So it’s April in Vermont and there’s still snow. Business as usual, except if you come from Ubon, Thailand, in which case it’s cause for curiosity and celebration. Perhaps followed by a large cremee, maple or otherwise. Part of a cultural tour of the Northeast arranged by Montpelier’s Linda Wheatley.
If you find yourself in Ottawa, go to the National Gallery of Canada. It’s downtown, in between the By Ward Market district, the Parliament and the Chateau Laurier, not to far from the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River. Not only is the art collection stunning, but so is the building. Southern light streams into it, changing constantly, and putting you in the mood to appreciate art. Especially when it’s 9 below zero F outside. These were all taken with an iPhone 4s.
The USSA SuperTour and the Dartmouth Winter Carnival brought high-level cross-country ski racing back to Craftsbury Outdoor Center over the weekend. Top, Johnson’s Jennie Bender leads a freestyle (skate) sprint heat Friday. Below, the women’s 10-k started in falling snow on Sunday; Hans Halvorsen of Williams College in the freestyle (skate) sprint Friday; volunteer Carol Van Dyke trying to stay warm; Rebecca Rorabaugh of Alaska Pacific University after winning the 10-k; a Dartmouth skier with the traditional Dartmouth Winter Carnival look. Click here for a full gallery.
Top nordic skiers from around the country raced in the USSA SuperTour on Friday and Sunday at the Craftsbury, VT, Outdoor Center, which has become one of the nation’s top nordic sites over the past few years. Conditions were superb, grooming world class and the competition serious. Top, New Hampshire’s Kris Freeman leads the pack in falling snow in the 30-k classic race Friday. Freeman wears the yellow bib of the overall tour leader. Below, the lineup for the sunny, cold sprint final is reflected in former Vermonter Jennie Bender’s glasses. She now skis for the Bridger Ski Foundation in Montana and won the sprint Sunday. Below, Rebecca Rorabaugh (front) of Alaska Pacific University Nordic leads Emily Dreissigacker of Craftsbury in a sprint heat; Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess of Bend OR, in the green bib of the tour sprint leader, en route to winning the sprint; Zach Caldwell of Caldwell Sports in Putney applies wax and, bottom, Tyler Kornfeld of APU after finishing third in the sprint. Click here for a link to a gallery from both days. Info on the Craftsbury Nordic Center is here.
The blizzard missed central Vermont, but we still have lots of winter going on. Above, wet snow landed in the higher elevations, coating everything, and then a cold snap pasted it in place (Elmore, VT). Below, skating, Curtis Pond, Calais, VT.
People in Bend, Oregon, are pretty insistent about Bend being sunny, as in more than 300 days a year that are either sunny or mostly sunny. I was there last week and there was only one sunny day out of seven (above, at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort). The rest of the time was taken up with rain, snow, sleet and freezing rain in varying amounts, coating the sage and juniper of the high desert. It was November though.
Mt. Bachelor is at the end of a roughly 20-mile road that climbs the long, easy grade from Bend into the mountains. Easy by Vermont standards, but an interesting Oregon folkway is that they do not apply salt to the roads. A good idea, no doubt, but it makes for some cautious and interesting driving, even when the snow is light. Highway crews dump red lava rock on everything that looks like a road, and that helps.
The population of Bend in 1990 was about 20,500. Today it is more than 80,000. As soon as you get out of the relatively small core of the downtown, you can see the explosion of growth on both sides of the Deschutes River: acres and acres of apartment and condo complexes, malls, mini malls, and new houses perched on the hills, all connected by newish roads and a lot of nice roundabouts. Plus 19 breweries (Count ‘em by clicking here.) Bend has grown so fast in the last few decades that it has its own Growth Management Department. And the city council just approved a $28 million sewer expansion.
If you climb the roughly 500 feet to the top of Pilot Butte, you can see not only highways and the roofs of relatively new buildings in all directions, but also the sage, the juniper and the ring of volcanoes and volcanic debris that surround the town. Pilot Butte itself is an extinct volcano, a cinder cone — unlike the Newberry volcano, about 20 miles away, which is considered “potentially active.”
Everybody in Bend is active too. It’s an outdoor town, full of cyclists, runners, snowboarders, skiers, kayakers, climbers. Interesting place. Don’t know whether it’s done growing or not.
Hard to beat Smugglers Notch in Stowe for drama in early winter. It’s not Buffalo, but it is winter. This was Friday, temperatures in the low 20s and a gusty wind. Frigid, with lots of blue light. Of course, today it’s in the 40s and rainy, and heading for the 60s tomorrow.