Saturday, October 20, 2007

Steeple chaser? I hardly know 'er!

From International...
After having attended the Virginia Gold Cup (a spring event) for the past couple years, I finally had the chance to check out the International Gold Cup today. Fewer hats and sundresses, more corduroy and tweed, but otherwise the same sweet combination of tasty victuals, fashionable friends, and thrilling races prevailed. I spent my time almost exclusively in the role of bookie, taking $1 per bet and calculating payout by dividing the number of bets by the number of betters on the winning horse. (At the dire risk of boring, this creates some interesting wagering strategies. Most interesting was the case of my friend Morey, who placed a dollar bet on every horse in the race. Think about it...there are some interesting possibilities there). Anyway...

Did I mention how good everyone looked? Did I mention that we owe this all to the fabulous Jeff?

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Visit to the Decidedly Non-DC Northeast

Lucky me! After several months (a year?) of pestering Jeff, I managed to score myself an invitation to visit the famous King Family Camp, a beautiful cabin tucked away in rural West Topsham, Vermont. For 48 hours, Jeff ran me and fellow traveler Ann ragged, first stuffing us with delicious Vermont food and then hustling us up the White Mountains. I think if he had been inclined to charge, Jeff could have made a pretty penny off of us for his awesome tour-guiding! Check it:

Trip Journal
Made our way to Jeff's cabin in Vermont via the Manchester, NH airport with relatively little drama (other than Jeff's thrilling attempt to drive down the wrong side of I Street). Jeff cleared out the two dead mouse bodies and dispatched a large spider, thus making the cabin about as critter-free as possible. Jeff couldn't get the gas stove working, but the futons and wool blankets provided us with as toasty a bed as we could wish. Ann and I were naturally delighted to discover there's no outhouse at the King Family Camp.

Saturday - Eating our way around Vermont
We indulged in a rather late sleep-in, then hit the Waits River General Store for breakfast. This was to be the first of SIX food stops over the course of the day. We made our way through the gorgeous countryside and eventually ended up at the Cabot Creamery, where we took a tour (they were making Habanero cheese) and tried absolutely everything on the sample table. Vermont cheddar is the BEST. Next we made a stop at the Morse Farm Sugar Works, where of course we learned all about sugarin' and got to sample all the different kinds of maple syrup. I was raised on the fake stuff, but how can you not fall in love with maple syrup, eh? The rest of the day included stops in adorable downtown Montpelier (for lunch), at Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury (for the free sample at the end of the not-so-exciting tour), at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill (for cider and the most delicious doughnuts ever), and finally in Burlington (for sunset, dinner, and the Red Sox game). Stunning scenery all around. Foliage to die for - even a covered bridge! Yes, I've seen this stuff before, even in VT, but the power of simple beauty never fails to amaze and awe. Also, Vermonters are so damn friendly! I definitely think I belong in a less populated area, at least personality-wise. Too bad I'm hooked on things like concerts, opera, public transportation, amenities, etc. etc.

Sunday - White Mountains hiking
After picking up breakfast at Dunkin' Doughnuts and lunch sandwiches at a deli in Woodstock, NH, we arrived at the trailhead for the Old Bridle Path at Franconia Notch. Over the course of two hours, we ascended 2,000 ft in three miles and ended our trek at the AMC's Greenleaf Hut. Needless to say, the views were breathtaking. So was the hike, actually, in a more literal sense. The ascent got my pulse racing and the descent made my knees ache, but I loved every second.
Our mountain adventure tired out even trail-blazer Jeff, so you can imagine our joy when we discovered our flight back to Baltimore was delayed nearly an hour. We killed the time by chatting with a fellow passenger who recognized us from the hike (small world!) and eventually boarded and took off. I didn't get to bed until 1 AM - and I was the first home (poor Jeff, stuck driving all day!). But, in the end, even if I hadn't gotten any sleep at still would have been worth it. When are we going back already, guys??