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Cabin fever? Race you to the bar stools

Cabin fever? Race you to the bar stools Cabin fever? Race you to the bar stools

– Columns –

It’s around this time of year, that cabin fever sets in. Even people who participate in winter outdoor activities can get restless. Looking for something different to break up the monotony? Here are a couple ideas to keep in mind.

Recently, three of my cousins came up from Illinois, for a whirlwind weekend of winter fun. We started the weekend off Friday evening, by going to a rustic little hide-away called Tamarack Farms Winery, near Hayward.

Tamarack Farms is a family farm setting, family owned and operated by Dave Anderson, founder of the original Famous Dave’s BBQ Smokehouse Restaurant. The establishment is cozy and inviting, and features wine tasting and wood-fired pizza, prepared and baked where patrons can watch the process from start to finish.

While waiting to be seated, a variety of artisan-crafted wines, using locally grown cranberries, blueberries, strawberries and apples, are available for sampling. Each individual receives a tumbler and a sheet of paper containing the list of wines sampled, to record preferences, with bottles available for purchase.

The hostess was extremely accommodating to snap numerous pictures of our group to preserve the memories of such a fun night, as we don’t get together with family as often as we would like. A unique and relaxing dining option.

Saturday started off with continued laughter and a delicious home-cooked breakfast, prepared by my sister, Bethie, with whom we spent the night. After the meal, we drove into Hayward to do a little shopping. Hayward offers a multitude of quaint shops, and a trip to Hayward is not complete without stopping at Tremblay’s Sweet Shop.

Tremblay’s offers the most delectable, tempting, mouthwatering confections. Hard candies, salt water taffy, peanut or cashew brittle, many sugar-free options, gummi everything (I’ve seen gummi fried eggs, sharks, butterflies, coke bottles, and, of course, the original gummi…bears) and Jelly Belly jelly beans, just to name a few selections.

And we can’t forget their famous homemade fudge, available in many assorted varieties.

After shopping, we headed to Drummond, for the annual barstool races. My cousins had heard about this event and were intrigued by it, which is what prompted the weekend trip. This is the first time I attended the races and, in my opinion, it was well worth the drive. I highly recommend arriving early, as this function draws a large number of spectators and parking spaces fill up rapidly.

The teams were made up of two people. One person was the anchor and did the pushing to get the second person started down the hill. The mode of transportation for the rider was a barstool. On skis! It was fun to watch the different designs chosen for the harrowing flight down the hill. The object was to make it across the finish line in the fastest possible time, while racing against an opponent, all while retaining a precarious perch.

The riders struck me as fearless. Here they were, sitting atop a stool, mounted on spindly skis, with nothing to hold on to. Though a few contraptions resembled versions of futuristic bicycles. Many of the teams chose to dress in costumes to add to the festive air and possibly for added warmth.

I was specifically impressed with the sportsmanship, as competitors continually cheered for, and encouraged, one another. They embodied the true indomitable American spirit, when more than one contestant’s ride came apart, some right out of the starting block, and the rider literally picked up the scattered, broken pieces and ran down the remainder of the icy slope to cross the finish line.

They were all impressive athletes. Not only did they have the courage to brave the elements as they skyrocketed down the “slope of death,” but they had the physical strength and endurance to carry their barstool conveyance back up the hill after each run.

My cousins had a fantastic time and are already plotting… uh, planning, to return next year, and possibly enter the competition. It was so fun to experience something new and to share it with people who are fun and adventurous, and if they happen to be family, that just makes it even more special.

Weekend winter fun for the win!