Thursday, September 6, 2012

Up With the Sun, then a Run, then a Drive

What's with this waking up before the sun is even up??  I need to quit this!  But I might as well pull on some running clothes and take advantage of the absolutely gorgeous town of Manchester VT and these absolutely perfect morning temperatures!! 

So that's what I did on Wednesday morning.  Lots of directions I could have headed, but I chose to run north on 7A for about a mile and a half, where the sidewalk ran out, then turn around and head south and into town, through town, south of town on 7A until I reached a little rotary (or roundabout as the Brits call them) where I turned around, headed back north, turned right onto 30 amidst all of the construction and ran down the hill (nice!) to the McDonalds.  Of course! 

After breakfast I ran back to the motel and dithered and dallied until nearly 11 AM, when I thought probably I ought to get cleaned up, get in the car, do something.

I had picked up a little tourist newspaper the evening before at the pizza/pasta restaurant and read about a little cheese shop south in Arlington VT and a touristy little chocolate shop nearby in East Arlington.  That sounds like a plan.  I can get lunch somewhere on the road and then I thought I'd drive up to Mt. Bromley and check it out...see if it had changed much in the 45 or so years since I used to ski there while in college.

Going south from the motel, toward the center town, I had to take the detour to avoid the road closure in the exact center of town.  They're rebuilding a little bridge right in the center of town and beautifying that intersection, turning it into a roundabout, from what I've read.  But it sure does have traffic in a mess!  I did discover a much easier way to get to 7A south of the center, though.  It's the truck detour and is much smoother. 

Once on 7A south of town, I headed toward Arlington, keeping my eye out for the Vermont Cheese House on the right as I neared the town center.  I saw it but when I pulled in, there was a sign on the door that said, "Closed" and beneath that was a sign that said closed on Tuesdays.  It didn't make sense, since this was Wednesday.  I almost pulled back onto 7A but thought I'd just check the door.  Just in case.  Well, it was open!  So in I went, and had a delightful chat with the woman proprietress and her cute little poodle named Cookie.  They had an overwhelming selection of cheeses, mostly cheddars, for which this region is famous.  We talked about cheeses and I told her I wasn't a big cheese eater, didn't really care for sharp cheddars, so she recommended a mild cheddar and I bought a small little block and a package of crackers. 

But the real prize was some maple sugar candy.  I'd been craving it ever since I started out on this trip.  I saw some at the touristy place I stopped at yesterday for lunch, but felt the price was too high...maybe because it was so touristy.  But alas!  I'm seeing the same prices for maple syrup and candies everywhere I've been this week.  So I bought a piece of candy for $4.99 (ouch!) and a little jug of Grade A medium amber maple syrup. 

The cute Wayside Country Store in the center of East Arlington.
Note the mural on the wall, and there's a little bridge
with flower pots hanging from the rails to the left.
Now it was time to move on down the road to East Arlington to find that Chocolatorium!  I turned left onto the tiny little street named, logically, East Arlington Street.  You see, the way street names work here in New England is that the street is named for the town it heads toward.  So  this must be the right street.  It was already pretty narrow, but seemed to be petering out until I saw a "Dead End Ahead" sign.  I was about to turn around when I noticed a little sign pointing to the right that said "Chocolatorium."  Bingo!

This little street took me to a tiny little wide spot in the road where there was the really cute Wayside Country Store and the Chocolatorium/Bearatorium store.  As I parked the car I noticed a pretty little stream with some falls, so paused to take a photo before turning toward the object of my desire:  chocolate.

Lots and lots of bears for sale in the Bearatorium!  I could easily get hooked on collecting these.  Wait....I think at one time I did collect them!  But that excess cargo was shed long ago prior to a previous move.  So I turned my attention to the chocolate and bought a couple of pieces of fudge.

There was easy access to Highway 7 from here so I got on heading north to make good time and decided to stop for lunch at Zoey's Double Hex to check it out, since we'll be eating here on Saturday after the race.  It will be perfect for our little group.

Now I'm perfectly staged to head toward Mt. Bromley.  This is going to be quite the blast from the past.  It was my favorite ski destination when I was in college.  Two or three of us would pile into my VW Beetle, ski's clamped into the ski rack on the back, and get on the road early - well before daylight - to drive these narrow, twisty, hilly, steep roads in all sorts of weather to get to Bromley early, before the parking lots filled up and the lift lines got too long.

Today, I retraced the route taken over 45 years ago to get to Bromley.  I was a bit amazed, even appalled at how steep and winding the road was.  It was hard for me to believe I drove this road so many years ago.  Even harder to believe my dad would let me do such a thing.  The only explanation is that he trusted me.  Yeah, that's it.  It couldn't possibly be because my dad had no idea just how dangerous this might have been, given some of the road conditions we experienced.

The "bunny slope"
Real name:  The Lord's Prayer.
Very appropriate!

I was excited to get there, excited to see if it had changed any in all those years.  When I drove up along side it, preparing to turn left into the drive, I recognized it immediately.  It had changed very little in all those years.  The approach is the same, the parking lot in front of the ski lodge is identical.  The only difference was the hotel built in the location where the overflow parking lot used to be.  Now they have a large parking lot across the street, with a pedestrian tunnel under the road to get to the lodge.

T-bar lift
I parked my car in front of the lodge and walked up to the first thing I knew and recognized:  The "bunny slope" where I spent much of my ski time.  It always looked daunting to me back then.  Even today, when I looked up at it, it seemed steep yet wide.  The T-bar lift is still there, probably the exact same one that was there 45 years ago. 

I paused to take a photo of the diagram showing all of the trails and lifts.  No question the trails have been expanded.  And there seemed to be many more chairlifts than I remembered.

Diagram of the trails and lifts at Mt. Bromley

One of several chairlifts now at Bromley.  This was the original

the back deck of the ski lodge. 
Looks out over chair lifts and the trails
As I walked toward the back of the lodge, I conjured up a vision of how I remembered this:  inside cafeteria, outside deck with old wood tables and benches.  I recalled sitting outside, nose running like a faucet, eating a greasy hamburger and drinking hot cocoa.  The deck is still there, the old wooden tables and benches replaced with patio-style furniture.  I took photos of everything and then headed down the open stairway to the parking lot below.  This all looks exactly the way I remembered it!! 

Those old wooden tables that I remembered so well.
When I got down to the parking lot level, what did I see but a half dozen of those old wooden tables I remembered, pushed together in the center of the covered walkway!!  Oh my goodness!!  The memories were just overwhelming! 

I'm so glad I took the time to drive just the few miles up Rte 30 to see this!  Now I can dust those memories off, having a refeshed "visual" to guide the way.

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