Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Part Two: Peace Pups Dogsledding

It was time to scooter and Tom was going first...

A word about the dog’s need to run: Ken explained that Siberian Huskies are northern transport dogs originally bread to pull sleds and have adapted to extremely cold temperatures. Their recall in not good. If they take off, they may not come back, “This is probably not the dog you’d want to have for a pet and leave the door open.” said Ken. All well and good, but this made me think that maybe we’d loose Tom and the dog and they’d both be hunting for food in the wilderness of Vermont in their own rendition of “Into the Wild.”

During our test drive of the scooters, we could tell that they were very sturdy and easy to handle (comforting). Ken rigged a dog to Tom’s scooter and to his and they were absolutely raring to go! At the same time, the other dogs went crazy barking and caring on; clearly they wanted to go too! Eager to take off, the dogs obeyed Ken’s command and off they went! As they scooted through a big open field, Tom looked liked he was perfectly at ease, sort of like taking his scooter to the commuter train each morning, but with a dog pulling!

Next it was Isabella’s and then my turn. We agreed that the scariest or most challenging part of dog scootering is the moment before the dog takes off. Managing the dog’s need for speed, its direction and actual pulling was easy enough and if you could relax into it, it was great fun. It was the getting ready to go that psyched us out a bit.

The carting is really cool too. Mainly because you can sit back and let Ken handle the dogs, no performance pressure! I was amazed at how far in front of the cart the dogs extend. The kids had only five dogs pulling and yet they seemed to be on a line extending at least eight yards ahead. Imagine those big time mushers with 16 dogs pulling the sled! The whole affair would be about a city block long!

This was indeed a once in a lifetime experience. Being around that many Huskies, learning about their habits and nature, seeing Ken’s expertise in handling the dogs and the gear, and finally having the dogs actually “transport” you, was really something special. Another great thing to do in Stowe, “on the shoulder.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dogsledding by Scooter and Cart!

For us Ken Haggett fit the description of the typical Vermonter. Tom told the kids over dinner the first night of our Stowe vacation that Vermont, “Prides itself on local stuff. It’s the land of the granolas–Birkenstocks seen here.” Every place has its stereotype and I was curious to see if this one would ring true. Ken was the closest we’d come. Not because of granola or Birkenstocks, but because he obviously had a passion for nature–you might call him a (Stowe) mountain man… He is the owner and operator of Peace Pups Dogsledding. With over 20 Siberian Huskies (they live in custom “doggie condos” on his property) for sledding, scootering and skijoring (that’s Nordic skiing with dog pulling), Ken offers an out of the ordinary outdoor adventure. Certainly, one my family had never been on!

Explaining why he started Peace Pups, Ken said, “The whole reason I got into this is to spend time with the dogs. Friends ask, ‘Are you going to get out and have any fun?’ Most runs are fun because I spend time with people and I’m out enjoying the dogs.”

The dogs are transported on the flatbed of Ken’s truck in custom crafted wood cages, worthy of furniture. He brought 20 Huskies for our scooter outing. Their beautiful white faces curiously watched the goings on of Ken and my family preparing for “the ride.” Meanwhile they were barking LOUDLY at other dogs passing by. Their cacophony of barking, and howling increased our adrenalin as the impending scooter ride drew nearer. In fact I was getting so nervous I considered not doing it and my 10 year old was getting darn right scared. Ken’s rule is that you must be at lease 12 to dog scooter. But younger kids can ride in the, fitted for dog mushing, carts.

It was time to scooter and Tom was going first.

(Now there's a cliff hanger...Mush On to my next post for the rest!)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stowe on the Shoulder

Jasmine Bigelow from the Stowe Vermont Area Association warned me that if we came to Stowe in early April we would, dare she say it, be visiting in Mud Season. Mud or not, we wanted to check out spring skiing on the East Coast and to see what this resort town had to offer a family of four. Jasmine assured us that with proper planning, Stowe was a year-round vacation location that could offer some cool stuff for my sometimes-hard-to-please tweeners and husband.

We stayed at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa. The townhouse suite we checked into was perfect, luxurious in fact, with plenty of room for the kids and us. This two bedroom, two story “attached home” was decorated in gold, tan and brown hues, rich fabrics, granite counter tops, marble tiles–really nice design choices. Big fluffy beds, flip a dial fireplaces and flat screens TV’s, produced a krumping* dance from my daughter, a loud banshee scream from my son and meaningful sighs from Tom and me. We really liked our new ski home…

Could we just live here and forget about going back to New York?

Besides the great digs, Stoweflake, the resort, has a lot to do. And during “shoulder season” it works! Here’s some choices for a wet, rainy, icky day (We had two!).

• Spa–a great option for adults (worthy of it’s own blog post, which will come later).

• Indoor pool, outdoor Jacuzzi and gym–my son was in the pool every day. The indoor pool, itself, isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but my 10-year-old loved it! And there is a heated out door pool as well, which has more limited hours but would be a nice diversion with proper planning and weather permitting.

• Racquetball court–this turned out to be a terrific time for Husband and Son who have no idea what they are doing on the court, but were entirely amused anyhow.

• Yoga and fitness classes

Interesting stores just across the street (again, another blog post).

• “Homemade” cookies and coffee in the afternoon, perfect for “a sit down and read” by the fire.

So this is the beginning of several blog post I plan to do on Stowe followed by a full-length article for Do check back to hear more about our adventure “on the shoulder” at Stowe. I have a feeling you’ll want to visit too–any time will do!

*Krumping (for daughter, Isabella) is a crazy, hip, arm, gyrating dance done in second position plea.