Winter In Vermont

How to Survive Mud Season!

If you have been in Vermont over the last few weeks, you have likely seen cars that have turned brown, roads with closed signs, and everyone wearing rain boots. Even though it is spring, Vermonters know this time as mud season, one of Vermont’s extra seasons. It sounds awful, doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be!

   Photo taken by OkemoIf you are still in winter mode, you still have a few days to get some skiing in! Okemo plans to shut down this Sunday, April 14th. One of my favorite times of the year on the snow is in the spring. There aren’t any lift lines, the snow is usually great first thing in the morning, and you can get a killer goggle tan! If you are really brave, you can be one of the die hard skiers wearing shorts and a t-shirt on the hill on those beautiful 60 degree days! If you still aren’t ready to give up the snow, you can travel to Killington where they will be open typically into the end of May.

Another option is to jump on board with alpine touring, also known as skinning. This sport has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. It is not only a great workout, but an awesome way to beat the crowds in the heart of winter, or this time of year, take advantage of the snow still left on the mountain after closing. If you don’t have your own gear, check out The Boot Pro at the bottom of the Okemo Access Road, where they have a rental package that includes, boots, skis, skins, and poles! The staff themselves are also avid “skinners” and would be great people to talk to if you are interested in getting involved in the sport!

If you are anything like me and love the restaurants that Ludlow has to offer, the next couple of weeks are a great time to eat out. Not only are they usually less busy, but many of them shut down in the spring, typically right after Easter and open back up around Memorial Day. Some top choices to definitely check out are Stemwinder, Homestyle Hostel, and The Downtown Grocery!

If you are still looking for things to do, spend an afternoon at the Spring House at Jackson Gore, where you can use the fitness facility, take a dip in the pool, take a Zumba class, or play a game of racquetball! If you love yoga, take a variety of classes at Go With The Flow in the center of town. You can even get a massage to rejuvenate your mind and body after a long winter.

No matter what you are doing, be sure to stay active and enjoy all the sunshine you can get! Summer will be here before we know it!

Vermont Maple Open-House Weekend!

If you are a Vermonter, you know that Vermont has more than 4 seasons. One of our additional seasons, the best one in my opinion, is maple sugaring season! Since we have had such a cold and snowy winter, the Vermont sugaring season has been delayed. However, many Vermonters around the state are finally getting their trees tapped and have been able to start boiling! You know what this means, right? Fresh maple syrup!

Every year, all of the sugar houses in Vermont open their doors for the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend. This year, it is March 23-24th. Spend your Saturday or Sunday taking a drive to some of our favorite local sugar houses for yummy treats and to learn more about the sugaring process!

If you frequent our blog, you know that we are a huge fan of Green Mountain Sugar House, especially their maple creemees. This weekend, they will be open and offering complimentary sugar-on-snow, maple cream donuts, maple coffee, and maple milk! However, you shouldn’t leave without purchasing a maple creemee or a gallon of delicious maple syrup! They have started boiling, so hopefully you will be able to catch a glimpse of the action!

Another local favorite of ours is Papa John’s Sugar Shack! This is a small, family-owned operation, but you can tell that they put a lot of hear into what they do. They will be open for the Vermont Maple Open House weekend with many maple products to test, as well as waffles and with any luck, fresh maple syrup! This wonderful family loves teaching about how maple syrup is made, so make sure you take a tour of the sugar house!

If you have time, travel a bit further to Shrewsbury to Smith Maple Crest Farm for their open house. On Saturday, they are holding a pancake breakfast in support of the Shrewsbury Community Sharing Project, of course with their maple syrup. They will also have samples of maple syrup, sugar-on-snow, maple cotton candy for sale, and other refreshments. Keep your fingers crossed for good boiling weather and check out their boiling demo to learn more about making maple syrup!

If you want to find other sugar houses in Vermont or even if you just want to know more about how maple syrup is made, visit Vermont Maple! If you are looking for ideas on how to eat or drink maple syrup, check out last week’s blog for ideas!

Vermont Gold: Maple Syrup- Part 1

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Vermont? My answer is always MAPLE SYRUP! Because who doesn’t love syrup! Maple syrup is good on and in practically everything and for every meal.

    The obvious choice is to have maple syrup on pancakes or waffles. There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning and having someone cook you breakfast, especially when syrup is involved. Those fluffy pancakes and delicious waffles are the things that dreams are made of. Have you ever tried warming your maple syrup in the microwave before putting it on your breakfast? Let me tell you, there is nothing better! However, breakfast isn’t complete without a hot cup of coffee. Instead of sugar, try adding a little bit of maple syrup. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

    Maple syrup is also a necessity with lunch. Did you know that a ham and cheese sandwich goes GREAT with maple syrup? I know, sounds strange, right? This isn’t an ordinary ham and cheese sandwich though, it’s a monte cristo. The bread is actually french toast, with warm ham and melted cheese. This sounds delicious already, but to top it off, you dip the sandwich in maple syrup. This makes the perfect brunch meal!

    You also can’t go wrong with incorporating maple syrup into your dinner either. A very “Vermont” thing to do is simply to have breakfast for dinner, so you can double up on those pancakes and waffles, or dive into some eggs with maple breakfast sausage. However, there are so many options for adding maple syrup into your dinner or even substituting it as a healthier option than granulated sugar! I like using maple syrup in stir fry or in my recipes for slow cooker meatballs.

    Last, but most definitely not least, is dessert! Obviously maple syrup and dessert go hand-in-hand. One of the easiest choices is vanilla ice cream with maple syrup. I know it sounds simple, but it is the best combination. If you want to get really fancy you could try maple creme brulee or maple cheesecake. You can even make it a healthy dessert by roasting bananas with maple syrup and cinnamon!

    Now, to be a true Vermonter, you must have sugar on snow, which is good any time of the day. Here’s how: Heat syrup and butter in a pot on the stove (about 1 quart of syrup per stick of butter). Make sure you watch it carefully and stir regularly. You will need a thermometer because when the syrup reaches 234 degrees fahrenheit, it is ready to be poured over the snow. Poor it slowly and carefully. If the syrup sits on top of the snow, it’s ready! Peel it off and enjoy!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how syrup is made and where to get it in the Okemo Valley! In the meantime, let us know your favorite way to have maple syrup!

 

Ski Season is Coming to an End, but the Fun Doesn't Have to Stop!

Is your driveway getting muddy? Do you notice that daylight lasts into the evening now? Have you seen more signs of wildlife? Well, we are sorry to tell you that all of these are signs that spring is on its way. However, don’t fret because there are still a lot of fun things to enjoy before the snow disappears!

Start this weekend off right and join us for some apres ski at the Sitting Bull with music by Sam Blanchette! This is the last night of the Winter Music Series, so you don’t want to miss out! However, we will be back this summer with more music during the Summer Concert Series at Jackson Gore!

Also, this weekend, check out Mardi Gras in the Mountain! Okemo is hosting a Mardi Gras parade at the Clocktower base area on Saturday, March 9th, from 1-3pm. Do you want to know the best part? You get to dress up in your best carnivale costume and walk in the parade! Wear the best costume and you could win the title of King or Queen of Mardi Gras. There will be live music and of course, Mardi Gras wouldn’t be complete without a bead toss!

Did we say that you had to wait until summer for more music? Surprise! We are sponsoring Sugar Daze, the end of winter season outdoor concert at Jackson Gore on March 16th, 3:30-8:30pm. This year’s concert is being held in the Jackson Gore Courtyard where there will be a beer garden and food!

Continue the fun next weekend by taking part in the St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Scavenger Hunt on Okemo! There will be shamrocks hidden on the trails for you to find when you are skiing or boarding. All you have to do is get the shamrock and bring it to resort services to claim your prize! Obviously, to make things more fun, wear your favorite green outfit on the hill!

The fun continues into the weekend of March 23rd with the ‘80s Retro Jam on Bull Run at Okemo! Here is another chance to dress up, but this time in your best neon colors and acid-washed jeans, and show off your best skills on the rails. Registration begins at 1pm and is free to anyone dressed in rad 80s fashion! If you aren’t into competing, make sure you take a break from skiing or boarding to go watch the competition!

Make sure you don’t give up on winter too soon because Hops On The Snow is happening on March 30th in the Jackson Gore Courtyard! There is nothing better than taking advantage of the spring ski conditions, getting a goggle tan, and enjoying some tasty brews and barbeque!

Last but not least, the final winter event of the season is the annual Slush Cup at Jackson Gore! This event is SO much fun whether you are a competitor or watching! Those who compete dress up in wacky costumes and attempt to ski or board across an 80 foot man-made slush pond. We are also sponsoring Splash for Cash again, so when the Slush Cup ends, test your luck trying to grab the cash dangling in the air at the beginning of the pond! Full disclosure, you will get wet :)

So, even though the winter season is winding down, don’t forget about all of the fun events in March and April! And just think about those killer goggle tans you can get on those bluebird days!

We LOVE our Local Ski Shops!

Have you ever heard the expression, “A little town with a big skiing problem?” Well, to us, skiing and snowboarding certainly take a priority in our lives and we are very thankful to live in such an amazing place where we can do what we love on a regular basis. However, we couldn’t be up on the hill without our gear from our favorite ski shops!

If you are looking for a shop close to Okemo, check out The Boot Pro Ski Shop right at the bottom of the Okemo Access Road. This is a family run shop, owned by a lifetime resident of Ludlow, which is very evident in the family-like vibe that the shop portrays. Not only are the owners knowledgeable after working in the ski industry throughout their entire careers, but they also have an impeccable team working with them. The Boot Pro offers a lovely selection of outdoor gear including clothing, helmets/goggles, skis, and boots. They provide tuning services, as well as demos. A new and exciting venture of theirs is Alpine Touring and if you haven’t tried this for yourself, head into the shop to demo some touring gear!

Another local favorite and family-owned shop is Totem Pole Ski Shop, which is actually the oldest family run ski shop in Vermont! This is one of the most popular shops for winter sport competitors, including many of our local Okemo Mountain School athletes. Not to mention, they have worked with Olympic athletes, as well! Needless to say, they are great at what they do. Not only does Totem Pole have great gear to demo and sell, they also do a killer tune job on skis and boards. However, if you are just visiting the Okemo Valley, they have an awesome rental shop where they can get you set up for a weekend on the hill! They also have a great selection of clothing and one of the best souvenir selections in town!

On the other side of town is Northern Ski Works, which has been a staple in Ludlow for a very long time. Northern Ski Works is known for boot fitting with a Certified Pedorthist on staff, along with a knowledgeable team with backgrounds in ski instructing, racing, and coaching. Northern is also one of the best places to go for ski clothing, carrying a wide variety of brands including Descente, Nils, Kuhl, and much more! Again, if you are coming to Okemo for a weekend getaway, Northern also does ski rentals and demos!

So, if you are looking to join in on the fun that we Vermonters have on the hill, make sure you check out our favorite local shops to get set up and on the hill in no time!

President's Week in the Okemo Valley

Wow, can you believe it is the middle of February already?! Winter is flying by, so don’t miss your chance to experience one of the best weeks in the Okemo Valley!

To start your weekend off right, join us on Friday evening at the Sitting Bull for live music from one of our local favorites, Sam Blanchette! This is the perfect setting to unwind from an awesome day on the hill. If you miss us on Friday, come back on Saturday because Lustre Kings will be in the house! Even better, if you loved Sam Blanchette on Friday, come back on Sunday because he will be back! We are also sponsoring music on February 18th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd.

To keep the party rolling, check out the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks at Okemo at 6pm on Saturday. This is an Okemo tradition that you do not want to miss. There will be a parade of skiers and snowboarders led by torchlight or join in a snowshoe adventure with Vermont Properties Real Estate Agent, Joe Karl, for a slopeside view of the fireworks and parade.

After the parade, check out the Okemo Mountain School Winter Festival at Willie Dunn’s. This is a fundraiser event for our local winter academy and is open to the public. There is a tasting of beer and wine, along with complimentary appetizers donated by local restaurants. While you are eating, drinking, and mingling, check out a large assortment of silent auction items including a Fondue Party for 10 at Stemwinder, a Pasta Making & Wine Tasting Class at Mama’s, or a Cocktail Class for 4 at Main & Mountain! Get your tickets in advance here!

If you are looking for something to do on Sunday evening, head to Jackson Gore to see Sylvia the Ventriloquist. This is a free event and fun for the whole family! After the show, head outside to the Jackson Gore Courtyard firepit and make a s’more!

On Tuesday, VINS (Vermont Institute of Natural Science) is doing a free presentation for families at Jackson Gore. The presentation includes a raptor encounter with live falcons, hawks, and owls. Learn more about these fascinating creatures, while admiring their beauty. If you like what you see, you can visit VINS in Quechee, Vermont.

By Wednesday, you might be in need of a parents night out! Join us at Jackson Gore for Paint & Sip that includes the paint, a canvas, brushes, and an apron! You don’t need to be an expert because a local artist will guide you every step on the way! To register, click here!

Do you like to dance? Do you like to ice skate? If you answered yes to both questions, then we know where you need to be on Thursday evening! Check out the Shake N’ Skate at the Jackson Gore Ice House for ice skating with a live DJ and games. This is a fun event for all ages! If you need some practice before the event, head to the Ice House throughout the week to practice your best moves!

On Friday, take a break from the slopes to check out the Vermont Specialty Food Tour. There will be an assortment of Vermont food and drinks at the Jackson Gore Base Area. This is a great chance to try local Vermont products and find your favorites to purchase and bring home with you!

With President’s Week coming to an end, it would be a great time to check out some of our local shops and restaurants. Remember, it is a busy weekend, so if you are looking to go out to dinner, be sure to make reservations! Check out some of our other blogs for ideas on where to go and what to do in the Okemo Valley!

Valentine's Day in the Okemo Valley!

Ladies and gentleman, Valentine’s Day is just days away! You know what that means, don’t you? You better make plans for that special someone in your life! Don’t worry, Ludlow has plenty of options!

What better way to start your Valentine’s Day than with a few runs on Okemo! Nothing says romance like a ride up the bubble chair with your favorite someone. Better yet, Okemo is setting the mood for Valentine’s Day with a scavenger hunt on the slopes. Ski or ride around the mountain to find “hidden” red hearts along the trails. If you find one, return it to guest services for a prize!

My perfect Valentine’s Day includes a homemade meal at home, which makes for a great way to end your day after hitting the slopes. The way to my heart is most definitely through a Singleton’s steak and their “to die for” loaded baked potato. Don’t forget to pick up a delicious dessert from one of the Okemo Valley’s bakeries! Check out last week’s blog for more ideas on the perfect sweet treat for you and your Valentine!

However, if you are looking for a romantic dinner out on the town, the Okemo Valley has many options for you! A great option that is sure to impress your significant other is dining at The Echo Lake Inn. They are hosting Saint Valentine’s Specials with a delicious four course meal with champagne for the evening. Make it a Valentine’s Day you will never forget and splurge on getting a room for the night in one of the inn’s cozy rooms.

Another option with a special Valentine’s Day dinner and rooms is The Castle Hill Resort & Spa. The Castle frequently runs winter specials for lodging that include spa and dinner packages perfect for a romantic evening. After hitting the slopes, enjoy the afternoon getting a massage and a dip in the outdoor heated pool or hottub, followed by a delicious gourmet dinner.

If The Echo Lake Inn and The Castle Hill Resort & Spa aren’t your style, checkout one of our other local restaurants for a Valentine’s Day meal. Some of my personal favorites are The Downtown Grocery, Stemwinder, Homestyle Hostel, and Sam’s Steakhouse. Even if they don’t have a special Valentine’s Day menu, I promise you and your sweetheart won’t be disappointed!

For the perfect ending to the perfect day, head to Main & Mountain for a nightcap. Their delicious house cocktails are certainly made with love, but if you prefer beer or wine, they have one of the best selections in town!

Happy Valentine's Day from our Vermont Properties team!

 

Nothing Says Vermont like a SNOW DAY!

    The internet is inundated with information regarding winter storm, Harper, that is coming to New England this weekend and it looks like Vermont is going to get the best of it! On any given weather channel, the Okemo Valley is projected to get between 18 inches and 3 feet of snow before Monday. Nothing says Vermont like a snow day and we already have your whole day planned for you!

    Since the snow is supposed to start Saturday evening, that means there is bound to be EPIC powder Sunday morning. Even though it is a snow day, that doesn’t mean you should sleep in. You know the old saying, “The mountains are calling and I must go”? Well, Okemo will certainly be calling your name and you are going to want to get the first tracks of the day! If you are an experienced skier, make sure to take advantages of the woods trails because they aren’t always in prime condition. My favorite place to ski on powder days is on the South Side, playing in knee deep snow on Loose Spruce and Forest Bump. However, if you aren’t as experienced, don’t worry, every trail on Okemo will be in excellent condition on Sunday.

    We all know that powder skiing or snowboarding can take a lot out of us, so if you aren’t able to stay on the mountain all day, that’s okay. Some of the best snow day activities can be had from the comforts of your own home. So, spend the morning at Okemo and then go home to relax in the afternoon. Before you do, make sure you stop at the store and get hot chocolate and maple syrup, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

    Once you are home, get into some comfy clothes, make that hot chocolate (add some Baileys), and if you are lucky, curl up in front of your fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, find the coziest blanket you have and find the best spot on the couch. Turn on Netflix and find a movie or that TV show you have been waiting to binge watch. Spend a couple hours relaxing and warming up from your morning on the hill.

    Don’t spend too long though, because that snow is still calling your name. When is the last time you built a snowman? I am here to tell you that you are NEVER too old to play in the snow. Get on your snow gear and head outside. You can drag along your family or friends and see who can build the best snowman, or make it a team effort to make one giant snowman.

    Before you head inside, find some clean snow because you must make Maple Sugar on Snow! Recruit someone to go inside and heat up maple syrup on the stove until it reaches 235 degrees, while the other person fills a pan with hard packed snow. Once you reach the correct temperature, drizzle it over the snow and enjoy this legendary Vermont treat.

    If you are still looking for fun filled activities to do on your snow day, you should pull out those old dusty board games or card games. We know life is usually too busy to do this, so take the time to enjoy a game or two with family or friends. I will also be spending the afternoon in the hot tub because nothing is more magical than sitting in a hot tub in a snowstorm.

    What is the best thing about snowstorm Harper? Well, it falls on a holiday weekend! Which means, you get to wake up Monday morning and repeat all of your favorite snow day activities! Please share your favorite things to do in a snowstorm with us!

What do Do in the Okemo Valley if You Don't Ski or Snowboard

Even though we live in a mountain town, we know that not everyone enjoys skiing or snowboarding. Yes, we always push people to enjoy the gorgeous mountain of Okemo in our backyard, but do not worry, there is still plenty to do in Ludlow if you do not like winter sports!

Ludlow is the home of many well-known restaurants with something for everyone! If you are looking for a morning or afternoon out on the town, while your friends or family are skiing, there are plenty of places to choose from. For breakfast, head into Proctorsville to Vermont Apple Pie. This adorable country kitchen serves only homemade food, including a personal favorite, the Apple Crisp Waffle. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like; apple crisp on a waffle, yum! For other breakfast choices, check out The Hatchery or Cafe at Delight. If you enjoy a morning at your home or hotel, curled up with coffee in front of the fireplace, then you could check out the several delicious lunch options that Ludlow has to offer. If you are looking for a sandwich, look no further than Java Baba’s, a popular cafe at the bottom of the Okemo Access Road. If you are craving Italian, head to Mama’s for a delicious calzone or homemade pasta, both of which will make you feel like you are in Italy. If you want a to-go option, you must try The Cookster. The Cookster offers a new menu everyday of homemade items that will make your mouth water as soon as you see them!

While you are out, you should check out some of the little shops around town. One of my favorites is The Blue Sky Trading Post, an adorable shop with a variety of items. You can find local souvenirs or beautiful handcrafted jewelry. I promise, you won’t be able to leave empty handed. Right down the road on Depot Street, you will find the Wine & Cheese Depot, The Depot Street Gallery, and Russ Hurlburt Photography Studio & Gallery. All of these shops are unique and truly show the essence of Vermont. You should also take a ride on Route 100 North to the Green Mountain Sugar House, where you can get the best maple creemee around and take a look in their gift shop filled with Vermont products.

If you are looking to do something active, but don’t enjoy skiing or snowboarding, there are a lot of options! You could take a yoga class at Go With the Flow, who offers classes for all levels and a variety of class types. If you want to stay on the mountain, The Jackson Gore Fitness Center also offers a variety of classes, a gym, and a pool. If you want to stick with the winter theme of being in a mountain town, the Okemo Valley Golf Course becomes a Nordic Center and offers trails for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The trails give you some of the best views of Okemo and are always well groomed and maintained. Another option is to check out the Ice House at Jackson Gore and enjoy an afternoon or morning of ice skating.

So, if you do not ski or snowboard, that’s okay! There is plenty for everyone to do in Ludlow. If you are looking for other ideas, do not hesitate to reach out! We are always willing to help you experience the Okemo Valley in a way that matches your likes and need!

 

Vermont Properties Gives Back!

In case you can’t tell, the team at William Raveis Vermont Properties loves our community! With that, we think it is extremely important to give back. As you probably know, Ludlow is a very small town and sometimes there isn’t a lot to do. So, our way of giving back is sponsoring fundraising events for local organizations within our community. This winter, join us for any and all of our upcoming events!

Mario the Magician
Join us on Saturday, January 5th, for Mario the Magician, at the Okemo Base Lodge. This is an interactive magic show for the whole family! We sponsor the event for OMARA, a non-profit booster club that supports athletes in the Okemo Competition Center programs and Okemo Mountain School. These athletes compete in alpine racing, freestyle, or snowboarding, all of which are extremely costly to run. OMARA lends a helping hand in administrative, logistical, and financial areas to support these programs. Come out and enjoy a fun family night and support OMARA!

Cocktails for Scholarships
Join us on Saturday, January 26th, for Cocktails for Scholarships at ePic on Okemo. This is a great apres ski event, geared towards adults. There is live music by the Myra Flynn Band, free appetizers, and a cash bar. We sponsor this event to benefit Okemo Mountain School, our local non-profit winter academy for skiers and snowboarders. The school supports a rigorous academic curriculum while providing an intense on-snow training schedule. The school is quite costly, so we have sponsored the Cocktails for Scholarships event, dedicated in raising money for athlete scholarships to attend OMS. Don’t miss this great event with live music and support the OMS student-athletes!

Vermonte Carlo
Join us on Saturday, February 9th, for Vermonte Carlo at the Roundhouse at Jackson Gore. This is a fun casino night with a Vermont spin! There will be free appetizers and a cash bar. Vermonte Carlo is another fundraiser to benefit OMARA.

 

 

Comedy Night
Join us on Saturday, March 2nd, for Comedy Night at Okemo’s Base Lodge. This year’s comedian is the “wicked funny”, Bob Marley! This is one of the most popular events of the season and is always a fun night out. Again, we sponsor this event to benefit OMARA.

 

 

We hope to see you at some of our events in the new year!