EPISODE 17: OLE’S NORDIC CENTER

Ever since we moved to Vermont and I started to research the state’s Nordic skiing venues, I have been excited to ski at Ole’s Cross Country Center in Warren. Why? Because it’s fun to say. Also because they have a Norway flag in their logo. They seem authentic.

Luckily, Ole’s is located less than an hour from Montpelier. And thanks to Ski Vermont’s Nordic Reciprocal Program, our Morse Farm season’s pass gets us in for free. (What a fantastic benefit!) So just after lunch this afternoon, we packed up the car and headed to Warren. Continue reading

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EPISODE 16: SPICE ON SNOW

In Vermont, as with Maine, winter is inevitable. Cold weather is unavoidable. For us, the effect is exacerbated by the fact that we moved from the coast to the mountains. Brunswick’s average annual temperature is a full 2.5 degrees warmer than Montpelier’s. But this comes with seasonal fluctuations – because of the moderating effect of the ocean, Brunswick is a full four degrees warmer (less cold?) in the winter months, while the temps are nearly even in the summer.

Which is a long-winded way of saying we are finding Montpelier to be damn cold this winter!

Because the cold and snow are inevitable, Vermonters have found ways to adapt, even embrace them. Indeed, much of the population seems to have self-selected precisely because snow and ice are abundant here. There are a lot of expatriates who are here for the skiing, as well as hiking during the warmer months. And the natives seem to wear it as a badge of their upbringing. Winter is accepted as fact of life here. Continue reading

EPISODE 15: SKIING AT MORSE FARM

After a day of errands and beginning to obsess about where to live, we decided today would be a good day to initiate our Vermont nordic skiing careers. We are in Vermont, we are committed to embracing the winter. Given the relative lack of snow in recent weeks, with some rain mixed in to boot, I was concerned about the conditions in the area and we were considering heading north. However yesterday we drove by Morse Farm, just a couple of miles up the road in East Montpelier, and saw folks skiing on what looked like pretty nice trails. So we decided to go there instead.

Our last few winters in Maine we made a habit of skiing on free trails around Brunswick – places like The Commons or Crystal Spring Farm. We skied these sites partly because they were free, and therefore attractive for an hour or two of skiing, but primarily because they were close. The fact is that the closest “real” cross-country skiing area to Brunswick was a good 45-minute drive to Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

But despite the fact that I am a cheapskate and love to do things for free, there’s a clear downside to the free skiing. Continue reading

EPISODE 14 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Well, we made it until 2015!

We’re now almost five months into this adventure, and the new year brings new opportunities. The past several months have been filled with basic things like figuring out how to live here. By which I mean, where do you buy stuff? Like clothes, for example. Back in Maine the national chains have come to dominate retail, so we were practically forced to shop at Target and TJ Maxx.

One thing Montpelier does not have in abundance is national chains. That’s a good thing – we are champions of the local retailer. However there is a fair amount of work in figuring out who sells what, and what we can afford on 1.25 incomes. So many weekends over the past few months, especially as we geared up for the holidays, were spent driving around and checking places out. Much of this took us to Burlington, which has malls and outlets that feature (sigh) familiar national retailers.

Compromises sometimes must be made. Continue reading