Welcome to 2020!

If you’re reading this, then you’re up an at ’em already in 2020. Well, maybe not up and at ’em. Maybe more like “pass the coffee” hanging out in pajamas all day kind of mood. With 2019 behind us, I just wanted to thank everyone who has crossed my path both professionally and personally. In 2019 I was thrilled and privileged to hire a bright young lady to come work for me in my real estate office. If you haven’t met Rachel Foley yet, I hope you do soon, I think she’s a keeper and I’m sure you will too. The addition of Rachel to my office brings an enthusiasm that is infectious and a second opinion that is greatly valued (pretty hard to have that when you’re a solo act). I could not be happier to have her working with me. If you know Rachel you also know that she’s a preschool teacher (and a spectacular one at that) – do not fear, she’s not leaving that world behind. She still spends her mornings a few days a week nurturing young little minds and souls at the Fayston Elementary School. So when you see her next, give her a long over do congratulatory hug! I was fortunate to work with many sellers in 2019. In real estate (and sometimes in life in general) we tend to complain when we talk about how busy life is. I get that, life is crazy sometimes (all the time?) and it can be really hard to stop and just appreciate what you have. Well, I was keenly aware of that every time...

Holiday in the Mad River Valley

Woah. Have the last weeks been a blur for anyone else? Pretty sure that I was just eating leftover turkey and stuffing just yesterday. No? Yikes, where does time go? In case you’re a bit behind on the shopping, holiday to do list and general plans for merriment, here’s a break down for you. Oh Tanenbaum. While I’d love you to go support the Harwood Sophomore Class (cough-cough – I have a Sophomore – talk about time flying) in their effort to raise funds for their prom next year and graduation the year after buying shopping for trees sold at American Flatbread by these young folk on Friday evenings and weekends from 10-5 (last day is Sunday Dec 15th). You can also find them at Mad River Valley Property Management/Vee’s Flowers parking lot (no longer sold by either of those businesses, but by the man who grows them in the NE Kingdom of Vermont).  If you want the whole family-outing-cutting-down-the-tree-experience, my family likes to make an afternoon of it and heads over to the Werner Tree Farm in Middlebury. On the way we like to stop at the Bristol Cliffs Cafe & Bakery. Shop till you drop. My favorite local stops for the gift giving necessities: The Store (if this place doesn’t get you in the Holiday spirit, go home, watch Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch and then try again) A Schoolhouse Garden Artisan’s Gallery The Green Closet Lawson’s Finest Liquids (you heard that right, there are gifts to be found here) The Collection Tempest Bookshop General Merriment. Got company? Got you covered. See above to send them out of...

Drumleys #17, Warren VT

UNDER CONTRACT. Spacious, bright and modern, this multi-level three bedroom condo sits in one of the best locations at Sugarbush; minutes from the ski trails, but far enough away to escape the crowds at the end of the day. Hop the shuttle to Sugarbush and enjoy world class skiing a few minutes away, or if the side-country is your preferred adventure, the Catamount Ski Trail is literally right out the back door. In the warmer months, jump on your Fatbike and shred for miles on the best cross country biking trails on the east, or stay at home and enjoy outdoor swimming and tennis on site. No matter where your adventure takes you, make your home in the Mad River Valley right here at the...

North Lynx #65, Warren VT

UNDER CONTRACT. Excellent launching pad for your Mad River Valley, Sugarbush, Mad River Glen and Central Vermont adventures. World class skiing a stones throw from your front door, this 4 + bedroom multi-level condo has room for the whole family, some guests, their friends, sleeps 12 like that. Including a master bedroom suite, first floor laundry, open dining and living room, a brand new wood burning fireplace, tons of new windows, two decks, sunny east-facing exposure, amazing mountain views, a really well run association, tons of improvements that have already been paid for, and resort shuttle service at your doorstep. Park the car, grab the shuttle, hit the slopes in time for the ski season. At $175,000, this may be the best value available at Sugarbush this...

South Village #19, Warren VT

UNDER CONTRACT. The Villas at South Village. Outstanding 3BR/3BA unit in the lower phase at South Village. Close to the ski area but tucked away in the quietest of spots, just around the corner from world class skiing at Sugarbush Resort. Ride the shuttle to the ski area, work your way home through the woods at lunch time, resort living has never been easier. Wood burning fireplace, master suite, cathedral ceilings, plenty of room for the whole family, and even some friends. Exceptional maintenance program, free standing units, no shared walls, these are true townhouse designs. Very well maintained and priced to sell before winter. Get out of the rental rat race, and join the renaissance that is Sugarbush Resort. Be Better...

Pine Tree Lane, Fayston VT

UNDER CONTRACT. Exceptional craftsmanship in this custom built 3 bedroom Appalachian style log home. Constructed from 98 hand-picked northern Vermont softwoods, and constructed by a second generation master log craftman, this stunning home is located at the end of the trail in the popular Hiddenwood neighborhood of Fayston. The south-east facing site has abundant sunshine, ample land for recreation and total privacy. Huge covered porch for three season relaxation, and a second deck for dining and sunshine. The interior is open and casual with a gorgeous chef’s kitchen, hardwood flooring throughout, open beams and 9′ ceilings. The second floor features three bedrooms and a master suite with walk-in closets, cathedral ceilings through, second floor laundry and custom finishes at every turn. Located moments from world class skiing at Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, skiing is not all this home has to offer, perched in a ridable location from some of the Valley’s most treasured mountain biking and hiking trails. Location is just another great feature for this Mad River gem. Whether you’re looking for a year round home or a stylish vacation getaway, make this beautiful retreat the starting point for all your Vermont adventures, right here at home in the Mad River...

Shady Tree Lane, Fayston VT

SOLD! Outstanding 3+ bedroom, Eberle designed New England Saltbox, located at the end of the road in the popular Hiddenwood neighborhood. The south-facing site has abundant sunshine, ample level land for recreation and gardening, extensive vegetable gardens and flower beds. The interior is modern, open and casual. Native slate counter tops in the kitchen and a combination of cork and hardwood flooring throughout the main living space. The open floor plan allows for several different living spaces, all with 9-foot ceilings, open hemlock beams and a radiant slab to keep your feet cozy all winter long. The second floor features a two-room master bedroom/office suite with cathedral ceilings and two additional bedrooms, while the bonus third floor offers a loft for over flow sleeping, game room or playroom space. Located moments from world class skiing at Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, skiing is not all this home has to offer, in a ridable location from some of the Valley’s most treasured mountain biking and hiking trails. Listing #...

Harris Hill Road, Fayston VT

SOLD! Extraordinary quality at every turn in this custom designed and elegantly constructed replica of a German Barn. Exquisite trim work, stained glass doorways, custom lighting fixtures, suspended post and beam loft and built-in finished three-car garage. Radiant heat, stainless chefs kitchen, soapstone and marble counters. Multi-tiered stone gardens, level lawn, apple trees and exclusive privacy. Property includes several ponds, artisan stonework, a babbling brook, private teak deck and furniture, close proximity to town and closer to world class skiing at Sugarbush and Mad River Glen ski areas. Whether you’re looking for an exquisite ski home, a stylish retreat or a deluxe year-round abode, you need not sacrifice the luxury you’re accustomed to. Listing #...

Snow Creek #52, Warren VT

SOLD! Updated and stylish Snow Creek condo on the ski slopes at Sugarbush Resort’s Lincoln Peak. Completely renovated open kitchen with soapstone counters, maple dining bar, custom iron work bar stools, custom lighting and fixtures throughout. Be a part of the renaissance at Sugarbush. Ski out, ski back, leave the car keys on the counter until the trip back home. Everything you need is right here, home at Sugarbush. Be Better...

July 4th in the Mad River Valley

Have you heard? Frendly Gathering is coming to Fayston – Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush to be exact, from June 29-July 1st. You know what that means right? There’s an opening act for Warren’s Fourth of July celebration! Buy your tickets early – they have weekend car camping passes, day passes for the music, weekend long passes for music only! It’s great to have summer music back at Mt Ellen, and it’s sure to be a great time. After the Frendly Gathering you then have two days to rest and recharge for the 4th of July celebration in Warren. This years theme is “Stars & Stripes”. I’m thinking there will be more than one float with an orange face on it. AND then, the Circus is coming to town (Waitsfield) July 5th & 6th. So, really you need to make a full week for this years visit for the celebration of independence day. Here is a YUGE list of other haps in and around the Mad River Valley here in Central Vermont. Here’s a short list to get you started: Rock of Ages at the Valley Players – runs Thursday thru Saturday from June 29th to July 15th General Stark’s Pub – Dinners Thursday to Saturday Waitsfield Farmers Market – Saturday July 1st Warren 4th of July Parade Circus Smirkus at Kenyons Field – July 5th & 6th Round up on the River – Happening down by the ‘S turn’ on the Mad River (Bridge Stree) every Wednesday from 5 til dark until September...

Almost There: The Mad River Valley (video)

“An unscripted film about the community we call Vermont’s Mad River Valley. We like to say ‘they come for the mountains, but they stay for the valley.’ In this video you will see local farmers, business people, tourists, barns, markets, craft beer, music festivals, skiing, kayaking, running, biking, swimming, golfing and more. Basically everything that steers our community toward the relaxing and enjoyable place it is. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy living, working and playing here in the Mad River Valley.” Mad River Valley Chamber of...

Roll Back the Clock at Mad River Glen

    January 26, 2016 – Roll back the clock to 1948 Ski for $3.50 (You can’t even buy a cup of Joe for that anymore – well, you probably can at Mad River Glen) Plus, they have a ridiculous amount of things happening that day: Test G3 Telemark skis with Clearwater Sports PHAT (Protect your Head at All Times) event RAMP Sports demo Vermont Specialty Food Day and Starline Rhythm Boys in the General Stark’s...

What are you trying to sell me here? (It’s not a house)

This is my real estate blog. But really, it’s more of a Mad River Valley blog. A lifestyle blog. When people ask me why so little of what I write is actually about real estate, the answer is pretty simple. I live in the Mad River Valley because it’s one of the most idyllic places I have ever been, and I live a lifestyle that I love to share; the Mad River Valley is a place where the intangibles are ju st as good as the attractions. We play at world class ski area’s as an afterthought, grabbing a few runs after work before flying home (a little late) to make dinner. Our kids get out of school at 11:00 am one day a week to go skiing, as part of their curriculum, and ride the bus home from the ski area. They participate in after-school nordic skiing, and play outdoors at recess, no matter the weather. During the heat of the summer I frequently abandon my office and work from a beach chair along the river, while my children and their friends swim nearby. I don’t see a stoplight for months on end, and I get excited when the ski socks go on sale in November. Maple syrup flows like water in every restaurant and kitchen I know. In the summer it is so green here that it feels like we live in a painting. And when I drive home in the winter I still marvel at the sight of Mt Ellen towering over me as I go. How much better can it be? I stopped here on...

Columbus Day Weekend in the Mad River Valley

Looking for things to do? We’ve got it all – mountain biking, hiking, you are a bit too early for skiing and a huge list of events happening in and around our iconic Valley. So while this list is by no means extensive, it’s a start to get you going; Baked Beads Sale, Waitsfield VT: Friday to Sunday Oct 9-11 Sugarbush Community weekend, Warren VT: Saturday & Sunday Oct 10-11 Stephen Huneck’s Dog Mountain Fall Party, St. Johnsbury VT: Saturday Oct 10 Stratton Mountain Harvest & Craftbrew Fest, Stratton VT: Saturday Oct 10 Harvest Weekend at Billings Farm & Museum, Shelburne VT: Saturday & Sunday Oct 10-11 Everyday Cooking Class, Waitsfield VT: Friday & Saturday Oct 9-10 Great Vermont Corn Maze, Danville VT: every day from 10am Ibex Warehouse Sale, Berlin VT: Friday to Sunday Oct 9-11 The Vermont Moth, Burlington VT: Friday October 9 Stowe Foliage Arts Festival, Stowe VT: Friday to Sunday Oct...

The Mad River Valley – not just a ski town.

When I first came to the Mad River Valley I was not much of a skier. I arrived on the back of an old pair of Rossignol Quantums; museum pieces, strait as an arrow and utterly lacking any semblance of side cut. Although they might look fun on someone’s ski-house wall today, in 1994 they were just beat up old planks that drew amused laughter from my ski-patrolling sidekicks during that first season ski-bumming it at Sugarbush. By contrast, I owned a pretty nice mountain bike, which I had purchased for the ghastly sum of $550.00, cashing in my first several post-graduate paychecks in 1993. Since I had the bike, and not the skis, I considered myself a mountain biker first and foremost. And ride I did during that summer. Day in, day out, I peddled from the the apartment I was crashing in on Bridge Street in Waitsfield Village, through the covered bridge and up the East Warren Road; across the town line to Plunkton and down Fuller Hill to the Village where I was helping my friends renovate an 1830’s farmhouse. And every day at lunch time I would make the 12-mile trip in reverse, gaining as much elevation as I possibly could in order to rationalize the months of poverty to which that purchase had subjected me. The heart-pounding uphill was rewarded by miles of East Warren views. And the thrilling descent into Warren Village was the ultimate recompense, but I knew nothing of what lay beyond the open road, and what I was doing was hardly mountain biking. In those days mountain bikers blazed their own...

Labor Day in the Mad River Valley

While the Vermont Festival of the Arts is winding down (and there are still plenty of events they are hosting this long weekend), things to be done in the Mad River Valley is not coming to a close, not by a long shot. This coming weekend the Valley will be inundated with riders – of the two wheel man powered kind. The Green Mountain Stage Race is coming to town. Friday, Saturday and Sunday you will find varying types of races being held in and around the Mad River Valley; and on Monday the race takes to the streets of downtown Burlington for the Criterium stage of the race (and one of our favorite parts of the race to watch). On Saturday and Sunday get yourself over to the Mad River Valley Craft Fair in Kenyon’s field. It is so worth the visit because the vendors are all spectacularly talented. On Sunday try out our new farmer collaborative food adventure – Domingo – at the Kingsbury Farm, it’s a Mesoamerican venture between the Aaron of Kingsbury Farm and Vermont Bean Crafters. As Seven Days wrote: “But even non-cooks will be attracted by the prepared cuisine. Each week, the menu will consist of foods that combine beans, chiles and tortillas with other local products. Queso fresco from Ploughgate Creamery figures into quesadillas, while the bones of Maple Wind Farm‘s chickens form the base of the posole. Each dish, including tacos, will come in a vegetarian and omnivore version. Scout’s Honor will sell ice cream in flavors including sweet-corn-lime sandwiched between bean-based cookies. Beer from Lawson’s Finest Liquids will flow to...

Mad River Valley dog days of summer

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...

Why Buy When I Can Rent (hint: so you can retire)

I think that there are, in general, people who are buyers and people who are renters. If you are predisposed to settle down, wish to establish roots in a community and inclined to invest and build equity towards a future, you already have an answer to this question. If you have not already bought, then you are probably just waiting until the right property comes along. If you like to go with the flow and land where the winds blows you, then maybe renting better suits your lifestyle. For me, I knew when I first moved to the Mad River Valley that I was going to stay here for a long time. The holdups were simple things – I was young, had plenty of time to get serious, and wasn’t sure whether I wanted a house, a condo, or a piece of land to park my Airstream on (I don’t own an Airstream, but I really want one). But it was also about money. While real estate in the Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston was relatively affordable, interest rates were outrageous – 9.5% at the time. It was, in fact, FAR cheaper to rent, even if I held no equity in that property. I could rent an apartment for $600/month whose equal would cost me $1200/month to buy. The numbers didn’t work. It was a temporary solution, but lower interest rates stagnant real estate growth and soaring rental rates over the past 5 years have changed that dramatically. Build a Nest Egg If you think of a home as an investment, rather than a place to live, you start to...

Vermont Music Fest

I hope no one thought that in writing about the Vermont Festival of the Arts last week that I had made a huge omission in not mentioning the Vermont Music Fest. Ok. Good. I’m glad, because I hadn’t forgotten – I just wanted to give it’s own spot light. This is the 6th year running of this awesome event; having started in 2010 as a wedding celebration of Jeff & Kelly Mack. It was a great party – from the music right down to the “cheese off” – a friendly, informal competition of Vermont and Wisconsin (where the two lovebirds met) dairy treats. And then they did it again, and again, and again. It’s grown. A lot. And until just this year it was a free event – I know right – who does anything for free anymore? In growing the spectacular event, the Macks turned it into a massive event that depends entirely on volunteers- so it went through some growing pains, and there was a time there where it looked like the festival would have to be shut down. But no, it continues! So, now there is an entry fee – but really $16 ($8 for 13-17 year olds) is a ridiculous good price for 11 bands (at least that’s what I counted as of today). Beyond the music there are other things to enjoy while at this Festival. The food is always outstanding, the Wiffle Ball Scramble, great things for the kids to create, always a game pick up soccer going on in the field and the framed self-portraits (this one of me and my daughter...

Vermont Festival of the Arts

August is a spectacular time to be anywhere in Vermont. But in particular the Mad River Valley shines with arts culture in all forms during the month of August, and that is thanks to the Vermont Festival of the Arts. If you live here, there are an endless number of opportunities to attend art related events, and even activities for everyone to tap into their artistic side all month long. Their website (see link above) has enough to explore to suck you in for hours – and it’s well organized too – so go there to find what you can take part in on a daily basis. But here is a SHORT run-down of what you can experience; July 31st (and Aug 1 & 2) – Tweed River Music Festival August 1st – Stained Glass Demo August 2nd – Fairie House Building August 9th – Taste of the Valley August 15th – Pie eating contest August 22nd – Cooking Classes at The Store August 28th – Valley 9 and Dine September 6th – Mad River Valley Craft Fair   If you’re a visitor you just can’t go wrong coming to the Mad River Valley for a day or a week during August – check out the Vermont Festival of the Arts website to find what appeals to you. Come wake up the right side of your brain and head on over to one of these spectacular...

Celebrating the 4th in the Mad River Valley

It’s almost time to get your Red, White and Blue on, and the 4th of July in the Mad River Valley is worth the price of admission. The parade in Warren is not your typical parade – there may be some emergency vehicles and fast cars in there, but you won’t find any Marching Bands or Shriners driving itty-bitty cars (what’s that all about anyway?). You will find political statements coming out the wahzoo, you might find some African dancing, you will definitely see an intricate float display from one of our iconic communities, yes, there will be candy, and probably a giant soaking gun and maybe, just maybe there will be Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. In the past, he’s been a staple of the Warren Parade, and there’s a bit of chatter going on around this year: will he be there or won’t he? My prediction is: Yes, he will be there. Oh and there will be what is my wife’s favorite part of the Parade: a fly by from our Vermont Air National Guard. Once the parade has passed – make your way up to the Brooks Field at the Warren Elementary School for food, music and kid friendly festivities. Since the 4th is on a Saturday, don’t forget to visit the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market. If you’re here Friday night getting ready to wave your flag on the 4th, I highly recommend having dinner at Mad River Glen’s General Stark’s Pub (or any summer weekend evening for that matter)  – that deck is just as awesome in the summer as it is in the winter And as...

Lending a hand in the Mad River Valley

Sure, I can help you with that. As American Flatbread prepares to celebrate their 30th anniversary by throwing a huge party for those who volunteer in our community, I thought it might be a good moment to think about those who volunteer, and what they mean to communities like ours. I moved to the Mad River Valley because I felt an immediate connection to the place on my first visit while I was in College. Some friends had moved here, I visited a few times, and the next thing I knew, I was living here. Initially I didn’t give an awful lot of thought to what it was about this place that I loved so much. On the surface it was clear – I loved skiing, and there was a lot of great skiing here. I grew up canoeing, and there was terrific paddling everywhere you looked. I was learning to mountain bike, and sure enough, a growing community of mountain bikers existed here. Check. check. check. But this was the most unique place I had ever lived, yet there is skiing and mountain biking everywhere. What made this place so great? I suppose at the time it may have been that it was the first place I had ever lived where people were different than where I grew up. They were people who chose the outdoors over the indoors, put recreation and lifestyle before career, accepted that one may need to work a few jobs in order to commit to that healthy outdoor lifestyle over all else. Where I came from people thought I was a nut for...

Spring into Summer in Vermont’s Mad River Valley

So here we are, the epic winter of 2015 behind us, and now it’s time to revel in all that Vermont has to offer in the warmer months. It’s one of the many things that I love about Vermont – the distinct seasons. Taking me from the highs of our mountain tops deep with snow, to the lows of our valley floors flowing with clear water. Having youngish kids, we spend as much time around the rivers as we can – this time of year, it’s mostly skipping rocks, but I bet the water will be warm enough for swimming on a hot day not too long from now. There are miles of easy walking trails around the valley – many of them right along the Mad River. If you’re not familiar with the many trailheads that provide access to those walks, you can find them here: on the Mad River Path website. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike – we’ve got plenty of those as well. Where to even begin with those options. Only have an hour or so? Then the hike to Sunset Rock in Warren, Vermont is the way to go. Looking for a hike that takes a half a day or so – then Burnt Rock in Fayston Vermont is a nice hike that rewards with some spectacular views at the top. I’ll stop there, but the list goes on – you want an all day hike? Then head to Camels Hump, or do a gap to gap hike: Lincoln Gap to the Appalachian Gap taking you across the peaks of our Mad River...

Vermont Hilaria

While I was thinking about writing today, I got to wondering what the history was behind April Fool’s Day. I found that it actually goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times. Now you’re thinking “Alright Cliff Claven, what more useless information do you have?”. But seriously, how much more appropriate this year is the description of the ancient version of April Fool’s day – then known as Hilaria – than this: “its celebration was the first after the vernal equinox, or the first day of the year which was longer than the night. The winter with its gloom had died, and the first day of a better season was spent in rejoicings.” Say goodbye to winter cold, bring on the warm laughs. In previous years, local businesses have gotten involved in some great pranks: there was this one about traffic lights being installed in our non-light town. Or this one about Mad River Glen purchasing Mt Ellen. My personal favorite was a sign in the field of the iconic barn at the corner of German Flats and Route 17 owned by long time Fayston legend Arthur Williams declaring the site as a “Future home of McDonalds”. Now what better year than this cold one we’ve had in the Mad River Valley to celebrate Hilaria. I’m not wishing the snow away, oh no. But I am wishing for some corn snow to soften the turns, sunny skies to bring on the goggle tan and warm temps so we can shed the layers. And more specifically I’m ready to enjoy a cold beer on one of our iconic ski area...

Luck o’ the Vermont Irish

$17 dollar ticket to ski Mount Ellen. Mad River Glen is offering the same shamrock deal, but they’re making you work for it a wee bit – you have to flaunt the color; the “wearing of the green”. I have no doubt there will be beer flowing of the green variety and music to boot so get out your stomping shoes. That’s what I call lucky in the Mad River Valley....
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