Wind: 7 mph
By John Rausch
To the Mad River Valley Chamber and members:
I wanted to sit down and write you a note on how much my family and I enjoyed our fabulous summer vacation in the Mad River Valley this year. As you know, I was the winner of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce Summer Sweepstakes. When I first received the call I thought I had won a tee-shirt or gift certificate to a restaurant. How wrong I was.
We arrived on Sunday evening and checked in at The Bridges, where we were able to take advantage of the beautiful indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts and fitness room.
Monday we met up with you and began to plan our week. I know it was challenging for you, but thanks for all your efforts. We spent a good portion of that day at the river, did some fishing and spent the last part of the afternoon at the pool. For dinner we went out to Timbers at Sugarbush with all four children. What a treat it was for them and our dinner was delicious. We spent some time after dinner near Timbers and the Gate House Lodge enjoying the swings, beautiful gardens and priceless views.
Tuesday had us up to the airport where my wife Jennifer and oldest son Luke were treated to a glider ride from Sugarbush Soaring on a warm and very clear Vermont morning. Gail helped us line all that up, John drove their tow plane, and Carl was the glider pilot. We stayed to relish their rides and had lunch at the Diner Soar where Tom gladly made the kids pancakes for lunch. We spent the rest of that afternoon at the pool.
Wednesday morning, Jen and the kids all went to the gardening class at the Gate House Lodge. They learned about some vegetables and how to build trellises for the plants to climb on. That afternoon's highlight was a horseback ride at the Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm on North Fayston Road. Karen has a scenic farm there with numerous dedicated ladies to take care of the horses and visitors. Luke, Rebecca and I took a one-hour ride up into the woods and back. The horses were beautiful, spirited and cooperative. A very unique experience for all of us, made even more exciting by a little thunder and rain. We spent more time at the pool that afternoon and had a terrific dinner at The Common Man later that evening. Keith took great care of us. So much so that we did not have room for dessert.
Thursday morning we met Susan and Peter, the owners of the West Hill House Bed and Breakfast. What a lovely inn/home they have. They could not have been happier to have us and along with a tasty waffle breakfast, we had a full tour of the inn and made some new friends consisting of four humans and two cats. Jen went for a massage after breakfast at Mad River Massage, which left her very happy and relaxed.
I took all of the kids up to Sugarbush where we played a full round of disc golf on the base course. What fun we had. It was like a hike but with some strategy. We learned that it's real important to keep your eye on where your disc lands. We had a (very) late lunch, and Jen and Marie went to visit Luke, aka "The Naked Potter," at Wilder Farm Inn. They actually made pottery out of clay! It was messy but they both thought it was great fun. Of course, Marie wants to go again. The rest of the family went back to The Bridges pool. As an added bonus, our youngest son Harrison learned to swim that week due to all his time in the water. For dinner that evening, we went off to the Corn Roast and Family Dance at Lareau Farm/American Flatbread. Another great day!
Friday morning we were back with Peter and Susan at the West Hill House for a second delicious breakfast. Again we were treated like special guests even though we were dressed in our bathing suits. They worked around our busy schedule to have us filled up so we could get to Clearwater Sports and prepare for our family kayak trip on the Winooski River. After a short drive, we arrived at the river and set off for a three-hour paddle downstream. We stopped for lunch, jumped off (very high) rocks, swam in the river, went through some rapids and were taught how to go upstream through the rapids (some made it, some got wet).
We saw a fox, frogs, fish and an osprey carrying his lunch in the form of a very large fish. Kim, Jesse and Tyler took great care of us and made all of us feel very comfortable and relaxed. We appreciate Bev Kehoe and Resort Guides for helping to make the paddling adventure possible for our family of six. Later that afternoon we actually spent more time at The Bridges pool.
Saturday was our last full day. Everyone knows how that feels. We tried to beat the blues by going on the zip line, riding our mountain bikes from the top of Sugarbush, and drowning our sorrows in the pools and the Mad River. Sunday we headed home. We were so busy we were not able to take advantage of our dinner at Terra Rossa and some other activities at Sugarbush. Fortunately for us everyone agreed that we could take advantage of those few remaining prizes at a later date.
Jen and I have been going up to The Valley and Sugarbush for over 20 years. We've always known that we had found a special place that we take every opportunity to share with family and friends. It was not until our special week that we learned what the real hidden gem in that slice of Vermont is. We realized that everyone we came in contact with had a great passion for something. That passion varies from skiing, water sports, biking, pottery, art, gardening, flying, flowers, food, beer, wine. . . you get the picture. Everyone was so happy to share their passion with us, it felt like we were part of a great community. A great Valley. We can't thank you enough for giving us this opportunity of a lifetime. We will share our experiences and continue to share our/your special Valley with others.
John Rausch and family live in Mendon, Massachusetts, and recently won the Chamber's summer raffle featuring a week in The Valley.