Monday, August 24, 2015

Yes, We Were!

So at the end of last week, we were seemingly at the end of the road on the Green Mountain Adventure Challenge.  We had three clues and no idea what to do with them.  We refused to be defeated, so we made a reservation to return to the Grey Ghost Inn and headed to West Dover for one last try.

We had three clues to review and at two of the places we found something we had not seen before (with a little help from a local).  We hopped in the car and began to drive around trying to make sense of what we had.  Suddenly I saw a phone number in the clue that led us to a local shop.

When we got there they informed us that they were not part of the challenge.  Seeing our dejected faces, the person at the register gave us a crash course in something that I will explain after August 31.  Armed with new skills, we hurried back to our inn and with 2 tablets, an iPhone, and paper and pen, we puzzled out our next stop.  Our innkeeper kindly confirmed our suspicion and directed us to the trailhead.

We started to hike, but after reaching the second locked gate on the trail, I called Carina, our innkeeper.  She assured us we were on the right trail, so we trudged on.  Forty-five minutes later my phone rang - it was Carina checking our progress.  We told her we thought we were almost there, but if we didn't return that night, she should call the cavalry.  A few minutes later we reached our destination - almost.  Now a swim was involved, but we didn't have swimsuits and I wasn't comfortable swimming that distance with or without a swimsuit.  DH gamely emptied his pockets, took off shirt and shoes and waded in.  He swam the distance easily and then disappeared into the woods for what seemed like a long time.  He reappeared and swam back to describe what he found.

Excited, we hiked back to the trailhead in the increasing darkness and then sped off to the place where it all began to report our success.  Our hopes were dashed when we were told we were in the wrong place and, that if we had really figured it out, we would know it.  We went back to out inn for dry clothes for DH and then had some dinner.  We were exhausted.  We had hiked 7 miles and had nothing to show for it.

We rose early and met several other adventurers at breakfast.  Two couples were stuck on the first clue, so we helped them out.  One couple hadn't even picked up the first clue yet and the last couple had hiked right past the spot in clue #2 and had to go back and hike again.  It's fun to meet other people doing the challenge but, unfortunately, they had no hints for us. We traveled to the next town to check for clues and were told we needed numbers that were on a tree.  We rented a canoe to recheck the spot DH had visited the day before.  Perhaps two sets of eyes would make a difference.

It was 5 miles of canoeing before we reached the spot; it was a much shorter trip on foot!  We checked out the spot that DH had found, but didn't find anything new.  Then I checked the information on my iPhone.  We moved a few yards away trying to find the exact location and DH saw it - not on the tree but underneath it.  It had been removed and placed on the ground.  We took some photos and stopped for a snack and water, trying to decide what to do next.  Just as we were going to leave I decided to go back for one more picture.  On the way something clicked.  I used some charcoal from a nearby fire pit to enhance the clue and confirmed my idea.  DH appeared minutes later; I told him and he concurred.

We canoed the five miles back and then waited at the launching area as we watched what my father always referred to as "The Laugh-in."  A family of 6 or 7 blocked the ramp as they argued over who would take which canoe or kayak (they had two canoes, 3 kayaks and a wave).  They were totally oblivious to anyone else trying to use the ramp, including people launching powerboats and jet skis with vehicles and us - DH with the wheels for our canoe and me holding onto our canoe far from the ramp.  Finally the father noticed that there were other people waiting and they took off.

It was well past lunch time when we finally got on the road again.  I continued to play with the clue as we drove.  Now I had two parts, but something was leftover.  We went back to a favorite restaurant for lunch armed with my phone, paper and two pens.  DH agreed with the first two parts, but what did the rest mean?  Suddenly the light dawned - I tested my idea and we got the final clue.  We celebrated as we finished our lunch and immediately took off for the last spot.  We completed our task and we were heading home.  Mission accomplished!

Now if you come back on September 1st, I'll tell you the clues and the answer.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Up to the Challenge?

Since DH and I have decided to remain in Vermont rather than moving south, we have begun to take advantage of the many interesting things to do here.  A few months ago, I saw an ad for the Green Mountain Adventure Challenge.  I had heard of it before, but we had never tried it.  It's a combination of puzzles and outdoor activities that takes place in and around West Dover, VT.  There is are cash prizes and and an equal amount of money goes to charity.  If you'd like to know more about it, use this link:

We purchased a package that included the tickets for the challenge, lodging for two nights, breakfast, a bag lunch, water bottles, t-shirts and a backpack - not a bad haul.  We left the date open so that we could have two consecutive clear days for the excursion.

Finally we had a stretch of clear weather, so we made our plans.  Upon arrival at our lodge,  we were advised to go directly to the West Dover Inn to start our quest.  We collected all our swag, a crayon and our first clue.  The innkeeper instructed us to go into the parlor to find some helpful information. Now I can't tell you everything about the challenge until September 1 since it is ongoing until August 31, but I can tell you that we spent a lot of time at the inn before we realized that we were holding the clue and what we found in the parlor told us how to use it.  Back at our lodging we continued to puzzle over the clue, until a couple from Massachusetts assured us that we were on the right track and, with my iPad, the answer would be clear.  They were right and we were off to gather the second clue.

Since it was late in the day and the next clue required some hiking, we decided to wait until the morning to continue.  Another quick check with our new friends the next morning and we were off.  We hiked around for a while with no success until we heard someone calling his partner.  We took a chance following his voice too and, sure enough, he was right where we needed to be.  They didn't know what they were looking for but we did, so we shared the information.  We took pictures to prove that we had found it and they gave us a hint for the next part of the hunt.  We continued on and searched and searched and searched.  Just when we were about to give up, DH found it.  We snapped a picture and we were off to get clue number 3.

We returned to the West Dorset Inn and presented the photos to prove that we had completed clue number 2.  The innkeeper told us to meet him in the parking lot behind the inn.  We had seen two targets there the night before and, no surprise, the innkeeper arrived with a bow and arrows.  We had five arrow for one of us had to hit the target or pay $5.00 for another 5 arrows until we did hit it.  (The money would go to charity.) DH hit the target on the third try, so we got the third clue. 

We studied the clue over over lunch and realized it meant driving to a nearby town to find some locations.  After some math, we were pretty sure that we knew where to go next.  Once again it was late afternoon and hiking was involved, so we decided to wait until the next morning.  Our innkeeper assured us that we knew the right location.  Progress seem slow and we only had one day left to our stay. We made it an early night to get on the road first thing the next morning.

We met our new friends from Massachusetts at breakfast and they were happy to report they had completed the expert level easily.  Unfortunately, that's all they shared.  We said good bye and headed off on our hike.  The view was beautiful, so we snapped the required photo (along with one of each of us) and headed back to town.  When we presented our photo we were informed that we had completed the first level. Woohoo, we were eligible for the prize drawing for level one.  We were determined to finish the expert level as well, so we accepted our next clue.

We thought that the next three clues seemed fairly straight forward, but we had a little trouble finding the middle one.  We were helped by a family from Connecticut whose daughter found it immediately.  We got to the third stop as the family was leaving the parking lot, giving us a thumbs up as they passed.  Yes, this was going to be a piece of cake.  I went in and studied the clue and came back to the car to tell DH I had no idea what it meant.  He went in and came back out without any idea either.  We sat in the car and googled what we knew - no luck.  Suddenly the Connecticut family was back.  We followed them in and we all stood around looking confused.  A local came over and asked if we had all the parts we needed.  It seems there was something in the first two clues we had missed.  The daughter had photos of the first two clues on her phone and we thought we saw what we had missed.  They raced to their car and took off.  We continued to puzzle over what we knew with no inspiration.  We decided to head home and think about it.  We have until August 31 and it's only a 2 hour trip.  To be continued...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Getting Ready for Winter

We heat our house with a woodstove.  Well, I guess that depends on your definition of “heat.”  The woodstove in the kitchen comfortably heats the kitchen and family room on the coldest days, but the rest of the house can only be considered cool or downright cold on very cold days.  Since the two of us really spend most of our time in the kitchen and family room it works for us.  A down quilt keeps us warm at night and a small electric heater in the master bath, so we really don’t need to keep the rest of the house warm.

Heating with wood means we need three or four cords of wood each year.  We have a woodlot that will someday be a hunting camp, so DH cuts and blocks the trees there and trucks them home.  Then he splits them (with a log splitter, not by hand) in the driveway and then the wood needs to be stacked on the side of the house.  That’s where I come in - I love to stack the wood.  Really, I do.  Last year because of rotator cuff surgery and warnings from the surgeon, PT and my trainer, I left the stacking to DH.  This year my shoulder is in top form, so let the stacking begin.

I make sure that I am wearing my heart rate monitor and my Fitbit.  That way I know how many calories I burn and how many steps I take.  I start with all of the rejects.  DH makes sure that all of the logs are 16-inches long - the perfect length for our woodstove.  Anything that doesn’t make the cut is relegated to the island of misfit logs.  No stacking required - they are just tossed in a pile to use in the beginning of the season when small fires are needed.

The stacking area was swept and ready to go.  I move the wood by wheelbarrow load and start stacking.  The uniform length of the logs makes it easier to keep a nice neat line.  We worked for several hours on the first day and I made a good start on the first row.  I wondered how many loads I moved, but I hadn’t kept count.  All I know is I burned enough calories to have a glass of sangria at dinner at the local Italian restaurant.  

The second day started with breakfast at a new cafe in Hinesburg - French toast and bacon - yum.  Then back to work.  This time I added my knitting row counter to my equipment repertoire on Fitbit and heart rate monitor.  I needed to know how many loads of wood I moved.  

Four hours, 35 loads and 1000 calories later, this was the day’s progress.

There’s still a lot more wood to split and stack, but that’s okay - I still love stacking it (and the calories I burn doing it).

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Reminder

Twenty-seven years ago, my mother-in-law passed away on Christmas Day.  From the time my first child was born, she had presented each of the grandchildren with an ornament for Christmas.  When she was gone, I continued the tradition, choosing appropriate ones for my sons each Christmas - a tooth with a little mouse dentist when DS2 thought he might want to be a dentist, ski and bike ornaments for DS1, soccer and baseball for DS2 and EMT and nursing ornaments for DS1, and so it goes.  

This year is sort of a low key celebration.  Neither of my sons could make it for Christmas Day and, without any grandchildren, the time of shopping for just the right toy or electronics has long passed.  DH and I did a little shopping, but we forgot the ornaments, despite reminding each other about the tradition.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, with the baking and decorating finished, I sat at the piano practicing.  There was no one else in the room with me and we no longer have any pets.  There were certainly no drafts in the room.  Suddenly I heard a tinkling of ornaments from the tree.  There was absolutely no explanation for it, but it suddenly reminded me that we had forgotten to buy ornaments.  I called the Christmas Loft and they were still open.  We jumped in the car and sped off to buy them as we traditionally did.  I felt as if my mother-in-law had sent me a reminder.  

That night, at the Christmas Eve service, a member of the choir sang “Ave Maria” for the first time in the twenty some odd years that we have attended Trinity Church.  It was the one piece that my mother-in-law had requested at her funeral.  Both DH and I sat there with tears rolling down our faces as we thought of her with love (and a thank you for the reminder).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What Happens While You're Sleeping

So do you ever wonder what you cat(s) do while you are sleeping?  Well, I’ve found the answer to that question and all you need is a skein of yarn.
Two weeks ago I had rotator cuff surgery and our two four-month-old kittens have been shut out of our bedroom because of all the cords involved with my cryo-cuff and TENS unit (both of them love to chew cords) and to keep them from jumping on me when I was trying to sleep.  They have been annoyed at being excluded and last night they let us know.
DH got up early to take the kittens to the vet to be neutered and spayed and informed me that they had gotten into some yarn.  I’ve been keeping my yarn out of reach or in covered container because they love to play with it.  However, unbeknownst to me, there was skein of yarn that I had brought home from my mom’s when we emptied her apartment 4 years ago (See blog entry for July 8, 2008 to lean more about this yarn.) stuffed in the bottom of the basket on the stairs.
When I came downstairs, I followed the yarn, rewinding it.  It started in the basket, went through the dining room and the kitchen into the family room where it was wrapped around DH’s computer chair.  From there it went back through the kitchen and the dining room and around one the legs of my spinning wheel.  Next to my spinning wheel was a tangled mass of yarn.  The yarn maze continued around one leg of the newspaper holder and then on into the guest room.  It went under the bed (where there was another tangled lump of yarn) and back out the same side of the bed.  Then it went over the top of the bed (another large tangle right in the middle of the bed) and down the other side.  There was another messy mass of yarn on the floor before it went under the bed and out the other side.  On it went back through the dining room, around one of the dining room chairs and into an open basket that they use as a playground.  In the basket was another tangled mess which led back to my spinning wheel, around the leg again, back under the guest bed and ended with a tangled mass of yarn back at the bottom of the stairs where it all began.  
It took the better part of an hour to follow the trail, untangle the yarn and roll it into a ball.  Luckily the kittens were not here to assist in the project.  The yarn has been stored in an out of the way place, but at least now I know what they do at night while we’re sleeping.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Not Built for Speed

All season, DH and I had been planning to go to New Hampshire to ski with DS#1 at Mount Sunapee. The days and months seemed to slip by and the season was almost over, so we decided to join DH and his GF for a day of skiing fun. I had skiied Sunapee once before at South Peak which is really considered the learning area. It has a quad and runs that I can ski comfortably. DS assured me that there was a long run from the summit that would be easy enough for me to ski. The only part he forgot to mention was that they only way to get there was on the high speed quad.

We got our gear on and lined up for the lift. The four of us planned to go up together on one chair which sounded fine to me. Before I knew it DS and his GF were standing in front of the chair and DH and I were still on line. Off they went speeding up the hill. I immediately skiied up to get on the chair assuming that DH was right next to me. Surprise! I was alone flying up to the summit. It was a long lonely ride and when I got to the top I could not keep my balance to get off the speeding chair. I fell right in DH's path as he got off the lift right behind me. He was able to get me to my feet and, after a few minutes of deep breathing, we were able to begin the descent. DS was right it was a long, relatively easy trail that was fun to ski.

When we got to the bottom, I agreed to try the lift again, but only if we all went together. We all made it on the same chair with DS right next to me to help me navigate getting off. He took hold of my arm and off we went, but once again I was off balance and fell right in front of the lift. This time I needed to take my skis off to get out of the way. After another long run I decided it was time for a break and DH and I went into the lodge for lunch.

After lunch DH and I made our way to slow quad at South Peak and we had a great time and no falls from the lift. DS and his GF joined us later in the afternoon and we stopped for the obligatory photos.

The moral of this story?? I am definitely not built for speed!!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Black and Whites

When you move to another state, you gain many things, but you give up others. We moved to Vermont almost 25 years ago and, don't get me wrong, I love it here. We have great skiing, a beautiful lake, Ben and Jerry's, King Arthur Flour, and the least angry city in the US (Burlington). However, one thing I really miss is New York bakeries - cakes with buttercream frosting, apple turnovers and black and white cookies. The bakeries here make great bread, but that's about it. I have yet to find one that makes a birthday cake that meets with my approval.

When my FIL was alive, DH would go to Long Island regularly and he would always stop at the bakery near his sister's home. He would bring two apple turnovers for me and two black and white cookies for DS#2. Now we rarely travel to Long Island, so I decided that if I wanted black and white cookies, I would have to make them myself. I searched online and found a recipe, but there was never an occasion to try it out. I certainly didn't want to make a batch of them for just DH and me.

Last weekend was the annual family ski trip when DH's cousins come to Vermont. It was fun to have a house full of company and it seemed like the perfect time to make the black and white cookies. The kitchen was a mess, but they came out looking pretty much like the real thing. The chocolate frosting could have been a little shinier, but the relatives thought they came from the bakery. I guess that's an indicator of success.