Last year a couple of my friends from my Boston days had sent me pictures from their experience running the Covered Bridges Half Marathon through South Pomfret, Woodstock and Quechee, Vermont. Inspired by their stories of the run and by the beautiful scenery of Vermont, I pledged to run it in 2011. I signed up in the first 5 minutes the registration had opened online and it closed in about 20 minutes. Saturday June 4th
- My friends Doug and Marisa gave me a ride up to Vermont and would be on hand to cheer me on from the sidelines. As we passed through Springfield and West Springfield, MA we pulled over for gas and I saw this sign. Very nice that the store was helping out the community after the awful tornadoes that swept through the area.
As fate would have it the gas station was situated next to the West Springfield location of Donut Dip
! Chris & Amy (ayersian
) had told me of this place and Chris had even brought some of these tasty morsels on the bus for the NJ Hot Dog Tour last fall and they were quite good. Marisa said she had seen the place from the road and thought about stopping as well. Great minds think alike!
We bought a dozen for the road (jelly stick, coconut custard, honey dip, apple fritter and a variety of others I cannot recall) I deeply regret not taking pictures of the contents of our box! This was one of the best donut shop experiences I have ever had. The people working there seemed to be mostly of high school and college age and were quite friendly and knowledgeable. As we ate them in the car, our laps and the floor became covered with crumbs. Each of us was amazed at how fresh these were and what blew us away the most was the awesome crunch on the outside, tender cakey insides and fresh tasting jelly of the jelly stick.. I am still haunted by it. I would even go so far to say that if someone put it and a Doughnut Plant doughnut side by side I would immediately go for the stick! Yeah, it's that good!
I love the old style signs here and just the whole feel of the place. I can really imagine locals coming hear for their morning coffee and donut and to chew the fat with others throughout the day.
"What foods these morsels be!"? I couldn't have said it better myself. If I may paraphrase from another one of the Bard's plays, "Get thee to a Donut Dip!"
We made it to Woodstock, VT around 3:30pm and I realized that Wasp's Snack Bar (http://www.roadfood.com/R.../1618/wasps-snack-bar)
was a mere 500 feet from our motel. Sadly unlike the Rolling Stones, time was NOT on our side and we weren't able to get there when they were open. I took this shot when we walked around town after the run.
My friend Amanda, who was one of my roommates in Brookline, MA, had stayed here last year when she ran the CBHM and had a very good experience.
The Shire Riverview Motel
was just a short 5 minute walk from the center of town and the hosts of the motel were very kind, accommodating and helpful, especially when I had questions about the Half Marathon and when sussing out good RF eats in the area! We met up with my mom and her husband, Harold at our motel just to check in with each other as they were staying in the next town over and made plans to meet up for the pasta dinner later that evening.
The center of Woodstock, VT. I love small towns and really fell for Woodstock. I kept thinking that at any moment the mayor would come up to me and ask how I was enjoying my stay!
While walking down Pleasant Street (and what a pleasant street it was) we came across this little oasis. I forgot to take picture of the sign but a local resident, who has since passed on, had this area established so that people could walk down from the street and just sit and relax by the river. The little things are so important.
The Norman Williams Public Library. The CBHM volunteers had a table set up for a few hours just out of camera shot and were most helpful in letting us know where the pre-race pasta dinner was located and where spectators could get the best views of runners going by. I have another picture of myself in a somewhat racy pose with a stone statue but I hesitate to put it up...
As we kept walking through town I saw that we were close to the RF reviewed F.H. Gillingham & Sons
store, so a stop was in order.
A breakdown of the different departments. They had a great many made in Vermont and made in New England products in stock.
Love the old scale!
And some of my favorite cheeses from Sugarbush Farms and Cabot. We didn't have a cooler with us so I only picked up a few single serve cheeses for a snack. Really sharp and great as always. I had hoped to visit the Cabot Creamery but no time on this trip. And I found out later from Amanda that the King Arthur Flour headquarters was only 20 minutes away! D'oh!
And they also sell common crackers. I'm glad I took a picture of them but would have been happier had I thought to pick up a box! I did pick up some pasta sauce from a local restaurant and some locally made sweet pickles which are delicious.
And a very nice beer selection too.
I was also digging this map of the Country Stores of New England.
As we left the store I noticed this blackboard. A town crier?! How cool is that? I love that the town has this old fashioned way of letting each other know about events and goings on. I just know a few of my NYC friends who would think this is giving away too much info to people they don't know!
And the flier for the pasta dinner that we would be attending with my mom and Harold in a couple of hours.
The Middle Bridge in Woodstock. This is the first bridge I would encounter on my run the next morning around the 4 mile mark.
The smell of the wood, creaking of the boards and just being in Vermont drew me in.
And the river view was pretty easy on the eyes. Our motel was just down the river a ways.
Even the "Phantom Runner" made an appearance. Local legend has it that every day before the Half Marathon a pair of disembodied running sneakers appears on the Middle Bridge as a sign that the spirits of those runners who have come and gone are ready to run alongside those who have chosen to accept the challenge that awaits them the next morning. Gotcha!! Actually, I just took mine off and had Doug snap a pic when the coast was clear.
The Suicide Six ski area and the site of the pre-race pasta dinner and the start of the race the next morning.
Okay, this is REAL! There is always a moment when I have that thought before the race and my energy level goes up and I get psyched for the race!
This is where I would be dropped off in about 12 hours to get my runner's bib, stretch, hydrate with some water and fuel up with a banana and a bagel before they kicked off the race of 2000 runners with Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger".
2012 will be the first year that the CBHM gives out medals to the finishers but I received an email that a local woodcrafter named David Fall, based just over the border in Hanover, NH was crafting medallions and selling them for $10.
After seeing this online I knew I had to have one. There really is an elegant simplicity to it. My mom went to put it around my neck but I politely refused asking that she do so tomorrow once I had earned the right to wear it after I crossed the finish line. As an interesting follow-up note, I took this picture by hanging it on the mirror in the motel room and realized I had left it there somewhere around the MA/CT birder on the way back to NYC! Panicked, I called the motel and they said they would retrieve it from the room and mail it back to me. Three days later I received it and I am gazing at it lovingly as I type this!
I love it when ski resorts use old skis to make new furniture. I found a set of chairs similar to this back in 2007 when Doug and I were at McCauley Mtn. in the Adirondacks in Central NY.
Th dinner was really good and very filling with local chefs making bolognese, pasta alfredo, salads and a local bakery donating fresh breads. There was a huge selection of bananas and homemade brownies for dessert and a local rock band playing music throughout. We ended up sitting at a table with a couple who as it turned out live in NYC right near Central park and run many of the same city courses that we do and we had a lot to talk about during our meal.
I asked a woman in line if she would take our picture and she happily obliged. From left to right: Marisa, Doug, Billy, Billy's Mom, Harold.
Time for sleep now but more to come...! Stay tuned!
<message edited by billyboy on Mon, 06/20/11 3:58 AM>