Southern Vermont Trip

May 20th 2011

On Friday May, 20th, another fine New England spring weekend, 10 intrepid Miatas left the Johnny Appleseed rest area in Leominster bound for the sizzle in the drizzle in southern Vermont. Under threatening sky, the tops were dropped and Jon led the crew down Rt. 2 to our dinner at The Wagon Wheel in Gill, MA. If you’ve never been there you owe it to yourself to give it a try. It’s sort of a drive-in with a dining room loaded with old clocks and kitchen kitsch.

With our hunger sated we rolled out into the lingering twilight for our drive to our weekend home at the Kitzhof Inn in Mount Snow, VT. Our route took us out Rt 2 to I-91 north to 9 west and 100 north. The route was a fine mix of open road and curvy cruising. The night fell and the fog rolled in as we approached the Kitzhof. It was looking like “The Shining” as “Here’s Johnny” Weinberg led us into the lot. The Kitzhof’s summer business caters to car and motorcycle groups so they had plenty of parking. Inside we were greeted by our British born hosts and began to notice the pictures of the numerous British car clubs that have visited. Given the number to Triumphs, MGs and Jags in the pictures, I was surprised to learn that they had neither a towing service nor garage on premises!

The Kitzhof is a classic Vermont ski inn with a rabbit warren of rooms, a large, communal dining area and comfortable lounge room. We met some of the rest of our weekend traveling companions who had made an independent journey, enjoyed some camaraderie and fell in for the night.

The following morning greeted us with a combination of drizzle, fog and just before launch, a taste of sun. After a fine breakfast at the Inn, the cat herd was wrangled to their vehicles and we lined up for the drive to Mount Equinox in Manchester, VT. The route took us through the ski country of southern Vermont including much to all our surprise, some sojourns on a couple of wet dirt roads. Our cars emerged with brown beards but no worse for the wear. We continued our drive through pristine colonial towns and finally through Manchester where we were greeted by numerous outlets housed in classic Federal period and Greek Revival homes. I know many a passenger hand had to be pried off the steering wheel to keep the cars from steering into the lots. Eventually we pulled into the gatehouse lot for the drive up the Skyline Drive to the summit of Mt. Equinox.

We all got our gate tokens and proceeded up the mountain. Although it appeared that the visibility would be minimal, it proved otherwise and the broken clouds framed the majesty of 7,000 acres of pristine wilderness and sitting in one valley, a Carthusian monastery. The drive up is a thrill in itself. The road is 5.2 miles in length, has 41 turns of which 20 are hairpins and climbs a total of 3,140 feet in elevation from the parking lot. The views are spectacular as one of our members discovered. There is an adage in racing that you steer to where you look and that adage proved true. Outside of a little vehicle rash, we all made it into the parking lot at the summit where were greeted with wind and fog but also a couple of breaks that gave us just a taste of the area’s beauty.

After our visit to the mountain, we loaded up and headed out across some fine Miata roads to lunch at The Upper Crust in Rutland. We fueled ourselves and our cars and hit the road. Our route took us through some of the most scenic sections of southern Vermont. The towns of Grafton and Newfane in particular exemplify the quintessential colonial and post-colonial New England village. With the village common lined with Colonial, Federal and Greek Revival dwellings and the white wooden church with towering steeple, one could easily see why people come from all over the country to play in our backyard. It was like driving though a movie set, in fact I half expected to see Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette wandering down the street. Our drive ended back at the Inn where we topped the day off with wine, food and merriment.

The next day dawned with the usual overcast but after breakfast the club positioned their cars for a photo shoot to go on the inn owner’s wall of fame. After the photo op, we once again lined up to hit the road and after a ride through the Vermont countryside we made a stop at the Vermont Country Store in Rockingham, VT. After stuffing what little trunk space we had left we blazed a trail across southern New Hampshire towards ice cream and home. Jon did have one surprise left for us and it was the arched stone bridge in Gilsum, NH. Crossing the fast flowing Ashuelot River, this 36 foot arched dry stone bridge is the largest in the state and registered with National Register of Historic Places. It’s quite a piece of masonry engineering. Back in our cars we motored our way to Kimball Farm in Lancaster and topped the trip off with the ritual ice cream. With the sun setting and our finely tuned sugar highs, we bid each other farewell until the next adventure.

Submitted by Greg Bates

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