Winter Wonders in Ripton: Ski Season, Historical Connections, and a Unique Skiing Traditionby Elizabeth on December 03, 2023
The Thrill of Skiing in Ripton
With the Middlebury Snow Bowl and Rikert Outdoor Center in our backyard, Ripton becomes a haven for skiers and snowboarders. These local gems offer trails and slopes that cater to all levels, from beginners looking for gentle runs to seasoned experts seeking challenging terrains.
A Connection to the Past
As we prepare for the influx of winter sports aficionados, I recently had the privilege of speaking with the granddaughter of the family who once owned the Chipman House, now the beloved Chipman Inn. This conversation was not only a delightful journey into the past but also a reminder of the rich history that surrounds us.
A Unique Piece of Ski History
One fascinating story that emerged was about Lin Meacham, a Middlebury College graduate of 1950 and the son of the former owners of the Chipman House. Lin was not just an alumnus but also a pioneer of a unique winter sport – aero-skijoring.
In February 1948, Middlebury College witnessed the birth of this novel sport, where Lin Meacham, a pilot with the Flying Panthers, performed an extraordinary feat. He looped a 100-foot rope around the tailskid of his Aeronca plane, maintaining a low-flying speed of 70 mph, and pulled members of the ski team across the frozen surface of Lake Champlain. This exhilarating activity, dubbed “aero-skijoring,” was a hit among students and faculty alike.
Sharing a Piece of History
I am thrilled to share with you a video of this remarkable event, capturing a moment in time when innovation, adventure, and the spirit of Middlebury College coalesced into a memorable winter sport.
Welcoming the Ski Season
As we look forward to welcoming skiers and snow enthusiasts to Chipman Inn, we are reminded of the unique history and adventurous spirit that Ripton embodies. Whether you are here to carve your path on the slopes or to soak in the rich heritage of our community, we are here to make your winter stay warm, comfortable, and memorable.
Join us at Chipman Inn this winter, where the charm of Vermont’s winter and the warmth of our hospitality create the perfect getaway.
Discovering Hidden Charms Amidst Local Shadowsby Elizabeth on October 11, 2023
We've had the pleasure of hosting a diverse range of leaf-peeping guests at our inn. Among them, we welcomed a delightful woman in her 90s who traveled with her son, creating heartwarming memories together. A couple sought a peaceful escape, taking a break while their child enjoyed a night with grandma, relishing a moment of tranquility. We were honored to host two extraordinary submarine captains on leave, both of them incredible women, adding a touch of adventure to our inn. Our inn also became a gathering place for friends, with three pals since high school in the early stages of their careers reuniting for a memorable getaway. Another group of three friends since their school days, now retired, found solace and companionship as they embarked on their own relaxing retreat. Love was in the air as a recently engaged couple celebrated the start of a new chapter in their lives. Last but not least, we welcomed a couple who has been coming to Vermont every year since their honeymoon in the 1950s, sharing their enduring love story with us. Each guest so beautiful with their stories I get to enjoy over a cup of coffee together.
The trees, stripped of their foliage, unveil a different kind of beauty. Their bare branches create captivating silhouettes against the sky, almost like nature's artwork on display.
The brisk, refreshing air in the mornings is invigorating. Taking a peaceful walk along our local trails offers a deep connection with nature. It's a time for reflection and a momentary escape from the challenges, heartache, and pain we feel while learning of the latest tragedies of wars this week.
After the vibrant autumn colors fade, a tranquil hush descends upon our community. It's a peaceful quiet that encourages introspection and the opportunity to appreciate life's simple pleasures.
Amidst this serenity, we are reminded of the local context, and how important it is to find solace in moments of beauty, even if they are temporary respites from the challenges that our neighbors in other parts of the world may be facing.
Moments like these capture the essence of ever-changing seasons, both in nature and in life. As leaves descend, fresh perspectives surface, highlighting the old church building nearby – a concealed treasure these past few months now in full view from our dining hall window. Such sights serve as poignant reminders: even amidst obscurity, time will reveal more for us to learn.
In a world torn by the heartbreak of war, where places like Ukraine and Israel bear witness to profound pain, there's a deep-seated yearning. A yearning for a future where sorrow gives way to harmony, where the symphony of unity overpowers the cries of discord. Amidst the desperate sadness, may hope light our path forward.
In times like these, hidden charms are a reminder that we can find beauty and solace amidst our local surroundings, and that even in the face of global challenges, there's hope for a brighter future. Let us treasure these moments, finding comfort and cherishing the simple joys that our community has to offer, while being mindful of the broader global context.
*Photo Description: On a window sill, there's a pumpkin painted with the vibrant image of a sunflower. This design evokes memories of Ukraine and brings to mind the film "Everything Is Illuminated." This artwork is credited to Svitlana, a talented member of our inn's staff from Dnipro, Ukraine. Beyond the window, trees can be visualized with a few remaining yellow leaves, while most have already fallen, rendering the trees almost bare. Further in the distance stands the community hall, a historical building that once served as a church meeting house and was, until this week, covered from view by the summer foliage.
Balancing Charm and Survival in the Modern Worldby Elizabeth on September 22, 2023
To this day, we laugh heartily about her visit, occasionally quoting her colorful expressions of anger. The phone somehow magically started working again that evening and sometimes, we can't help but feel a bit grateful that the phone didn't work that night, sparing us from having to serve her breakfast too! Maybe the ghost of Daniel Chipman unplugged it for us seeing her come from miles away.
This week, the old landline once again refused to cooperate. No dial tone, but folks can call us; it's just that what we hear on the other end resembles Charlie Brown's teacher. If you've made an attempt to reach us, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
Pretty much the final straw this week, we've decided to bid adieu to the landline and reached out to Verizon for cellphones that we can connect via Wi-Fi to our fiber internet, complete with a backup from Starlink internet. Not to mention the backup batteries on our modem to handle those flickers or brief power outages or the few few seconds between electricity going out and generator popping on- yes we've have many of our bases covered here so people have their electricity, wifi, and virtual work here!
By next week, we'll bid farewell to those antiquated landlines, ensuring we're well-prepared for the future while preserving the charming ambiance of our beloved inn. Perhaps it'll even bring us a step closer to the original 1828 home, free from those pesky phone wires cluttering the place.
One of the reasons guests adore Chipman Inn is the sense of stepping back in time, where life is unhurried, and the need to keep up with the latest technology is blissfully absent. The charm of this area lies in its slow pace, and we treasure that.
However, it's also true that this very lack of rapid change could pose a challenge for the long-term survival of inns like ours. The world evolves, and we must evolve with it. It's a delicate balancing act – preserving what makes us special while embracing the modern necessities that keep us thriving.
Chipman Inn is about offering a unique, timeless experience to our guests. Embracing change, without sacrificing our essence, is the path forward. It's a journey that requires care and consideration, but it's a journey worth taking.
Thank you for being a part of our story as we navigate the delicate balance between preserving the past and preparing for the future.
Tomorrow they may wrap fishes in it...by Elizabeth on September 02, 2023
On a related note, here's an interesting piece from the Addison Independent: Family Can't Find Home, Buys Ripton's Inn
The title made us all cringe a bit... To me, 'home' and 'house' are entirely different concepts. We've always had a home, but indeed, finding a house in Addison County proved to be quite a challenge. :)
Hope you enjoy the read.
The fantastic fictional life of an innkeeperby Elizabeth on August 26, 2023
Gilmore Girls’ Lorelai Gilmore showed that managing personal responsibilities while running an inn is challenging, yet possible. Although she is a fictional character, her journey echoes the realities faced by many innkeepers, including the moments of triumph. Similarly, at our inn, multitasking is the order of the day, and every small achievement is a cause for celebration.
Newhart, a classic sitcom, featured Dick Loudon and his wife running a historic inn in Vermont, surrounded by quirky characters and humorous situations. It showcased the lighter side of innkeeping, reminding us to find humor in everyday situations. Likewise, our inn has its share of humorous moments and delightful guests that make each day memorable.
In Petticoat Junction, the Shady Rest Hotel is managed by Kate Bradley, her daughters, and Uncle Joe. It highlights the importance of family and teamwork in managing an inn. Similarly, our inn thrives on teamwork, and every guest is treated like a part of our extended family.
Forrest Gump, though not a TV show, features a scene where Forrest's mother turns their home into a guest house, underlining the unexpected encounters that can occur in such a setting. Our inn, too, has been a meeting point for many fascinating individuals, leading to unforgettable moments.
Ghosts, a series about a couple who inherit a haunted house, is a lighthearted reminder of the surprises that come with old buildings. Our inn, with its rich history, has its share of quirks, but that's what makes it unique and endearing.
Schitt's Creek is another favorite, showcasing the transformation of the Rose family and their journey in running the Rosebud Motel. Their story is a testament to resilience, adaptability, and the importance of community - values that are deeply ingrained in the ethos of our inn.
The Muppet Movie features the iconic Happiness Hotel, a place that, despite its many shortcomings, provides warmth and humor to its guests. A memorable line from the movie is when a guest asks how to "sneak out" of the hotel, and the response is "very popular choice" – a line that perfectly captures the humor and charm of the Muppets and reflects the lighthearted approach we aim to have at our inn.
Lastly, The Durrells in Corfu holds a special place in my heart. Despite the challenges faced by Louisa Durrell, including a house with chipped paint, no running water, or electricity, she made it work. It's a reminder that, despite the minor inconveniences like a crack in the wall or spotty cell service, our inn provides a warm, welcoming, and memorable experience for all our guests.
These stories serve as a reminder that, while the journey of an innkeeper comes with its share of challenges, it is also filled with moments of joy, laughter, and unforgettable encounters. As the journey at our inn unfolds, it is the hope that it will create as many cherished memories for our guests as these shows have over the years. 🏡✨
56 Days at the Inn: Embracing the Unpredictable Beauty of Vermontby Elizabeth on August 18, 2023
Day 1: Just 4 hours after signing the papers to make the inn our own, we welcomed our first guests. They were the coolest guests too. A man riding in the Vermont Gran Fondo, a crazy challenging race, along with his wife and mother who cheered him along. The race went right by the inn while the rain started to fall...
The Great Flood: The following weekend, Vermont experienced a major flood. The landscapes that we had just begun to admire and acquaint ourselves with were completely transformed. Our heart goes out to a neighbor up the road whose house met with a devastating mudslide. We witnessed roads washing out, and like many in the community, our basement wasn’t spared from the floodwaters. Around midnight that evening a neighbor who backs up to the Middlebury River knocked on the door asking for a room for the night as the river started to come to their doorway, I settled them into our last available room and 15 minutes later a young father knocked on the door telling us the road ahead was closed and by the time they turned around the road less than a quarter mile up had washed out too. I was so sorry for them I told them we were totally booked, but we still had a sofa... he, his wife, 2 year old and 6 month old slept on the floor by the fireplace that night. That led us into our most active breakfast that hasn't seen the like since.
The resilience and spirit of Vermonters truly shone during this time, and the community continues to rally together in support of one another.
Unexpected Visits: In the midst of everything, my youngest decided to give us a scare. A simple act of slamming his toe in a car door led us to the lovely hospital in Middlebury. It wasn’t the kind of local tour we had in mind, but every cloud has a silver lining. The staff was wonderful, and it gave us another perspective into the warmth and care of our new community.
Repairs Upon Repairs: As you can imagine, an old inn comes with its share of quirks and much-needed repairs. We're quickly learning that in Vermont, patience is more than a virtue; it's a way of life. Whether it's waiting for a technician or sourcing the perfect part, "nothing happens fast in Vermont" has become our new mantra... and while sometimes we feel that frustration and Austin-accustomation of just wanting what we want when we want it... it has been a great change of pace for us and we appreciate that others have extended the same patience with us as well.
School Bells Are Ringing: The kids are gearing up to start school in a mere 11 days. The anticipation is palpable. New classes, new faces, and a whole lot of new experiences await them. They’re more than ready to meet new friends and delve into this new chapter.
Community Bonds: Amidst the chaos, I've been fortunate to meet what feels like half the town, and it's been heartwarming. (Note there are less than 800 people in this town so saying I've met half the town is not much of an exaggeration!) If you're ever in Vermont and want to get the true local experience, make a pit stop at the country store or the recycling center. These places, seemingly ordinary, are the heartbeat of the community, and the social hubs where stories, laughter, and advice are freely exchanged.
To sum it up, the past 56 days have been a mix of challenges, discoveries, and invaluable experiences. Through the ups and downs, the floods and repairs, one thing remains constant: our love for this beautiful state and its incredible people. Here's to many more days, stories, and adventures in Vermont!
Until next time, Elizabeth G