Vermont Fall Scene

Vermont’s Mad Marathon

June 23rd, 2013 by Katie Pate

The organizers call it “The World’s Most Beautiful Marathon” and you aren’t going to hear us disagree! Our bed and breakfast is in the Mad River Valley because this place is truly a year-round natural wonderland. We think the marathon is a wonderful and sustainable way for folks to see this corner of the nation we love so much, hence we are a sponsor again this year.

If you are a runner, no matter your skill level, we encourage you to come to central Vermont for the Third Annual Mad Marathon, taking place on July 7.

You will be running through our extraordinary community on back roads, some of which will be gravel. There will be breathtaking views of the Green Mountains, challenging rolling farmlands with tough climbs and descents.MMLogo Cruise through quaint villages, under covered bridges, past old barns and fields of famous Vermont cows!

The marathon course is certified and sanctioned by the US Track & Field.  The certification number is VT11012RF and is a Boston Marathon qualifier. Walkers are more than welcome for the Mad Half and there is also a category for Mad Half Walkers.

Marathon Course Description

The race starts at the Mad River Green in central Waitsfield Village, heading north on Rte. 100. You will pass under a covered bridge almost immediately and your first hill at around mile one. Once you finish your climb up Joslin Hill Road, you will head gently downhill for about 2.5 miles. Once you hit the third aid station, you will be on dirt roads through farmlands until about mile six.

You get to our neck of the woods, Warren, at just over 12 miles into the route. You will spend about 3 miles running on East Warren through rolling countryside.  When you reach Roxbury Mountain Road, you take a four mile loop amongst back country lanes before returning to East Warren Road around mile 19 and heading back to the Finish line. See the full route and map on the Mad Marathon website.

Lodging for the Mad Marathon

Our bed and breakfast is seven miles from the starting point of the race. You can see a video about our Inn on the Course Map page. We are delighted to be full for the weekend with Marathon runners— and we wish them all good luck!

Chocolate Mint Cookies

June 16th, 2013 by Susan

Stirring it up:

IMG_2120

Help your self.

Who doesn’t like chocolate? And what about chocolate and mint? A yummy combination to be sure. These absolutely delicious chocolate cookies have just a hint of peppermint and pack a mouthful of chocolaty goodness.

Makes 36 cookies
Oven 350F
Bake 5 – 6 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 6 T. canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. baking cocoa
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. peppermint extract
  • 4 T. milk (whole, 2% or fat free)

In a bowl, beat sugar and oil until crumbly. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and gradually beat into the sugar mixture. Add the milk and mix well

With lightly floured hands roll dough into 36 balls and place 2″ apart on a parchment lined or non-stick sprayed baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake at 425° F for 5 – 6 minutes just until the edges are set and the tops crack. Cool a couple of minutes before removing to cooling racks. Enjoy as excellent plain chocolate cookies or make cookie sandwiches with some fluffy vanilla butter icing or you could make larger cookies and make ice cream sandwiches with them – now that would be great for a 4th of July party!

Dishing it out:

Outside our Garden Room we have an herb garden which at this point is growing like crazy because of all the rain we have been having. The first crop of chives has been snipped and dried in the oven for use in the winter and the remaining sprigs have flowered. The flowers make a lovely garnish and are good in soup and cream sauces as well. You’ll see in the photograph that I have put some mint along with the cookies. This isn’t just ordinary mint but chocolate mint. It looks like “regular” mint but it has a chocolate brown stem and it actually smells and tastes like chocolate mint—like the cookies! While I considered chopping the mint and mixing it into the cookies I wasn’t sure how guests would react to bits of green stuff in their cookies. Maybe I’ll try that another time. In the meantime, this mint is really nice floating in black tea or just in hot water. A real treat is mint with strawberries and some whipped cream. There is a tasty summer watermelon salad that has mint, feta cheese, english cucumber among other ingredients—you’ll find that in the June 13, 2010 blog. Happy munching.

Glider Rides above the Mad River Valley

June 9th, 2013 by Katie Pate

One of the most beautiful soaring sites in the United States is right here in the Mad River Valley. See the stunning Vermont landscape in a whole new way: from above. Warren-Sugarbush Airport, less than five miles from our Inn, is a well-known glider airport and home to Sugarbush Soaring. It has served as the venue for National Championship Soaring events.

The airport provides sightseeing rides – a particular joy for anyone who loves heights and lives for a great view. A glider ride is a wonderful gift – for a birthday, romantic anniversary, Father’s Day, you name it.Soaring_SB_Soaring

Sugarbush Soaring offers 15, 20, and 30 minute rides. Experienced commercial pilots treat you to a magnificent view of the Mad River Valley. On a clear day you can see the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain to the west, Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield to the north, and Mt. Washington and the White Mountains to the east.  In the fall – when the mountains turn fiery with fall foliage – the view is truly spectacular.

Call the office at (802) 496-2290 for current rates.

Types of Glider Soaring

Circling Thermal Lift
Thermal lift is the most common in soaring and is formed when solar radiation heats the ground which then heats the surrounding air. Rising like a hot air balloon, the warm air forms thermals, a source of surprisingly strong lift.

Ridge Lift
Ridge lift is completely different. Formed when the wind is at right angles to a ridge line, ridge lift can extend for hundreds of miles along a mountain range. Sailplane pilots have flown over a thousand miles in ridge lift.

Wave Lift
Soaring in mountain waves is for many glider pilots the epitome of the soaring experience. Under certain atmospheric conditions, huge standing waves of rising and falling air can form on the leeward side of a mountain, just as the water ripples downstream of a rock. Point the ship’s nose into the wind and enjoy the elevator ride up at sometimes 1,500 feet per minute while staying over the same point on the ground far below.

Spring Lodging in Mad River Valley

Come to Warren this spring and experience the gentler (and greener) side of Vermont. Once the skiing is over, all kinds of other outdoor activities like its place – like golf, hiking, cycling and gliding. For whatever adventure lies ahead of you, make West Hill Bed and Breakfast your home base for exploring central Vermont.

The Winooski River

May 22nd, 2013 by Katie Pate

Canoeing is increasing in popularity, especially in ecologically-minded states like Vermont. It is both peaceful and physically challenging, a rewarding, aesthetic and ecologically sound recreational activity.

The Winooski River is one of Vermont’s many spectacular resources. The second longest river in the state, it flows through mountains and farmland, the state’s capital and the largest city before emptying into Lake Champlain.

The river corridor brings the towns, farms and people of the Green Mountain State within the direct view of the canoeist.

One of  the paddling routes near our Bed and Breakfast is from Montpelier to the Middlesex Dam, about a six mile trip. You can get to Montpelier from our Inn along Route 100 & 100B North in 35 minutes.

When beginning a canoe trip from Montpelier, there are several good places to put in. One is at the northeast corner of Montpelier High School located on Bailey Avenue. Another is underneath the Interstate 89 overpass on the right side of the river on Rt. 2. Plenty of parking is available at both areas. If you would like to run a short section of easy rapids, put in another 1.25 miles upstream from the high school on the right bank. This access can be reached through local parking areas.

Canoeing the stretch between the Interstate 89 overpass and Middlesex Dam is very relaxing and pleasant.

Take a relaxing canoe trip on the Winooski River this Spring

Take a relaxing canoe trip on the Winooski River this Spring. Photo courtesy of Ryan McCall

The current is slow and the course meanders past farmhouses and pastureland. Many large dairy farms are visible along this stretch and much of the land is cultivated. Trees are of the wetland variety, such as willows and alders.

About 2.5 miles downstream where Interstate 89 and the train tracks closely parallel the river, there is a small section of rapids. Pull out on the left bank before the rapids to decide on the best route to proceed.

Another take-out and launching area is 1.25 miles further downriver, before the Route 100B bridge where Route 2 curves with the bend of the river. The bank is low here and from this access a store is within easy reach by foot. If you are unsure of your ability to reach the Middlesex Dam access area safely or do not want to negotiate its short, yet steep hill, you can disembark here.

Middlesex Gorge just above the dam is one of the most spectacular areas on the river with rock walls towering 75 feet above the water in some places. Remember that like all dams on the river, the Middlesex Dam is potentially dangerous and should be approached with caution. Boat barriers in the form of floating barrels span the river under the Route 100B bridge. DO NOT GO BEYOND THE BRIDGE!

The take out is on the left side of the river, just before the bridge. The bank here is quite steep and though it is a short distance you may require a rope to pull your canoe up to the road.

Paddling on the Winooski River is a great way to spend a spring day in Vermont!  If you wish you can rent canoes and associated equipment from Clearwater Sports, and depending on your plans they may be able to assist with transportation.

 

 

Add a Romantic Dinner to your Bed and Breakfast Stay

May 4th, 2013 by Katie Pate

Are you looking for a simple Vermont weekend getaway? Having half of your meals covered makes a trip a bit easier to organize, right?

This spring, we are offering our “Add Dinner to a Bed and Breakfast” package. Stay for two nights in the room of your choice and add dinner to one of those evenings. Your meal will take place at the Common Man, one of the best restaurants in central Vermont. You get a three-course meal (selected off the menu) along with coffee and tea.

About the Common Man Restaurant

Common man owners and longtime couple Lorien Wroten and Adam Longworth. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Common man owners and longtime couple Lorien Wroten and Adam Longworth. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Over 150 years old, the soaring hand hewn rafters of the timbered interior are lit by crystal chandeliers, soft candlelight, and a huge open hearth fireplace (lit during the cool nights). Now in its fourth decade of continuous operation the restaurant has earned scores of prestigious awards and accolades including Three Stars from both The Boston Globe and the Mobil Travel Guide.

A couple sample items from the menu:

  • Smoked Salmon Burschetta. Red onion, apple, potato, lemon caper aioli
  • Halibut, served with potato, cauliflower, swiss chard, mushroom in a white wine emulsion

See the full menu on the Common Man’s website.

Common Man Reviews from Yelp.com:

“Go. Just go. Get a sitter. Save the money and splurge. It’s worth it.
Boston ain’t New York but I’ve had my fair share of great meals. This makes the ‘Top Ten’ list. Food, service and ambiance combine to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.” – Christopher L. 2/19/13

“Lorien, Adam, and their staff continue to amaze. New York strip was a beautiful cut cooked perfectly with a side of au gratin potatoes that were out of this world. They now have house made blue cheesed stuffed olives for you martini people. The desserts were unbelievable too. The service was impeccable. The Common Man is hands down my favorite restaurant anywhere right now. Do yourself a huge favor and have a meal here next time you are in the Mad River Valley!” – Chris H. 12/20/12

Keep in Mind: This offer is available Tuesday through Saturday night. Please order this dinner add-on when you book your room. Taxes and gratuities for dinner are included. Drinks are additional.

Springtime in the Mad River Valley

April 24th, 2013 by Katie Pate

For us, Spring in Vermont is about rejuvenation. After a long cold winter, we like to stretch our legs and watch springtime bring life back into the plants and ecosystems of this beautiful valley. A popular activity during this season is nature and wildlife photography.

With rivers and creeks melting, buds popping out on branches and flowers pushing their way up, the opportunity capturing these transitions in photos abounds.

Look for and film birds migrating back to their summer homes during this time of year. The fields, meadows, ridge tops and hillsides of the Mad River Valley provide excellent habitat for Northern Forest bird species. Some of these include Bicknell’s Thrush, Scarlet Tanager and Black-throated Blue Warbler.

The spring migration welcomes the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting, and Meadowlark back to the Mad River Valley. spring-budsTake a drive to Vermont’s Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington (about 45 minutes from the Inn) featuring 5 miles of birding trails, a butterfly garden, and a sensory trail. Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) North Branch in Montpelier is celebrating 10 years with 10 free bird walks in Central Vermont this spring.

Other fun ways to spend a spring weekend at our bed and breakfast – get together with friends or family for a group project like quilting or scrapbooking. We have a beautiful boardroom table available for up to 12 people, and the bright Sun Room can seat up to 16. In the warmer months, our covered Garden Terrace is a great place for a group gathering and can seat up to 30 people. The Living Room and Library can serve as additional break-out rooms.

Lastly – take some scenic drives through the Valley. A landscape cloaked in the myriad shades of light green is the signature of springtime in Vermont. Vermont Route 100 & 100B, as well as Rt 17 to the top of the Appalachian Gap have been designated as the Mad River Scenic Byway, stretching from Middlesex to Granville. View covered bridges, a winding roadside river, waterfalls, historic architecture and working farms along the byway.

 

 

Glasgow Soufflé

April 19th, 2013 by Peter MacLaren

Peter is from Glasgow and this recipe is from his mum. Susan evolved it into a West Hill House B&B favorite.

Glasgow SouffléServes 4-5   Oven 350°F     30 to 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices sandwich bread white or whole wheat, buttered
  • 3 slices sandwich bread white or whole wheat cubed approx. ¾”
  • 1 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ c. grated cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup Major Gray chutney
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 c. whole or 2% milk
  • 1 t. yellow mustard
  • 1 ½ oz Drambuie
  • 1 T. minced onion dry flakes  or ½ small onion finely chopped
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9”x7” Pyrex baking pan or 4 or 5, 4” diameter ramekins.
  • Fit the bread, butter side down, into the pan – it’s ok to cut pieces to fit. (If using ramekins cut bread round to fit into the bottom of the ramekin and you may need more slices of buttered bread.)
  • Spread the chutney over the bread cutting any large pieces of fruit into small pieces. Sprinkle the onion over the chutney. Sprinkle the 1 cup of cheese over the chutney. Toss the cubed bread over the top so that it is evenly distributed.
  • In a medium sized bowl beat the eggs then add the milk, Drambuie and mustard and mix well. Pour this mixture over the cubed bread being sure that some liquid goes on each piece of bread. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ c. cheese over the top.

At this point you may either cover the pan and refrigerate it overnight or let it sit for 20 minutes to be sure the bread has had time to soak in the milk mixture. There will still be liquid in the pan, which will turn into a nice custardy mix once cooked.

Bake at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes or until the center is firm and the top is golden. Serve hot.

Spring Fun at Big Picture Cafe & Theater

April 7th, 2013 by Katie Pate

With the ski season wrapping up, it tends to feel pretty peaceful in the Mad River Valley during April and May. We will strive to keep you informed about the fun to be had in our corner of Vermont while the snow disappears and green buds poke out over all the branches.

How about Dinner and a Movie?

Seven miles north of our Bed and Breakfast in Warren VT is popular local hangout, with an international flair: Big Picture Cafe and Theater. An eatery and theater for both film and live action, this makes a good destination for a couple taking a getaway with a low-stress itinerary.

Take a break and visit us in Warren VT this spring!

Take a break and visit us in Warren VT this spring!

Along with current films, enjoy live music and comedy. No matter the event, take your meal and your drinks inside the theater. That’s right, you can order your dinner, cocktails or beer, then bring it into the theater with you to enjoy during the movie or performance. How fun is that?! There are some tables but mostly stadium-style seating, so come early unless you are okay with eating from your lap.

Check out music and other events taking place in April at the Big Picture on their website.

Romantic Touches for a Weekend Away

Just because you’re taking a low-stress getaway, doesn’t mean there isn’t time for a few delicious details. An example: for only $45, enjoy a chilled bottle of French Champagne upon your arrival at the inn in Warren, or whenever you would like! We will also provide two Champagne flutes for you to bring home with you. See other special add-ons for your stay at the B&B.

Anytime you need, we are here to help you relax, unwind and reconnect. Let West Hill House be your home away from home, where we do the cooking, wash the dishes and make the beds!

 

 

Your 11/12/13 Wedding Special

March 18th, 2013 by Peter MacLaren

RingsOnly one special package is being offered for a wedding with just the two of you on the special date of 11/12/13, i.e. November 12, 2013. This special package has now been booked by a couple from South Carolina, so it is no longer available.

All of the following are included:

11:12:13 Wedding Special photo Portrait

  • An excellent Justice of the Peace who will officiate at your wedding ceremony and will contact you ahead of time to work with you to personalize your ceremony
  • Digital photographs of your ceremony and a CD of your photos
  • A wedding cake
  • A bottle of Champagne or sparkling pear or apple juice
  • Seasonal flowers as bouquets or boutonnieres
  • Two West Hill House keepsake Champagne flutes
  • Two signature West Hill House coffee mugs
  • A gift basket of Vermont cheeses and crackers
  • Two nights of accommodation in the Paris Suite
  • Two luxurious West Hill House Doe Skin robes
  • One Ted E. Bear complete with matching robe
  • Couples Swedish massage
  • French Country Wedding Dinner prepared especially for you at West Hill House and featuring recipes from many regions of France.

This great package is offered for $1415.16 plus 9% tax. Call us at (802) 496-7162 to book.

The Small Print: This offer is only good for a wedding to be held on November 12, 2013. No change of date will be considered. A $500 non-refundable deposit for this special wedding package is required at the time of booking. Note that the non-refundable deposit does not entitle the couple to any of the offerings should the wedding be cancelled.

Last weeks for Cross Country Skiing in Vermont

March 18th, 2013 by Katie Pate

The spring equinox is only two days away. Soon, the snow will melt and spring will reveal green buds on the trees, blooming flowers and sunny days. But not yet…

Get your fix of your favorite winter sports before its too late!

You don’t have to drive anywhere to nordic ski if you are staying at West Hill House. Our Inn is located across the street from the Sugarbush golf course. If you rise early after a snowfall, you can blaze your own trail. A little later in the day you can undoubtedly follow a trail forged by someone else.

Mad River Valley Cross Country Skiing Centers

Catch a couple more weeks of X-country skiing before spring sets in.

Catch a couple more weeks of X-country skiing before spring sets in.

Ole’s (2355 Airport Road – 15 minutes from the Bed and Breakfast) As of this posting, there are four inches of fresh snow, a combo of silky packed powder and loose powder, on the ground at Ole’s. It’s 17 degrees and beams of gleaming sunlight are breaking through low clouds, illuminating the fresh snow. At least 20k of trails are groomed and tracked for both for classic and skate skiing.

Blueberry Lake (424 Plunkton Rd – 10 minutes from the Bed and Breakfast) Blueberry Lake received 3 inches of fresh snow last night and the temperature is slightly warmer at 23 degrees. They have 11 trails, totaling 30 km for classic, skate skiing and snowshoeing. There are trails for both beginners and advanced skiers. Many of their trails are wooded, with the occasional overlook to wide open meadows with beautiful views.

The Catamount Trail: This is not a ski center but an unmanned ski trail that runs the length of Vermont. It is 300 miles long and has been in the making since 1984; it was fully linked together in 2008. Thousands of skiers and snowshoers take to the trail every winter season — most only spend a day on a section of the trail. However, some ambitious adventurers ski end-to-end. What you are sure to enjoy about the Catamount Trail is the pristine backcountry, farmland and village surroundings along the way. The Catamount trail passes directly behind our B&B.

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