On a normal Saturday in November, I’d be sitting on the couch, twiddling my thumbs and cursing myself for ever moving to this god forsaken land of Canada Minor. But this past Saturday, I got up off my fat duff and did something productive — I rode in the second annual Great Turkey Chase.
The Great Turkey Chase is the brainchild of my friend Elgee (we’ll use pseudonyms to protect the innocent) and a bitchin’ way to get exercise while simultaneously doing something good for the community and scaring the living bejesus out of yourself. Here’s the gist of it:
The event is an alley cat race, or an informal urban bike race that pits cool fixie kids against other cool fixie kids in a battle of radness and bikemanship. Think Brooklyn bike messengers riding bikes with handlebars narrower than my waist. These are not folks who wear Spandex clown kits or tip-tap bike shoes. They wear skinny jeans, Vans and neon sunglasses. Most don’t even wear helmets. And if they do, they’re limited edish and rad.
Alley cat races normally involve a series of checkpoints and large quantities of utility beer like PBR, Genny Cream Ale or Stroh’s. Instead, this race involved collecting Thanksgiving food items for the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. Altruism mixed with bicycling and tomfoolery. What could be better?
This race was based on a series of 10 checkpoints, each one a corner store, a supermarket or a gas station. At each location, racers were required to buy a foodstuff — gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc. We had to hit the checkpoints in order, but we could pick the route.
Man, do we love our lists here in the U.S. There’s a list for everything — the hottest men, the most expensive properties, the ugliest babies, etc. In Vermont, we have the (dubious) honor of being named to just about every list ever published.
The photo at the right is what a list looks like.
Nation’s fittest city? Check. It’s Burlington. Best outdoor towns? Check. We’ve got four of them. Best adventure towns? Check. We can claim three of those as well. Most healthy state? Check. It’s Vermont. Highest percentage of stoners? Super check. Vermont can toke with the best of them. No really, that’s a real list.
Heck, we even made it onto National Geographic Traveler’s survey of iconic places. There we came in at #78, in between Ancient Kyoto, Japan, and Slovenia. Depending on how you read the list (I couldn’t make heads or tails of it), we’re way more awesome than the Bavarian Alps in Germany and the entire country of Wales.
Go to Penny Cluse. Order “Lunch with Lauren.” Think of me as you eat my eponymous dish. If the plate is anything like me, it’ll immediately give you a searing stomachache and a lot of gas*. But it’ll be worth the aggravation.
The good folks at Penny Cluse were nice enough to name a dish after me on their new menu, which came out last week. I can die happy now that I’ve been immortalized in food.
Thank you, Charles, Holly and Maura. You are all your own kind of “Special Ingredients.”
*The food won’t give you a bellyache or bad gazzz. I will.
PS- Don’t think I’m bragging or whatever. I just want people to order this plate so it doesn’t get taken off the menu. Because that would be mad embarrassing. Like “Oh, sorry Lauren. We had to take your namesake dish off the menu because it wasn’t selling because people hate you and your stupid name and macaroni.
Here’s a little trivia question for you fine folk: How many ski resorts are in our little nation of Vermont?
If you answered “What’s skiing?” or “Where is Vermont?,” feel free to stop reading pronto-like. If your answer “Twenty, you dingleberry. Like, duh.” I’d say we have a winner! Come and claim your prizes — a handful of my business cards and some of the lesser tchotchkes that populate my desk.
That’s right, friends. There are 20 alpine ski areas in Vermont and with a little luck and a lot of snow, I’m going to snowboard at all of them this year. Like in one season. (Ok, before all the Mad River folks get their ski bibs in a twist, I know I can’t ride at your mountain. But don’t worry — I learned how to ski over sick sheets of ice years ago at Hidden Valley Resort in Western Pennsylvania, so I can schuss with the best of them.)
Yay for snow and silly challenges and dumb stickers on helmets!
Forget getting a season pass at Sugarbush or Jay Peak. That’s so borrrr-ring. You ride the same trails over and over again, or in my case, you tumble down the same trails again and again. I’m all about mixing it up a bit. Variety is the spice of life or some pap like that.
Today I hopped in the Vibrator and drove my sweet one up to Derby Line, a village that’s supposed to be in Canada, but by some twist of fate and one surveyor’s drunken mistake, it ended up in Vermont. I had to go up there for my little job to talk to people who were mad about stuff.
On the way back, I stopped at the Johnson Woolen Mills, one of the glimmeriest jewels in Vermont’s tourism crown. At the mill, hard-bitten Vermonters make wool plaid plants and buffalo check mackinaws for grizzled farmers and hipsters in Japan (Johnson Woolen Mills has actually earned the right to say “We’re huge in Japan.” Those crazy little Asians love them some ironic buffalo check vests and hunting coats. You know, for all the maple sugaring and deer stalking they do in Japan.)
Many are the reasons why fall is not my favorite time of year:
*My wicked summer tan fades to nothing
*Pre-winter fat begins to encase my body
*My favorite holiday — my birthday — is six months away
Granted, fall is when baseball blessedly falls off the sporting map and gives way to superior sports like football, hockey and curling. So that’s a good thing. But fall is when the barfberries come out and ruin my life for the month of November.
You may be unfamiliar with these apricot-colored stink bombs. It’s OK. I’m here to help.
A barfberry is the colloquial term for the world’s most stank-ass tree, the ginkgo biloba. Or just the ginkgo tree if the proper name is too much effort. These are the trees that line sections of North Winooski Avenue in Burlington and in late October/early November they begin to drop their seeds and make their surroundings smell like something your dog yakked up.
Every year, I have wondered why the city would ever put such trees in the ground in the first place. I understand they’re pretty — their golden leaves are shaped like delicate Chinese fans and they symbolize a romanticized view of the Orient before the West ruined it with our thirst for cheap sneakers and crap knickknacks. But when the city planted the trees 25 or so years ago, they should have realized they smelled to holy Hell.