Jackson Hole Holiday Yields Luxury, Adventure

November 16, 2010  
Filed under Travel

By Steve Bergsman

The snow stopped falling, but the temperature gauge barely moved, holding steady at about 20 degrees. There was no wind, and despite wearing nothing more than a bathing suit, I was very comfortable. A hot tub happily gurgling away in a frozen landscape does wonders for a person’s psyche, especially when it is on a mountaintop ledge that looks down on the Snake River Valley and across the expanse to the Grand Tetons.

To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t actually see the Grand Tetons because heavy, dark clouds filled with snow obscured the ranges that should have been in my line of sight. The evening would bring more snow. I was luxuriating in a splendid mountain resort outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming called Amangani.

How I ended up here had a lot to do with my winter sojourn of the year before.

Every year I look for some wonderfully frosty spot where I can enjoy cold-weather adventures such as hiking, ice fishing, dog-sledding or snowshoeing, and the winter prior I had traveled north of the Arctic Circle via Tromso, Norway. After getting caught in a five-day snowstorm, finding myself stranded in the Arctic wilderness and sleeping in a tent, I swore next winter I would instead travel to the land of luxury.

I made my arrangements for the delightful mountain burgh of Jackson Hole, where wealthy businesspeople mix with the Hollywood crowd over bison burgers and Beaujolais. My game plan was to start at the Amangani and end up at the Four Seasons, which was also well-sited at the base of the Teton Village ski lift. Any other year I would have skied until my knees collapsed, but not this trip. I was fully tuned into the lazy man’s outdoor experience.

I started with a stroll through the idiosyncratic shops that sell winter gear for extreme activities such as ice-climbing, gewgaws made from elk antlers and bronze statues of broncos stuck in mid buck. I didn’t buy anything, but I counted my walk as equal to a 10-mile hike through the backcountry.

After all that strolling about, I headed back to Amangani, which sits on the side of a mountain overlooking a flat river valley with the Tetons rising behind. It was time for a hot tub and a swim. Amangani also believes in the outdoors, as the lap pool was located next to the hot tub on the outdoor veranda.

The Four Seasons hot tub and lap pool wasn’t so picturesquely placed but was ornately and handsomely designed on a series of elevations. What I liked about the Four Seasons outdoor water area was that the attendees would snatch my towel and bathrobe and place them in a warming closet.

Besides the indulgences, however, my wife and I also found a number of outdoor activities that actually involved wildlife and the environment. One morning we took a kind of wildlife safari into the environs surrounding the city of Jackson (nee Jackson Hole).

Promptly at 7:30 a.m., with the temperature at a chilly minus 18 degrees, Kevin Taylor, a biologist with the Teton Science School’s Wilderness Expeditions unit, took us out to show us what kind of wildlife was in the area. Our first stop was the National Elk Refuge, 25,000 acres on the northern border of the city. Since time immemorial, tens of thousands of the region’s elk have migrated to this valley floor to avoid the deep snows of the surrounding mountains. On two sides of the refuge, a fence keeps the elk off the main road and out of the city, but in the other two directions, the elk are free to migrate in or out as their whims and needs dictate.

Our objective wasn’t to see the elk but rather to find a small group of bighorn sheep that made themselves at home along a lengthy butte in the middle of the refuge. The foggy morning made it difficult to spot them, but Taylor persistently kept us focused through binoculars and other sight scopes until it seemed we could almost touch the bighorn’s intricately curved headers.

We then drove north and stopped along the side of the highway to see a small herd of pronghorns that were making a rare appearance so far north in the winter. A few minutes later, we parked in a drive-out overlooking a winding river. Down below we could see two dark-furred moose lounging amongst the bushes.

(In 2009, the Four Seasons initiated its own customized wildlife expeditions, a four-hour trip with its own biologist/guide through the Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge.)

The Jackson Hole Visitors Center sells tickets for a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the refuge. Not only is this a lot of fun, but sleigh drivers take their passengers directly into the herds of elk. They are so expert at this maneuver that the elk, normally very skittish, allow the sleighs filled with picture-taking tourists to mingle among them. While passengers can’t leave the sleigh, the elk wander very close.

Since the National Elk Refuge is open to the wide world of wildlife, it is also visited by other animals, mostly predators. Wolves, for example, have been spotted on the refuge. During my visit, we saw a number of coyotes. However, the biggest treat for many was a bald eagle that roosted in one of the few trees — and it, too, didn’t seem to mind a sleigh full of camera-toting tourists.

The National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole is also worth a stop. Even our wrangler/sleigh driver, a tough outdoorsman, waxed poetic when he recommended the museum to his passengers.

While all of these activities (except the museum) are outdoors, they don’t require any specialized hiking gear since visitors are mostly inside a vehicle, nor are special skills required beyond dressing warmly. When my safaris were over, I journeyed back to the Four Seasons, warmed my cold feet before a roaring fire and ordered sushi.

IF YOU GO

Amangani has a fabulous location on the side of a mountain. While it is isolated, the resort runs shuttles to Jackson Hole and, for skiers, to Teton Village: www.amanresorts.com.

For skiers, the Four Seasons Resort at Jackson Hole is the most advantageous resort because it is located at the base of the Teton Village gondola. At the end of the day, enjoy apres-ski refreshments while watching the last of skiers head down from the mountain: www.fourseasons.com.

At Teton Science School Wildlife Expeditions, biologist Kevin Taylor doesn’t quit until you’ve seen what you came for: www.wildlifeexpeditions.org.

For Jackson Hole information and to arrange sleigh rides into the National Elk Preserve: www.jacksonholechamger.com.

The National Museum of Wildlife Art offers terrific collections of John Clymer and Carl Rungius, the masters of this genre: www.wildlife.org.

Finding the Camel Connection

November 16, 2010  
Filed under Fashion

By Sharon Mosley, CNS

This fall, you can lighten up girls! Get over the black hump and jump on board the camel craze. After being grounded in a desert of preppy boredom, the buttery tan color has returned to become the most sophisticated neutral to hit the fall runways. And the good news? Camel goes with everything! From denim to black to gray, a touch of camel will instantly take you out of the dry fashion zone and into a refreshing new oasis.

Here’s how to make the camel connection:

– Find the perfect camel coat. You know you’re tired of that black coat you’ve worn for the past five years. You’re thinking of replacing it with yet another black “go-with-everything” coat, but why not invest in a camel-colored topper? The camel coat has long been associated with elegant glamour — a la Lauren Bacall, Lauren Hutton and the other Lauren, Ralph. So, you know you can’t go wrong.

There are lots of versions of the camel coat this fall: long maxi wraps at Aquascutum, shiny leather coats at Prada, leather-trimmed lapels at Hermes and capes at Ferragamo. If a wool coat is too heavy, a camel-colored trench is another classic that never seems to go out of style; it fits perfectly into the military trend commanding attention this season.

– Find a great camel blazer. You can find cropped versions or longer versions. This may be one of the most versatile pieces you can put on your fall fashion shopping list. Layer it over a black pencil skirt and bow blouse for the office or over a black turtleneck and jeans for the weekend. Or be adventurous and toss it over a cocktail dress for a special evening out.

– Find an edgy camel suit. Sometimes it pays to buy two pieces that “match.” (Not to worry: “matching” is not a bad word anymore!) Then you have an actual “suit” to wear to work, and you can easily “take apart” the pieces and mix and match them with other things in your wardrobe. Whether it’s a pantsuit or a skirt suit, the camel suit, especially with the belted jacket, is a fresh new way to put a modern spin on your professional work clothes.

– Find a great pair of camel pants. Choose from two different styles: the flowing wide-leg trousers (think Katharine Hepburn) or the cropped, straight-leg styles (think Audrey Hepburn). These classic silhouettes are versatile enough to team with short jackets or longer coats.

– Find a fabulous camel sweater. Another one of the season’s trends — the chunky knit sweater — gets even more appeal when it’s done in the latest neutral. Stella McCartney made big news in Paris when she paraded her sexy, oversized, honey-colored button-front cardigans down the fall runways on models wearing nothing underneath them. Worn like tunic dresses, New York designer Michael Kors draped huge cowl-neck camel sweaters on models for his fall runway show.

– Find a gorgeous camel dress. Little black dress, move over. Shift dresses in solid camel are the way to go. Wear them with bare legs and camel-colored heels or boots. Top them off with animal-print coats or matching camel capes.

– Complete the camel connection with accessories. From nude pull-on ankle boots to chic slip-on caramel alligator loafers to luggage-colored clutches and hobo satchels, designers are making the camel connection with the finishing touches, too. Complete with gold jewelry accents: large cuffs, pendant necklaces and drop earrings.

– Add more color. Since camel acts as a stylish neutral backdrop, you can wear it head-to-toe this fall or add a punch of another neutral: gray is a favorite, denim always works, but red and animal prints are other ways to give this perennial classic even more glamour.

Martha Richardson Takes the Helm at Vermont Alzheimer’s Association

November 10, 2010  
Filed under Business

By Susan Green

In a windowless Williston office without decorations, the poster resting on top of a file cabinet bears the catchphrase: “The compassion to care, the leadership to conquer.”

On a mild autumn morning, that designation might just apply to the woman sitting behind a desk in the center of the room: Martha Richardson, the recently hired executive director of the national Alzheimer’s Association’s Vermont chapter.

“I really thought this is such an incredible match,” she says of her qualifications for the job, which Richardson assumed on July 1 or — in organizational parlance — “the start of the new fiscal year.”

Four months in, November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and she’s already an old pro. Since September 18, Richardson has overseen six Memory Walks throughout the state. Even before the final one took place in mid-October, pledges had risen from $87,000 in calendar year 2009 to $111,000 for 2010.

The Colchester resident has been “in the nonprofit corner” for all of her working life. With a significant background in development, Richardson would like to bump up the chapter’s annual budget from $275,000 to $300,000.

Those dollars are much needed to provide information, referrals, education, consultation and support services to help the 11,000 Vermonters with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The U.S. total is about 5.3 million.

“With aging Baby Boomers, the numbers are going to be staggering,” Richardson suggests. “For those over age 65, one in seven will have it. Over 85, that will be at least 50 percent. We’ve gotten good at keeping people alive, but nobody wants to grow old with Alzheimer’s.”

Moreover, an estimated 10.9 million caregivers, mostly unpaid, shoulder the responsibility for people stricken with the fatal disease. “Family members try to keep their loved ones home as long as possible,” she notes. “They can feel exhausted and overwhelmed. We hear from them.”

The cause of Alzheimer’s has not yet been identified, Richardson points out, “but we hope to begin opening everyone’s eyes to the problem.”

One goal is to remove any stigma. “It was once embarrassing to have cancer. With Alzheimer’s, we try make it clear that you didn’t do anything wrong. It doesn’t have to do with a lifestyle choice,” Richardson says.
Despite this proviso and the fact that no treatment or medication currently exists to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, she says, “There are things that can be done for the health of the brain, like jigsaw puzzles or Sudoko — both of which I enjoy in my spare time. Keeping the brain active is a good idea. People should avoid being sedentary or maintaining a small social world.”

For her, the issue of progressive brain disorders with no cure turned personal. Richardson’s father-in-law suffered from dementia; he died in 2008.

A Missouri native who attended high school in Pittsburgh, she majored in economics at the University of Vermont and graduated in 1980. Richardson worked as a development director at the Putney School — in the hometown of her husband Seth Richards — before moving north in 1986. The couple has two children, both now in college.

She went from auction coordinator to pledge drive manager during 15 years with Vermont Public Television, followed by a development position at Champlain College in the late 1990s.

After a good friend had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Richardson was inspired to spend a decade working at the Vermont chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. “But Vermont was merging with Boston, so my only choice was to leave the state or look for something else to do,” she explains.

That something else required her to hit the ground running with the Alzheimer’s Association, which had been without a permanent executive director for seven months. The hiring of Richardson brings the staff to three, including the director of programs (Brattleboro-based Maggie Lewis) and the development director (Ashley Witzenberger). The trio relies on volunteers to carry out various activities; for the recent Memory Walks, some 300 of them signed on to interact with 1,000 participants.

Although she hasn’t had time to embellish her office decor, Richardson is enthusiastic about the gig: “I love what I’m doing and the people I work with. That’s invigorating. I’m a firm believer in collaborative partnerships.”

Her only complaint at the moment? “We could use more help with raising community awareness,” she acknowledges.

Awareness is crucial to preparation for the future. Experts predict that by 2050, there’ll be as many as 19 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s.

“That’s a crisis, but we can change it. Our biggest hope is to slow down if not eradicate the disease,” Richardson says, sounding a lot like someone with the compassion to care and the leadership to conquer.

For more information, go to www.alz.org/vermont or call (802) 316-3839.

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations Accolades

November 10, 2010  
Filed under Business

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations has placed 4th in Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2010 “World’s Best Awards” in the Tour Operator & Safari Outfitter category.

This is the company’s first year receiving an accolade from the magazine, and company owner Gregg Marston is grateful for a strong debut. “We are humbled by this extraordinary recognition,” he says. “This serves as a remarkable reward for our associates here in Vermont and all over the world for their diligent and focused efforts to provide our active travelers the very best in value, cultural discovery, and life-changing experiences.”
Each year, Travel + Leisure works with an independent agency to poll its readers about their preferred worldwide hotels, cruise lines, airlines, and other travel industry providers. In the Tour Operator & Safari Operator category, readers were asked to evaluate six areas: staff/guides, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, and value.

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations was founded in 1971 as America’s original bicycle tour company, and is now the leader in bicycling and walking vacations. Founded by a Middlebury College professor with a love of the open road, the fledgling company quickly grew beyond its home turf to offer bicycle tours in Europe.Today, VBT offers active biking and walking vacations in 25 countries around the world, from the U.S. to Asia to Europe and beyond. With headquarters in an eighteenth-century dairy farm in Bristol, VBT has stayed true to its small town roots and  values, which include a reverence for the great outdoors, a tradition of neighborliness (extended around the world), and a commitment to responsible tourism and community service.

For more information, visit www.VBT.com

Caroline’s Opens in Jericho

November 10, 2010  
Filed under Business

Diners in northwestern Vermont have a new venue for fine food.

Stephen Burke, owner of the Village Cup in Jericho, is pleased to announce the grand opening of a restaurant next door to the renovated café/bakery. Caroline’s, named in honor of Burke’s late mother, opened for business on Oct. 1.

Burke designed the restaurant to have a feeling of bygone elegance. Antique cherry wood furniture, a grandfather clock, Vermont landscape paintings by Robert Aiken and historic photographs add to the ambience. Even as Burke updated the building for energy efficiency, he retained its vintage flavor. In addition to the main area, there are several smaller rooms and nooks including one intimate setting which has already been informally dubbed “the proposal room.”

While the Village Cup’s bistro is an informal, affordable place where friends might share food with one another, the restaurant is a more upscale setting. The establishments share a kitchen and beer and wine bar, but are two separate entities. Caroline’s seats 60 but has a smaller, more intimate feel with warm, light colors and lace curtains. No seating area holds more than 20 people.

Caroline’s is located at 30 Route 15 in the Jericho Village. Dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m., daily except Tuesday. For reservations, call 899-2223.

Union Bank names Levite Loan Center Manager

November 10, 2010  
Filed under Business

Ken Gibbons, President and CEO of Union Bank, announced the appointment of Edward L. Levite as Loan Center Manager and Senior Loan Originator of Union’s new Loan Center in South Burlington. “As one of the last community banks in Vermont, Union is excited to be opening our Loan Center with such a qualified and experienced individual,” Gibbons said.

Levite comes to Union with extensive lending experience, most recently as vice president of a multi-location residential mortgage operation. He brings loan office management experience and a strong history of building relationships with referral sources and vendors. “I am looking forward to building upon the Union Bank name and to bringing their excellent lending programs to Chittenden County,” Levite said.

Levite and his wife Lisa and their two sons live in South Burlington, and he is active in South Burlington Youth Baseball and South Burlington Rotary.

Longhorn Steakhouse Has a New Look

November 10, 2010  
Filed under Business

LongHorn Steakhouse recently announced that it has completed the remodeling of its restaurant located at 1405 Maple Tree Place in Williston. The interior of the restaurant has been updated to reflect the brand’s evolution over the years.

“We are proud and excited about the fantastic improvement we’ve made in this restaurant to represent the LongHorn of today,” said Michael Ginnett, the restaurant’s managing partner.

For more information visit www.longhornsteakhouse.com.

Attorney Jarrett Presents at Vt. Elder Law Summit

November 10, 2010  
Filed under Business

Glenn A. Jarrett, Esq., principal of Jarrett Law Office, and James A. Caffry, Esq., presented at the Second Annual Vermont Elder Law Summit, “Special Needs Trusts: An Advanced Review” in October at Vermont Law School.
The summit was attended by lawyers who deal with advanced special needs issues, including trusts and how a person with special needs can protect his or her government benefits and enjoy a better quality of life.

Best Cell Phone Plans for Infrequent Callers

November 10, 2010  
Filed under Money

By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,
What are the absolutely cheapest cell phone plans? I’ve had a cell phone for nearly four years that I rarely use, but I like having it for emergency purposes.
— Infrequent Caller

Dear Infrequent,
For those who don’t use their cell phone very often but still want one for emergencies or occasional calls, there are a number of low-cost plans available depending on your specific needs. Here’s where to find some of the cheapest deals.

Prepaid Plans
The best way infrequent cell phone users can save money is with a prepaid cell phone – also known as pay-as-you-go phones. With a prepaid phone there’s no contract, no fixed monthly bills, no credit checks and no hidden costs that come with traditional cell phone plans. With this type of service, you buy a special prepaid phone (they can cost anywhere from $10 to $100), then pre-purchase a certain amount of minutes (for talk or text) that must be used within a specified period of time.

While there are many prepaid phones on the market today, the cheapest deal for occasional users belongs to T-Mobile (t-mobile.com, 800-866-2453), which has a 30-minute plan for $10, and minutes don’t expire for 90 days. That averages out to $3.33 per month. If, however, you need more talk time, check out their “Gold Rewards” annual plan, where $100 gets you 1,000 minutes that are good for a full year. And with all T-Mobile pay-as-you-go plans, if you replenish your account before your minutes expire, your unused minutes will roll over. TracFone (tracfone.com, 800-867-7183) also offers some nice value plans that start at $10 for 50 minutes per month.

Senior-Friendly Phones
If you don’t mind spending a little more, Consumer Cellular and Jitterbug are two other popular options for seniors because they offer inexpensive low-use plans and senior-friendly phones.

Consumer Cellular (consumercellular.com, 888-345-5509) sells two “Doro” simplified cell phones that cost either $25 or $30. And they offer a $10 per month “casual” calling plan, plus 25 cents per minute, and no long-term contract. They even give a 5 percent monthly service discount to AARP members.

And Jitterbug (jitterbug.com, 800-918-8543), which makes the best senior-friendly cell phone on the market, sells their Jitterbug J phone for $99, with calling plans that start at $15 per month for 50 minutes, and no contract. Both services do, however, charge a one-time activation fee of $35.

Free Cell Phones
If you’re living on a limited income, you may even be able to get a free cell phone and free airtime each month through a program called SafeLink Wireless, which was created by TracFone, and is currently available in 29 states including the District of Columbia.

Vermont doesn’t yet have a SafeLink program, but you can visit www.safelink.com to be notified when it becomes available. Another option to check into is the 911 Cell Phone Bank. This is a program that provides free, emergency-only cell phones to seniors and victims of abuse. To see if there’s an emergency cell phone program near you, contact your local law enforcement agency.

Savvy Tip: If you’re in a long-term cellular contract and want to escape without paying the hefty early termination penalty see cellswapper.com or celltradeusa.com. These companies match cellular customers who want out of their contracts with people who are willing to take them over.

Shelburne Players Tackle One-Act Comedies

November 10, 2010  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

The Shelburne Players community theater will present a night of high comedy with a trio of one act plays on the Town Center stage in Shelburne. The shows are scheduled for November 12- 14 and 18- 20.

The first, “Sure Thing” by David Ives, shows what happens when two strangers get more than one chance to make a good first impression when they are “saved by the bell.” Jill Barr of Burlington and Aaron Kindsvatter, also of Burlington, perform the roles of the two characters Betty and Bill.

“Caught in the Act” by Bruce Kane, featuring Bill and Mindy Bickford of Charlotte, is a tale of two lovers trapped in a one-act play who try to break free while working out their relationship in a bedroom scene that keeps getting rewritten

In Woody Allen’s “Riverside Drive,” a homeless vagrant who was once a brilliant ad copywriter stalks another writer he believes has stolen his ideas and life story for a screen play. Jill Barr, Peter Espenshade of Shelburne and David Harcourt of Charlotte round out the cast.

For more information about the upcoming fall show and Shelburne Players in general, visit www.shelburneplayers.com.

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