The weekend came and went, and it was welcome.
Sure, we had to deal with traffic, but with provisions like these available along our northbound route, we were good to go. Fortunately, we have driven this northbound route from DC to Connecticut enough times to know where to abandon I-95 for alternate routes that are a bit less tedious.
And we made decent time, though we arrived in CT late enough that there were doubts that we’d wake up in time to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But were managed to regain enough coherence to get up and see the parade (including a rare live vocal performance [thank you, James Taylor, for not lip-syncing your part] and the fabulous Rick-rolling by the float for “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends”) and enjoy coffee, tea and breakfast pastries.
The rest of Thanksgiving Day was enjoyable as well, and the various dishes all cooked up perfectly for our evening feast. Later in the evening we sat in front of the fire and watched Mrs. Santa Claus.
The next morning I made an early departure for Vermont, where two days of skiing awaited. The first day was at Stratton Mountain, and while the weather was somewhat blustery, the skiing was wonderful – especially for so early in the season. The snowmaking crew did a fantastic job covering the available terrain with a soft and thick layer of snow, and the crowds didn’t materialize until after 9:45 or so – and I’d been on the slopes since 8:15, so I got to let the speed legs loose for a while in the morning on smooth slopes. Even after the “Black Friday” shoppers arrived from points elsewhere, the crowds and liftlines never became too unruly, which makes me tip my hat to the Stratton management for opening up enough trails to spread out the crowds.
After a bit of shopping along the way (including a sighting of a ski boot mountain), I stopped for the night in West Dover, at the lovely Red Oak Inn. It’s a quiet, family-run place that, while a little worn around the edges, is very friendly and comfortable. I soaked my legs for a spell in the hot tub, then enjoyed dinner and a movie (Quantum Of Solace, which I liked quite a bit).
The next day, I skied at Mount Snow, only a couple of miles up the road from my lodging. Last year, I also skied at Snow over Thanksgiving weekend, and was impressed by their new management’s commitment to top-notch snowmaking. This year the snow gods have been a little more kind, and more terrain was open. That said, they didn’t quite have quite the variety that Stratton had open, which meant that crowding was a bit more of an issue. No matter, though, because the skiing was still most wonderful. I especially enjoy their new re-purposing of the Carinthia section of the mountain, where they’re now concentrating all of their terrain parks and half-pipes. The logic behind this is to try and reduce dangerous interactions between freestyle skiers and snowboarders and those who aren’t into the tricks (and are sometimes scared by the seemingly unpredictable nature of the tricksters). We’ll see how it works out, but it looks like a fabulous idea – there were certainly quite a few skiers and boarders taking advantage of the available jumps and rails.
I called it an early day, as the crowds eventually became a bit too much for comfort, and stopped by two abandoned ski areas to take pictures: Haystack Mountain (pictures here and here) and Hogback (pictures here and here). I love seeing these old areas, as sad as it is to see them fall into disuse and disrepair. They’re a bit of skiing history that allows a glimpse at how things used to be.
One thing that was a tiny letdown was that I didn’t find a new pair of ski pants while up north. At the very least, I found three brands that fit me well, so I now can try and find the pants I want at a decent price.
I didn’t let this minor disappointment affect my stop in Brattleboro (one of my favorite towns in the country) for some shopping, walking and coffee drinking. I’m really in love with this town, and it’s tough for me not to peruse the housing market while up there (not to worry – it’s all outside my price range, and I love my DC friends too much to leave just yet). But eventually I had to return to Connecticut and to the family, so I left Vermont just after sunset on Saturday.
The rest of the trip was relaxing: a lazy Saturday night and Sunday morning, followed by a late drive back to DC.