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Chef Justin making dinner rolls for the start of the 21st season serving dinner at the Birch Ridge Inn

Chef Justin making dinner rolls for the start of the 21st season serving dinner at the Birch Ridge Inn 

Sampling time is over. It's time to go public.

The restaurant at the Birch Ridge Inn reopens to the general public this coming weekend. On Saturday June 29th, the dining room at the inn will re-open for dinner guests.

The kitchen staff has been back at work the last month identifying new dishes for our menu for our 21st season serving dinner guests. This week their attention changed from sampling food dishes to a production environment to get ready for the re-opening.

Opening menu for the 21st dinner season at the Birch Ridge Inn, Killington.
Opening menu for the 21st dinner season at the Birch Ridge Inn, Killington.

Our schedule for the coming week is fairly simple. Once we get through the weekend, we will be serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday starting at 6. Next week the restaurant will be closed on Thursday July 4th to celebrate Independence day. But other than that, we will be open and ready to cook for you.

Stop "Inn" if your are at Killington.

And even if you are not at Killington, get outside and enjoy the early summer. And don't forget your sunscreen......

Bill raising the flag at the inn to start summer

Bill raising the flag at the inn to start summer 

Spring never lasts long enough!

Coming off a busy winter, there is always work to be done around the inn. And that's a good thing. Simply put, if no one is using it, it's not going to break. And since the inn is a business, it is good when things get used. Add in some R and R time to the mix of fixing things at the inn, and spring goes bye in a flash.

While Mary worked on the gardens around the inn, Chef Justin and I concentrated on refurbishing the kitchen in preparation for our 21st season operating the restaurant.

The contents of the inn's kitchen emptied into the restaurants dining room
The contents of the inn's kitchen emptied into the restaurant dining room.

To do the work that needed to be done, we had to move the contents of the inn's kitchen into the restaurant. This freed up a whole bunch of space to allow work to get done.

Old floor at servers station in kitchen stripped of linoleum tiles prior to being repaired.
Old floor at servers station in kitchen stripped of linoleum tiles prior to being repaired.

About 2/3rds of the linoleum tiles in the kitchen along with portions of the sub-floor were shot. While we were prepping the entire kitchen to get a fresh coat of epoxy paint, we pulled the floor and did the necessary repairs.

New floor at servers station prior to re-installation of equipment.
New floor at servers station prior to re-installation of equipment.

After washing all the walls and ceiling, we applied white epoxy paint to all of the painted surfaces. We put down new linoleum tiles, and coated the floor with 4 coats of sealer. Once the floor was buffed out, all the kitchen equipment was re-installed. We can cook again!

Kitchen equipment moved out of the restaurant back into the kitchen.
Kitchen equipment moved out of the restaurant back into the kitchen.

Carpet and tables moved back into the restaurant to make it ready to receive guests.
Carpet and tables moved back into the restaurant to make it ready to receive guests.

With all of the equipment moved back into the kitchen, the restaurant floor needed a little love. Mary and Nicole worked on it for a few days to clean and polish it before putting the carpet and all of the tables back in place. With all of the work done to the restaurant completed, it was now time for some vacation.

The "Holiday" part of our spring saw us visiting the moms in Massachusetts before taking a "City Fix" in the "Big Apple". It has been a while since we had the opportunity to visit New York City, so we played the tourist game to the hilt.

Down on a pier on the Hudson River
Down on a pier on the Hudson River.

Lady Liberty
Lady Liberty

One World Trade Center near Wall Street
One World Trade Center near Wall Street.

While in New York City we walked an average of 9 miles a day. We love to walk in cities when we visit them; it gives one a real sense of the city. We were staying at a nice hotel 4 blocks south of Times Square. Our travels took us as far north as the Metropolitan Museum in Central Park down to the southern tip of Manhattan at Battery Park. In between we visited the previously mentioned MET, MOMA, Central Park Zoo, St Patricks Cathedral, Rockefeller Center and the "Top of the Rock", Times Square, Macys, Wall Street, NYSE, 9/11 Museum, Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, Intreped Sea, Air and Space Museum, The Highline, Hudson Yards, and so many other places in between. In our prior, pre-innkeeping, lives we had visited NYC many times on business. Usually quick dashes in for meetings or functions. So it was really nice to just plunk ourselves down in the city and take in the sites.

But all play and no work is not in our DNA, so after what seemed like a very short week, we headed back to Vermont and the inn for our final big project of the spring: renovating the owners quarters.

Last year we completely re-did the bathroom in the owners quarters of the inn; turning the existing space into an empty box and installing new flooring, sheet rock, wainscoting, and fixtures. This year it was the owners quarters proper that received our love.

Prepping to paint the owners quarters of the inn.
Prepping to paint the owners quarters of the inn.

How do you paint a 16 foot peak with a 12 foot step ladder? With a brush on a pole of course.
How do you paint a 16 foot peak with a 12 foot step ladder? With a brush on a pole of course.

We de-camped from the owners quarters to several guest rooms; sleeping in one, storing furniture in another. With the rooms cleared, the process began to repair and repaint all of the walls including the kitchen, bedroom, and living room (with the vaulted ceiling no less). With the exception of a couple of trim pieces, everything is now put back together. We have moved back in to our home in the middle of the inn. While we are still waiting for some new furniture we ordered to complete the overall renovations, it is good to be home.

With our spring projects behind us, the inn as re-opened for guests. This weekend we have many guests in the inn who are either attending weddings in the area, or participating in the Vermont Adaptive Charity Ride. They have gotten a great weekend for both.

The chefs are back in the kitchen working to perfect new dishes we will be putting on the menu during the summer. More on the restaurant re-opening in posts later this week.

And what ever you may be doing, as the weather turns nice in the early summer, get outside and enjoy. Oh... and don't forget your sun screen.

Mary and assistant Nicole cleaning front gardens

Mary and assistant Nicole cleaning front gardens 

Spring had a minor fake out earlier in the week. A minor spring snow stormed covered the ground around the inn with a 3 inch coating of heavy wet snow earlier in the week. Of course with temperatures soaring to the mid 60's at 1900 feet where the inn is located, it did not last long. But it was just enought to remind us that we need to pay attention to Mother Nature over the next few weeks as we work around the inn.

Spring maintenance season is upon us. We will be putting the inn on hiatus starting on Easter Sunday so we can get at our spring construction projects. We have several major projects planned, and a lot of the usual maintenance. Over the next few weeks we will be taking the kitchen down so we can put in a new floor and paint it. We also have more work planned to upgrade the owners quarters, following on to the project we started last spring. We will be busy, as is usually the case this time of year.

With the very warm weather outside, Mary has started to work to clean the gardens around the inn. She and our assistant, Nicole, were working this morning to clean the gardens at the front of the inn along Butler Road. It is way too early to begin spring planting, as many nights we are still approaching frost level temperatures, but it is not too early to begin the debris clearing from last fall and the winter.

The resort is still in full swing for skiing and riding over the Easter weekend. If you are in the mood to get some late season time in the snow, you will not be disappointed.

With a little luck, we will get out on the slopes this weekend, possibly for our ski swan song for the season before we beging construction activities.

Where ever you may be, have a great Easter weekend. Hopefully you get a chance to get outside and play in the sunshine as well.. and don't forget your sunscreen......

Mary on Caper earlier in the week

Mary on Caper earlier in the week 

Although it has turned into a rather dreary late afternoon, with heavy rain pounding on the slate roof over my head in the office, Killington has had a great run this season.

And with some luck, it looks like there are a few more days to have some fun on the snow.

While we were out enjoying the ski slopes this week, and taking in some nice spring weather in the process, it was obvious as we looked around the resort that Killington was still basically burried in snow. From the work of Mother Nature, to the patience of the Killington snow making team, everywhere we turned there was soft snow for our carving pleasure.

Our restaurant served it's last meals for the winter season last night. The crew will be in doing deep cleaning and some repairs over the next few weeks before dispersing for a well earned vacation. After a brief hiatus, the restaurant will resume operations in late June for the 2019-2020 season.

The inn is still open for guests. We will be at it for a few more days before construction projects get in the way. Each year there is a list of spring projects to complete. We will start attacking those in a few weeks as well, before before starting the next season.

Thank you to all of the guests who stayed and/or dined with us during out 20th season serving guests at Killington.

We hope to ski a few more days at Killington before the spring is done. Hopefully you can too... and don't forget your sunscreen......

Ruts heading to his swan song run of the season on Cascade

Ruts heading to his swan song run of the season on Cascade 

The weather over the weekend might have made the Gorton's fisherman in his yellow slicker happy but it was not great for a ski resort.

Yet as if Killington has struck a Faustian bargain with the devil on April Fool's day, the snow cover remains all over the resort. And the skiing was actually good!

You had to be here the last couple of days to understand how good things are on the mountain. Yesterday, April Fool's Day, as long as you stayed on groomed trails, everything was aces. The resort had groomed most trails early. Mother Nature cooperated with a layer of fluff on top, which was just delightful to ski on. Some of the trails that were not groomed (Upper Wildfire for instance) were still quite enjoyable. The snow cover had not yet frozen on many of the ungroomed trails as the new snow was acting as an insulation of sorts from the cold temperatures. While skiing on these surfaces, you had the new snow on top with a generally pliable base that carved pretty nicely.

And today was even better.

The resort clearly had time to get out again and groom most trails. Some of the steeps were developing cookies as the surface was getting broken up. Others were developing some spring cream if they were exposed to the full sunshine that was bathing the resort all day.

All in all, a miraculous recovery from a r@!ny weekend. But as they say April (or late March) showers bring May flowers.

Today was the last day of the season for our friend Ruts. He is prepping for wind surfing so he decided that under today's bright sunshine he would hang the ski's in the rack for the final time this season. We have skied over 40 days together this year. Not bad at all... Looking forward to doing it again next season.....

Even with the wet spring weather we had last weekend, we have tons of snow on the mountain for you to enjoy this spring. Get your boards out and head to Killington!

And don't forget your sunscreen......

Foreboding clouds descend on Killington as Chuckles skates in front of K1 on way to Bubble

Foreboding clouds descend on Killington as Chuckles skates in front of K1 on way to Bubble 

Today was a surprise!

When I got up this morning with the intention to ski the 4th day in a row this week, I was not impressed when I looked outside. Heavy clouds were in the air over the inn. A light r@!n was falling. Temperatures were in the low 40's.

I hopped onto the Weather Channel app on my phone. Not to look at the forecast... That would be of no value in determining if I was going to head out to the mountain. I looked at the radar plot. I saw that Killington was on the northernost tip of a penisula of r@!n. We were about to enter a dry hole in the storm for around 2 hours. Time was of the essence.....

Mary put her boots on at the front desk. I put my left ski boot on, keeping street shoes for the right so I could drive to the mountain. After a quick trip out the door to a parking spot near the Snowdon Bubble, I put my right boot on in the parking lot and we were off. The r@In had stopped. The clouds were still heavy. But our hunch looked like it was playing out.

For the first run we headed to Highline. The entrance was a little slick with some minor crispyness. But the middle and headwall were pure delight. Cream cheese from edge to edge allowing for sweeping carving turns down the face of the headwall. And the snow was consistent as well. Score one for the team.

We pushed across to the Superstar quad and most of the trails on it's pod. Took a couple of runs off the Skyeship. Headed back to the Bubble for a tour of the Canyons as the Canyon quad was running today. And finished with a K1 run down Great Northern to head back to the car. Everywhere we went we found beautiful soft carving snow. A very deightful morning.

To reward ourselves, we did lunch at the Back Country Cafe. As we were eating lunch, right on time as predicted by the Weather Channel's radar, it began to shower.

Sometimes you pick your battles with Mother Nature. With so much snow covering Killington, it was a no brainer today to go skiing. And with a little help from technology... we stayed dry as well.

The forecast calls for some juice in the atmosphere this weekend. With temperatures expected to be above freezing for most of Saturday and Sunday, you can expect very soft snow with developing bumps across all the mountains of Killington. Come and get some.... you won't melt! And if you play your cards right, as the temperatures start to fall on Sunday, you will be greated with a little fresh snow to cap off your weekend.

So put in your clear lenses in your goggles, and come to the mountains. You won't be disappointed.

The gang wishing the Bagel off as he decides to focus on Apres Ski life

The gang wishing the Bagel off as he decides to focus on Apres Ski life 

What a fantastic ski day!

100% bright blue ski. Winter surfaces, Spring temperatures.... it does not get any better until it does....

The crewe started today punctually at 9:00 AM. Today on the slopes for the gang was an important day, and Mother Nature cooperated in all her glory.

It is virtually impossible to complain about any runs today. Every run had a firmness under foot mellowed by last weeks snow storm combined with the beginning of the spring softening across the landscape. While most trails still had winter hardpack as a base, and a couple were skiddy versus carvey, all the trails were covered with a packed powder coating that in some cases sprayed mid boot level under broad sweeping turns. As the morning progressed, each run seemed better than the last as the sun and skier traffic worked their magic softening up ski surfaces.

It is impossible to call a run of the day.. they were all good. But a slight tip of the hat goes off to Superstar as spring settles over the resort. Over the last couple of days Superstar has morphed from a collection of skid turns to a carvers delight. From top to bottom the surface is trending softer. Not yet soft enough to build the mega-bumps of spring, but the trend line is clear. In the meantime, if you dont want mega-bumps and like to carve, Superstar was the place to go get some today.

But today was also about the Bagel. After a multi-decade ski carreer he has decided to focus his efforts on the Apres Ski life. Between wintering in Florida, his love for golf, and his blender with frozen margaritas, he decided that today was the day to call an end to his regular ski excursions to the mountains. While he may still be coaxed out to make a guest appearance, he has decided, like many before him, that the time was right.

I have enoyed the Bagel's company on the slopes of Killington for almost 30 years. We have a lot of great ski days under our belts together. Many have skied with him 40 or more years. In addition to skiing with him at Killington, he introduced Mary and I to the many great golf courses in the area. And once we were hooked on Killington in both the winter and the summer, it was only a matter of time before we decided to relocate our lives to Killington and start the Birch Ridge Inn. Damn you Bagel!

Speaking for Mary and myself, we will miss the Bagel on the slopes of Killington next winter.... but in the meantime, we look forward to many rounds of golf with him this summer when the snow melt turns the mountains and golf courses of Vermont green. And so it goes....

The ski trails of Killington are resplendent in the spring sun. By all means, get out and enjoy the bounty Mother Nature has given us this winter. When you venture onto the slopes, have a great time... and don't forget your sun screen!

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