nowshoeing in Vermont
The snow-covered woods in central Vermont are filled with historic towns, white-steepled churches, ski resorts, and snowshoe trails, said Shane Mitchell in Travel + Leisure. One morning, after checking into Twin Farms, a
300-acre retreat with 20 cottages in the town of Barnard, I set out on a snowshoe jaunt with a guide. We trudged through a woods filled with turkey tracks and porcupine dens, until we reached the village green of Woodstock,
about 10 miles away. This town is “a primer in architectural preservation,” thanks primarily to the generosity of Laurence Rockefeller. Its streets are lined with Greek Revival, Federal, and late Georgian homes. Louis Comfort Tiffany designed the stained-glass windows in the library, and Paul Revere probably forged many of the bells hanging in various steeples here. A covered wooden bridge crosses the Ottauquechee River, and a town crier still announces community suppers and singalongs.
Spelunking in a million-year-old cavern
Deep in the belly of one of California’s largest caves lies “the pancake,” said Hugo Martin in the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a rectangular gap, 3 feet wide by about 18 inches tall.” As my headlamp shot a beam into the darkness and I breathed in air that smelled like mud, I suppressed the urge to panic and pushed myself through. Welcome to the underground world of Moaning Cavern in Vallecito, Calif., about 100 miles southeast of Sacramento. The cavern got its name from the sound of the dripping water that has fallen for millions of years onto limestone slabs to create a maze of narrow tunnels. Spelunkers in this guided tour first don overalls, gloves, kneepads, and helmets. The easy way to see stalactites, stalagmites, “and other weird rock formations” is by descending the 100-foot spiral staircase, fashioned in the 1920s from old battleship parts. The other way—which I elected, despite my pounding heart—is to rappel down and then start crawling along the subterranean floor.
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