We are taking back roads on our way from our home in North Yarmouth to Sunday River. As we drive past old farmhouses and cute little towns I recollect the same drive leading to our wintry Christmas Eve engagement at Sunday River. This ski destination has be- come a special place to us. Joe and I are excited to arrive at the Jordan Hotel to settle in for a weekend full of skiing, good food, and relaxation.
8:00 p.m. @ Cho Sun
Arriving in downtown Bethel I admire the classic New England charm of this established ski village. It’s a snowy night and I am pleased to see the warm, inviting glow of Cho Sun. This is a locally acclaimed Japanese restaurant, and we are relieved we made reservations so we don’t have to wait. We choose to sit in the dining room but notice what a hot spot the bar at the back of the restaurant is. The gyoza, spicy tuna entree, and hot sake get me in the mood for a cozy weekend.
9:15 p.m. @The Jordan Hotel
Walking into the Jordan Hotel I am struck by the grandiose, classic ski lodge feel. The crackling fire, big leather couches, and lofty ceilings provide just the scene I was hoping for on our ski week- end. We arrive at the room and are pleasantly surprised by a fruit plate and bottle of chilled sparkling wine. There are also ski maps and guides on the table. Joe is a life-long skier, but the sport is relatively new to me, so he walks me through the trail map and we plot and plan our routes for the weekend. He shows me the easy trails and I marvel at the double diamonds he plans to tackle.
7:50 a.m. @ The Jordan Hotel
After a great night’s sleep, we wake up to killer views of the mountains. We make our way down the main stair- case to the generous break- fast buffet that wraps all the way around the large room. There are amazing options. I go with a classic scramble with hot sauce, bacon, and black coffee.
9:00 a.m. @ Perfect Turn Ski and Snowboard School
I have made many attempts this season to master the art of snowboarding, but I’m just not feeling it today so I decide to take a ski lesson. The last time I skied I was twelve, so I welcome a private lesson. I wait to meet my instructor at the South Ridge Lodge.
9:30 a.m. @ the bunny slope
My instructor, Patty, and I take the shuttle up to the bunny slope after I’ve been outfit- ted with the proper gear. On our ride, Patty preps me with all the tips and pointers I need to hit the slopes. Her calm nature puts me at ease. I’ve only been on the slope for five minutes and I already feel more confident after practicing turns and taking a couple of small runs. By noon I am enjoying a leisurely cruise down a blue trail.
12:30 p.m. On the slopes
When Joe whips by me I’m not surprised. I think he is surprised, though, when I catch up to him and make my way down the mountain with ease.
12:45 p.m. @ The Foggy Goggle
We decide to grab a beer after our run so we have a chance to catch up about my lesson.
1:15p.m. @Viking Village
It’s time to break for lunch, so I decide to go see my friend Evangeline, her husband Michael, and their daughter, Scarlet, at their family’s ski chalet in Viking Village. I’ve been going to the chalet for years and always appreciate that you can show up directly from the ski trail Road Runner. This Bavarian- style chalet is right out of a fairytale. As we chat with Evangeline and Michael, Joe recognizes the neighbors, who are getting warm by their fire pit. They turn out to be old friends, whom Joe grew up with in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
2:30 p.m. @ Barker Mountain Lodge
Joe and I head back up the hill to Barker Mountain Lodge to ski a few runs together. It’s a gorgeous bluebird day.
3:30p.m. @Barker Bar
We head in to grab a beer at the bar. While we are there we run into our friends Jess and Eric Person. Jess’s parents, David and Anne Carter, started Carter’s X-C Ski Center over 35 years ago. There’s not enough time to catch up so we decide to make reservations at the restaurant Camp. We are all anxious to try it.
5:30 p.m. @ The Jordan Hotel
We head back to the hotel to shower before dinner. But first things first. It’s time to take a dip in the heated outdoor pool. Although there is an indoor entrance, I opt to run on the outside deck to get as cold as possible before taking a dip in the warm turquoise water. The steam over the water reminds me of natural hot springs. Joe and I take a deep breath and relax into the backrest for 15 minutes until we have to run to the hotel room to shower up for dinner.
7:00 p.m. @ Camp
We walk into the Grand Summit Hotel and see the entry to Camp. Right away I ask Joe, “Who designed this?” It is so well done, with plaid fabric treatments, low lighting, and illuminated canoes suspended from the ceiling. All of the hardware and fittings scream high- end rustic. We take a seat at the eight-top table and enjoy some appetizers and signature cocktails. Dr. Dot Foote, head of Wayfinder Schools, spots me at the table and kneels down to let me know that she is a guest at the private party of Sunday River president Dana Bullen and his wife, Heidi. I follow her into the private room where their guests are enjoying an eight-course dinner and California wine pairings that chef Curtis Hillard has prepared for them.
8:00 a.m. @ South Ridge Lodge
We arrive bright and early to hit the slopes. Joe and I get on the chairlift and Joe realizes that the third passenger in the chair is his old friend Jeremy Nellis. It seems this happens to him everywhere we go. Jeremy is the Nordic ski coach for Gould Academy. We take a run together and then we part ways so that I can meet back up with Evangeline.
Evangeline has been skiing her whole life, so she can ski just about anywhere. I prefer the Ridge Run trail so she takes it slow with me. This trail is just the right pace, fast enough so it is fun, but slow enough so I can take in the sights. I notice a large ski house being built right on the trail.
12:00 p.m. @ The Jordan Hotel
I’ve been looking forward to this all weekend: my hot stone massage. After a weekend of skiing this is a much-needed break. I have never had a hot stone massage before. It is much like a traditional massage, but warm stones are used to work through some of the tense muscle. I practically melt into the table and feel totally relaxed.
2:00 p.m. @ Cafe DiCocoa
Rather than head right back to the mountain, I decide to check out some shops in Bethel. I pop into the brightly colored Cafe DiCocoa to grab a cup of coffee to perk me up a bit. There are plenty of locals enjoying this coffeehouse. The smell of high-quality coffee beans thick in the air and goods for sale make it hard to leave.
2:15 p.m. @ Pok Sun Emporium
I’m lured into the Pok Sun Emporium by the window display. I explore the large amount of eclectic and high-quality goods for the home. One could get lost in here for hours looking at fashion, pottery, and vintage signs.
2:30p.m. @The Philbrook Place
There are many shops under one roof here. It’s like a co-op of shops. I make my way into Bethel Toys and Trendz, where the abundance of toys for every age is entertaining to look at. Elements Art Gallery features many Maine artists and jewelry, while Haagaard’s Den offers up some artistic Maine furniture.
3:00 p.m. @ Good Food Store
On my way to Barker Mountain Village I stop at the Good Food Store to grab some ground coffee, dried fruit, and yogurt.
3:30 p.m. @ Sunday River Brew Pub
I meet Joe at the lodge and we head out of town, but first we stop at Sunday River Brew Pub. Yet again we sidle up to the bar and Joe recognizes his good friend Grant Austin. I see a theme developing here. As they reminisce I decide to order the beer sampler. I am especially impressed by the HopKronik Tonic, a brew designed by the pub and Baxter Brewing. We meet a woman at the bar, who tells us all about Locke Mountain Guide Service of Newry. Joe and I are intrigued and keep a guided fly fishing trip in mind for our next trip up.
4:15 p.m. @ True North Adventureware
On our way out of town, We have to stop at True North Adventureware. True North is the name of our 1813 farmhouse and we are hoping to find some True North gear! We find a coffee mug, and I get a new Nalgene bottle. We begin our trip back home, through the same winding roads and little towns, by the old farm- houses all aglow.