now graffiti art. Nice way to take a breather from staring at a computer all day.

Friend of Spongebob? At Lands End National Park.

You can't tell it's a face until you get far enough away. Lands End National Park.

Sardines! Lands End National Park.

The bird looks like it's in jail. Lands End National Park.

Now I have to get back to work. No more vacations for a while…hopefully I’ll find some way to entertain myself in New York. But, while I’m there I’ll have the image of a prayer circle and the Golden Gate bridge in my head, reminding myself that by the time you get to the center of the circle all your problems are solved. I wonder if that works for homework too.

Prayer circle and Golden Gate Bridge. We picked a good day for our excursion. From Lands End National Park.

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The Most Magical Place in Vermont

Magic Mountain

This past weekend I took a trip out of The City for a mountain time with Kyle up in Vermont. She works for Ski Vermont, a great organization that ties together Vermont’s alpine and nordic ski resorts with Vermont businesses…or something like that. Regardless, I had a great couple days enjoying the fresh air and clean snow!

Old timey chair lifts (ski machinery).

I came and met Kyle for her Sunday event, at Magic Mountain. As a chronic equipment renter, I was very happy with the boots and boards Magic had to offer. Bad equipment really ruins my day.

Magic is a fun mountain, really transporting you back in time. How does it do this? Well, there is only one working lift. It’s a 2-person lift, and it’s not high-speed. So, you get to enjoy a nice leisurely trip up to the top, allowing ample time to rest between runs. The mountain is fairly evenly split, about 1/3 each beginner, intermediate and advanced, although I’d say all their trails were slightly more difficult than your typical mountain ratings. Kyle said it’s one of the steepest mountain in Southern Vermont (if not the most steep).

I had fun, did a bunch of runs, and between runs I’d stop and say hi to Kyle, in her sugarshack.

Vermontmaple.org sugarshack.

They were giving out stickers, free sugar on snow (thick maple syrup ladled over snow, turns into a chewy, sweet mess), cabot cheddar cheese, oyster crackers, and selling other great Vermont products (maple sugar, syrup, and candy). Near the end of the day we went tubing, which was so much fun. Two of my favorite winter activities are definitely tubing and tobogganing. They’re like sledding for adults, and you get a lift to take you to the top of the hill.

Let's go tuuuubing!

View of Stratton (or Bromley) from Magic

There were intermittent flurries throughout the day, but we got some great views of Bromley and Stratton. After our day at Magic we headed to Townshend for the night. We’ve had a lot of snow at the house, and luckily Kyle was willing to drive me up to the house (my non-winterized car has gotten stuck so many times I was afraid to drive it up the driveway).

Snow-filled deck, heavenly clouds (haha).

View of Stratton from the vermont house (would be near where that odd circle is).

Monday morning it was time for me to head back to school, and for Kyle to head back north. We ended our little reunion with a delicious breakfast at the Dam Diner, which was almost a disaster because we weren’t aware of the cash only policy until after we ordered. Luckily there was an ATM…a few miles away in Harmonyville. Crisis averted after a quick emergency drive. A delicious end to a great weekend!

The Dam Diner - so 'dam' good!