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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Will You Go Out With Me: Doing Donuts

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Angela on the frozen lake
  • Angela on the frozen lake

I don’t need to tell you that it’s been a rough winter. The fact that I was outside two minutes ago breaking up some of the ice in our driveway — just because I can —  says it all. I will leave my children unattended (or iPad-attended) so that I might sneak away for five minutes and beat up on some ice because it’s finally showing signs of melting. It’s been that kind of winter.

Which makes our latest date locale both totally questionable and completely perfect. I guess we figured, if the cold and ice and unrelenting awfulness of this winter are all around us, let’s find a way to make it fun. And did we ever…

We received a tip from a friend of a friend that there’s an actual race course, plowed and maintained by the Sports Car Club of Vermont, on Malletts Bay. Yes, ON the bay. As in, on the lake, driving on top of water. Because, as we know, it’s possible for an entire lake to freeze when it's this ridiculously cold.

I grew up in Vermont, but have somehow never driven on a frozen lake before. Ryan — my Texan husband — had always wanted to do this thing that sounds stupid and impossible, so the date was perfect: New to both of us, way outside our joint comfort zone, and easily accomplished in a couple of hours.

I feel the need to preface this by saying that I sincerely hope I’m not giving away some well-guarded secret here. The intel we received advised us that, should we encounter any other drivers on the course, it would be cool to ask them if they could point out the people who do the plowing and to kick those guys ten or twenty bucks for their hard work.

Our source ended his email with, “Don’t forget a shovel and, if you have one, a tow rope.”  
click to enlarge Here we go!
  • Here we go!


With that, we headed north on Route 127 to Colchester. We turned into the public boat launch off of West Lakeshore Drive and just kept driving. It was the strangest feeling — even though there was total continuity of surface from the parking lot onto the lake, Ryan and I paused and looked at each other all "Thelma and Louise"-like.

A short drive out into the bay brings you to the course, and since it’s the only plowed area, you can’t miss it. Ryan greeted our terrain gleefully by whipping a few donuts in the widest part of the course while I white-knuckled the "oh shit!" bar above my head and squealed in terrified delight. I loved the idea of having all of this space to be reckless but also had visions of the car tipping over.

Adrenalized and feeling like a couple of teenagers getting away with something, we took turns driving the course. I’ve never understood that whole “go with the skid” advice when it comes to winter driving, and this was the perfect place to experience firsthand the physics of that statement. In the passenger seat, Ryan was a calm and trusting winter driving teacher. I, on the other hand, consistently maintained my role as the slightly freaked out co-pilot. But it worked.

click to enlarge Donuts after donuts
  • Donuts after donuts
We spent about 45 minutes on the lake — alternately driving the course and stopping to remark on how crazy it was. We had the feeling that we were venturing out into the thick of winter, yet from the seat-heater comfort of our Volvo. That's the best of both worlds, I say.

To cap off of our awesome ice adventure, we tucked into Rozzi’s Lakeshore Tavern for a beer and some downright delicious fried perch. I have a story in my head that says Rozzi’s is a Malletts Bay institution — and this was our first visit. We’re psyched to go back someday, whether in snow pants or bathing suits.

The final stop of our date was necessary only because we had been referring to this outing as “donuts and donuts” since  we had the idea a few weeks ago. South End Kitchen was on our way back to my sister’s house, where our kids had been hanging out, so we made it official. Donuts and Donuts: A Complete Success. 

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