Posted by: rkurzweil | 10/19/2009

New England colors

Beautiful Fall Colors

Beautiful Fall Colors

My partner and I have just returned from a whirlwind tour of 5 of the 6 states in New England. We were fortunate enough to experience the fall colors at their peak in the northern part of New Hampshire (the White Mountains). This is the third time that we have gone to New England to witness nature’s show. I assure you that it never disappoints. The range of colors that can be seen in the foliage is so spectacular.

We started our trip in Rhode Island. Our hotel was in Providence, but we actually drove down to Newport on the first day. We toured 2 of the Gilded Age mansions (The Breakers and The Marble House). Our friends toured two additional mansions (Chateau Sur Mer and The Elms). These houses really defy description. They are so immense and so opulent. The sick part is that they were only used for 6 weeks out of the year.

Touro Synagogue

Touro Synagogue

While in Newport we went to the Touro Synagogue, which is the oldest synagogue in the United States. It is a small synagogue, but I found it to be very beautiful. And the story of the people of this synagogue is very interesting. They feel that they had a strong part in keeping church and state separate and in fostering religious tolerance in the US as a whole.

Back in Providence, the main thing we did was to tour the State House. I have been to a number of State Capitols, but this was by far the most beautiful that I have ever seen. The current one was built in the early 1900’s, but the original State House is still standing and we also toured that one.

We spent 4 days in the southern part of New Hampshire at a resort called Crotched Mountain Resort. It is a part of our timeshare company and we thought it would be a fun anchor for part of our New England tour. To say that it is out of the way is an understatement. We ended up driving on country roads and roads that were not even paved to get to the resort. Our GPS was very confused to. In fact, John and I considered the phrase “Recalculating Route” to be a theme. We tried to follow the directions from our GPS, but when the directions did not match with the roads in front of us, we would find ourselves off of the suggested route, and the machine would announce that it was recalculating the route. It got to be very annoying after a while. GPS technology is great, but it seems that it has some issues in the less populated areas of the country (it also seemed to have a lot of trouble in Providence, RI, but that is a story for another day).

Crotched Mountain Resort is about 30 minutes west of Manchester and Concord, NH. It is near the Crotched Mountain Ski Resort. It is a small resort (it only has 24 one or two bedroom units). We had a lovely two bedroom unit on the first floor. Some good friends of ours from Miami Beach joined us on this trip. This was the first time for one of them to see the fall colors.

One of the days that we were there, we decided to drive over to Portsmouth, NH, which is on the Atlantic Ocean and just a few miles from Maine to the north and Massachusetts to the south. There is a very cool place in Portsmouth called Strawbery Banke. It is a revolution-era village. The description on their website says:

Strawbery Banke is about connecting with the past. Visitors to Strawbery Banke have the opportunity to experience and imagine how people lived and worked in this typical American neighborhood throughout four centuries of history. Through its restored houses, its featured exhibits, its historic landscapes and gardens, and its interpretive programs, Strawbery Banke tells the stories of the many generations who settled in the Portsmouth, NH, community from the late l7th to the mid-20th century.

We did not actually go in this time (it was pouring rain and a little on the cool side), but we did drive around it and got to see the old, restored houses and the various workshops on the grounds.

Instead, we drove over the border into Maine and had lunch at Warren’s Lobster House in Kittery. We had an amazing lobster lunch (after all, you should not visit this part of the country without having some lobster, clams and various other types of seafood!!). I believe this was my third time eating there and it has yet to disappoint.

We then drove up along the Maine coastline, passing through York, York Beach, Wells Beach, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport and Biddeford (which happens to be where my partner was born and grew up). It was fun to drive by his childhood house and see the trees that he and his father planted in 1976. They are now 40 feet high blue spruces. We saw the 160 acres that once belonged to his parents. It has now been developed as a beautiful subdivision.

The next day, we started out in Concord, the New Hampshire state capital. We were not able to go into the State House because it was a Saturday. However, we did walk on the grounds and look at the buildings surrounding it. There was also a small farmer’s market taking place in front of the Capitol.

The Flume Gorge

The Flume Gorge

We left there and started our journey north on I-93. We drove about 90 minutes north to get to the Franconia Notch State Park, and visit the Flume Gorge. For those of you that have never been there, it is basically a “canyon” carved into the mountain by the water. It is not very wide (maybe 6 feet or so). They have installed a wooden walkway through it so that you can really experience it. It is a very cool place to go (this was my second time). The friends that went with us particularly liked it too. The only drawback was that it was pretty crowded. But that is to be expected during the peak of the fall colors. We “hiked” through the Flume Gorge (about 2 miles and all uphill 🙂 ). The weather was spectacular and the setting was even more so. I highly recommend this to anyone that is in the area.

We then drove around Mount Washington, passing through North Conway and a number of other small towns. We drove up to the Mount Washington Hotel which is a grand early 20th century hotel. They now charge $10 for visitors parking, so we ended up just driving around the main driveway and taking some pictures. This hotel is where the Bretton Woods system was created by President Roosevelt and other world leaders in the aftermath of World War II.

The next day took us into Vermont. The first thing that we did was try to find a sugar house I had seen on the internet. It turned out to be a small private farm with a tiny little store. Oh well – can’t win them all. Then we set out to find a cheese factory. We ended up at the Grafton Village Cheese Company in Brattlesboro, VT. This was worth the drive. It was a beautiful dairy farm with goats, cows, donkeys and miniature horses right out front. Inside we got to see how cheddar cheese is made and we also got to taste 10 or so different types of cheese. It was really good cheese! Yum! I ended up buying a pound of the aged cheddar and also some of their blue cheese-cheddar spread. I expect I will be ordering from them again in the near future.

The rest of our time in Vermont was kind of boring, though. We went to a place called the Vermont Country Store. It is actually a pretty neat store, but it was impossible to enjoy it as 2 or 3 busloads of seniors had been dumped into the store while we were there, making the experience very uncomfortable for me (not because of the age – because of the congestion with all of those people in the store). I ended up waiting outside because I just could not stand it any more.

The next day, our friends took off for the Boston area and John and I continued to northern New Hampshire to stay with some other friends of ours that run a B&B up there called the Inn at Bowman. We spent two relaxing days with them and really enjoyed just chilling for a bit. We went on a short drive to try to find a moose or two. Every time we go up there, they tell us about all the moose in the area, but we have yet to actually see one. I am starting to believe that moose are a myth, much like Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman.

We finished up our whirlwind New England tour in Auburn, Maine where we spent some time with my partner’s nephew. We ended up taking him back to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, where we drove up Mount Washington (the tallest mountain in New England). We could not drive all the way up, but we went as far as we could. It was a cold, windy day. But the vistas that opened up to us from the mountain were just spectacular. You could see the range of fall colors flowing up the sides of all the mountains. This is another experience that I highly recommend. It is a bit expensive, but it is totally worth it. If you do not want to drive your own car, there are also guided tours up the mountain.

Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll


On the way back to our flight in Boston, we stopped at a restaurant that had been recommended to us (Kelly’s) and had a lobster roll. For those of you that don’t know what a lobster roll is, it is basically a hot dog bun stuffed with pieces of lobster (and usually a little celery and mayonnaise). It is quite delicious.

To see pictures of our trip, click on the following links:


Responses

  1. Okay, now I need to ‘travel’ through your archives. You tell a beautiful story with your photo’s and narrative.

    Thanks for sharing…

    Mary U


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