I returned to the Mad River Valley over the weekend from a splendid two week vacation, and was immediately greeted by the hottest weather we have seen all summer. Temperatures have hovered in the upper-80’s which makes it a challenge to stay comfortable. Meanwhile, as the dog-days of summer waine, I do everything I can to remain outdoors and soak up the last of that warm summer sun. While it’s not so much a conundrum – I choose the outdoors when possible, even if it’s sweltering – it certainly presents a challenge, as much of what I enjoy about life in the Mad River Valley lies out the front door and not behind it. For me the goal is not so much being cool (my wife and kids will attest that this is an impossibility), but remaining comfortable in the blistering heat. So, here are a few ideas if your brain has over-heated and you’re struggling with the last heat-wave of the summer.
Mountain Biking at Blueberry Lake – this may seem like an oxymoron on a hot day, but if the goal is to stay comfortable, the Blueberry lake trails are comfortable defined. The gently rolling trails have just enough uphill to gain the elevation required to get you rolling into a couple hours of well shaded outdoor entertainment – and just enough downhill to keep the breeze blowing across your perspiring body, making comfort on a hot day a reality not just an outdoor dream. When you are finished, jump in the lake to cool off. Reward yourself for getting outside on a hot, sticky day with one of our local craft beers. If you plan carefully, it’s already waiting there for you.
Anywhere, Mad River Valley, USA – pack an ice-chest, a beach chair and pick a spot along the river. We all have our favorite locals, even if USA Today outed one of the best last month. But choose one with a bit of shade and drop your feet in the water. Bring a book and catch up on your reading there instead of sticking to your couch. If you are supposed to be working, pick a spot with cell service and bring your laptop along for the ride, as long as you respect the need for your neighbor to enjoy their time by the river without listening to you scream at your stockbroker.
Go for a walk downtown or on the rec path. Stop by the The Village Grocery every hour on the hour and buy a Maple Creemee for $1.50. They are really the best creemees in Vermont. For a few more weeks you can check out the Round-up on the River on Bridge Street on Wednesday evenings, and sample local cuisine, beer and music. Or just sit on the porch of the Sweet Spot and sip a Dark and Stormy Float while your kids frolic nearby in the river. They have an arbor. It’s shady. And tasty.
Take in a movie at the Big Picture Theater – put on your flip-flops, grab a signature tiki drink at the bar, and slide onto a couch for 2 hours of air-conditioned bliss. Better yet, send your kids inside while you stay for dinner on the porch and take in some live local music Thursday-Saturday.
Rent a tube at Clearwater Sports in Waitsfield, put on your bathing suit, sunblock and hat, and set yourself adrift somewhere in Warren. You can float nearly the entire length of the Valley without so much as breaking a sweat. Run a shuttle with your friends beforehand, or hitch a ride back to your car. If you buy into the lifestyle you can purchase a tube at Bisbee’s Hardware on the Mad River Green in Waitsfield for $12.50. Its worth the investment, I have two. And they each have 2 drink holders, which is just thoughtful.
Remember, in the middle of the winter when it’s -30 these days will not seem so hot. Get out and enjoy them, for winter comes fast in the high elevation of Central Vermont. If you pick the right spot along the river, you’ll probably find me there, clicking away on my laptop and whispering respectfully into my cell phone. I do, after all, need to get some work done every once in a while.