Happy New Year all! We’re one week into the new year and already I have accomplished my first trip of the year – our annual pharmacy girls’ trip to Vermont! This proud tradition was established when Susie re-located to West Rutland, Vermont – a somewhat far distance for us New Yorkers, but also giving us a great reason to come up and visit her. It also helps that she lives close to the winter sports haven that is Killington – can you say sleepover!?
Each year we play the game “How many people can fit into a one bedroom apt?” And each year we keep winning! Our numbers have increased a bit over the years… but I think we’re going to plateau soon. This year we crammed 9 people in and there were no bathroom blowouts! Wonderful. Also each year we keep upgrading our sleeping habits – the first year was hammocks and sleeping bags and this year everyone brought an air mattress! We must be getting older. Ahh my aching back!
It’s a quick weekend trip for us – most of us will drive down on Friday afternoon/night (some hardy souls will come in early Sat morning), with Saturday for snowboarding in the AM and dinner and Secret Santa in the evening. Sunday we have our farewell brunch and then it’s back to the road to drive home! Short but definitely sweet. Susie keeps her Christmas decorations up (including a REAL Christmas tree!) and it’s such a festive and happy trip! I love it!
We usually snowboard at Killington (buy their K57 ticket when it’s on sale, it’s a pretty good deal!) or perhaps Pico Mountain, which is also close by. This year, we split up into two groups – a snowboarding group and a snowshoeing group. Call me lazy, but I was in the snowshoeing group and I liked being relaxed and going at my own pace. Not being a great snowboarder, I always felt like I was holding my pro buddies back! Plus snowboarding really really hurts the day after. All those muscles you never knew you had decide to pipe up and start screaming!
After breakfast on Saturday we split up and the snowshoeing group made our leisurely way to Mountain Top Inn and Resort, in Chittenden. It’s a very scenic resort, with a gorgeous view of the mountains and also the frozen over Chittenden Reservoir. You can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, normal sledding, ice skating – basically a whole slew of winter activities. They also have sleigh rides! Unfortunately I thought they were kind of pricey at $25/person but we talked to someone who went on it and they said it was beautiful and also fairly warm because they provide blankets.
Before going on our snowshoeing adventure, we decided to have lunch at the Inn’s restaurant. Actually, they have two restaurants (Highlands Dining Room, Highlands Tavern) but for lunch only the Tavern is open. It’s got a nice upscale yet rustic vibe, with exposed wooden beams and wicker chairs. The Dining Room is a little more formal, but overall it has a nice relaxed atmosphere. The food was delicious and satisfying as well – we had hearty chili with delicious sweet cornbread, French onion soup, and our classier friend had a portobello quesadilla that looked amazing.
Thus fortified, we made our way to the Activity Center for the resort, which is located just a 2-3 minute drive away (we actually walked!) and got ourselves set up for snowshoeing. It came out to $32/person ($16 for 1/2 day snowshoe rental, $16 for 1/2 day trail pass) which isn’t too bad considering how expensive just a lift-ticket can be for Killington.
We were fitted with these really cool snowboots, so much more comfortable than ski boots or even snowboarding boots because they are more cloth-like and bend with your feet. Then we got our snowshoes – I was actually expecting something more hardcore but most of us got these plastic snowshoes that I thought felt kind of flimsy – but they work just fine.
And then, finally, we were on our way! Mind you, this was at 2 pm and the snowboarding group had been going at it since 12 pm. We were definitely softies!
The trails were clearly marked and groomed, for a while we tramped on a nice level path. The scenery was beautiful – snow capped trees, branches outlined with snow, the sun beaming through icicles. The day was tailor-made for an outdoorsy outing, with a blue sky and brilliant sun, and also it wasn’t too windy either. In short, a perfect day for to us to enjoy nature in its wintry splendor!
Of course, the trail eventually led upward and onward – and I discovered that I definitely overdressed for snowshoeing! Because you are constantly moving, we all got pretty sweaty and I took off my hat and even unzipped my jacket a little. Going uphill is good cardio!
The trails closed at 4 PM so we got back in time to have some hot chocolate and then make our way to our dinner destination – The Garlic. I love roasted garlic and cooked garlic (my husband even eats it raw… okay I can’t go that far) so this was definitely some high expectations for me. Inside, you are immediately hit with the pungent and undeniable smell of garlic (and maybe some vinegar too?) – like heaven to my senses. It did have the side effect of lingering on our clothing though… my jacket smelled like it afterwards!
I’ll admit, it was a bit hit and miss – I liked my food but others weren’t so lucky and even after problems were sent back to the kitchen, they didn’t come back fixed. So… not so sure overall. But it was a nice place to unwind and chat a little about our day.
After we re-grouped at the apartment, it was time for Secret Santa! Yes, I know that Christmas was a few weeks ago but we like to extend the cheer into the new year! We use Elfster to plan our secret santa and put our wishlists on too. Some people might think that having the wishlists makes it too boring… but honestly, I like getting things I want! Either that or give me cash, which does not make for a thrilling gift exchange. Next it was kahlua + milk time (heavy on the milk for me!) and then throwback party to 90’s music. Gosh so nostalgic.
Our next (and last!) morning we had our traditional goodbye brunch at Sugar and Spice – I love this place! It’s a bit of a drive but so worth it. Their maple and cinnamon Sugar and Spice pancakes are great, and they have all types of breakfast foods for you to try out. Eggs and hash, bacon, sausage, omelettes, waffles… you really can’t go wrong. And they even make their own syrup for you to drizzle over everything! In fact, they actually charge extra for fake syrup haha!
After brunch, it was time to say our goodbyes! It’s a little bittersweet but we always start planning our next get-together right away. And with two weddings coming up within our group we’ll be seeing each other again pretty soon – cannot wait! But until then, time to start dreaming about our next mini-trip… Cherry Blossom Festival anyone?