Friday, October 14, 2011

Quechee Gorge, VT

After the Timber Ripper, we had a pretty tame afternoon.

We took an hour sidetrip to Hartford, VT to check out the Quechee Gorge.

Dare I say it? It was gorge-ous but basically took one minute of our time to look at. One hour drive = one minute of sightseeing. I exaggerate a little bit, we checked out a Vermont country store, ate some ice cream and stopped at a massive, three-story building that housed antiques from a variety of dealers  And in case you were wondering, it's pronounced Kwee-chee. Learn something new everyday!

Okemo's Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster

After breakfast, we headed to the Jackson Gore portion of Okemo for a little adventure:

That's right, we figured what better way to enjoy the scenery some more and lose the breakfast we had just eaten than riding on the Timber Ripper?

It would be just one of these cars and a rail system that would control our plunge down the mountain!

There were an awful lot of directions and warnings for something designed for kids to ride, in addition to adults (ahem) like ourselves:

While two people could fit on a cart, Andrew and I decided that it would be more fun to "drive" our own carts:

Spacing us out a bit, I slowly followed Andrew's cart up the mountain:

We had a couple of minutes to enjoy the scenery as we climbed further up:

Yikes - this was when I was noticing how steep the climb was getting, and hearing the yells of people whizzing by us:

That's still Andrew up ahead - they told us at the top of the climb would be the point that we had control over how fast or slow our carts would go.  All I could think was that what comes up, most come down!

This is about the point upon I tucked my camera away, I needed both hands to be on the brakes for the ride down:

I had the irrational fear that I would go down too quickly and end up ramming Andrew's cart - of course, I had nothing to worry about. I didn't even see Andrew's cart the whole way down since he must have been speeding.  I almost was more nervous having control of the cart, going to slow made it jerky and going too fast made me feel like I was about to fly off the rails. But it was a combination of a roller coaster and a go-kart feel, and over much too quickly.

Our Side Of The Mountain

Sunday marked the actual day of our anniversary.  We slept in a little bit, but both wanted to get an early start to the day so we could fit in everything we wanted to do.

After I showered, I came back into our room and realized that Andrew had placed the card he gave me and his wedding ring alongside my rings on the bedside table. I couldn't resist snapping a picture because as I looked at the scene, I thought to myself, "Yup, that pretty much sums it up."

Here's a look at where we stayed - Okemo's mountain lodge area. The condo we stayed in was pretty close to the clock tower in the middle of the picture.

Our first step was to head up to the summit of the mountain. In a car, unfortunately, those ski lifts weren't functioning but what a nice ride it would've been.

It was around five miles of winding road amongst the beautifully colored trees:

With lookout points that gave us views like these of the Okemo state forest:

Finally, we reached a little clearing where our car was blocked from going further, marked with a sign telling us the summit was only 0.3 miles away:

I'll be the first to admit that the last 0.3 miles seemed very long, but to be honest, Andrew and I were both "hiking" in our sandals/flip-flops.  Fifteen minutes later, any huffing and puffing was forgotten with this view waiting for us:

Is this Andrew admiring the view? Or looking for the Summit restaurant? While we figured most of the on-mountain facilities and restaurants were closed in the off-season, a little part of us kept hoping to stumble across a convenient breakfast:

With one last look at the scenery around us, it was time to head down to the base of the mountain and find some food!

Wanting to blend in somewhat and enjoy ourselves, I skipped pictures at breakfast.  However, I wanted to give a shout-out to The Hatchery in Ludlow, the breakfast spot we enjoyed so much that we ate there Sunday and Monday morning (word to the wise - bring cash since credit cards aren't accepted!)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Long Trail Brewing Company - Bridgewater Corners, VT

I'll fully admit that Andrew and I drove directly the Long Trail Brewing Company, even before checking into our hotel.  We were hungry and wanted to hit the brewery before it closed.

The lot was full, but we managed to snag a parking space and headed in:

Inside, it was equally crowded and we were told that there were 26 names ahead of us on the waiting list (at 3 pm, mind you). We added our names to the list and decided to take a look around:

There was a small horseshoe-shaped bar, a merchandise counter, and assorted booths and high-top tables scattered throughout the open space:

We headed upstairs for Long Trail's "self-guided" brewery tour, which amounted to a short catwalk overlooking their tanks:

There were signs explaining the beer-making process and Long Trail wasn't kidding when they stated that their specially-designed equipment was made for the smallest amount of space possible:

Back downstairs, we enjoyed this map absolutely filled with pins from visitors, which reminded us of our own Newlywed Map:

I was hoping to try Long Trail's Belgian White but it was out of season, so I settled for the seasonally appropriate Harvest Ale. I enjoyed it but Andrew isn't a fan of brown ales so he went for the Long Trail IPA.

We ended up having a thirty minute wait, so Andrew and I both appreciated the free, self-serve popcorn that was available in the bar area (we may have also parked ourselves next to it, deliberately on purpose):

I didn't take pictures of the food because it was your typical bar food offerings, like burgers, apps, chicken sandwiches, etc.  We expected to be underwhelmed with the food but it was surprisingly good for what it was (Andrew got a burger and I got a Philly cheese steak).  The we headed off to our mountain lodge, located on Okemo mountain:

We stayed near the clock tower, in a community that was clearly built for the skiing season. Since it was off-season, the place was nearly empty and quiet, which was fine by us:

We had brought along a few things to make the weekend even more enjoyable, including our anniversary cake:

The Icing on the Cake made us a mini replica of our wedding cake, including the design and the flavor for free (!) in exchange for a professional picture of the wedding cake.  While the colors of the flowers are way too red compared to the purple of our wedding cake, I still appreciated the flood of memories that came along with opening the box and seeing this waiting for us:

And there was nothing wrong with the Golden Raspberry flavor and buttercream frosting - much nicer than defrosting a year-old cake!
I also surprised Andrew with a selection of pumpkin beers (bless Marty's Liquors in Newton for allowing you to create your own six packs):

And even more impressive, a Green Tea IPA he had read about and wanted to try:

There was enough cake to provide us dessert all weekend, and it was nice to wake up each day and know we still had some anniversary cake to look forward to.

How To Find Ephesus in Vermont

I didn't do the shrine justice in my last post, so I wanted to share a few more pictures in the hopes that could get a sense for how peaceful the replica of the shrine was - and how unexpected it was to come upon it in the middle of the Vermont woods!

You're on very bumpy and winding mountain roads, turn a corner, happen upon something that looks simply like an open field, and then see this sign that verifies that you found the right place.

Just a small, unassuming building tucked away in the wilderness:

What was waiting for us beyond the door?

We had the place to ourselves, and I was able to take my time comparing the interior to the actual shrine we had visited in Turkey.

We left our mark in the book, and were surprised to see that three other people had already visited the building that day:

One last look at the antechamber connected to the right of the main room:

Then it was time to hit the road once again for Ludlow and the rest of our anniversary weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Anniversary Surprise - House of the Virgin Mary

Andrew and I spent our first anniversary weekend enjoying fall foliage and the gloriously warm weather in Vermont.  Andrew told me he had a surprise planned on Saturday when we were driving up, and all he would tell me was that it involved our honeymoon and a quick side trip.

One year ago, we were on our honeymoon in the Mediterranean and one of our stops was in Turkey:

Where we visited the House of the Virgin Mary, a shrine in Ephesus, Turkey, a spot where it is rumored that Mary spent her last days:

Somehow, Andrew found an exact replica of the shrine - one year later and located in Jamaica, VT!

Needless to say, after shooting Andrew an incredulous look and laughing out loud, we wandered at our leisure, reminiscing about our honeymoon. I am incredibly blessed in so many ways, and having such a thoughtful and wonderful husband is clearly one of the biggest blessings in my life!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One Year Anniversary

A year ago today, on a warm, clear day, Andrew and I exchanged vows under the changing leaves.

It's amazing how quickly a year has flown by, and what I wish is that we always be in love and have as much fun as we did on our wedding day. That remains true today and I am confident, also for the years to come.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Goodbye from Denver

I find it only fitting to end my Denver posts with the first and last thing we saw in denver - the massive blue bronco with eerily red eyes!

We had a blast cramming in as much as we could into a short weekend into Colorado and I can't wait until we get to visit again!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Attic, Boulder, CO

After finishing our hike and showering, Ben promised us some good Mexican food for dinner. Efrains was the restaurant that kept getting mentioned as having the best food but as we found out when we drove out to it, it's closed on Sundays.  So we settled for Casa Alvarez instead - I'm not going to lie, it wasn't anything special so I put the camera down and focused on enjoying the company instead:

The evening livened up once we headed to the legendary bar, The Attic in Boulder.  The guys (including Andrew, who had been here on a previous visit) kept raving about the "Fat Albert", a specialty drink - light purple in color and grape kool-aid in flavor, a combination that packed quite the wallop!

With ridiculously cheap drink specials (we're talking less than $10 for a round of 5 drinks) and pool tables, we stayed put for the rest of the evening:

Someone had the great (?) idea to order shots:

And although the drink special prices had ended at that point:

They were still cheaper than they would be in Boston, which was enough cause to celebrate!

Waiting for our ride to pick us up, it was amazing to see how many people were out and about in downtown Boulder, even at 2 am.  Coming from a college town like Boston, I got a kick out of seeing the "Go Buffs!" banners plastered all over the central shopping area:
We tumbled straight into bed, knowing that we had to be up early the next (same!) day to drive back to Denver and hop on our flight back home.