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My Honda CRV is back on the road.

My Honda CRV is back on the road. 

In a blog post on April 7th I commented on a recall letter I had received from Honda North America informing me about a potentially life threating problem with the Takata airbags used in my 2011 Honda CRV. I am happy to report that the problem has been addressed by Honda and replacement airbags have been installed. As a result, my Honda is back on the road.

The airbag recall was an interesting adventure. I learned a lot through the process which I will try to communicate in the rest of this post.

First, I have nothing but praise for the way Honda North America and Shearer Honda of Rutland Vermont dealt with me while they worked to correct the problem. I was taken aback by the stearn warnings of the original recall letter. Honda North America, at this point in their efforts to address the industy wide Takata Airbag fiasco, were completely transparent in their efforts to resolve the problem, and provided me with support in the form of a rental car for 3 months while parts were not available to repair my CRV. Working through their Rutland Vermont dealer, Shearer Honda, an efficient process had been put in place to support me as a Honda vehicle owner. From telephone support to the people in the service department at Shearer Honda, everyone was available with consistent advice on how to address the situation. Clearly Honda North America and Shearer Honda in Rutland did everything that they could to make a very bad situation palatable. I have no doubt that a significant portion of the profit Honda earned in initially selling me my CRV was consumed by 3 months of car rental payments to Enterprise Car Rental.

Both my driver side and passenger side airbags were replaced. I was originally notified of a problem with the driver side airbag in late March. When I brought my CRV to Shearer in July to get that airbag replaced, I was informed that a new recall was put out on my passenger side airbag. I was advised to call Honda North America about the details as I had not yet received my official recall notice. When I did, I was told by the Honda North America support person that the passenger side needed replacement as well, and NOT to turn in my rental car. Fortunately within a week, Shearer Honda was able to receive a new passenger side airbag to install in my CRV, allowing me to return my rental and take my CRV back to the inn.

In the process of doing the airbag repair, my Honda did sit unused for 3 months. I did drive it once a week around the parking lot of the inn to keep fluids moving in the car. But over the 3 months, as we are in a very wet environment, corrosion did develop on the brakes. To their credit, Shearer Honda in Rutland worked with me to fix the brake problems that developed. They could have easily pleaded some excuse for the brake problem, but to their credit they owned the fact that the car was not drivable for 3 months and repaired the problem.

If you have a Honda that is impacted by the Takata Airbag Recall, you should take it seriously. Many people across the world have died as a result of this defect. While the odds of getting into an accident are low (about 3% per year per NTSB statistics), the consequences of havng a defective airbag in your car are very high and should not be treated lightly.

From my personal experience, even though it was a very expensive process for Honda, they dealt with my situation professionally. They treated me with the utmost in respect during the whole process. For that I am grateful.

Where ever you may be this weekend, have a great time, keep it in the fairway, and don't forget your sun screen.

Riding the lift in full regaliato start my mountain biking adventure

Riding the lift in full regalia to start my mountain biking adventure 

Posted by Mary

On Monday I went Mountain Biking for the first time since opening the inn. Merisa, our bar tender, was my guide/instructor... and it was great! A week ago I hiked the beginner trails on Snowshed early in the morning to do a reconnaissance run. On Monday, with borrowed helment, googles and gloves from our friend Kelly I was off to the mountain to bike.

Once at the resort, the bike shop set me up with shin guards, elbow pads and the bike. They gave me a mini lesson on floor mounted equipment and off to the parking lot we went. The differences between road biking and mountain biking are many and Merisa pointed them out as we road around the base area for a few minutes.

Next it was onto the lift. Getting on the lift without snow was odd but the attendant handled the bikes. Merisa and I just sat down for the ride. Off the lift was equally as easy; with all the heavy lifting being done by the liftie at the top. The good news was no one else was around to see my first run, so down "Easy Street" we road.

Mountain biking Snowdon at Killington
My first day back on a mountain bike at Killington
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The first run was real slow with brakes on most of the way. I had a death grip on the handlebars and had to pedal some because in a few up patches I didn't have enough momentum to carry all the way. The second run I was much more comfortable and let the bike run some which actually made it easier and smoother, who knew.

I was thinking about a third run but just like in skiing if you have to think about one more run the answer should be no. Big thanks to Merisa for encouraging me to try Mountain Biking and the patience to take me out.

Now I can recommend Mountain Biking to all of our guests. It is not just for the adrenaline junky, it can also be a great way to experience the mountain.

Merisa was very encouraging. She told me that with a little more practice it will feel like skiing.

Only time will tell. But I am game to do it again to find out.

Tents being set up at K1 Base Lodge for this weekends Killington Wine Festival

Tents being set up at K1 Base Lodge for this weekends Killington Wine Festival 

Summer season is at full swing in Killington. With July 4th weekend behind us, the summer is now ramping up in a big way.

This weekend at the Birch Ridge Inn we have 3 separate events taking place.

Small Plate Thursdays return for the summer season tomorrow night. Every Thursday night at the inn we promote our restaurants small plate menu. This week you can match any small plate with a glass of wine for $15. Service starts at 6:00 PM in both the restaurant and the Great Room.

Small Plate Thursday returns
Join us for the first Small Plate Thursday of the 2016 summer season. Thursday July 14, 2016

On Friday night, the Killington Wine Festival kicks off witht the Killington Wine Trail. We have a fun pairing set up for the evening featuring Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc with a Maine Lobster cake for $17.95.

On Saturday evening, we will be hosting our 15th Annual Killington Wine Festival Wine Dinner. As most of our guests are aware, we take pride in promoting fresh products from Vermont in our food and beverage operation. For this years wine dinner, we are doing a full on "Localvoire" offering using Vermont wines from the Boyden Valley Winery in Cambridge Vermong complimented with fresh ingredients from local farms. The price for the 5 course wine dinner, including wine, is $89 per person. Reservations are required. Dinner begins at 6:30 pm in the Great Room of the inn with the first wine selections and appetizers, followed with the remainder of the dinner in the restaurant at 7:00. If you love wine paired with great food, this is a dinner not to be missed.

Visit the full Birch Ridge Inn website at birchridge.com.

We hope to see you in Killington this weekend.

If not, where ever you may be, keep it in the fairway, and don't forget your sun screen!

Interesting lie... I did hit it from the tree back into the fairway

Interesting lie... I did hit it from the tree back into the fairway 

Independence day weekend already... With the swirl of politics gracing the airways, and American flags flying at every turn, it is definitely easy to feel patriotic.

Summer is entering full swing at Killington. The Resorts adventure center is operating daily with mountain biking, mountain coasters, scenic gondola rides, a ropes course, skyeride, terra-maze, and other attractions, all with Killington Peak as a backdrop, resplendent in the summer sunshine.

This week, the Killington region turns to golf with the AJGA Killington Junior Golf Championship at Green Mountain National Golf course. Hundreds of teenagers and their families have descended on the area to participate in the tournament. A field of 144 boys and girls age 12-19 are due to tee off in the tournament Tuesday morning for 3 days of play. Today(Sunday) qualifier rounds are being play to fill in the few open spots in the tournament field. Over 100 players had signed up for 9 boy slots, and 3 girl slots in the tournament field.

Also at Green Mountain, locall club matches are underway. I lost in my first round match 1 down on Friday, after hitting my tee shot on the 18th hole into a very interesting position (see photo). That's the way golf goes sometimes. But there is a lot of golf left in the Green Mountains thru out the summer.

Tomorrow, Independence Day, is a big day in Killington. The Volunteer Fire Department hosts a true spectacle of Americana all day at the town Recreation Center on River Road. The Fourth of July Celebration starts with a parade at 10:00AM followed by the traditional Fireman's BBQ. The festivites end at 9:30 PM with a spectacular fireworks show. If you are in Killington, it is not to be missed.

At the inn, we are serving dinner this evening starting at 6. We begin our regular restaurant schedule, serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday this week after successfully completing our spring session. If you are up at Killington, stop in for a bite to eat, or a cool beverage.

Where ever you may be this weekend, have a great time, keep it in the fairway, and don't forget your sun screen.

The front portico entrance to the Birch Ridge Inn.

The front portico entrance to the Birch Ridge Inn. 

It has been a busy spring....

With the summer solstice just behind us, and the long days of summer ahead of us, Mary and I are wrapping up most of the projects we set out to accomplish this spring. Major projects, including repairing siding and painting the exterior of the inn were have been (mostly) completed by trusted contractors. Heating system and plumbing repairs have been started. The last bit of system upgrades are waiting for parts to arrive before installation can be scheduled. Maintenance items like carpet cleaning of public spaces, installing new linoleum on the floor of the kitchen, painting an interior hallway, installing summer air conditioners, etc... have all been completed as planned.

The reality is, however, that most of the items mentioned above are "invisible", as they should be, to guests who visit Birch Ridge. But a couple of big projects that we took on this spring are directly seen by every guest who physically or virtually enters the inn.

Mary, with the help of our Chef Reggie, took on the big job of renewing the front portico of the inn. Reggie had the unenviable job of sanding all of the surfaces of the portico to remove the old weather beaten finish. Mary in the mean time took down the door and proceeded to do the same. (If you happened to be at the inn in May there were periods where the front door of the inn was just a piece of plywood to keep the local bear population coming out of hibernation at bay.) Before applying new finishes, Mary did a lot of research. Based upon the advice of our painting contractor, Mary acquired a collection of marine grade sealers which she used to revitalize and refinish the wood. A new front door lock and a brass kick plate finished the efforts intime to re-open the inn over the Memorial day weekend.

The front portico entrance to the Birch Ridge Inn before repairs.
Before and after photos of the Front Portico entrance to the Birch Ridge Inn.
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In the virtual world, we have completely redesigned the entrance to the inn as well.

Over the last couple of months, I did a complete system redesign of our inns website, birchridge.com. Several years ago I had updated our web architecture to support desktop and mobile devices. This is an absolute requirement for any website intended to be accessed by the general public. Whereas the old site architecture detected a users device and steared the user to a device specific web site, the new architecture for birchridge.com is based upon "Responsive Design" techniques. Procedures built into each web page automatically adjust how a page is displayed based upon the users screen. Users who access birchridge.com from thier desktop will see the same information when they switch to their tablet of mobile device. The information will automatically reformat to fit the users device, without the need for separate device specific web sites.

Visit the full Birch Ridge Inn website at birchridge.com.

You can see how responsive design on birchridge.com works from your desktop by changing the size of your web browser window. I have tested the site with every modern browser (IE, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Andriod) that I could get my hands on. I even borrowed the mobile phones of several guests during my testing to verify operation...although Mobile browsers generally follow industry standards much more closely than desktop browsers with the exception of handling touch inputs. But that is an arcane subject suitable for discussion over a beer in the Great Room of the inn. No need to bore you here.

We still have a few more projects to wrap up as we head into the summer. We are also working with Chef Reggie designing the menu and selecting the wines for our wine dinner at the Killington Wine Festival in July. (It's a tough job but somebody has to do it.)

All this, of course, is a pre-cursor to being able to get out of the inn and chase the little white ball across the golf course. But that is story for another day.

Where ever you may be, keep it in the fairway, and don't forget your sun screen!

Birch Ridge Restaurant re-opens Memorial Day Weekend

Birch Ridge Restaurant re-opens Memorial Day Weekend 

That was a short break.....

With summer just around the corner, the restaurant at the Birch Ridge Inn will re-open for the Memorial Day weekend. In a change from the script of past years where we closed the restaurant for spring hiatus at the end of April to re-open just before July 4th, we decided that this year we would try something different. After a fantatic winter season (did you catch the hint of sarcasm there) which saw Killington experience record snow fall, we decided to put the restauant on hiatus at the beginning of April to re-open for Memorial day. It was still an 8 week hiatus...but did it go fast.

Speaking of Killington and record snow fall, I am of course talking about one of those records we hope to never experience again in ski country in Vermont. As of today, May 24th, 2016, the Killington Resort has received 81 inches of snow during the 2015-2016 winter season. According to a presentation done by resort management to the Killington community several weeks ago, this is the least amount of snow reported at Killington EVER since the resort began operations in 1958. Even though we had the least amount of snow ever for a winter season, the resorts investment in snow making equipment again has proved its worth as the resort is still providing lift serviced skiing and riding on the Superstar trail at the K1 base lodge.

Back to the inn....we are wrappng up our pre-season projects. During the spring when there are few guests in Killington, we try to do projects which impact common areas of the inn. This year we had the outside of the inn re-stained. The front portico and front door entering the inn have been completely re-finished. We also retiled the kitchen floor.

All this is leading up to the restaurant at the inn re-opening for the summer season this coming Friday, May 27th. This weekend, the restaurant will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening; serving dinner from 6:00 PM. During June, as we head into the summer season, we will be serving dinner Thursday through Saturday, returning to our normal weekly schedule just before the July 4th holiday. If you would like dinner reservations, you can call the inn at 800.435.8566 or 802.422.4293, or go online the dinner reservation page on birchridge.com.

If you are in Killington for Memorial Day, stop bye to say hello....

Where ever you may find yourself, have a great weekend, and don't forget your sun screen.

My Honda CRV --- replaced by a Kia Sonata rental

My Honda CRV --- replaced by a Kia Sonata rental 

The phrase on the letter from Honda was in bold print and quite jarring. My car, my beautiful little 2011 mint condition CRV whose odometer just turned 30K could kill me. In all my years on the planet, it was the most blood curdling letter I have ever received from a corporation... surpassing even those few 'pink slips' I received in my youth. While no where near as emotionally gut renching as the 'We regret to inform you' letters provided to families of friends killed in military service, the Honda letter I received feels similar to the 'Greetings' letters sent out by the Vietnam era draft boards notifying people that there lives would be interruped by a period of military conscription.

But I like my Honda CRV.... but it could kill me....

My CRV is tied up in the Takata Airbag Recall. Takata, a Japanese company, is a major supplier of airbag inflators to the automotive industry. Over 32 Million airbag inflators are currently involved spread out across most automotive brands. Possibly 280 million Takata air bag inflators are at risk according to Bloomberg news. Worldwide there have been 11 deaths associated with the inflators, which, if the deflators are defective and the bag triggers, spread shrapnel through the passenger compartment. 10 deaths have occurred in the US. 10 of the 11 deaths worldwide have been in Honda cars. Car and Driver has a running blog covering everything you need to know about this fiasco as it happens.

Honda recall letter.
Honda recall letter on Takata airbag recall.

But I like my Honda CRV.... but it could kill me....

At least as it applies to my CRV, American Honda Motor Co, Inc, the official name of Honda in the United States, has addressed the matter forthrightly. While my CRV probably will not be repaired until sometime this summer, Honda has arranged, at no charge to me, a rental car to use for the duration. Yesterday I picked up a relatively brand new (<10K miles) loaded 2016 Hundai Sonata. Why Honda did not make sure I was provided with a Honda as my rental car is a bit puzzling to my friends and I. But so goes the thinking in corporate America (or Japan) sometimes.

From everything I have read about this problem, it is serious. While there is a chain of relatively low probability events that must take place for the Takata airbag defect to expose itself...for instance the car most likely is involved in an accident or other mishap which causes the bags to be inflate, there is a finite probability much greater than zero that it could occur. From NHSTA data from 2013, the odds that any individual driver would be in an accident in a year are roughly 2.7%. Now not all accidents result in airbag inflation, but the odds are high enough that if you have an impacted vehicle, you should pay attention.

To determine if you vehicle is currently impacted by the Takata Airbag Recall, or any other recall, you can check out safercars.gov for recall details.

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