A Travellerspoint blog

New England - Day 5 Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park Maine

semi-overcast 60 °F

The Bayview is a really nice hotel. Our king bedroom was spacious and directly waterfront. When you stay at chain motels along the interstate, you are served "continental" breakfast, which we all know isn't really something to write about in a fine blog entry. Well, when you stay at The Bayview, in Bar Harbor, Maine, breakfast is something to write about. The chef is ever present in the formal dining room where the breakfast buffet is served. There are many choices, all prepared with delicious, high-quality ingredients. The worst part was, being a buffet, we may have slightly overindulged.

Slowed down just a little by the huge breakfast, we embarked on day five of this New England odyssey with high hopes for some natural wonders in Acadia National Park. The first one that we happened upon was actually a man-made wonder ... a ridiculous seaside mansion perched of a cliff side. Not sure who this place belongs to, but I'm positive that they are much wealthier than I.

Acadia does not occupy a very large land area compared to many of the other national parks, but like all the other national parks it preserves a fine example of something very lovely and unique. In this case, that something is the Maine coastline. Inside the park, everyone drives the Park Loop Road stopping to see whatever it is that they like the most. We stopped to take this distant shot of the lighthouse that guides seamen safely into Bar Harbor.

After that, we pulled into the parking lot for Sand Beach. From this location, there are many recreational opportunities. It took us a little while to decide how to tackle our main destination, Gorham Mountain. The route that won out was the Ocean Path to the Gorham Mt trailhead and then back down the Bowl Trail near the Beehive. As you walk the Ocean Path, every bend in the trail, which mostly follows the Park Loop Road, brings you to a sweeping vista of the coastline.

One of the biggest spectacles along the Ocean Path is Thunder Hole. As I have already stated the trail generally follows the main park road. Well, when we arrived at Thunder Hole, there were 3 tour buses and the parking lot was full. It was very reminiscent of the encounter we had at Albany Covered Bridge. So we jockeyed for position with the hundreds of other camera-weilding tourist. The prime spot was closed due to the heavy waves. As big waves roll in from the ocean, a thundering crash cries out when the waves hit the high rocky shore. We waited and snapped, but couldn't really get a prime shot.

This was the last photo op along the ocean path before we turned off to begin the Gorham Mtn Trail

The Gorham Mountain trail starts at the Gorham Mtn parking lot adjacent to the the Park Loop Road. It is about 1 mile to the 525-foot summit. The trail begins in the forest.

At only 0.5 miles into the hike, there is a 0.5 mile spur trail to the Cadillac Cliffs. In ancient times, these cliffs were the submerged coastline and there was even an underwater cave. The next photo show these features.

We scrambled over the Cadillac Cliffs until we rejoined the Gorham Mountain trail not far from the summit. This is where the million dollar views begin. There are 360 degree views ... views for many miles ... even in the rotten conditions.

Well, even though it is only a 525 foot high summit, we were proud to have made it to the top.

We were down from the summit in only 20 minutes, jumped back in the rental and continued along the Park Loop Road. This next picture was taken where the road comes right now to sea level in order to cross Otter Cove.

We really were trying to make good time so we could take in as much as possible on our one full day at Acadia, but there were so many pretty views along this coastal route. We came to a spot were some really big waves were crashing into the shore, and I spotted the waves popping high into the air.

Near the end of the one-way portion of the Park Loop Road and just before Wildwood Stables, the road goes under one of the Carriage Road bridges. The carriage road system was built by John Rockefeller, Jr between 1913 and 1940. Mr Rockefeller built the carriage roads to handle horse drawn carriages so he could keep Mt Desert Island free of motor cars. They were built to handle the wet Maine weather and to fit in seamlessly with the landscape. It's a really classic look.

Before we ever reached the carriage road that we picked for a 2-mile hike, the road brought us to Northeast Harbor ... another picture-perfect harbor filled with the wonderful downeast style boat and beautiful seaside homes.

Sorry for anyone that is with me, but if I have an opportunity to go see a harbor filled with beautiful boats, I am going to do it. This is even more true over 1,000 miles from home where I can walk right up to boats that previously I've only seen in pictures. So here are the boat pictures we took from the wharfs of Northeast Harbor.

We did finally make it to the Carriage road hike, but we made a mistake in interpreting the signs. Instead of walking to a waterfall, we had a nice long stroll through the forest to a babbling brook flowing under a carriage road bridge. Michelle wanted to walk to the waterfall, but it would have been another 2-miles round trip and we only had 3 hours of daylight left.

Another do not miss thing in Acadia is Jordan Pond. There is a lot going on around Jordan Pond. In the Jordan Pond Area, this home is where several carriage roads come together. It was a travelers inn back in the days of Mr Rockefeller. Today it is privately owned and not open to the public.

We were a little late for fancy tea and snacks on the big lawn overlooking Jordan Pond, but as we followed the Jordan Pond Nature trail as it follows a pretty creek, we were just in time to witness the first rays of sunlight in 4 days as they brillantly illuminated the Bubbles as viewed across Jordan Pond.

So, what next? Well would you travel to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, to the beautiful coast of Maine and into Acadia National Park and find your self only 10 minutes from the highest point on the east coast and not go there? Maybe? No way, especially now that Mr Golden Sun had made an appearance. Cadillac Mountain, elevation 1530 feet, is that place ... and drive to the top for the sunset is what we did. These first few pictures were taken while the sun was still up. In the first picture here, that is Bar Harbor at the water' edge.




We were not alone at the summit waiting for that climatic moment when the sun vanishes behind the horizon. Despite the stiff breeze that put a hearty chill in air, cars filled every parking space and every pullout along the mountainside was filled. Then the moment came and we snapped photo after photo as the scene changed in the dimishing light.

We capped off this fine day with another lobster feast. We had every intention of eating at the Downeast Lobster Pound. When we came into Bar Harbor in the rain yesterday, Downeast was so crowded I thought maybe they were giving something away. The place right acoss the street, Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound was empty. Well tonight, it was just the opposite. Since, I am not fond of dining in an empty place, we went to Trenton Bridge instead of Downeast. After being back home for a couple weeks, my theory is they're all pretty good. I really liked the wood-burning kettles that Trenton Bridge uses to steam the lobster. I also liked the ancient looking sacks they use, with your own number, to put you hand-selected lobster in. I like how they write your number on the lobster when they put it in the well-used pans that they serve the lobster in. I liked the nice people working there that were so willing to tell you whatever you wanted to know about the lobsters. Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound = Highly Recommended! Along with the steamed lobster, we had lobster roll again and something new tonight, lobster stew.

Posted by eightylbs 18:47 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes mountains lakes water ocean coast hiking coastline coastal maine Comments (0)

New England - Day 4 - Lincoln, NH to Bar Harbor, ME

rain 60 °F

Today is Sunday. Time to leave Lincoln, NH, The White Mountains and the entertaining purveyors of the Mt Coolidge Motel and navigate some more country miles until we reach the eastern coastline and the Unites States of America at the coastal town of Bar Harbor, ME.

I'd like to make mention of Mt Coolidge Motel in Lincoln. Yes, the place looks like it was built in 1955 or earlier or whenever US-Route-3 was laid. Of scours the same can be said for most of the motels, homes and other businesses. See, it is in the DNA of these hearty people that inhabit the extreme northern latitudes of this great country to keep all the old stuff looking new ... whether it be a motel, barn, house or tractor. That's kinda how we saw the Mt Coolidge Motel ... older looking but good as new. In addition to that Kevin and Vicki, the owners, will treat you like your best friend from high school. All this at half the price you'd pay at the big chain motels. So, anyway, here is what the place looks like:

The office as viewed from US-3

The cottage with our premium rental parked out front.

Now, the cottage can't be more than about 200-300 SF, but it squeezes plenty in there. This pic shows the main bedroom/foyer/kitchen. Off to the right is another bedrooms and in the middle-back is a room with a twin bed and the bathroom. The regular motel rooms were small, but immaculate.

We took this picture on Saturday night when we returned from hiking. We had happy hour with some drinks, cheese, crackers, college football and other things that make a fine evening. We dragged this table and chairs in from the screened-in front porch.

This is one of two covered picnic tables along the creek behind the motel. You can see how nice they keep the grounds.

These chairs are for lounging along the creek. One evening when we came back they had a campfire going. By the time we settled in and were ready to join them, everyone had gone back to their room ... not the wildest crowd you ever wanted to party with.

The next two photos are of The Common Man Restaurant right on Main Street in the heart of Lincoln. We dined here on the very first night in Lincoln. It's not fine dining, but it's good dining. Prices were reasonable and the atmosphere was wonderful ... just like I'd except for a place in rural New Hampshire. They served local favorites. This joint was really hopping every evening. We were glad we didn't leave when they told us we had a 20 minute wait. We lounged in the lounge with a bunch of other folks that looked like they were glad to be alive, so it was a big success.

So after spending the morning documenting Lincoln's finest establishments, we got serious about the road trip to the coast. We started out retracing our footsteps from the first day as we went north up the Franconia Notch Parkway and then east toward Twin Mountain. After Twin Mountain, we were in totally uncharted lands. Since we expected that fall colors would be non-existent in Bar Harbor, we were obligated to photograph the last decent foliage.

And the last white-steeple church !!!!

And finally a photogenic barn.

After the barn photo session it began to rain cats and dogs. No problem, we've seen one or two real downpours in our day, so we just drove and drove. I knew we were getting close to the ocean, 'cause I could smell it! That is a good thing. We passed through Ellsworth which is another real city with all the modern amenities and just kept on driving until the sign said BAR HARBOR, ME. Actually, we went directly to the visitor center for Acadia National Park. There are 50 steps you have to climb to get from the parking lot to the visitor center. These steps had become a pretty impressive cascade as a result of the heavy downpours. I found an unofficial path to the visitor center and asked the ranger on duty what we might be sure not to miss during our visit. Before I left, I wanted to be sure they were aware of the flooding on their stairs. He says: "Oh, yeah that happens a couple times each year". How can we be so fortunate to be there when wonderful things like this happen?

Armed with enough things to do on our short stay, we had to put the pedal to the metal to make the 3:00 PM tour at the Atlantic Brewing Company. We were three minutes early. Our tour guide was a hysterical young lad that I am pretty sure worked for beer. There are two main things I remember from our brewery tour: 1) they let us sample lots of beers that were really good, and 2) Anhauser-Busch has a major factory in Maine that produces a quantity of beer equal to the annual output of Atlantic Brewing Company in only 17 minutes. My take on this is that I am very thankful that Atlantic and others are focusing on quality over quantity.

It was only about 4:00 and we had traveled from NH to the end if the USA, we had endured monsoons, climbed a waterfall at the Acadia visitor center, we toured a brewery and tasted a half-dozen microbrews. Still feeling the the day was young but also sensing that something was missing, boom ... a lightbulb went off: you are located only 10 short minutes away from one of the finest lobster pounds on the coast of Maine.

THURSTON'S on Bass Harbor near Acadia and Bar Harbor.

So, what is a lobster pound? You got me!! Here is my definition: "A very informal dining establishment serving the finest fresh lobster with all the best accompaniments". You first have to decide whether you want a small lobster of about a pound or so, or a medium lobster 1.5 -2.5 pounds, or whether you really want to show off and get a bigger-than-you lobster of 3-plus pounds. Medium seemed right. To the order, we added lobster roll and crab cakes. Here is our 2 lb lobster wishing he wouldn't have taken the bait.

So we poured up two Bar Harbor Nut Brown Ales and stepped out onto the outside deck to take in the sights on this amazing little harbor they call Bass Harbor.

As you can see from these pictures, the view from Thurston's is just amazing. If you are a big fan of seaside locations, pristine fishing vessels and a general atmosphere of saltiness, you will want to come to Bass Harbor, even if you don't have lobster at Thurston's. We finished off our beer and 15 minutes passed in a flash ... cha-ching our food is ready.


The food was really good, but I was even more excited about the overall scene on this little harbor. There was at least 50 beautiful lobster boats anchored on the placid waters. The tide was at it lowest level of the day showing off all the odd things that spend half their time underwater. All the homes and buildings that sit on the bluffs look they came from the pages of a maritime history book. Since I am a self-professed boat junkie, it was the boats that I really marveled at. Here are a couple of my favorites:

There is a building that sits about 50 feet to the left of Thurston's. I am not positive, but based on the fact that 100's of lobster traps were stacked on the pier, I think it was a place the buys the lobster or that it was maybe owned by a seafood company. This completed the postcard-perfect visit to Bass Harbor.

From Thurston's we drove into Bar Harbor, getting lost for the 25th time in 4 days, before finally checking into The Bayview, a stately property directly on the waterfront in Bar Harbor. More about The Bayview and Bar Harbor to follow on the tomorrow's blog entry.

Posted by eightylbs 13:20 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes boats sea ocean coast coastline lobster coastal maine Comments (0)

New England - Day 3 - More White Mountains, NH

overcast 50 °F

According to our original plans, we would have been checking out of Mt Coolidge Motel this morning and taking a scenic route from Lincoln, NH to Bar Harbor, ME. Since the weather had turned bad and it was moving from the mountains toward the coast, we thought there would be a better chance of decent weather in the mountains than there would be on the coast in Bar Harbor. Kevin, the owner of the Mt Coolidge, gave us the last unbooked room, a quaint cottage. We move our stuff into the cottage and embarked on another full day in the White Mountains. Today turned out to be "Waterfall Day". The main reason for this is that the clouds and fog socked-in all the high points in the mountains.

Once again, we took the Kancamangus Highway headed toward Conway, NH, but we knew we would cut across Bear Notch Road toward Bartlett instead of taking The Kanc into Conway. Only 7 minutes outside Lincoln, we made our first stop at the Lincoln Woods parking area. This is a major attraction with a parking lot for 100-plus cars. We took a handful of shots of the Pemigewasset River and the swinging bridge over the river that leads to the 6.6 mile loop to Franconia Falls.

We gave serious consideration to hiking the trail to Franconia falls. Despite the fact that the trail is over 7 miles long, there is almost no elevation gain, so you can do it in 3-4 hours. We decided to do several shorter trails instead. So we headed down the Kanc away from Lincoln and toward Bear Notch. Here we captured our best tree-lined highway shots, so far.


Just a bit further along we pulled out at the Pemigewasset Overlook, doubtful of what we'd be able to see, but there were some really pretty individual trees at the overlook.

The big open views into the distance were still being dominated by fog and rain, but they are still pretty awesome in capturing how the weather effects life in these mountains.

Next stop along The Kanc, and the first hike of the day, was Sabbaday Falls. This is a truly easy 0.8 mile hike of less than 1 hour round trip and that includes time to admire the falls. The two pictures just below are of the lower falls (left) and the upper falls (right). With all the wet conditions, there was a nice flow of water in the falls.

On the way back out from Sabbaday Falls, we happened upon another scence of newly fallen red leaves carpeting the floor of the forest. We did not have any windy days, but I envision that it would be raining leaves down under windy conditions.

After Sabbaday Falls we left the Kanc and tookthe shortcut across Bear Notch Road to US-302 near Bartlett and then made our way north bound for the Arethusa Falls Loop Trail. This was, by far, the most crowded hike that we went on. The trail climbs 750 feet in 1.3 miles. The difficulty level was similar to the other hikes we went on: moderate. This 200 foot cascade is the highest waterfall in New Hampshire.

The trail is really worth the effort and sharing the trail with you fellow hiker. The weather conditions were decent and it was nice to hike a trail where you encounter hikers of all sizes, shapes, ages and abilities. In the next two pictures I scrambled all over the big boulders in the stream bed while Michelle nibbled on some trail mix on the bluff above the stream ... hanging with the play-it-safe crowd.

As soon as we completed the Arethusa Falls Hike, we went further north on US-302 and stopped at The Wiley House Historical Site. There were pretty many tourist on Charter Bus Tours in the White Mountains. This stop was our first, but not last, encounter with the tour bus masses. It wasn't too bad here because there was plenty room for everyone to spread out. This area is within Crawford Notch State Park. Here are the pics we came up with.

Just a short distance further north on US-302, still in Crawford Notch State Park, brought us to another roadside attraction ... Silver Cascade. Silver Cascade is a tall mix of plunges and cascades that flow down the southwestern side of Mount Jackson. The falls continue under US 302, eventually converging with the Saco River below the highway. Being as this was a saturday during prime foliage season, and it was directly roadside, there were mobs of people here, too. Here is one wide shot and one tight shot of the lower falls.

We continue on foot approximately 500 feet up the hill where another group of onlookers stood. The spectacle to behold at this location was Flume Gorge Cascade. It appeared to be just as tall and long as Silver Cascade, but not carrying quite as much water. There may have been more brightly colored trees surrounding this cascade.

From the same roadside location there are nice views of Crawford Notch

Only a mile or two further north is the Crawford Notch Train Depot. This wonderful historic building was overrun with visitors and we were unable to park nor get a good photograph. So, we decided this would be the northern terminus of today's journey. We spun the car around and retraced our route back to the south on US-302. The weather teased a couple times that it might break. During that time we stopped at a overlook that had a nice variety of pretty scenery.

After we left this overlook we traveled a pretty good distance southbound without any stops. Yesterday when we were snarled in traffic in North Conway, we vowed to find a way to bypass North Conway. I recalled a Trip Advisor post about a bypass route. We studied our maps and found the bypass. Just north of North Conway, we got on West Side Road. It follows the Swift River and is void of other cars. Hooray for deserted shortcuts!! Only one-half file before West Side Road intersects with NH-16 in Conway is the Swift Covered Bridge. The bridge was build in 1870 and is about 130 feet long. It appears to be in excellent condition, but it is not open to traffic. You can have a picnic on the bridge, though.

Two minutes closer to Conway from the Swift Bridge is another bridge, the Saco Covered Bridge across the Saco River. This one was built in 1890 after two other bridges on this location failed. It cost only $4,000 to build this bridge 122 years ago. Add 3 zeros and you might build the same bridge today. It is 225 feet long.

So continuing the scenic bypass of North Conway and Conway, we backtracked a little from the covered bridges on West Side road onto the Passaconaway Road. This road is directly across the Swift River from the Kanc. The Kanc is a really nice drive, but I loved this little road. We saw about 3 other cars in 15 minutes as we stayed tucked under a tunnel of trees. The Passaconaway ends and you must use the Albany Covered Bridge to get on the Kanc. So that is what we did ... crossed the bridge and pulled into a large parking lot along The Kanc. There were two tour buses in the lot and quite a few others in their personal vehicle. This scene was funnier than this picture represents ... all the people from both tour buses descended upon the Albany Covered Bridge.


This wasn't just 120 old ladies with blue hair. It was a really diverse crowd. Every single person had cameras ablaze photographing the bridge and each other and so on. We take great effort to get good pictures without people in them whenever possible. I can only imagine that every picture the bus tour people take is filled with their fellow bus tour patrons. Hey, it's still better than sitting on the couch staring at the 4 walls. Anyway, here is the Albany Covered Bridge and the Swift River and some fall colors.


Our second full day in the White Mountains was a busy one. It was waterfall and covered bridge day. We didn't get wet, but there was no sun either. Our last stop of the day was at Rocky Gorge. The colors here were really good and the gorge was pretty impressive.

Posted by eightylbs 19:42 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains trees hiking river cascade "new hampshire" "fall foliage" "covered bridges" Comments (0)

New England - Day 2 - White Mountains Hiking

overcast 45 °F

Last night we checked into Mt Coolidge Motel and spent a long time considering the many hiking trails in the area. We gave serious consideration to the 9-plus-mile R/T Franconia Ridge Trail so we could bag a couple summits including Mt Lafayette, but the forecast of 70% chance of rain and the known elevation gain of 3,400 feet combined to help us make the rational decision to take an easier trail.

We started with Artist Bluff. Since it was only 10 minutes from the motel and we were up early we were there before anyone. We began in the Echo Lake Beach parking lot at the base of Echo Lake Ski Village just off the Franconia Notch Parkway (I-93 exit 34-C). The Artist Bluff Hike made a gradual climb through the forest where we saw several brightly colored trees.


We continued down the path that we had all to our selves until we came upon the first major viewpoint.


We completed the journey to the top where the Artist Bluff has 180 degree north and south views as you face east. This first picture here is a postcard view into Franconia Notch with Mt Lafayette, Cannon Mtn and Echo Lake with the parkway bisecting the view. The second picture is the barren slopes of Cannon Mtn ski area.

Still at Artist Bluff, the view north of the slopes of Mt Layfayette and the parkway with the foliage turning to yellow and red.

Here is Michelle navigating the steep half-mile path down from Artist Bluff to the parking lot of the trailhead, reciting her thankfulness that we took the gradual route up!!

The next stop on the day's travels was about 5 minutes away, just across the parkway and down old route 3 to Hugh Gallen Wayside. Here the bike path crosses the Lafayette Brook Bridge with magnificent views in all directions. This is an excellent bike path.

We exited the parkway at exit 35 headed toward the town of Twin Mountain on US-3, Daniel Webster Highway, when we came upon an irresistible FS road, the Gale River Loop Road where I tried to recreate the scene from one of those car commercials where the brightly-colored trees cover the road. The is the best we could do on this road.

Then we posed for these lovely pictures along the banks of the Gale River with plenty nice color on the trees in the background. As we got back into the car, the first raindrops began to fall. Little did we know that 4 full days of rainy conditions would follow.

Somewhere after we left the Gale River but before the junction at Twin Mountain, we saw this mountainside with plenty of red leaves on the trees.

We fueled up at a very interesting outpost in Twin Mountain and then left US-3 and veered onto US-302 and back into the boundaries of White Mountains National Forest. This route is very scenic as it follows the Zealand River southbound. We decided that the next trail would be to Middle Sugarloaf Mtn, elevation 2,500 feet, via the Trestle Trail. This is a 2.8 mile round trip with 1,100 feet gain in elevation. Some twenty-something year-old writer had the nerve to call this trail easy. Any time you gain 1,100 feet in 1.4 miles, the going will not be easy. Since a steady light rain had begun and it was still only 45 degrees, it was a test of man and gear.

Along the trail we ran across a spot where a lone tree had dropped many of the vividly colored red leaves onto the wet ground and into other trees.

We trudged over gnarly roots and across giant rocks crossing small creeks until we reached a steep staircase. This meant we were 20 giants steps from the summit of Middle Sugarloaf.

I felt like an early explorer as I was first to take the summit and behold the endless views. Briefly, the rain stopped but the next storm was brewing in the valley just in front of us.

I ran around the summit, which afforded 270 degree views and snapped shots in every direction. The hike really has some expansive views and the trees that we could see were in near peak color.


As the next storm arrived the wind picked up into the 30's and the temps dropped into the 30's. We still felt like great explorers and worked hard to stage a summit photo in the brisk conditions.


There was not enough time left in the day for another major hike. Even if we would have had the time and energy the pitiful conditions in the higher altitudes precluded any attempt to venture onto any high mountain peaks. We used the opportunity to continue down US-302- south toward Crawford Notch. Somewhere along the way The Mount Washington Hotel appeared out of the mist. Owned by Omni Hotels & Resorts, and located in Breton Woods, NH, it looked so inviting. The hotel took two years to build. It opened in July of 1902. It was the grandest hotel of the day. It was constructed by Italian Craftsmen of the finest materials. It was equipped with the most modern amenities available at the time. The Mount Washington catered to wealthy guests from Boston, New York and Philadelphia. As many as fifty trains a day stopped at Bretton Woods' three railroad stations. All we could manage was this drive-by picture. Next time .... it's only $259/night and up.

We continue to follow US-302 through the towns of Bartlett, Glen, Intervale ... each town with a handful of lodging choices and eateries, a gas station and such. Then a little further down the road you come into North Conway. This is the place to see and be seen, complete with all the big chain establishments your average city slicker would be so familiar with. There was bunches of red lights and traffic was snarled. It was like the New York City of the White Mountains. We vowed to stay away from this place for the rest of the trip. Just a couple miles further south the town of Conway wasn't half as congested as North Conway. It was in this small town that we turned on to NH-112, known as The Kancamagus Highway locally. This is another very scenic stretch of highway. We could only imagine how it would look under bright sunshine.

About half-way between Conway and Lincoln was Lily Pond. It was nearly dark, misty and eerily still. We pulled out and looked really hard for a moose. Darn it, none to be seen. Note to self: remember the binoculars next time. Here is Lily Pond in the dim evening light.

Posted by eightylbs 17:03 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes mountains trees hiking fall new white foliage hampshire Comments (0)

New England - Day 1 - Manchester, NH to Lincoln, NH

Via Vermont Scenic Byways

sunny 55 °F

So today we begin a 6-day journey to visit three states we have never been to: Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Yesterday we left the sweltering heat of South Louisiana bound for the crisp fall air that comes so early to the New England states.

Sure enough, the car thermometer read 45 degrees when we began our day at 7:30 AM. The sky was cloudless and the sun was bright. What a great day to drive country roads. We were zipping through the twisty roads at 40 MPH, passing one tiny town after another when the first photogenic building appeared ... an old church. To this Louisiana boy, this is a true symbol of being in New England. Drive a little further and another one ... even more impressive.

White Steeple Church in New England

White Steeple Church in New England

New Hampshire Church

New Hampshire Church

Since fall days are pretty short and our list of things to do in was pretty long, we resisted the urge to photograph a lovely white church in every town ... only the best from here on out. So what else really conjures up thoughts of the New England countryside. How about a covered bridge? Yep, a very fine example, indeed!! The Cornish-Windsor bridge over the Connecticut river connecting Windsor, VT with Cornish, NH.

Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge

Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge

This bridge was built in 1866 at a cost of $9,000. I know everyone is aware that prices are headed through the roof, but listen to this. The bridge was damaged during a 1977 flood and it was repaired for only $25,000, but by 1987 it had deteriorated to the point that it was closed to traffic. In 1989, NH spent $4.45 million to reconstruct it. As you can see it was money well spent ... worth it because it is the longest wooden covered bridge in the USA and it is the longest two-span covered bridge in the world.

So with covered bridge fever running high we drove up and down the same stretch of road so many times that the locals looked suspicious enough to consider calling the sheriff on us. Still, we could not find the other covered bridge that was supposed to be in the vicinity. Finally, we turned down Martinsville Road in Hartland because it looked like a road that might have a covered bridge. We were rewarded with the simple-but-sturdy 135-foot long Martin's Mill Covered Bridge built in 1881.

Martin's Mill Covered Bridge

Martin's Mill Covered Bridge

Matin's Mill Covered Bridge

Matin's Mill Covered Bridge

It wasn't long after we pulled back onto US-Hwy-5 that I started getting that feeling that we would not accomplish 1/100th of what we hoped to accomplish today. So in the interest of time, we hit I-91 bound for Hanover, NH, home of Ivy League school Dartmouth College. I wanted to go there and get sweatshirts for the whole family so we could tell people that we went, or were going, to school there. Wow, what a historic looking campus in an active little town in New Hampshire. A hour or so later we were back on I-91 headed for Vermont with a bag full of dull-green colored Dartmouth gear.

Dartmoth College

Dartmoth College

We spent most the rest of the daylight hours in the Woodstock/Quechee, VT area. The first stop was a quirky little place called the F.H. Clothing Company. We saw there ad in the Vermont Tourism brochure and their slogan, made in the U.S.A ... on purpose sucked me in. Many of these Vermont businesses are pretty small and the Fat Hat Clothing Company was no exception. They are located in an old schoolhouse selling a variety of very well made practical and warm clothing and hats for women.

F.H. Clothing Company

F.H. Clothing Company

From there we made a quick stop to see the Quechee Gorge.

Quechee Gorge

Quechee Gorge

As any traveler knows, with every lovely natural wonder there comes the opportunity for someone to put shopping space right where you have to park your car. Well, right there next to the gorge is the Quechee Gorge Village mall with a few pretty impressive tenants. First stop was the Cabot Cheese store. We tried them all and almost bought a bunch but since we had intentions of going to the farm we did not buy any. Also, Vermont Maple Syrup in every size and shape bottle, grade A light and dark, grade B, and so on, led to nothing but confusion. We would be going to a syrup farm and I am sure they could clear up the confusion, so we got out of that store empty-handed.

Quechee Gorge Village Shops

Quechee Gorge Village Shops

We walked into Danforth Pewter, made in Vermont as well. The pewter oil lamps are so elegant ... and expensive. I wanted one, but since I wanted cheese, vodka and syrup, too, we refrained from making a purchase at Danforth ... next time I am getting one of these little guys.
Danforth Pewter Store

Danforth Pewter Store

Danforth Pewter Store

Danforth Pewter Store

Way at the end of the mall is the Vermont Spirits Distilling Company, makers of fine vodka. Briefly, it seemed that I forgot that I was in rural Vermont, as the sophisticated young woman in the store told us why these boutique vodkas were so fine. Once again, this is a pretty small little distillery. Finally, we bought something ... 1 bottle of the Vermont White which is really SMOOTH. We concluded that the Vermont Gold was to good for us.

Vermont Spirits Distilling Company

Vermont Spirits Distilling Company

Guess what, we had been in the same little town for about three hours. No way were we going to make it to Cabot and Stowe. We weren't going to a cheese factory nor to a Syrup factory and a sad feeling came upon us. Well our Vermont Tourism Brochure showed that the Sugarbush Farm was right there in Quechee/Woodstock area and they make both cheese and syrup at this one farm. Well what are you waiting for, point the damn rental car in their general direction ... 10 minutes later there we are:

Sugarbush Farm

Sugarbush Farm

Sugarbush Farm - Horses in the Pasture

Sugarbush Farm - Horses in the Pasture

Keeping with the theme that Vermont Made = Major Production out of tiny facility, we walked into the cheese tasting room ... a room no bigger than the size of the average family room, with several ladies dipping blocks of cheese into brightly colored wax to protect the cheese.

Sugarbush Farm - Cheese dipped in green wax

Sugarbush Farm - Cheese dipped in green wax

In no time an energetic young woman with a vast knowledge of cheese making gave us the reader's digest version of how cheese is made and they presented a dizzying array of cheese for our tasting pleasure. Being a mild cheddar cheese only family, it sort of reminded me of our first wine tasting. The older and sharper that the cheeses are, the more it requires a refined palate. Still, I enjoyed each and every one of the cheeses that we sampled.

Sugarbush Farm - So Many Cheeses to Sample

Sugarbush Farm - So Many Cheeses to Sample

After the cheese sampling we moved onto syrup sampling. We tried 4 different types of Vermont Maple Syrup and they were all good. We bought a variety pack of cheese, variety pack of syrup and then went to visit the room where they make the syrup. Since syrup is made in the spring, there was nothing going on in the sugar shack.

Sugarbush Farm - The Sugar Making Barn

Sugarbush Farm - The Sugar Making Barn

Convinced that we could fit in one more thing today, we made the short trip to Woodstock, VT to visit the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Historic Park. This is a very impressive facility. We asked the park ranger what there was to do. He said that the last tour of the day had already departed and that it generally takes a half-day to visit the entire park, so we settled for taking a few pictures so y'all could see how the rich folks of a bygone era lived so good in the Vermont countryside.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Home

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Home

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Historic Park

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Historic Park

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Home

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Home

Finally as the daylight dwindled and we approached the White Mountains, we got a good taste of some prime fall colors. Little did we know that it would be the first (and last) day of really wonderful weather.
White Mountains, NH

White Mountains, NH

Posted by eightylbs 08:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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