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Pix from the Vermont Flood August 30, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
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3 comments

There are zombies in Vermont right now. Correction: we’re all zombies in Vermont right now, walking around dazed, barely able to comprehend the extent of the destruction.

Anyone who thinks (are you listening, George Will?) that the media exaggerated the effects of Irene only needs to set foot in the state (oh wait, you can’t get here from there).  Okay, we’re not New York City-center-of-the universe (no offense, New York). But as they say, what are we, chopped liver?

You  may have heard reports that many people in  the state are essentially cut off from the outside world.  Well, you can practically add me to the list. Why do I say practically? Here’s the deal: there are essentially two ways to the main road from my house. One of them is completely washed away, and the other will probably be gone very shortly, since a stream is literally eating away at the road bed. We spotted a car on the other side of that before it goes, so hopefully we’ll be able to get out when we need to (although we’ll still have to ford the stream). With so much needing to be done throughout the state, it’s anyone’s guess how long this repair will take, so we may be hoofing it back and forth to the car for a good while.

Here’s what I’m talking about. Yesterday morning this was nearly two lanes wide. By the afternoon it was barely one.

We also walked up the road that leads over the mountain by our house, and it’s G-O-N-E. I understand it’s this bad at both ends, so the people in the middle are entirely cut off.

This is only a taste of the destruction around here. It’s truly heartbreaking. And it’s this way everywhere, all over the state.

How will we rebuild? Before winter sets in?  This is a small state with limited resources. My township, for example, has exactly three dump trucks. Yes, three. That’s it.

Perhaps Jim Cantore, of  The Weather Station (and my new crush) said it best:

For anyone who wants to help, you can do one of three things:

  • VTResponse.com is working to connect volunteers ready to help with those that need assistance. If you want to help clean up and rebuild, let the folks behind this site know.
  • Donate to Vermont Red Cross. You can do that here.
  • Text FOODNOW to 52000 to donate $10 to the Vermont Foodbank. The Foodbank will turn each donation into $60 for families in need.

BTW, on a ski related note, the K1 and Snowshed lodges at Killington have collapsed:

Pardon me. I think I’ll have a good cry.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

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Swept away. August 29, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
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4 comments

Oh, Irene, you’re a tricky one. When all our attention was diverted to your path south and east of here, you sneaked inland and gave us a whump upside the head. I mean, since when are Vermont and hurricane used in the same sentence — except of course to say, “We never get hurricanes in Vermont”?

Right. Never. Until now.

Okay, Irene was a tropical storm when it got here. But it sure did a number on us. Torrential rains yesterday caused catastrophic flooding. Roads were destroyed, covered bridges swept away, towns and villages flooded.

Here are a few heart breaking images.

This is Ludlow, the town nearest me. The flooding is pretty typical throughout the state:

Here’s Route 7, south of Rutland:

Here’s Route 4, near Killington:

And here’s a remembrance of the covered bridge in Quechee, which was completely destroyed:

My heart is breaking for my beautiful state.

It’s going to be a long time before anyone can travel anywhere around here. Simple questions: how will we get groceries?  What about getting into town to get the mail?

And larger ones: how long will repairs take? What will this cost the state?

A lot needs to be sorted out. Right now the state is assessing the damage, seeing what needs to be done.

Thanks a lot, Irene.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

No news is good news. August 26, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
2 comments

That’s my takeaway lesson from the past week.

For those of you who read my blog, you know I’ve been on a self-imposed news blackout. I did it to save myself. All the recent dismal news had left me feeling somewhat overwhelmed, even depressed — and this from someone who usually feels pretty upbeat. So I resolved to swear off news for an entire week. No Today Show, no MSNBC or CNN, no NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, no on line news sites.

I have to admit it was tough. I’d get in the car and not know exactly where to tune the car radio (mine is permanently fixed at NPR). Instead, I found myself listening to classical music or pop stuff I didn’t even know existed (I’m pretty out of touch). And even though at  times I thought I heard Brian Williams calling me (“Where were you last night, Wendy? I had a story just for you!”), I stayed strong. I’m glad I did.

How’d I make out? I think I feel a bit better. Now that my news fast has ended, I’ve learned that: 1) the world will still go on even if I don’t watch; 2) sometimes it’s better to tune it all out and give yourself a chance to breathe; and 3) moderation is key.

I think I can take these lessons and apply them to ski season, too. As obsessive as I’ve been about the news, I’m just as bad when it comes to ski reports and weather. All winter long I’m  tracking storms and monitoring temps and wind chill. Maybe it’s better to let it go and just enjoy the day, whatever it is.

That said, here are some great sites for online ski news. Just remember, moderation:

OnTheSnow.com

SkiNet.com

FirstTracksOnline.com

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

I’m in withdrawal. August 19, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
4 comments
Brian Williams

Bye bye, Brian. Hope you don't miss me too much.

Admit it; you thought this was about skiing.

Not that I blame you, especially this time of year when all us ski addicts are beside ourselves from lack of time on the snow.

No, this is about another addiction I have. It’s about time I admitted it (Deep breath here).

I’m a bit of a news junkie.

There. I said it. I know, shameful.

I watch and/or listen or read the news multiple times a day. I start my day with the local TV news and The Today Show. Through the morning and afternoon, I check the news websites multiple times (The NY Times, MSNBC, CNN, etc.). And when I’m driving, it’s NPR.  Then at 6:30, it’s the NBC news with Brian Williams, and at 10, New England Cable News. Plus there’s always TIME magazine. I’ve been a subscriber for eons.

Right. It’s a bit much.

I know it’s important to stay informed. But lately the news has been dismal. The debt ceiling debacle, continuing unemployment, plummeting stocks, violence in Syria and London, starvation in Somalia, the begnning of the long, painful campaign for president. and so on. It’s all starting to get to me.

Those who know me know  I’m not a depressive person. In fact, I’ve always considered myself pretty happy, no matter what the news landscape. But lately, I’ve found myself feeling actual despair. And I have to think that constant exposure to bad news has got to be a part of it. So even I know it doesn’t help to be ignorant of what’s going on in the world, I have to do what I can to save myself. For me, that means taking a vacation off to the news — at least for a week. If I still feel lousy, I’ll tack on another. And we’ll take it from there.

This isn’t going to be easy. Like any addict, the news is a habit. This morning, instead of The Today Show, I started out with the Blues Music channel. Not a bad way to get things going. And when I got in my car, I tuned in the classical station instead of NPR. Maybe I’ll use this week to learn to appreciate the finer things.

Something like Facebook is going to be a challenge. Many of my friends post comments about the news, along with links. I’m going to avoid those as best as I can, but you can’t win ’em all.

So even though Brian Williams signs off with, “We sure hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening,” I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. At least for a little while.  Hope he doesn’t miss me too much.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Island Hopping on the West Coast. July 25, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
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1 comment so far

I recently spent a wonderful day on the West Coast.

No, I wasn’t in California or Washington or Oregon. Or even Florida.

I was right here in Vermont.

Yes, Vermont has a west coast, too. For those of you who are geographically challenged, Lake Champlain forms half of Vermont’s western border. At 490 square miles, Champlain is the largest mountain lake and the sixth largest fresh water lake in the US (thank you, Wikipedia). It’s even reputed to have its own monster: Champy, which seems to look very similar to  the Loch Ness Monster, and is just as much of a mystery.

A photo of the alleged Lake Champlain monster

But I wasn’t there to search for Champy (though that would have been fun). Instead, my husband and I spent the day biking on the islands in the lake.

Yes, Lake Champlain has islands. Good size one like Isle La Motte (16.7 square miles), Grande Isle (35.1 square miles), and North Hero (couldn’t find the area), connected by a series of bridges and causeways.

Isle La Motte is home to Chazy Reef, a 480 million year old fossilized coral reef that’s believed to be the world’s oldest. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and since it’s now above water, you can see it without even getting your feet wet. Worth a stop to see the fossils.

Fossil on Chasy reef

What I love about biking in the Lake Champlain area is that 1) it’s flat, a rarity here in Vermont, so I can bike without slogging up hills, and 2) the scenery is fantastic. You see these incredible  mountains running down to the lake along with stunning water views.

Even though Vermont is a small state, it took me nearly 3 hours to get to our starting point. We usually make this trip just once a summer, but terrible flooding from rain and snow melt caused us to delay our trip. The floods cut Isle La Motte in two, and many of the roads in the area were underwater and covered with debris. So we waited until the water dropped below flood stage. I’m glad we did. We had a perfect day.

Our route took us from North Hero Island to Alberg, to Isle La Motte and back to North Hero. A total of 35 miles.

Some images from the day:

Here’s a view of the causeway leading to Isle La Motte:

It pays to be careful while you’re biking. Here’s some road damage from the flood.

Many roadways are still lined by makeshift rock walls created to hold back the flood water. I’m hoping they’ll be removed.

Here’s one of those triangular purple boxes you see everywhere this summer. If you’re wondering what they are, I looked it up. They’re traps for an invasive species, the emerald ash borer, which can kill the trees.

We met a friend along the way:

And saw lots of  beautiful views:

At the end of the ride, a treat: brownies from the Vermont Brownie Company, a local bakery that makes the most amazing — yes, you guessed it — brownies. Yum! (This image is from their website; the brownie disappeared way too fast to be photographed.) A perfect way to wind up a perfect day.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.