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Birch Ridge Inn
Fall Foliage Picture
of the Day
Birch Ridge Inn foliage
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Another beautiful day. Colors slowly changing.

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Fall Mums in bloom on the walkway leading to the inn.

Fall Mums in bloom on the walkway leading to the inn. 

It's coming. It will be soon now.....

Fall colors have been a little slow to date in the Killington region. But you can sense change is imminent.

What has been a warm and relatively damp late summer is quickly turning into fall. Temperatures in Killington have literally plumetted in the last several days. Daytime temperatures the last several days have changed from high 70's low 80's to struggling to get to 65. Night time temperatures are flirting with the frost line. We have not had a frost yet, but there have been warnings. We have hit the low 40's the last few nights with night time temperatures in the high 30's predicted the next several days. While I am still in my summer shorts, I have needed to get a fleece the last couple of nights while sitting in my office doing the day's closing paperwork. And today as I write this, the office windows are closed during the day for the first time since last winter.

Colors showing on the Rams Head lift line, Sunday September 25, 2016
Colors showing on the Rams Head lift line, Sunday September 25, 2016.

On the mountains around Killington, fall colors are just starting to expose themselves. They are not vibrant just yet, as many of the trees in the forest canopy are still green. But in a matter of days the scene will switch, especially if the weather stays cool as predicted.

This weekend it is relatively quiet around Killington. It is literally the quiet before the proverbial "storm". Next weekend the region will see a large influx of weekend people for the annual Killington Brewfest. After that we have the run up to Columbus Day Weekend. Fall colors will be getting more vibrant every day. Mother Nature always puts on a good show!

And then, of course, all eyes are on the Killington Resort to divine some clue on when the snow-making system will be turned on, signally the unofficial start of the ski season. This years early snow making will be particularily significant, as Killington will be hosting the Audi FIS World Cup on Superstar over the Thanksgiving weekend. But we should be skiing on Killington weeks before that. Our staff is getting ready for ski season. Are you???

Wherever you may be, keep hitting the ball straight (at least for the next few weeks). Remember the lost ball leaf rule. And start thinking snow!

Hints of fall color appearing around Killington

Hints of fall color appearing around Killington 

While it is just beginning, in my travels around Killington this week there are distinct signs that fall colors are getting ready to make their annual appearance. Colors are not distinctive yet by any measure, but noticable changes are taking place. The Mid-September change is but a prelude to the colors of early October. But while those how may wish to cling to summer for a few more weeks will have their wishes granted, it it impossible to ignore that the season is changing.

Around the inn there are random splotches of color. The color is not highly pronounced. It is randomly mixed at the lower levels of many trees in the forest around the inn. A casual observer would still see a forest canopy layered in green. But looking more closely, the color is there for all to see.

Over the next few week, we will document the progression of colors around the inn with our daily fall folliage picture. The annual ritual of fall colors in Vermont is unique in the world, and we are blessed to have a front row seat right in the middle of it all.

Where ever you may be, keep it in the fairway, and savor the last days of summer.

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!

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