Spanning 140 feet and welcoming up to 424 shipmates, the Spirit of Ethan Allen III stages public and private cruises along Lake Champlain's shoreline in prime view of the Adirondack and Green Mountain ranges. Furnished with heating and air conditioning, each of the ship's three decks seat guests for an array of occasions, including luncheon cabaret shows, brunches, dance parties, and murder-mystery dinners all fueled by the ship's executive chef. The captains disclose historical tidbits and folklore during daily narrated scenic cruises and remain quiet during nightly sunset cruises to let guests groove to background music, sip on spirited beverages, and fill out long-overdue tax forms.
Over seven years, the Boston String Quartet has vibrated strings in collaboration with artists such as John Mayer and the Boston Ballet, stirred the air molecules at Symphony Hall and PBS, and performed by invitation for former President George H.W. Bush. With this deal, eighth-note connoisseurs can wrap their eardrums around the quartet's dulcet tones as they present "Xibus," an evening of contemporary and classical that marks the zenith of a two-day workshop collaborating with Finneytown High School orchestra students. Over the course of the evening program, the quartet and the students will cajole their chordophones into ringing out in harmonious arrangements of music by Carlos Santana, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Bill Gates's new Viking-punk band, as well as performing original compositions by members of Boston String Quartet.
As riders learn the names of ancient trees and watch a stream meander through the mountains, wind rushes past their ears. That’s because they are following two guides along courses set by an overhead belay zipline—only stopping to traverse a swinging suspension bridge or rappel down toward the forest floor. ArborTrek Canopy Adventures cofounder Michael Smith devises these tours, drawing from more than 18 years as a challenge-ropes-course builder, manager, and trainer. He leads a trained staff of zipline guides versed in wilderness rescue and first aid as well as ecology, geology, and the local histories of areas such as Vermont’s Green Mountains. On each tour, two guides lead groups across interconnected ziplines, aerial bridges, rappelling walls, and other challenge elements. All the while, they follow a path that reveals facts about local history and ecology, such as which trees are native and what eggs forest rangers hatched from. ArborTrek’s builders design each course to work with the environment, and they minimize their environmental impact by consulting with local foresters, wildlife experts, and engineers.
The resort at Pico Mountain has come a long way since it opened on Thanksgiving morning in 1937. It was a blustery day, and skiers held tight to a 1,200-foot towrope powered by a Hudson motorcar engine as they rose up the mountainside and tried to get reception on their rotary-dial phones. Today, the mountain is striped with 52 trails and seven lifts, including two high-speed detachable quads. Gentle learning terrain beckons newbies, smooth cruisers give intermediate skiers an easy ride, classically narrow New England steeps entice beginning and intermediate skiers, and a double-black-diamond trail challenges advanced athletes. Snowboarders and freestyle skiers interested in tricks can use the jumps, boxes, and rails in the Triple Slope terrain park, and the Snow Sports School sharpens the skills of first-timers and seasoned pros alike.
Although the resort has advanced in size and technology, it maintains a personalized, small-mountain charm. The trails all converge at one convenient central base area whose lodge boasts a sports center with a heated pool and a sauna. Guests can grab a beer and a burger or slice of pizza beside the crackling stone fireplace at the Last Run Lounge before retiring to their hotel room or condo.
Beginner's ice-climbing excursions, set amid Vermont's picturesque framework of frozen peaks and glacial waterfalls, equip students of all levels with the basic know-how for treading arctic landscapes. During each private, seven-hour session, one of Petra Cliffs' certified guides outfits scaling protégés with all necessary gear and equipment before leading troops out to the course. Easy to moderate terrain enables a fruitful learning environment, where groups work on fundamental techniques including belaying, rappelling, and primal screaming. Since lessons are private, students have the opportunity to dictate the day's instruction and focus on specific skills, ranging from elementary top-roped climbing to mimicking the mating call of feral zambonis.
Though members of the McCullough family began conserving their 500 acres for recreation in 1978, the land’s story begins even earlier. In 1796, Thomas Chittenden—Vermont's first governor—built his estate on the current site of Catamount Outdoor Family Center, and his old stone house still remains. Today, Jim and Lucy McCullough use the historic home as a bed and breakfast, inviting visitors to relax in three guest rooms and a sunroom overlooking rolling meadows and coniferous forests. In a formal dining room, servers ferry plates of seasonal fruits and vegetables from the homestead and local farms; in the master parlor, a baby grand piano and fireplace pay homage to historic pastimes and confuse visiting time travelers.
Outside, a panorama of the Green Mountains and the Winooski River Valley spreads out to the east. To the west, the Adirondacks stand against the sky and Lake Champlain unfolds across the horizon. The surrounding hills, woodlands, and croplands boast more than 35 kilometers of trails, where park staffers set visitors loose to hike, cycle, snowshoe, and cross-country ski at different times throughout the year.
Staffers equip visitors for outdoor exploits in the park store, renting cycling and skiing apparel as well as Bear-to-English dictionaries. Furthering a mission to educate others in local wildlife, they also host events such as cross-country cyclocross races and group trail runs. During day camps, children and adults can learn to navigate trails on mountain bikes, middle- and high-school students can practice trail running, and kids 12 and younger can grow to appreciate ecological conservation practices and nature journaling.