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  Tues. Travel Tip: Not 2 Late for New England Leaves & an Upscale Farm to Visit While You’re There


It would be easy for anyone who watched the news during Hurricane Irene to think the state of Vermont was floating away. Yes, there was significant damage for many, and a few roads are still closed. But according to Greg Gerdel of Vermont’s Dept of Travel and Tourism, the storm directly impacted only 15% of the state.

I was there for the storm and luckily it wasn’t bad in Stowe. But – Gerdel says there were a rash of leaf peeping reservations that were cancelled as a result. I want to tell you that it’s not too late to book a room for a fall trip. There are availabilities, and you can go plenty of beautiful places that aren’t feeling Irene after affects. www.vermontvacation.com has detailed maps with updates of road closures… and links to lodging.

Vermont Fall Foliage

Vermont is one of the most quaint and gorgeous place to witness the splendor of the season. What I have always loved about Vermont is that there are no billboards on the highways  and most are lined with trees.

Vermont Fall Foliage

In the northern part of the state, the leaves are already changing color. The colors will move south and will last almost until the end of October. But in the Burlington area near Lake Champlain, the “late effect” keeps that area warmer, so leaves will change later than nearby areas.

Shelburne Farms, Vermont

If you do get to the Burlington area, there is so much to do – but don’t miss Shelburne Farms, a National Historic Landmark. When the farm was established in the late 1800s, it was ahead of it’s time, aspiring to become a model agricultural estate; a working farm that emphasized sustainability.

Shelburne Farms, Vermont

Today, it is still a 1400 acre working farm teaching others about the connections to the land – an awesome lesson to reinforce to my city slicker kids. For instance, we walked around the barn …

and  got to milk goats and cows. Every morning the raw milk goes to the farm’s cheese plant, where award winning cheddar is produced.

We then toured the cheesemaking area, and watched the process – from cow’s udder to the curdling vats.. direct connection. Shelburne makes about 130,000 lbs of cheese  – all from their cows’ milk.

The farm raises all their animals with no anti-biotics and are grass fed… and man, can you see the healthy difference in the chickens there.

Seriously, they look healthier than my adorable dog.

Kids love being able to “pet” the chickens, and collect the eggs, which goes to feed the guests at the inn on the farm. Same with all the vegetables and other foods grown on the land.

For more: www.shelburnefarms.org

Whether watching leaves change… or at home on the range… Vermont offers so much for visitors, and fall is a fabulous time to visit.

  Hotel of the Week: Moms – It’s All Planned For You…. Plus, a Good Laugh.

It’s a fact. Women are the main decision makers when it comes to planning family vacations. So when a friend told me about this special family camp in Vermont, where all meals and activities are planned for you, I had to check it out online. (Now I need to get there in person :) )

It’s called Tyler Place, and they call themselves “the best family resort minus the hype.”Indeed, it does seem to provide everything you could think of doing at a family camp.
Family camps are the latest trend in travel… more down home during these scaled back times.

The accommodations at Tyler Place are certainly homey… just add the white picket fence to this cottage and it is a Norman Rockwell painting. The inside is very relaxed, not fancy…and every room – whether it be a suite, or a cottage, has its own parents’ bedroom.

The setting is 165 acres on a Vermont lake-shore (Lake Champlain) … with all that land it should be no surprise that Tyler Place is able to offer everything from all sorts of water sports (water skiing, lake trampolines, kayaking, fishing, catamaraning, sailing, etc!)..to guided bike trips… to hiking… to tennis… to golf…to volleyball and take your pick: indoor or outdoor basketball courts. There is also a spa, and an arts and crafts studio.
You can partake in all these fun activities with your kids – or if you need a little down time, and we all do, there are camp sessions for all ages where your kids go off with counselors to have fun. You may find them making a vase in a pottery class, or tending to the corn in the organic garden..while you relax on your hammock with a glass of wine and a good book.

Now, I have been to a family camp before – many universities these days offer family camps to alumni. So, my family visited one – no names mentioned but it is NOT UCLA… We were surprised at what you got for the price – dirty cabins, and no lounge chairs or pool by which to relax. I was at least looking forward to the special lectures led by university professors in their areas of expertise – instead I got a foreign policy discussion led by a student counselor who wasn’t even alive during the Gulf War under George H. Bush. For the price we paid, we could have been at a Four Seasons. (OK OK I know..that’s not really camping.)

Why do I tell you this? Because I am impressed with what you get at Tyler Place for the price. A family of four can go for seven nights for $3112…but that includes three meals a day, lodging, and all activities. I also like the fact that tipping is NOT permitted, instead 10% is added to your bill..that way you can relax and not worry about having to carry change everywhere you go.

If you are planning a summer vacation, now’s the time to start thinking about where to go. If you want to check out Tyler Place: www.tylerplace.com

On another note, that has nothing to do with travel, unless you have tickets booked to Libya, I want to share this cartoon by Cam Cardow of Ottawa Citizen. It is hilarious. I hope that starts your weekend with a smile. :)

By Cam Cardow