October Country Inn

362 Upper Road P.o. Box 66, Bridgewater Corners, Vermont 05035
Innkeeper(s): Chuck & Edie Janisse

And the light pushed back the darkness. 15 Aug 2015, 1:17 pm

The October Country Inn was recently certified “Greenleader Gold,” by Trip Advisor for our energy conservation practices.  A substantial element of our conservation practices is to use energy-efficient lighting throughout the inn.  We first replaced all the many incandescent light bulbs with the more efficient flourescent variety, leaving a box full of incandescent bulbs in the basement.  Most recently we revisited this bulb switching strategy by replacing all the flourescent bulbs with the even more energy-efficient LED variety.  Now we also have a box full of flourescent bulbs in the basement alongside the box of incandescent bulbs.

The box of replaced incandescent bulbs next to the box of replaced flourescent bulbs.

Speaking of light, regardless of how energy-efficient our lighting may be, a nighttime thunder-storm will roll through every once in a while and blow down a few trees taking out a power line somewhere, and we are thrown into darkness like it was the middle ages.  Out come the candles.  Candles have been around since about 3000 BC, however, where they were once the go-to form of artificial light, they only serve an interim purpose when electricity is unavailable to provide quick access to light in order to collect and fire up the slightly more practical wick burning lamps.

Woodstock’s gas plant (note the chimney) circa 1860

In the eighteenth century, Edie’s Vermont ancestors would have used wick lamps burning whale oil (which may well have also come from Edie’s whale hunting ancestors).  Compared to candles, whale oil produced a superior whiter, brighter light.  But then they began to run out of whales.  The price of whale oil went way up, and cheaper carboniferous fuels from coal and petroleum emerged.  By the 1850s kerosene replaced whale oil as the lamp fuel of choice in the Woodstock area.  The next big thing in indoor lighting was fueled by gas that was piped into homes and businesses from coal-fired gas generating stations like Woodstock’s Gas Light Company set up in 1855.  Gas light was cheap and led to a high incidence of night illumination in the cities and towns of the area.  It was also a bit dangerous and led to many structure fires as well as gas plant explosions.

Of course, just like today, when gas supplies (or electrical supplies) are interrupted, out come the candles and lamps.  In some ways, when you need to push back the darkness, not much has changed.

 

Woodstock’s part in the Civil War and its connection to the Underground Railway. 27 Jul 2015, 5:00 pm

The village of Woodstock circa 1860 with the First Congregational Chuch in the foreground.

Although the October Country Inn is located in the tiny town of Bridgewater Corners, Vermont our guests enjoy the quiet of a small country town yet are still a mere fifteen minute drive to either Woodstock or Killington and all that these more well-known destinations have to offer.  One such attraction is the rich history of this area of Vermont, especially Woodstock.  Although it might take a little digging to uncover it.  Did you ever wonder what life was like in Woodstock during the Civil War, or the role Woodstock played in the war effort.  Did you know that the Civil War began on April 12, 1861, and on May 2, 1861 Woodstock sent a brigade of light

Woodstock light infantry gathers on the Green.

infantry to join the cause of the Union Army?  Did you know that Billings Farm was converted into Camp Dike to train new recruits?  Did you know that Woodstock’s First Congregational Chuch, established in 1801, four years after Vermont’s constitution outlawed slavery, played a prominent role in helping escaped slaves find sanctuary?  This is just a sampling of Woodstock’s historic role during these troubled times.  If you want to learn more, you’re in luck.  You have three paths you can follow.

One path is to sign up for The Home Front Tour; a two-hour walking tour conducted by a Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park ranger that visits sites within Woodstock village to impart a deeper understanding of the far-reaching effects of the Civil War on the role of African-Americans and women, the meaning of citizenship, and the beginnings of land conservation.  This tour will run from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on August 1, 15, and 29, or September 19;   Meet at the Billings Farm and Museum Visitor Center.

Downtown Woodstock.

A couple of self-guided tour options are also available.   Download a printable copy of New Birth of Freedom.  Illustrated with photographs from the Woodstock History Center archive and hand drawn maps, this booklet is extremely informative and will guide you through the Civil War walking tour at your own pace.   Or, a smartphone app is available from iTunes (search the Apple App Store for Woodstock Vermont Civil War Tour) with photos, videos, and sound clips.  This free iPhone app can guide you along the walking tour, whether on foot or virtually, from the comfort of your couch.  If you have an interest in history, take this tour.  You may have thought you were familiar with Woodstock, but his is a chance to see this village from a whole different perspective.

Don’t miss this great Vermont bike ride for a great local cause. 4 Jul 2015, 10:43 am

There’s a reason that the October Country Inn has hosted bike tours and bike riders for the better part of 40 years.  This area of Vermont has world-class cycling routes.  The air is clean and pure and the scenery is magnificent.   Now you have the opportunity to experience it yourself and also join in the fastest-growing local cycling event.  Register now for the Saturday, July 18, 2015, 4th Annual Tour de Zack.  Ride either the 27 or the 47 mile loops, both wind through nearby idyllic Vermont countryside.  Enjoy a fantastic bike ride with a group of like-minded enthusiasts and support a great cause in the bargain.

Zack Frates with his mother Dail.

The Tour de Zack starts at the nearby Quechee Green at 10 a.m.  The 27 mile ride goes from Quechee through West Hartford, to Pomfret, and back, or go the full 47 miles and continue to Bethel and Barnard through Woodstock and back to Quechee. All will meet at The Quechee Green, for a delicious gourmet picnic provided by Jake’s Quechee Market, at 1pm or whenever you finish. These rides are some of the most scenic in Vermont. There are good climbs so be sure to read the elevation gain for each ride. Diners who choose not to cycle are also welcome to join us for lunch. Discovery Tours will follow the riders with water and sweep behind the last starting rider.

 

The Tour de Zack is a fundraiser that benefits Zack’s Place, a free enrichment center whose mission is to empower special-needs people of all ages to express themselves through art, music, dance, literacy, athletics, and fitness while developing bonds of friendship. The center was founded in 2006 by the parents of Zack Frates who were seeking fellowship and creative outlets for their son with Cerebral Palsy, who would soon age out of the public education system. With few post-educational resources available, Zack’s parents created “Zack’s Place” in answer to the daunting issue of what do special-needs individuals and their families do after their school years have ended.

Chocolate cake from scratch served with whipped cream over raspberry Cassis sauce. 14 Jun 2015, 6:27 pm

Here at the October Country Inn, we usually serve this chocolate cake for dessert with our Italian country dinner.  Check out the dining section of our website for more details about our Italian country dinner, including links to other recipes.  This chocolate cake recipe uses mayonnaise as a substitute for eggs and oil.  Be sure and use a real mayonnaise brand such as Hellmann’s.  Start by assembling the ingredients, a mixing bowl, and an eight inch round baking pan.  The ingredients are:

  • I cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of real mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of cold water

All ingredients ready to be mixed together.

Before mixing the batter, spread a liberal coating of Crisco on the sides and bottom of the baking pan, place a small portion of flour in the pan and rotate up, down, and around to evenly coat the Crisco smeared area and dump out the remaining loose flour.  Once the baking pan is ready, place a sifter in a mixing bowl put in the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder and sift it all together.  To this dry pile of the sifted ingredients add the mayonnaise, water, and vanilla and mix it all together into a smooth batter.

Out of the oven and cooling.

Scrape the batter from the mixing bowl into the baking pan and spread it around until the thickness of the batter in the pan is more or less even.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, check that a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out without any crumbs sticking to it.  Let cool.  If you duplicate the recipe and bake two cakes you can make a layer cake with your favorite frosting.  I recommend cream cheese.  But we serve it as a single slice (an 8 inch cake can be divided into 10 reasonable portions, or 8 more generous slices) with a raspberry Cassis sauce over the top and freshly whipped cream.  To make the raspberry Cassis sauce, place about 2/3 cup of raspberry preserves in a small pan and add a couple of tablespoons of Creme de Cassis.  Heat while mixing together and spoon over plated slices of chocolate cake before adding a dollop or two of whipped cream.

Killington hosts another Downhill Throwdown. 3 Jun 2015, 4:57 pm

If you were staying at the October Country Inn next weekend, you would be in for a rare spectacle.  Daredevil skateboarders from around the world descend on Killington June 6, 7 & 8 for the second annual Throwdown freeride event.  Presented by Restless Longboards, this speed competition is a favorite for downhill skateboard and street luge competitors.  This steep downhill course covers the twists, and turns of the lower two miles of East Mountain Road.  Racers can reach speeds of 75 miles per hour.

Click on this YouTube video link to follow Sam Blais and Sam Davignon down the course.

This is the fastest course east of the Mississippi.  East Mountain Road is notoriously steep and very challenging to ride.  Over a hundred competitors from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Spain, and New Zealand are expected to compete in this event.    The Killington Downhill Throwdown is the first stop in this year’s Vermont International Downhill Federation Skate Week.  Part two is hosted by Burke Mountain on June 11 to 13.

Don’t miss the action.  Racing on East Mountain Road starts daily at 9:00am and ends at 5:30pm.  Of course, the road will be closed for the racing during this event from 8:00am to 6:00pm.  Get there early and get a good spot.  Passage up East Mountain Road between events will be allowed (approximately every 20 minutes) and the Killington Police Department will be directing traffic.  This is really exciting stuff to watch.  These skateboarders are very skillful and go very fast.  Don’t miss it.

 

 

Local Vermont Artists and Artesans Open Their Doors. 11 May 2015, 1:51 pm

The Woodstock Collective.

Over the recent decades, Vermont has emerged as the epicenter of the crafts revival in America.  We are fortunate here at the October Country Inn to be well placed within close proximity to many in this arts and crafts community.  Clear Lake Furniture produces hand-crafted heirloom quality hardwood furniture in a large barn in nearby Ludlow.  Walk to White Raven Drum Works in Bridgewater Corners for a wooden drum, flute, or didjeridu.  The Woodstock Collective, a twelve member cooperative craft gallery, features wearable, decorative and functional items.  Take home a white line woodcut by Hartland artist Marilyn Syme.

Meandering Wall for Walter. -M. Syme

Each Spring, the Vermont Crafts Council, with over 400 members, organizes a state-wide open studio weekend.  The 2015 Open Studio Weekend is scheduled for May 23 and 24.

Some local studios that are open include:

  • Deborah Falls for botanical paintings on silk.
  • Vermont Stone Design for benches, birdbaths, vases, lamps, and frames.
  • VanNatta Gallery for plein air oil paintings.
  • Rockledge Farm Woodworks for furniture and home accessories.
  • Robert O’Brien Watercolors for paintings and prints.
  • Tsuga Studios for decorative and functional blown glass.

If you’re more of a hands-on kind of person, you might want to check out the Fletcher Farm School for the Arts and Crafts in nearby Ludlow.

Table and chairs by Clear Lake Furniture.

The oldest arts and crafts school in Vermont, the Fletcher Farm School is operated by the Society of Vermont Artists and Craftsmen and committed to providing a quality arts and crafts education to keep old traditions alive as well as teach new techniques.

In any case, Spring has come to Vermont.  The grass is green, the trees are in leaf and blossom.  Enjoy Spring.  Come to the Woodstock Killington area and tour the work of local artists and artisans.  Time spent in Vermont, at the October Country Inn, is never wasted.

 

 

All of a sudden it’s Spring time in Vermont. 18 Apr 2015, 10:53 am

The Ottauquechee River runs full.

Around the October Country Inn, it seems like it happened in a matter of a week or so.  The trees were bare, the ground was covered in snow, and you’d want to have a jacket and hat on when outside.  Then the sun came out for a couple of days.  Snow on south-facing slopes began to recede.  The Ottauquechee River level began to rise, and start to run in a serious white-water kind of way.  Smoke began to pour from local sugar houses around the clock.  Then the robins show up.  All the signs are here.  Spring has come to our little corner of Vermont.

Bears are awake and hungry.

This is a quiet time of year.  Many call it “mud season,” as if to warn away downcountry visitors.  We, however, understand that we are about to witness one of mother nature’s truly remarkable transformations.  There will be a rebirth.  Look closely.  Bare limbs of trees and bushes push out new shoots and buds that will burst into flower and leaf.  Weird  looking mushrooms, and tiny green sprouts push aside the cover of last fall’s mulch of leaves.  Overhead, honking geese fly north.  You have to take the bird feeders down for a month or so because bears are awake and they are hungry.

A typical Vermont sugar house busily boiling down maple sap (notice sap bucket hanging in the foreground) to produce maple syrup.

It’s not like we have been shut-ins all winter long.  We enjoy winter, and look forward to the special kinds of activities having to do with snow.  But, when spring comes, it feels like we’ve been shut in all winter.  All of a sudden we just can’t wait to get outside.  Go for a walk without putting on the snowshoes.  It also kickstarts a new round of chores.  We have to get and stack a couple of cords of firewood so that it will be dry for next winter.  Change out the storm windows for screens.  Put up the rain gutters.  Before you know it the grass will need to be cut, the cover will have to come off the pool, and patio furniture and shade umbrellas will need to be set out.  We better get busy, but there’s really no hurry.

Vermont backcountry opens up for snowboarders. 24 Mar 2015, 4:50 pm

Earning your turns. A splitboard in tourning mode.

When the sun arcs low across the horizon, and snow covers the land, cross-country skiers have long had the extensive Vermont backcountry all to themselves.  No more.  The woods are now open to a fast growing segment of snowboarders–splitboarders.  Since the October Country Inn is conveniently surrounded by Vermont’s Green Mountains, and I don’t ski, but really enjoy snowboarding, I couldn’t resist it when I discovered a Burton Fish splitboard on sale at the nearby First Stop Ski Shop and Board Barn.  I was soon fully equipped with a splitboard, Spark RD Magneto bindings, and Sabertooth crampons, Voile climbing skins, Black Diamond collapsible poles, and a Burton splitboard specific backpack.

On the top. Splitboard halves ready to become a snowboard.

As things go, splitboards are pretty new.  It all started in Utah in the early 1990s when Brett “Cowboy” Kobernick’s buddy cut an old snowboard in half down the middle with a hand-held hacksaw and said “wouldn’t it be cool if we could somehow put these back together.”  It wasn’t long after that Cowboy, laid up from his ski resort job with an injury, took the two snowboard halves down to his basement, and used whatever he could find to put them back together.  Although crude in the extreme, Cowboy kept thinking about how to make it better.  He got Mark Wariakois, owner of Voile, a backcountry ski equipment company, to let him use the shop’s equipment.  The splitboard was born.  It took a while to catch on, but new lightweight bindings and hardware have made the modern splitboard mandatory for any powder loving snowboarder.

The turns you earned. The splitboard in snowboard mode.

I now count myself among the splitboard converts.  My first splitboard adventure was somewhat clumsy.  I stuffed my backpack with climbing skins, poles, Powerbars, and Gatorade, strapped on my Burton Fish, and took Killington’s Ramshead quad up the point short of peak where the chair ends.  I split the Fish into its halves, changed the bindings into  touring position, put on the climbing skins, assembled the poles, and began the half mile ascent to the top of Ramshead peak.  Although walking thorough the deep powder with the split skis was relatively easy, I soon discovered that when the grade got steep, I started sliding backwards.  It took a bit of experimenting, and not a little floundering, but I was able to get up the grade.  Note to self: investigate climbing technique.  It was a beautiful February day and I was really enjoying being alone on Killington’s Ramshead Peak during the middle of the day.  Once on top, a quick conversion, remove the climbing skins, put the halves back together, switch the bindings to snowboard mode, and enjoy the trip down in untracked powder.  It was a short trip but I’m hooked.

 

This is the year for a New England sleddin’ adventure. 19 Feb 2015, 5:42 pm

Snow is piling up around the October Country Inn.

We’re about half way through February and the snow continues to pile up around the October Country Inn.  Snow’s an important component if you like to play in it, and that’s what our Winter guests usually like to do.  Fortunately, the October Country Inn is perfectly situated.  Besides endless acres of public forestland, there are three downhill ski resorts, four nordic ski centers, and an ice skating rink all within a short drive.  October Country Inn is also situated close to a public snowmobile trail.  Many of our guests arrive on their snowmobile, stay the night, and have a hearty breakfast in the morning before getting back on the trails.

Riding snowmobiles, called “sleds” by enthusiasts, is a popular wintertime recreational activity.  There are 225,000 miles of groomed and marked snowmobile trails in the U.S. and Canada developed by volunteer clubs working with local government and private landowners.  In Vermont alone, there are over 5,000 miles in the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) trail network.  VAST, like similar organizations in other states and provinces, develops and maintains this trail network for all to enjoy.  All the trail networks of the various New England states and abutting Canadian provinces connect to each other and make long distance snowmobile touring a possibility.  And there are many that take advantage of this possibility.

October Country Inn is very near a snowmobile trail.

Just last Tuesday, we got a call from Mark.  He and his three buddies had ridden their snowmobiles from their homes in Connecticut, and were on their way to Canada.  They had taken a week off work for this adventure, and by the time they arrived at the October Country Inn Tuesday night they were more than half way there.   After a good nights sleep, a hearty country breakfast, and a quick trip to the local snowmobile shop for parts, they poured over their maps, picked their route, donned their snowmobile pants, jackets, and helmets and were on their way.  I’m sure they’ve reached Canada by now, or they are very close.  Like for Mark and his buddies, the possibilities are endless.  More than once, some hearty snowmobilers have made the trip from Alaska to northern Maine.  All you need is desire, a snowmobile, a sense of adventure, and lots of snow.  Stop at the October Counry Inn along the way.  We’ll take care of you.

Pico Mountain Ski Resort makes Winter fun available for everybody. 27 Jan 2015, 10:40 am

Alpine skiing for the blind.

All of the New England states except Vermont have declared a state of emergency in preparation for Winter storm Juno.  Here at the October Country Inn, we watch the snow fall with glee.  In Vermont, more snow means more fun, and fun in the snow is not limited to only those of us who are physically fit and functional.  You may be surprised that, with specialized equipment and/or techniques, snow skiing and snowboarding are being enjoyed by many disabled snowsports enthusiasts.  If you fall into this category, come to nearby Pico Mountain Ski Resort, home to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports.

Monoskis open up a whole new world for paraplegia.

Adaptive snowsports adapts equipment, instruction, and accessible support systems to allow snowsports enthusiasts with a wide range of physical, mental, or developmental disabilities to experience the freedom of skiing or snowboarding in the least restrictive manner possible. Vermont adaptive works with amputees, paraplegia, and quadraplegia; as well as those with visual or hearing impairment, autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Spina Bifida, stroke, or traumatic brain injuries.  Each lesson Vermont Adaptive teaches is tailored for the individual and equipment and teaching techniques are constantly changing and evolving as technology advances.

Founded in 1987, Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports has been located at Pico Mountain Ski Resort since 1999.  A new, state-of-the-art, 6,000 square foot facility has recently opened.  This new facility greatly expands Vermont Adaptive’s ability to offer adaptive ski and snowboard clinics at Pico Mountain for all ability levels.  Students may book lessons as individuals or as part of a group.  Family members or friends of the Vermont Adaptive students are invited to participate and, if interested, can learn the adaptation needed to help their skier or rider achieve as much independence as possible.  Clinics are by appointment only and include a lift ticket, private adaptive instruction, and adaptive equipment.  Call (802) 353-7584, or visit Vermont Adaptive at Pico Mountain Ski Resort.