We learned last month how awesome the Paul Smith’s VIC is.
What could make it even cooler? You guessed it. Live music.
The VIC has been bringing in musicians to entertain visitors for a Sunday afternoon series, running from the end of January and wrapping up after this weekend. The series is free to anyone with a ski pass, though donations are accepted, and is underwritten by Friends of the VIC.
I visited March 9, a beautiful, sunny day. I was looking forward to a chance to get out on my cross-country skis for the first time this year, and I was excited by the thought of soaking up some extra vitamin D.
The VIC is open for people to walk its trails in the summer, but in the winter, people on skis and snowshoes need to have a pass. When you pull in, there are plenty of signs indicating this around the parking lot. Even if you go in the summer, they ask that you check in.
There’s a tiered level of pricing, with kids younger than 6 getting in for free and adults aged 18 to 64 paying $12 for a day pass. There are discounts for seniors, alumni of Paul Smith’s College, current students, vets and current military and town of Brighton residents. Current Paul Smith’s students get in for free. You can also buy season passes, which cost up to $100.
Time for some tunes
As I entered the VIC’s beautiful main hall, I heard light guitar picking as I bought a pass at the desk and perused the gift shop, equipment rentals and exhibit space.
Then I ventured toward the music at the other end of the room. Sunlight poured in through huge windows, and I just barely made out Kevin Sabourin, who plays guitar in the local band Lucid, picking at his guitar as he stared out the window.
Just outside the window, there were several bird feeders, and a group of birds, but I’m terrible at bird identification so I’m not going to say for sure, were flitting around, eating and diving away each time a tiny squirrel approached looking for food scraps.
Kevin was watching the interplay between the birds and the squirrel as he played a quiet, pretty tune that created a perfect soundtrack for the action. Then he launched into a song that I think is from Lucid’s 2009 album, “Bad Habit.”
He sat in front of several couches, and only one person sat listening to him, but others milled throughout the lodge, and the guitar strains created a nice, welcoming atmosphere.
Lovely day for a ski
After that I headed out to try out the trails. The VIC has an extensive trail system, and they are split up into snowshoe, ski and ski-skate trails. I took a snowshoe loop, because it was shorter and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to last very long. My ill-fitting, hand-me-down equipment has seen better days and ends up giving me blisters and rubbing off my skin after 45 minutes or so.
I wasn’t the only one who had taken the Boreal Life Trail on skis, though. There were definitely ski tracks, probably from a few days prior. It was a beautiful day to be out, and the trail was just long enough that I got a good workout but not too long that I had to take my skis off and limp back. It was good to take a break about halfway through and take in the views from a lookout at the edge of Barnum Pond.
I get a little scared going downhill on cross-country skis, and I may have fallen over once or twice (OK, maybe three or four times). But I made it through the day with no injuries other than a few rubbed spots on my feet. Though it was cold when I started, it was nice enough out that I was warm and sweaty by the end of my trip and I had to pull my jacket open and let the wind cool me down.
Hopefully, the weather will be nice again next weekend so I can get back out on my skis and check out the Celtic tunes the VIC has planned. The Reel Jig Band is set to play from 1 to 3 p.m. March 16.
The band is made up of two former band members from Inisheer - Steve Borst and Sue Grimm - as well as percussionist Erik VanYserloo. Steve plays guitar (has been since he was 9!) and Sue plays the flute, whistle, accordion and hammered dulcimer.
It should be a good way to get in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day!
If you can’t make it Sunday, you can also check out the Bunny Boot Ball Friday, March 14. Here’s the description: “Kick up your feet for a thumping good time at the VIC! We’ll be skiing and dancing and generally having a good time at the VIC. There will be live music by the band Crackin’ Foxy, snacks, a cash bar, a bonfire and indoor and outdoor activities. Wear your big winter bunny boots, but bring your dancing shoes and join us for a fun night of music and dance. $15 per person, $25 per couple. Dress is Adirondack Outdoor Casual!”
Crackin’ Foxy is a fun band. They play a 1930s-inspired blend of music that is jazzy and often has a Hawaiian feel to it. This will give you a good idea of what to expect.