OKEMO SPRING FEST

I was staying at the Okemo Inn, just down the road from the Okemo access road. It’s a classic B&B, filled with antiques and loaded with the ambiance you expect from one of these charming establishments. My room was very nice and it included a private bath. They have a nice big diningroom but they were not serving breakfast this late in the season, so I didn’t get to sample their cooking. If you are going to ski Okemo and want to stay at a classic Vermont B&B, try the Okemo Inn. Rates run from $59.95 (Fall foliage season) to a high of $200 (holidays in ski season) For reservations call (800) 328-8834 and tell them the Ski Bum News sent you.

It was a typical spring day at Okemo and a cloud hung on the peak of this famous New England ski resort. They were having a pond skim on Saturday and a cardboard box race on Sunday, so it looked to be a really fun-filled weekend.

There were a few improvements at the Okemo Base Lodge that included new tables and chairs, along with racks to hold your ski bags. After putting on my boots, I rode up the Southridge High-speed Quad and then skied over to the Northstar Quad Express where I sampled the snow on trails like Upper Chief, Lower Chief, Fast Lane, Noreaster, Searle’s Way, Wardance, Jolly Green Giant, and had a great time.

Around noon, I went over to the pond skim to enjoy the festivities. Many of the competitors were dressed in costumes and some looked pretty funny. One after the other, each contestant would start down the hill, picking up speed and attempting to ski or ride their snowboards across the pond. The bystanders were delighted when a contestant made it across the water and even more delighted when one of the participants didn’t make it and ended with a big splash and dunking in the ice-cold water. I was surprised at how many of these brave kids actually made it across the pond. They had a lifeguard dressed in a wetsuit in the water waiting to assist any of the contestants that needed help. It was really fun to watch and all the contestants had a really great time delighting the on-lookers with their successes and failures.

I went in for lunch at the bar and enjoyed the food and conversation. I met a NYC Fireman who was there with a bunch of his coworkers. He was nursing an old back injury and self-medicating at the bar. It turned out that he had been one of the firemen who participated in 9/11 and I thanked him for his service. We traded back treatment information and then I headed back to the slopes for a few more runs. I rode up the chairs and skied Defiance to the Glades Peak Quad and skied Fall Line to the Ledges for another quick chairlift ride to the top. I tried many of the trails that I had skied in the morning but the snow was getting really soft, so I called it a day and headed back to the Okemo Inn to get cleaned up, rest and change my clothes before dinner.

The owner of the Okemo Inn gave me a list of restaurants and many of them looked interesting. I picked out one called The Art of The Chicken. They only served chicken. The prices were very, very inexpensive and the roast chicken was very good. It came with salad, vegies, and potatoes. I washed it down with a soda and had a cup of coffee and a big slice of apple pie and the bill was under $20.00. It was a very small restaurant (less than 10 tables) and I was the only customer, so I was able to chat with the owner/cook and waitress. If you are in Ludlow and desire to dine on chicken, try this little restaurant. You can fill your stomach there without emptying your wallet.

On Sunday, they were having a cardboard box race at the Jackson Gore area of Okemo. I spent the morning skiing many of the trails that I had skied on Saturday and worked my way over to Jackson Gore. I made a couple of runs down Exhibition and then took Blue Moon over to Limelight to watch the competition.

Evidently, you could race anything made of cardboard, as long as you didn’t tape up the bottom with more tape than it had when it was originally made. There were a half dozen craft entered in the race and they ranged from three boxes taped together to a dragon and a shark made of large cardboard tubing that looked as if it was used to ship linoleum. There was a live band and everyone had a good time at the race. If you are looking to have some good spring skiing and want to enjoy some fun events, head over to Okemo. Feel free to bring a silly costume and/or a vehicle made of cardboard and you too can join in the fun.