Winter wonderland

The wife wants to go to Vermont to attend a surprise 50th birthday party for a fourth grade classmate (and godmother to our daughter) and before I can permit my innate agoraphobia to veto the expedition, she pre-pays two nights in a B&B so I have to go or risk burning $300 in Amex charges.

Off we go on Friday in the all-wheel-drive vehicle, forging north and west into the teeth of an iminent blizzard forecast to drop a foot of snow on Cape Cod. By the time I get to the Vermont border, it’s snowing like the Donner Party and traffic is moving at a resoundingly sluggish 20 mph on Route 91 on one lane of slick asphalt. Oh joy. Oh semi-trailers laden with logs going 70 mph in the fast lane and blowing total white-outs in their path. Wife is doing contortions of panic in the seat next to me. Begging me to find safe refuge off the highway from hell.

Forge on! I declare and we limp into Waitsfield, Vermont, 350-butt-puckering-miles later. I find a bar (the magnificant Pitcher Inn of Warren, Vermont), get a glass of 52 year-old armagnac and turn into a total couch potato in front of a roaring fire as the snow falls and the world turns into a  remake of White Christmas, replete with carolers, grumpy dairy farmers in their Johnson woolies, and dusty mooseheads staring from the log cabin walls.

Life improves. Saturday the village is covered with diamond sparkling powder so we head to the mountains, Mad River Glen to be exact, an anachronistic, socialistic cooperative ski area where snowboarding is banned, there is no snow making apparatus, and there is no grooming of the rocky, icy, gnarly slopes of General Stark Mountain. We meet good friend and former cycling partner Marta in the lodge, I get all comfy with the concept of some lodge chili and local microbrew, when Marta decides it is a good time to go snowshoeing and introduces us to the resident naturalist, Sean, who gets us equipped, hands me a vague map, and recommends we try the “challenging” trail.

Off we go, up mountain, through the woods, in a total Last of the Mohicans experience that rapidly deteriorates into Lost Bohican (bend over, here it comes again) as I lose the trail and begin to learn the perspiration wicking wonder of wool, becoming sodden in forty pounds of Dave sweat while standing up to my knees in a silent birch forest with the bluejays and squirrels making the only noise.

Lost,  we forge onwards — this is how it always begins I say to myself — and get more lost by the minute. No water. No compass. Great.

Then I hear a skiier on a trail, catch a flash of color, and head to an ungroomed slope. Wife and I trudge down the hill, to the base lodge, where we call it a day and turn in the snowshoes. So there’s a supposedly cool thing I can say I have done (and would do again, but with better preparation next time.)

Surprise 50th birthday party was conducted in a restored barn. Bluegrass band. BBQ. I was happy.

Then we drove home yesterday into the teeth of an even bigger snowstorm. Wife unhappy with conditions. Me tempting disaster in the unplowed fast lane. Home by 1 pm into a howling rainstorm. Cotuit is the antithesis of Vermont. Where they have pretty snow, we have grey slush and dog poo surfacing through the mess.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

4 thoughts on “Winter wonderland”

  1. OH dood, it was the “Reed Donnor Party” and party it was for the Reeds who frequently had festive meals of “Long Pig. The Donnors, whose “cabin” was 1.5 miles away, however, subsisted on rats, mice, one bear, a couple of deers and never resorted to cannibalism. Recent field archology digs confirm there was no evidence of cannibalism by the Donnors. In fact Tamzen Donnor remains one of the true heroines of the west, She carried and led her children to the rescue party, went back to her cabin to tend her dying husband and never looked back. Of her bones California was settled.
    I just thought it was worth mentioning.


  2. Great story about your trip to VT, and your birthday.

    I spent that Thursday night with my old college buddy in Jersey – who also rents my VT mountain house each winter. I left Friday AM to go do a handful of meetings in NY and then fly back to Cali.

    they drove up to *my* Vt house – – , and had the same winter wonderland experience you did. It sounds amazing. I wish I was there, I miss big snow storms more than anything else about the east coast.

    And I love snowshoeing! But opt for fleece over wool next time.


  3. Pitcher Inn is a class act!!! Funny you mention Bohica – a Naval friend of mine who will remain nameless was stationed on an Aircraft Carrier for a few years. One fine day he found out that he had a new Lieutenant to report to – straight out of the Naval Academy. Well, this new Lieutenant was a typical ahole just like ones in the movies and kind of a prick. So he decided to create a name for the new team that he was inheriting and asked his reports to create a name for the team. Well, you guessed it – they came up w. Bohica (of course they knew what it was, but he didn’t). They said the name derived from a great Indian Warrior and even gave him a hat to wear with the name Team BOHICA on it. Well, this bright Lt. wore the hat to his staff meeting and needless to say, life got tougher on that ship.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: