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22 Jun 2007
Vermont Alpine Slides

The Stowe Alpine Slide opens tomorrow. This is a lot of fun for both children and adults. There is a height restriction for children before they can go by themselves but usually by age six children are tall enough to go by themselves. Children under the minimum height or under the age of two can ride double with an adult.

The adventure begins with a ride on a double chair lift to the top of Spruce Peak Mountain. At the top, you will pick up a plastic sled and get on the track for an exhilarating ride that lasts about three minutes if you go down quickly. You control the speed of the sled with a stick. Pull back and the sled slows down. Push the stick forward and you speed up.

There is also an alpine slide at the Pico ski area next to Killington and just a few minutes east of Rutland in central Vermont. The Bromley Thrill Zone near Bennington and Manchester in the southwestern part of the state also has an alpine slide.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
Advice , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  08:16 | permalink

21 Jun 2007
Vermont Hiking
There is an overwhelming abundance of hiking in Vermont. I have no idea of how many miles of trails there must be but it would not surprise me if it were thousands of miles. We get a good number of hikers at our inn each year, many of them here to hike Camel's Hump, just a few miles away. It is the third highest peak in Vermont and has the state's most distinctive profile. It is a moderate hike until the last few hundred yards where hikers almost have to crawl up the bare rock of the Hump itself.

Camel's Hump mountain is featured on the US Mint's Vermont quarter.

One of my favorite books for getting hiking information is the Day Hiker's Guide to Vermont published by the Green Mountain Club . The club is located about ten minutes from our inn and you can stop there to purchase maps and books. Local outfitters around the state will have them too. The best way to make sure you get what you want is to order it online from the Green Mountain Club well in advance of your travel date.

The Green Mountain Club built Vermont's Long Trail between 1910 and 1930. The trail runs directly over the main ridge of Vermont's Green Mountain range from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border, a distance of 270 miles. Today, the club still maintains the trail.

The club's website is a good starting point for all hikes throughout Vermont.

Another hiking web site I found recently is Marc Howe's Peakbagging Guide. . For hikers looking to climb high peaks, Vermont is ideal as Marc points out that the state has about a hundred 3000 footers and a handful of 4000 footers.

What I find most interesting about this site is that Marc has climbed the mountains (some several times) and writes from personal experience. He includes a good number of photographs too. He lists all the VT mountains he has climbed (24 so far), their elevations, and he has links to the reports he has written on each one. You can see that he does a lot of hiking year around so it's easy to be confident that he knows what he's talking about.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus

posted by  grunhaus at  22:52 | permalink

1 Jun 2007
Two of the Best Scenic Drives in Vermont

View looking east from the top of Mount Mansfield, Stowe Vermont

There are many hundreds of miles of scenic drives in Vermont but two of my favorites are Route 108 through Smuggler's Notch, and the Mount Mansfield Toll Road, both in Stowe.

The section of Route 108 that runs from the village of Stowe to the village of Jeffersonville includes a memorable drive through smuggler's Notch. This Notch Road is narrow (no edge marking and no center line), tight, and twisty. You will be driving up a steep grade with deep forests on each side. There are several hairpin turns where you will be going five or ten miles per hour. Unfortunately, the driver won't get to see as much as the passengers because you have to keep your eyes closely on the road. The passengers will have a great time viewing the scenery which becomes more enhanced at the slow driving speed. One of the features of the drive are massive boulders right alongside the road, some of them the size of a small cottage.

At the road's peak, there is a small parking area on the left (coming from Stowe) where you can stop and get out of the car to admire the scenery. There is a hiking trail on the other side of the road. We hiked it once and I did not care much for it. During busy periods, it will be crowded with people and the hike itself is really like a climb up a one mile staircase. However, at the top is a beautiful mountain lake - you can see a picture on the Scrapbook page of the Grunberg Haus web site. A much better hike is along the Long Trail running over Mount Mansfield which you can get to from the Auto Toll Road.

The Stowe Auto Toll Road starts at the parking lot behind the Stowe Inn and rises several thousand feet to the top of Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont. To get there, drive on Route 108 from the village of Stowe toward the ski area. About five miles from town, watch carefully for the Toll Road sign which will be small and included with other items of interest at the Stowe Inn. A landmark just before the left turn into the parking lot are some tennis courts also located on the left shortly before the parking lot. Here is a link to Google Maps. Go to the rear of the parking lot and you will see a slim toll booth.

The road starts out on paved road but soon becomes a dirt road. The drive to the top is very twisty and takes about 20 minutes. There are a few pull-off areas along the drive where you can stop and admire the view but the best view is from the top. The photo at the beginning of of this article was taken from the top of the Gondola which stops are few hundred feet short of the toll road parking lot elevation but it gives you a good idea of what the view will look like.

Thee will be a ranger at the building next to the upper parking lot. I suggest you ask him or her the location of Frenchman's Pile. (No, I don't know why it's called Frenchman's Pile. It's just a three foot high pile of rocks.) It's about a 15 minute walk along the mountain ridge hiking trail to Frenchman's Pile and the view from there is truly magnificent. You can see in 360 degrees. To the west you will see the Adirondack Mountains of New York and to the east you will see the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Burlington and Lake Champlain will be right below you and they'll look like a very tiny, miniature town and lake. If you know the villages in the area, or if you have a map, you can pick those out too.

To my mind, this is one of the best things to do in Vermont.

Unfortunately, the road is for cars and pedestrians only. Bicycles and motorcycles are not permitted.

The toll is $21 per car unless you have more than six people in the vehicle, in which case the toll is $6 per person.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  16:06 | permalink

11 May 2007
Summer Camp for Children
I don't have any personal experience with Mud City Adventures but their summer children's camps sound wonderful. They have day and weekly programs, Saturday camps, twilight camp, overnight weekend and week-long adventures, and sailing camps. There are an amzing number of activities for ages 3 to 16. You'll wish you could go to some of them. However, they do have some adult activities too, so don't envy the kids.

Mud City Adventures is based in Stowe VT and is named after an actual Vermont town located near Stowe. Considering how much kids like to play in mud, it seems an ideal name. The activities however are far beyond playing in the dirt. Take a look - I know you will be impressed.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  19:51 | permalink

4 May 2007
The End of Vermont Skiing

Killington May 4 2007

Vermont skiing for 2006/2007 comes to an offical close this weekend when Killington, always the first to open and the last to close, wraps up the season.

Killington this weekend will have nine trails, three miles, open. One chair will be operating: the Superstar Express serving More Difficult and Most Difficult terrain only. No beginner terrain will be available.

After the ski area stops on Sunday, the Killington golf course opens at the end of the week, May 11!

Some other ski areas are not officially open but you can find some intrepid skiers and boarders snowshoeing up with their equipment on their backs, and sunscreen in their pockets, to get in a few more runs on what has been a great season.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  19:42 | permalink

2 May 2007
The Bob Newhart Inn
Just back from a one week vacation, what do I decide to do? Write an entry publicizing another inn of course.

Actually there is some sense in this, in a roundabout, six degrees of separation kind of way. First, Tom Poston died a couple of days ago. He played played George Utley, the slow, inept handyman on the Bob Newhart Show. That show placed Newhart as the owner of a Vermont inn called the Stratford Inn, and surrounded the laconic actor with a wild assortment on deranged people, most notably the brothers Larry, Darryl, and Darryl who looked like three extras from a droll, Vermont-style Deliverance movie. It was Newhart's longest running show, starting in 1982 and wrapping up its run in 1990.

We are asked from time to time if that inn actually exists. In fact, it does although different from the TV icon. It is called the Waybury Inn and it's located not too far from us on Route 125 in East Middlebury Vermont. The Waybury's web site has a page devoted to its famous TV connection. The Waybury exterior was shown during the TV show's opening although it is now painted green instead of the white color it was back in the 1980's.

Coming back full circle to Tom Poston, and just to prove once again that you cannot judge a book by its cover, it turns out that in real life Poston could not have been the fumbling goofball he played on stage. He was a highly decorated WWII airman who entered the US Army Air Corps as a private and attained the rank of captain in just five years, serving in North Africa, Italy, France, and England.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
posted by  grunhaus at  21:04 | permalink

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