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Elevated Summer Camp at Basin Harbor Club

Blog posts are great, but snapchat is way more fun. See my travel adventures in real time by following me on snapchat: @SimkoSays

When a friend invites you on a trip, you don't say no. So when fellow Boston blogger Georgina Castellucci of A Noted Life asked me to join her for a weekend at the Basin Harbor Club in Vermont on the shores of Lake Champlain, I instantly said yes! Better yet, our mutual friend, cookbook author/The Food In My Beard blogger/tv host/all around good guy Dan Whalen, was also heading to the Basin Harbor Club to take in the fresh mountain air of Vermont and indulge in the food offerings of Executive Chef Christian Kruse. The good news is, with this group, we didn't limit ourselves to just fresh air and food, we also biked, embarked on a boat cruise, jumped in Lake Champlain, and danced the night away at the Red Mill.

Georgina, with Dan as her co-pilot, picked me up in Boston in a 2016 Chevy Tahoe which would be our (luxurious) chariot for the weekend. It's a bit of a drive from Boston up to the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vermont but we came prepared with snack, music, and endless hours of conversation. Traveling with other bloggers is a real treat as we're able to balance the conversation between

"shop talk" aka blogger/influencer experiences, and personal chit-chat which allows us to get to know each other on a more personal level. Georgina and Dan are both great people, and I often feel honored to be in the company of such accomplished individuals who both work their asses off to earn drop of their success. On our journey up to Vermont, the Chevy's GPS took us on route 125 which literally cut through the scenic Green Mountain National Forest. We quickly turned off the Tahoe's a/c and rolled down the windows to take in the mountain air. Living in Boston, we all noticed a significant difference in the air quality, smell (or lack thereof), and even our moods. We took a quick detour off route 125 to the Texas Fall observation site in hopes of catching a glimpse of nature at its best. I can say that nature sure didn't disappoint. We treked over a foot bridge at Texas Falls and snapped lots photos of the falls, and of course, ourselves (we're bloggers after all!) then stayed for a few minutes to soak it all in. The air was even crisper and cleaner by the falls with a near deafening sound of rushing water.

Another hour or so drive in the Tahoe eventually lead us to Vergennes where the Basin Harbor Club is located directly on the shores of Lake Champlain. Basin Harbor, or BHC, is a 'summer camp' style resort which means there's a main lodge, several cabins/cottages, an inn portion of the resort, and sprawling grounds surrounded with nature. There's something about a resort located down a winding road that makes it feel even more special, and remote. Like a little secret only you know about. We checked in at the lodge, and headed to our respective rooms. While Dan was in one of the rustic cottages, Georgina and I were in Summit, an Adirondack-style lodge with a more modern feel. The room was appointed quite well with comfortable beds and linens. Loving a rustic esthetic, the headboard was my favorite piece in the room, and was made from locally sourced branches. There's even a plaque with the origin of the wood, species, and year it was harvested. After a quick change, we were off the The Red Mill for dinner.

Located on property, The Red Mill is a renovated 1940's saw mill and a favorite for guests and locals alike. I think the entire group was pleasantly surprised by the menu itself and the quality of the food. Far from traditional pub fare (although available) our small plates and entrees spanned from merguez meatballs and roasted cauliflower, to steak frites, short rib, and even a

duck cassoulet. Definitely not your standard pub food menu. Each dish was beautifully plated, well balanced, and down-right delicious. Maybe we were just starving from the long drive, but truthfully it was one of the best, non-pretentious, non-intimidating meals I've had in a while. With the restaurant being on property, we were able to walk back over the lodge (under a sky full of fireworks) to an awaiting bonfire complete with a gourmet s'mores bar and beer tasting. Sitting around the fire with Dan and Georgina was one of my highlights from the trip. Maybe it was because of the fabulous meal or maybe it was the beer talking, but we all got to know each other on a deeper level where we shared our insecurities, fears, and hopes both professionally and personally. Swapping stories and digging into the guts of life under the shining stars of a crystal clear Vermont night is stuff made for movies, but I'm so grateful I experienced that in real life.

Saturday morning came early with a wonderful breakfast buffet in the main dining room at the lodge. A real standout was the housemade baked goods including donuts and apple fritters. I ate more of them than I care to share. After breakfast we were off to the EScape for a boat cruise around Lake Champlain. Captained by 4th generation owner Bob Beach, we zig zagged our way across Lake Champlain learning about the history and local dedication to the lake and surrounding areas. Onboard the EScape were BHC's two resident golden retrievers, Rosie and Piper. These lovely ladies were underfoot the entire weekend greeting us at each stop along the way. They provided a lot of entertainment and all around cuteness. Once back at the dock, Georgina, Dan, and I decided to rent bikes for the afternoon and explore the area. We took about a 3 mile round-trip ride from BHC over to Button Bay through some roads and wooded trails. It was an unusually hot day for the mountains of Vermont, so jumping in Lake Champlain post-ride felt amazing.

After a day filled with boating, biking, and swimming, we were more than looking forward to a specially prepared dinner by Executive Chef Christian Kruse. Our group took a seat in a private room where a delicious 4 course dinner, with wine pairings (of course), was served. We started with a chilled pea soup with dehydrated zest and edible flowers, followed by a delicious short rib served over smoked mashed potatoes. I could have eaten endless amounts of those potatoes. In an unusual move, the main dish was actually vegetarian consisting of sweet heirloom carrots in a charred onion jus, finished with VT Creamery chevre. While uncommon to serve a protein course before a vegetable course, it was a nice way to lighten up the meal before dessert came. Speaking of dessert, Chef Kruse served a generous portion of strawberry "cannelloni" (it was more of a cannoli) filled with Cabot creme fraiche and a balsamic reduction. Rounding out the dish was a little graham-mint crumble. Throughout the meal, we chatted with the other bloggers on the trip about their experiences with travel and food, and their style of writing and blogging. I love that I always end up picking up tips from others when on trips like these.

In the quiet moments of this trip (and believe me they were far and few between) I found myself feeling immense gratitude. Grateful for amazing experiences in life, grateful for great friends/fellow bloggers who support and encourage each other, and grateful for being able to wake up every single morning knowing that anything is possible. I've said many times before that blogging and social media have afforded me incredible experiences these past few years and not a single moment of it is lost on me, nor do I take any of it for granted. Beyond a fabulous trip to BHC in Vermont, riding in a luxurious Tahoe, with incredible blogger buddies, it was a moment to relax, reflect, and regroup. I recommend the mountain air of The Basin Harbor Club in Vermont to anyone looking for all of the above.

While I was a guest of a writer on this trip, BHC provided lodging, meals, and activities for me as well. Chevrolet provided transportation.

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