Stowe Away for a complete escape
"Wanted: True Escape"
Having lived in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for a few years and visited Vermont several times, I was well aware of Stowe as one of the area's premier ski destinations. And, of course, there was the Van Trapp Lodge--where Maria the original singing nun and her brood settled after escaping the Nazis. (Really) But what finally got me to Stowe was cancer. I had just completed chemo and picked up a brochure for Stowe's Annual Weekend of Hope for cancer patients and their families. (http://www.stowehope.org/) I could not believe that I and my daughter could get a free hotel room, for two nights, in Stowe--but that's exactly what happened. We drove from Providence Rhode Island, stopping in Dartmouth NH to visit friends on the way so that I wasn't too worn out by the trip.
"Green Mountain Inn--Oasis in the valley"
When we arrived in Stowe we checked in at the church and got our room voucher and a hefty welcome packet full of info, discount coupons and a souvenir teddy bear. We were at the Green Mountain Inn, a classic but well-renovated stage stop right on Main Street. Do not let the classic facade fool you, this property has a fantastic restaurant, a gorgeous heated pool (year-round!) and a lovely poolside observation room with fireplace for those who prefer to read. Bookstores, craft shops and great food are all just steps away. We had a great room overlooking the pool with a balcony and a comfortable bathroom. The staff could not have been more helpful and we never felt like we were any different than regular guests. Throughout the weekend as I attended various classes for cancer patients, I met people staying in properties all over town, and visited a few for classes. Each has its own flavor and some are more high-end, but the Green Mountain Inn cannot be beat for its location and the historic ambience of the reception area and public rooms. For someone recovering from chemo it was perfect--not too far from the action and a quick walk to the shuttle. We will definitely be going back.
"Out and About: Dog Carts, Ice Cream and Cider"
Three experiences were unforgettable, besides the camaraderie and learning at the workshops. I can't say enough about the help this weekend gave me in recovering my self and sense of fun after a very difficult illness. The people of Stowe are amazing for what they do to pull this weekend together and offer such a gift to survivors and their families.
Thanks to the internet, I called ahead and arranged a surprise birthday present for my daughter: a dog cart ride at Peace Pups Dog Sledding (www.peacepupsdogsledding.com). It was a beautiful drive over--about 30 minutes on winding roads through tiny villages and past a gorgeous lake. We got a little lost because the final turn didn't have a road sign...but otherwise the ride over was as much fun as the actual dog experience--which is saying something. Since mud season had just ended the dogs were thrilled to get out. The owner was very careful to introduce us to the dogs and took my daughter for an exciting ride down dirt roads through the woods and fields. For a kid who's crazy about wolves and dogs, this was about as thrilling as we could get in non-snow season. Watch for Peace Pups sled dog rides on the slopes at Stowe... we hope to return for a moonlight run on snow one day.
The second great memory was the Ben and Jerry's Tour. It's cute and interesting and fast paced, and best of all ends with free ice cream samples... and of course there's a full-service shop for those who need more than a sample. On a side note--we got so distracted taking photos I left my purse behind. We got almost all the way back to the hotel and realized it--drove back and it was at the info desk, with not one dime missing. This is reflective of the whole weekend--everyone was there to chill out, and kindness flowed like the mountain streams.
We ended up going to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill three times: for a snack the first afternoon (it was chilly and drizzly), for breakfast the second morning, and then for "ride home sustenance" as we headed back to the interstate. The Mill has great pressed cider and a pretty impressive gift shop, but the unforgettable item was their apple cider DONUTS. Go in the morning and watch them made fresh. Unforgettable, affordable and soooo delicious!