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21 Aug 2007
Learn How to Be a Logger

As summer winds down, it's time to think about firewood for the winter. Actually, here in Vermont and the rest of New England, 12 months of the year is a good time to think about firewood. I have an older neighbor who spends the summer cutting and splitting firewood. He makes up what appears to be about four cords of wood so I assume he must be heating his neat-as-a-pin log cabin with a wood stove.

Like most things, there is a right way to cut trees and a wrong way. The most recent mine disasters notwithstanding, the most dangerous occupation in the world is logging. Unless you know a trained professional who can teach you, you have to figure it out on your own (not a safe way to go about a dangerous job). Or you can take a course but they are not easy to find. Here is a school in Chester, Vermont that can help.

It is run by John Adler and his wife, Mary Beth who own Eagle Forest Improvements Inc, a logging company. They have 15 years experience teaching logging.

They own Northeast Woodland Training, Inc., a school that conducts classes employing a training technique called the Game of Logging. It is a widely known technique developed in the 1960s by Soren Eriksson, a Swedish logger turned training instructor. The Game is a combination of traditional Scandinavian logging and modern safely equipment and techniques.

The first day of the logging course covers chain saw operation and safety as well as basic tree cutting techniques. The second day is devoted to chain saw maintenance and sharpening plus more tree felling. The third and fourth days are devoted to more challenging trees such as leaning trees along with limbing and bucking techniques.

Even if you are just an occasional user of a chain saw around the yard, this course is great way to learn how to do it safely and in an enjoyable environment. You don't have to take all four days. There are classes for homeowners, professional loggers, high school/college, trail crew, etc. The school's website has a list of October classes.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
General , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  10:58 | permalink

13 Aug 2007
Quechee Scottish Festival August 25

The Catamount Pipe Band at the Quechee Scottish Festival [photo copyright by the St. Andrews Society of Vermont]

The 35th annual Quechee Scottish Festival will be held Saturday, August 25, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at the Quechee Polo Field.

There will be Scottish music and dancing, arts and crafts, highland athletic competitions, pipe bands, sheepdog herding trials, and Scottish and American food.

The directions on the website show (poorly) how to find Quechee but not the Polo Field for some inexplicable reason. Just drive west on Route 4 from Exit 1 from Interstate 89 and you will probably see it but if not, just ask around. Or stop in and ask at Scotland By The Yard, an interesting store specializing in Scottish goods. It is located on Route 4 in Quechee.

Part of the proceeds benefits a scholarship program by the St. Andrews Society of Vermont.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor except the photo above
Events , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  22:30 | permalink

10 Aug 2007
The Great Perseids Meteor Shower

Perseids photo courtesy NASA

The Perseids (PURR-see-idz) meteor shower is going on now and is expected to peak between Sunday August 12 and Tuesday August 14 when there will be about a hundred visible meteors per hour.

This year should be an especially good time to view the streaking lights in the night sky because we will be in a New Moon period when there will be no moon visible. The best places to view the meteors are in rural locations where there is little or no light pollution from cities. A place like Vermont for instance, with the added benefit of cleaner, clearer air, plus some high elevations if you would like.

According to NASA scientist Bill Cooke, "It's going to be a great show."

The place to start looking is in a north easterly direction starting around 9:00 pm on Sunday. This is when "Earthgrazer" meteors will be approaching from the horizon and hit a glancing blow (a "grazing" type of hit, thus the name) against the earth's atmosphere. The friction will light them up like a match striking sandpaper. Earthgrazers are slower and more colorful than other types of meteors but they are rarer too.

As the constellation Perseus climbs higher in the night sky, the frequency of the meteors will increase and, at its peak a little before dawn, you will see one or two per minute.

Enjoy the show whether you can make it to Vermont or not

Sky map of the constellation Perseus courtesy of NASA

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus except the photo and map
Nature , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  18:02 | permalink

10 Aug 2007
Highest Altitude Restaurant in Vermont

Stowe gondola near the top of Mount Mansfield

Here is a different idea for lunch: eat at Stowe's Cliff House restaurant on Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont. The restaurant is nearly at the top of the mountain. It is open from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm everyday the gondola is running. Reservations are not taken for lunch.

The food is a little pricey but very good. And you get a million dollar view free through floor-to-ceiling windows. You will see the Worcester Range in Vermont and on most days, the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Cliff House underwent a renovation last year and it looks great. There is a new exhibition kitchen where chef Jeff Egan serves an American cuisine menu with rustic Vermont recipes based on locally grown ingredients.

The Cliff House will be open for dinner August 18 and 25; Sept 1, 15, and 29; and Oct 6 for special Summit Series dinners. These are five course dinners that start with a champagne reception. Reservations are required - you can reserve online or by calling 800-253-4754. Space is limited. You can see a schedule and menus for the Summit Series dinners here..

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
Attractions , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  13:12 | permalink

1 Aug 2007
1000 Cheese Tastings: American Cheese Society Convention in Burlington
The American Cheese Society Convention is being held this week in Burlington. You have to be a member of the society to attend but there is one event open to the public. Everyone is invited to the Sheraton Burlington on Saturday, August 4th, 2007 from 4:30 - 8:00 pm for a cheese tasting.

This is a rare opportunity to try "more than 1,000 handcrafted artisan and farmstead cheeses, from producers throughout North America . . . entered in the American Cheese Society's Annual Competition . . . there will be wines, beers and specialty foods that complement the stars of this event."

In addition to this event, there is the Vermont Cheese Trail, available year around. The "trail" is made up of cheese producers around the state, many of them open to the public. To find them, go to the Vermont Cheese Council's Cheese Trail page on their website. There are 37 facilities listed here with links to the companies' web sites. The ones open to the public are flagged.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor (except the VT Cheese Council's map above) Grunberg Haus
Events , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  21:42 | permalink

30 Jul 2007
Drive the Wilds of Vermont at the 4x4 Off Road School

I enjoy writing about all the things to do in Vermont including the mainstream activities such as scenic touring, hiking, canoeing, skiing, and so forth. But I also like finding out-of the-ordinary activities and out-of the-way places. This is one of those activities in one of those places:

The 4x4 Center provides an unusual driving school that teaches off road driving. They use specially prepared Land Rovers. The school's experienced staff teaches driving plus how to use all the equipment needed for off roading such as winches.

The school has access to 3000 acres of terrain "ranging from marshy woods to rocky mountainous terrain, with some desert-like conditions" added in.

There is an optional second day which has greater challenges in a remote part of Vermont where the terrain is "very uncompromising, in fact, some spots will require winching just to get through!" Both days begin at 8:30am and go until 4:30pm

How's that for significant cool factor? You can tell everyone back at work that you went off roading in Vermont. Plus, there is some practical application for improving your driving skills and increasing your understanding of and feel for vehicle dynamics and how that works to help you control a vehicle even in adverse conditions. One other important thing . . . it's a ton of fun.

The 4x4 Center is headquartered in Burlington and they also sell and service Land Rovers. See their 4x4 Center website or call them at 802-864-8565 or toll free at 800-864-9180.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus

Advice , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  21:31 | permalink

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