Beauty Despite the Rain

Despite the dreary weather conditions outside, there are a variety of scenes across Litchfield County that can brighten our day. Don’t worry, the National Weather Service claims that the rain will depart by Thursday morning as we’ll expect to see partly sunny skies and temperatures remaining in the 50’s. We could see some snow showers come Thursday night, however, as temperatures drop into the 20’s! Hard to imagine why everyone is feeling a bit under the weather these days isn’t it?

You can read the entire National Weather Service forecast by clicking here.

Ice can still be seen here on Stillwater Pond in Torrington.

Introducing: Guest Blogging

As a community blog for Litchfield County, Connecticut, it is essential to include the community in almost every aspect of this blog. In recent weeks, there have been a slew of upgrades to the site, specifically on the home page as there are now links to local bloggers as well as local news and radio sources. This kind of connection directly impacts all of our networking capabilities here in Litchfield County. As a social media guru, I know just how important networking is in each of our lives. Today, it has become an essential element. I am happy to promote as many people as I could on “In Touch..with the Litchfield Hills“. This site is for the community.

Today, I am happy to introduce guest blogging. Guest blogging has been making a number of headlines over the past year and has become a popular trait amongst fellow bloggers. Guest blogging is essentially where other bloggers contribute to the site, not just the main blogger. I have the traffic thanks to my site being listed on The Register Citizen’s website, as well as a terrific number of followers who I am happy to have been able to connect with. The site also has some international followers as well. The most important followers, however, are right here at home in Litchfield County. I can’t tell you how many wonderful people live out here.

I invite all that wish to contribute to the site but ask that you keep to the tone of the blog. The blogs tone is essentially anything and everything Litchfield Hills,CT and Berkshire County,MA. The tone of the blog also carries with it a love for the great outdoors of New England as well as some unique small business finds along the way. You will, of course, get proper recognition for anything and everything that you contribute to the site. You will also be featured in a “Guest Bloggers” page which will host information about our guest bloggers, if you wish.

I believe this is a great way for all of us to connect. Blogging is an amazing way to tell your story, and there are many more stories out there than what I am sharing with my audience.

For more information, please contact me:, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

Winter Solitude

Connecticut‘s Litchfield Hills enjoyed a day out on Saturday after a general five to eighteen inches fell across Litchfield county on Friday night. The highest amounts were in southern Litchfield county around the Brookfield and New Milford areas as a Norlun Trough impacted western Connecticut. Traffic on Interstate 84 came  to a complete stand still in the Danbury area as drivers were walking away from their cars and walking off of exit ramps. Further north on Interstate 84, in Cheshire, motorists became stranded as trucks had a hard time making it up the steep incline. The day after, however, left a very calming scene in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills.

Winchester Lake. Winchester Center,CT

Click here for the complte story from NBC Connecticut

Blizzapolis 2010

The winds howled. The snow was intense reducing visabilities across the countryside. Power was knocked out for many. Roads were impassable. These were the conditions across Litchfield county Sunday night as a major Nor’easter made its way up the coast giving the entire region a real winter wallop! As the winds peaked, so too did the snow drifts that were being created, many topping off at over 2 feet! The storm that we all had been watching for well over a week made its way to the northeast impacting holiday travel conditions for many folks who became stranded at airports across the country. Those of us who are weather geeks became distracted from our holiday cheer on Christmas afternoon as the models were really coming together and forming an agreement that this storm was going to pack a punch, and we shouldn’t take it lightly.

Saturday afternoon Winter Storm Warnings were issued across the state later turning into Blizzard Warnings. As weather geeks, our fear was growing as we reminded ourselves that there are holiday travelers out there who will be making their way back to the state and have not been paying attention to media outlets all day as they spent quality time with friends and family. The push became urgent to deliver the message quickly across as many social sites as possible to get the word out to folks to make travel arrangements as soon as possible. Yes, on Christmas day we became so distracted from holiday cheer, that we became consumed into what this storm was going to bring. We all knew that it was going to significantly impact our region, the question was how soon will things begin to deteriorate.

Before leaving my house on Christmas night for work, I checked in with the computer models to see the latest on the storm as it worked its way up the coast. The latest information presented was that it would start around noon but become heaviest during the overnight hours. Considering I work overnight and would be riding out the storm at work, I was content with that forecast. Sunday night, however, I was singing a different tune as the intesity of the storm started earlier than expected. I attempted the travel anyways thinking that I would be clear sailing once I hit a major stretch of roadway.

As I drove along Route 8 here in Litchfield county, it was evident I would not make it to work. The winds picked up as a snow-covered highway turned even more deadly thanks to the howling winds that caused white out conditions. For those who aren’t familiar with Route 8 here in Litchfield county, it is a two lane north-south divided highway that makes its way from the border of New Haven county to Winsted. The worst part of this highway, however, is the fact that from the Litchfield county border, it has no lights, making travel in white out conditions nearly impossible. Not being able to see 2 feet in front of me, I turned my car around and went right back home. It was evident that conditions were not favorable, and were not getting any better as the storm continued to progress through the overnight hours.

Snow in Sharon. SOURCE: WHDD in Sharon,CT.
Once Monday morning had come around, it was time to get the snow shovels into gear as we began to dig out from nearly a foot and a half of snow that was delivered to the Litchfield Hills overnight. One more look at the computer model before heading out to discover what the region looked liked showed that an eye had formed over Cape Cod and the islands. I said the words ‘Blizzarcane’ to myself as I couldn’t believe what I had just seen before my eyes. This storm certainly delivered, and though it didn’t quite perform up to its snow promises, it certainly outperformed on its wind promises as the winds became very dangerous, even giving us a few negative wind chills here in Litchfield county during the morning hours.

As we begin to dig out, we have to thank those who are in the media business for working hard all week-long to keep the public informed about this impending storm. More so, we have to thank those that were required to be out in the storm such as DOT workers and emergency personnel. This storm was certainly one for the record books. I will never forget ‘Blizzapolis 2010’.

Wayback comes to town

The Crunchy Peppercorn Burger

Torrington has recently welcomed a new restaurant, Jakes Wayback Burgers, which is located in the Aldis plaza right on Route 4. It was announced a few months ago that this place was coming to town, and I for one have been following their progress ever since. They franchise their establishments and have opened up many new locations across the state over the past few weeks. Being that I am a single guy, I enjoy going out to eat and interacting with folks around town, so it should come as no surprise that I was eager to go ahead and dive right in once they were open for business.

After a short trip around Litchfield county on Monday morning, I decided to stop by Jakes for lunch once I came back into Torrington. Pulling into the parking lot, I could tell already this was going to be a popular place as it was indeed quite the crowded scene, which proved itself once I was inside and ready to order their burger of the month which I have been hearing so much about, largely in thanks to the companies Twitter account. The burger of the month is their famous Peppercorn burger which is essentially a cheeseburger with peppercorn dressing. A more unusual ingredient was also added, chips! The potato chips were packed right inside of the cheeseburger, a perfect combination. To compliment the burger, I also tried one of their famous milkshakes, and the milkshake of the month was a seasonal favorite, the eggnog milkshake, which is certainly the perfect way to treat yourself during the holiday season.

Though they haven’t celebrated a grand opening yet, which is planned for January, the place was certainly bustling with excitement as folks seemed to chow away to their heart’s content, and it’s no wonder why. The meal I had was absolutely delicious, certainly unlike anything else that we have here in the greater Torrington area. Not only is the food an absolute wonder, but so too is the establishment. Classic Americana can certainly describe this restaurant with its turn of the century like lighting and it’s chalkboard like menu boards. They encourage you to stop by and enjoy any one of their delicious meals that they cook up as you have a conversation or two with some of your neighbors. Being that we are small town, this is indeed the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a little quality time with one another as you catch up with folks from around town. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a conversation over a very delicious meal?

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we gather together for the Thanksgiving holiday, I would like to take the time to wish you all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a marvelous time, a time that we get to catch up with family and friends as we pause for a moment to remember those that are important in our lives. Each year, I take the time to pause and thank those that I have come in contact with. This year, I would like thank all of you for taking the time out of your busy day to catch up with my columns. I truly enjoy all of the great people I have come to meet here in the Litchfield Hills, and I am glad to have the opportunity to share their stories with all of you. I not only feel connected to those I have written about, but I also feel connected with all of you as well.

Looking back, we really have a lot to be thankful for, especially in the Torrington area.  While hard times fell on much of the country due to a struggling economy, Torrington has been on the rebound. This past summer, we brought the community together with Main Street Marketplace, a weekly event that took place every Thursday during the summer. Vendors from all over flocked to downtown Torrington to show off their talents, and downtown merchants took part in the festivities by welcoming residents and tourists alike into their stores as they showcased the hidden gems of downtown Torrington. This fall, Torrington Downtown Partners acquired an entire city block that was foreclosed and gave it back to the community allowing residents to invest in the properties starting at $100 a share. Torrington Downtown Partners are, without a doubt, the cornerstone to downtown redevelopment and progress has been coming along rather quickly. 75 partners, including myself, are helping to take back downtown Torrington and turn it into a thriving center within our community. We continue to prove the naysayers wrong as we move forward with progress in Torrington, and that is progress that we can be proud of.

Also this fall, we can be proud of the fact that one Litchfield county town, Kent, was named the number one fall destination in all of New England by Yankee Magazine.  Kent is a perfect example of small town America. With its buccolic New England ways of life and its stunning picturesque view, it is no wonder why Yankee Magazine rated Kent so high, and if you’ve never been to Kent, no time is better than the present to check it out for yourself, you’ll be glad that you did.

With the holiday season now upon us here in the Litchfield Hills, there is no doubt that we will all be quite busy over the next few weeks, though my hope is that we all won’t be too busy to take the time to say thanks for everything, and everyone, that we have around us.

From my family to yours,

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Mike Valletta

Mike Valletta can be reached for comment at:

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New England charm is found in Riverton

The Riverton General Store has something for everyone and welcomes you with warm hospitality.

If you are looking for a charming New England village, you do not have to travel far at all.  Our Litchfield Hills region is chock full of quaint New England villages that will remind you of an era that has gone by. One in particular welcomes you to the Litchfield Hills in open arms. The historic village of Riverton, located in the town of Barkhamsted, is just the place to begin your journey here in the hills.  It is nestled along the banks of the Farmington River where you can catch some splendid views, or even catch a fish or two.  As you stroll through town, you will not find much in the way of anything really mainstream. This place is mom and pop all the way.  An old-fashioned general store welcomes you to town as they charm you with that good old down home hospitality. It is a place where you can step into to warm up from the cold with a great cup of coffee, or just stop in to have a conversation about Riverton. Either way, this should be your first stop in town as you get ready to explore all that this New England village has to offer, which is actually a lot more than what is seen from the eye. Riverton is well-known throughout the land for a very famous factory that sits on the edge of the Farmington River. The Hitchcock Chair Company Store is a reminder of the towns historic past. They began manufacturing chairs here back in 1826. It wasn’t until 1928, however, that they moved on to other home furnishings such as cabinets, which made the town famous all across America. 

As you stroll though town, you’ll notice that it is much more than just chairs today. Hitchcock has since left the village of Riverton but the building still stands today as it stands in the view of The Old Riverton Inn, which was voted number one in Fine Dining and Most Romantic in the 2010 Register Citizen Readers Choice Awards and is also the featured photo for this column as displayed above. Can you believe that this place has been around since 1796?  To this day, it is still ready to welcome you for a good nights rest as well as some great comfort food.

You just can’t help but to love Riverton. This village has heart. It is one of those places that you don’t ever want to walk away from as you frolic from town to river and all points in between. Riverton is the perfect place to catch up with old friends as you reminisce on days gone by as you get caught up in the towns historic charm. I can’t seem to think of a better place to begin a day out here in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills.

Riverton. The Gateway to Connecticut's Litchfield Hills!
Hitchcock Chair Company on the banks of The Farmington River.


The Riverton Congregational Church.

Mike Valletta can be reached for comment at:

Be sure to check us out on The Register Citizen. Northwest Connecticut’s Local Newspaper:

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