The Hills Are Alive In Stowe, Vermont (New England)
17 Oct, 2012 - Two weeks into our New England journey and Peter and I are at the point of burnout. After all, we’ve been driving and sightseeing non-stop for 16 days and have spent no more than two nights at each B&B since we arrived in Mystic, Connecticut on 2 October. It would take a pretty special place to spruce us up after New Hampshire. Thankfully Stowe lived up to its expectations and more.
The quintessential Vermont village, Stowe happens to be the oldest village in New England. With its mountains, rivers, and more than 200 miles of cross country ski trails and mountain biking terrain, it is a mecca for nature lovers and sports enthusiasts alike. If you’re neither into nature or sports, there are a plethora of galleries and art and crafts stores that offer clothing, accessories, gift items and good quality works by local artisans. As for eateries, delis and restaurants, Stowe’s creative and eclectic collection of menus, created by locals chefs with the emphasis on seasonal and fresh ingredients, spans a world of cultures and every price range.
For all you shopping enthusiasts, my two favorite stores in Stowe were the Stowe General Store (Main Street) and Wildflower Designs (Mountain Road). While the former was laid out like the general stores of old, featuring a barn-like setting and wooden floorboards and interiors, stocking everything from gum boots to high fashion women’s jackets for over US$300., the latter is a gift store chock-a-block full of whimsical objects d’art, accessories and creative gift items that would have kept me occupied for hours and left me with a huge dent in my credit card had I not restrained myself. Instead, I left with a lone purchase of a birthday card for my step-daughter, Natasha that read, “Pull up your big girl panties and just deal with it.” Cute, huh?
Communing With Nature: Moss Glen Falls and Smuggler’s Notch
The GPS did it again, taking us on a cross country route to Moss Glen Falls when a paved and more stress free option was available. Still, it was a rather scenic route and we got to our destination, Moss Glen Falls in one piece. A short 10-minute drive from our B&B, we parked the car alongside the other vehicles and I put my bag in the trunk of our car so that I could pick up my pace during our trek to the falls. Shame that the “trek” didn’t take any more than 10 minutes - it was over before we started. Still, the deep cascade and waterfall was breathtaking and well worth visiting.
Smugglers' Notch is about a 20-minute drive from the village of Stowe. A ski resort area, its vertical drop of 2,610 feet (800 m) is the fourth largest in New England and the third largest in Vermont. Nicknamed “Smuggs”, it consists of three mountains: Morse Mountain, Madonna and Sterling Mountains. The resort attracts skiiers in the winter and summer vacationers during the warmer months. It made quite a scenic drive for us after lunch.
The Real Von Trapps:
Another thing that Stowe is known for is that it is the place where the Von Trapp family (of Sound Of Music fame) settled after fleeing Nazi Austria. On a landscape not unlike their native Saltzburg, they bought a farm on 2,500 acres in the 1950‘s and built the Trapp Family Lodge, which successfully operates to this day. It also includes a deli (where we had a very good lunch, incidentally), bakery, brewery and time share accommodation. The Lodge runs historic tours of the Lodge and the Von Trapp family story, separating fact from fiction.
For all you Sound of Music buffs, allow me to burst your bubble:
The Baron was not a stern authoritarian figure towards his children but warm and engaging. He needed to use a whistle because their home in Saltzburg was so darned huge and he thought it the most amusing way to summon his brood.
Edelweiss is not the Austrian national anthem. It was composed by Rodgers & Hammerstein for the Broadway musical.
The children were not children when the Nazis occupied Austria. The eldest, Rupert, was in his 20’s and studying medicine.
Maria did not bring singing to the family. The family were singing long before her arrival. By the 1930’s, the family had lost most of their money when the banks collapsed in Austria and were renting out rooms and giving concerts in their mansion for the income.
The Von Trapps did not get rich on The Sound of Music. Maria sold the rights to her book “The Story Of The Trapp Family Singers”, on which the movie was based, for US$9,000 cash and no royalties.
Finally, the family did not escape Saltzburg by hiking over the mountains to Switzerland. In real life, that would have landed them back in the hornet's nest which they were trying to escape, Nazi Germany. Like everyone else, they packed their bags and took the train to Italy.
Standing in the Gift Store of the Trapp Family Lodge, I heard a slim, brown hair lady introduce herself to the lady behind the counter. "Hi, I'm Christina Von Trapp." This lady had an American accent. My disappointment was finally complete.
Dining In Stowe:
Firefox Restaurant - Located in a charming old home just out of town, the cuisine is Italian, the dining room is quaint and cozy and the vibe is warm and intimate. Not fine dining, but food is flavorsome and reasonably priced. You wouldn’t have it any other way in Stowe. What did I have? A sensational seafood linguini with scallops, shrimps (prawns) and clams. I know, it’s a fair distance from the coastline, but I was still craving seafood and it was still delicious. 1606 Pucker St, Stowe, VT http://foxfireinn.com
Michael’s On The Hill - Vermont's First Chef of the Year, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, Santé Magazine Sustainable Restaurant Award Winner.... the accolades go on and on. An restaurant that can be classified as fine dining, owners Laura and Michael Kloeti were among the first chef/restaurateurs in Vermont to champion local ingredients. Continuing their commitment to showcasing Vermont's bounty, their menu changes not just seasonally but monthly and offers a delectable array of New England classics with a twist. 4182 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Route 100 North, Waterbury Center, VT http://www.michaelsonthehill.com/
Trapp Family Lodge/ Bakery - Home made butternut pumpkin soup and honest-to-goodness Vermont ham, seeded mustard and cheddar cheese, toasted to a mouthwatering goodness with potato salad and coleslaw on the side. (Sigh) Why don’t they make ham sandwiches like that in Oz? 700 Trapp Hill Road, Stowe, Vermont http://www.trappfamily.com