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Pix from the Vermont Flood August 30, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
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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.

Swept away. August 29, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
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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.

Island Hopping on the West Coast. July 25, 2011

Posted by Wendy in Off season stuff.
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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.