Valley Questing in Historical Thetford

On a normal morning, I wake up after hitting snooze roughly three times, make two pieces of toast, brew a cup of coffee, and scroll drowsily through notifications on my iPhone. My thought process on most mornings is normally that I’m not ready to face the world at 8 am.

However, last week one of the notifications waiting on my phone was a reminder to begin the Super Quest. Super Quest, which is part of Valley Quest and Vital Communities, is an amazing opportunity to complete several local treasure hunts and earn points toward prizes in the process! This year’s Super Quest takes you on a self-guided journey through the Upper Valley, encouraging you to bring friends, take a hike, make public transit a part of your Quest, and even come up with your own Quest.

Even during the early morning hours, Questing still sounded like fun to me. I decided to start my Super Quest experience with Bill Hill in Thetford, Vermont. Bill Hill counts as a historical quest (2 points) because it allows visitors a sneak peak into life on a rural sheep farm in 1800s Vermont.

I imagined what the farm may have once looked like as I walked along the trail, and the old stone walls helped build the image of something quite grand. The rolling hills felt like something from a movie, and I couldn’t help but think about what Thetford must have been like in the past and wonder if it had always been this beautiful.

When I reached the top of Bill Hill, there was a stone bench, and a plaque commemorating essayist Noel Perrin’s favorite view. It was easy to see why that was a favorite view. The top of Bill Hill shows off one of the greatest little corners of Vermont, and I’m so happy that Valley Quest led me to that location.

Making my way through Upper Valley history one Quest at a time sounds like a perfect way to spend my summer. But an even better way to spend my summer will be to also incorporate learning about the local history of the civil war, architecture, or the natural world into these beautiful days. I can do all of this and more by completing the 2016 Super Quest.

The Super Quest is the perfect opportunity to stop scrolling through drowsy notifications on your phone and start getting excited about the world around you! I can’t wait to see what other exciting things happen to me while I continue my Super Quest journey.

Mariah Lang is an Upper Valley native joining Vital Communities as a summer communications intern from Roanoke College in Virginia.

Ready to Super Quest?

If you’re an avid Super Quester, you might notice that this year’s Super Quest is a little different.

In past years, our Super Quests have been oriented around a central theme such as Civil War Quests, General Stores, etc.

This year the Super Quest is all about getting more people involved with Valley Quest. Rather than focusing on a particular theme, the 2016 Super Quest gives Questers a variety of options to get out and explore what interests them while accruing points. Questers can pick and choose from 15 available categories. These items range in difficulty from simple tasks, such as registering your Super Quest team or Questing with a friend, to more difficult tasks like writing your own Quest or hiking a mountain on a Quest.

Super Quest Patches will be awarded to all individuals and team members who earn at least 10 points. All participants who earn at least 25 points will be entered into a grand prize drawing. We will also have a special treat for the team that collects the most points by November 1!

By offering an assortment of options to explore and earn points, we hope to make the 2016 Super Quest accessible to a broader audience and to encourage new people to give Questing a try. The Super Quest has plenty to offer beginners and advanced Questers alike, so get Questing!

Super Quest 2016

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do I start? Go to our website and fill out the short online form to register. You can also print out a copy of the Super Quest here. We recommend that you keep track of the Quests you’ve completed and track your points on the Super Quest sheet, so you’ll want to keep it handy.
  • Do I have to have a team? No. This year’s Super Quest is not as team-focused as in years past. You’re still welcome to have a team—in fact, the more the merrier!—but it’s not a requirement this year. If you are signing up as an individual, just choose your own team name and enter “1” for the number of team members.
  • Can I double-dip and get points in multiple categories for the same Quest? Yes. For instance, if you go on a Quest in your town (2 points) that you’ve never been on before (2 points), you get a total of 4 points for that one Quest. If you took public transit to get there (5 points) and found the Quest in the Best of Valley Quest book (2 points), you would get an additional 7 points for that same Quest.
  • How do I submit my points? You have three options for submitting your points:
    1. Go to VitalCommunities.org/SuperQuest and submit your points electronically.
    2. E-mail our Valley Quest Coordinator and let her know your total point count AND which Quests you completed.
    3. Fill your point totals in the circles on Super Quest form and mail it to Vital Communities, 195 N. Main Street, White River Junction, VT 05001.

Valley Quest: Discover What’s Hidden in Plain Sight

Yesterday afternoon, as the sun set quietly over the western hills of the Upper Valley and the peak temperature of 60 degrees dropped to a cool 52, I grabbed my dog and headed out the door to begin my first Valley Quest.

A Valley Quest is as enchanting as it sounds. It’s a treasure hunt for people (and dogs) of all ages, and a perfect excuse to explore the amazing places that surround us.

On the Vital Communities website I found a Quest in my hometown of Lyme. The Grant Brook Trail is an easy hike that took me around 30 minutes to complete. Like all Valley Quests, this one comes with a set of directions that lead to a treasure box hidden at the end.

After following the map, reading each clue carefully, and, admittedly, taking out my compass, I found the treasure box and signed my name in the guest book inside. Although that may have been my goal, it was what I discovered along the way that made the true impression on my day.

While I was walking to the trail head I passed a group of Lyme Elementary students playing baseball, enjoying the nice day as much as I was.

Once I got to the mossy old stonewall that was the start of the Quest, I let my dog hop over it first, obviously eager for me to reach the other side so we could continue our walk.

As we walked, I let all of the sounds piece together to form one incredible picture of the natural world. Grant Brook babbling beside the trail, birds chirping and singing, leaves crunching beneath my feet, and even the occasional gust of wind reminded me that I’m just a little part of such a large and incredible world, and what an amazing thing it is that we are able to explore it.

The Grant Brook Trail may be short in distance, but it was the perfect way to get outside and get more connected to the region that surrounds me every day.

I went to Lyme Elementary, and even though Grant Brook Trail was always nearby, it never occurred to me to explore it. That’s the great thing about Valley Quest: It helps you discover the beauty and wonder hidden in plain sight right here in the Upper Valley.

Did you know there are more than 200 Quests literally all over the 69-town Upper Valley region? Find yours today!

Mariah Lang is a summer communications intern joining Vital Communities from Roanoke College in Virginia.

Quest with Me: Sharon Elementary School

Just before school started this fall, I visited Sharon Elementary School. I was excited to visit this stop on the Super Quest because I’ve also been working with a 4th grade teacher in Sharon whose class is writing the very first Quest in Sharon, Vermont this year. They are working on it right now–stay tuned later this fall so you can be one of the very first Questers in downtown Sharon.

While I was there, we visited the school’s gardens. Each grade level has it’s own garden plot where students can learn and get their hands dirty.

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The gardens were well-tended, even before school was in session! I’ve never seen such a beautiful elementary school garden.

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The school also has a production garden for vegetables that are served in the school cafeteria. Now THAT is eating local! (Interested in growing vegetables for your school? Want to incorporate harvest lessons into your classroom? Check out the Upper Valley Farm to School Network!)

Are you registered for the Super Quest? Don’t forget that you can win a prize just for registering your team! We are looking forward to checking off some more autumn stops on the Quest with some apples, pumpkins, and a corn maze–you have until November 1 to complete your Quest.

Quest with Me: Hurricane Flats Farm

This week, my daughter and I continued on our Super Quest and visited Hurricane Flats Farm in South Royalton, Vermont. What a picturesque Vermont family farm! The farm was hit hard by Irene in 2011, but you would never know it now. Geo and his family were hard at work in the gorgeous fields when we stopped by on Monday.

This stop on the Super Quest would have been a very challenging one if Emma hadn’t been working nearby to point me in the right direction. We followed the road from the farm stand down into the field, and turned right after the corn patch. We paused here to take a picture of another pastoral view

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The sign you are looking for on your Quest is hidden along the banks of the river, among some tall grass. I’ve covered up the answer with this happy cartoon bear!

Visit Hurricane Flats Farm to see what’s hiding behind the bear!

After we found the puzzle solution, we enjoyed a leisurely walk back up to the farm stand. We couldn’t leave without some Ruby Red popcorn. I’ve been told by good sources that it is the best popcorn on the planet. I’m looking forward to taste testing it myself!

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Make sure to register your team for the Super Quest if you haven’t already registered. Once you’ve completed your quest and emailed your puzzle solution to me, you’ll be entered to win the grand prize! Next week, we will be questing at the Lebanon Farmer’s Market. Hope to see you there!

Quest with Me!

As the new Valley Quest manager and the newest member of the Vital Communities team, I’m very excited to dive right in and get started this summer! One of my first adventures is completing the Upper Valley Farm Super Quest. I’ll be posting throughout the summer as I explore these local farms, and enjoy all the fun (and delicious!) stops along the way.

My first stop was Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center in Thetford, Vermont. My daughter, our neighbors, and I visited just in time for strawberry picking. The kids loved hunting for bright red berries in the fields, and of course they taste-tested them too.

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After we picked our 6 pounds of strawberries, we headed to the farm stand to complete the quest, and to pick up some fresh veggies for dinner too.

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Have you registered for the Super Quest? Stop by our Facebook page and tell us about your adventures. And be sure to check out the latest news on the Vital Communities Facebook page too! Next week, we are headed to Hurricane Flats Farm in South Royalton.

-Lauren

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