October 03, 2012

A Fall Trip through New England: Part 1

Sunday early morning we woke up to the sound of rain. Although this put a damper in our plans, we were so excited about setting off to see fall in New England that we didn't let the rain get us down. We ate a quick warm breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and then started packing our stuff. We had a 1,000 mile trip planned for a loop through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, and we had set aside 6 days and 5 nights to do it in.

Our 1000 mile journey through New England during fall colors peak season
Our planned trip
We also decided against boarding the dogs after checking around on local pricing (the average went for $30 a night per dog…ouch), and opted to bring them along for the ride. Turns out Motel 6 has a very lenient pet policy and allows dogs to stay with their owners in the rooms for no extra charge. We booked two nights in Burlington, two nights in Bangor and one night in Portsmouth, all at the Motel 6, and for very reasonable prices. We packed up 6 days’ worth of clothing, our computer and books, the dog’s food and bowls, our toiletries and filled a small cooler with all the fresh food we had in our refrigerator. It’s a good thing we didn't pack more because it just wouldn't have fit in our new little car! :o)

Our Fiat 500 packed up, ready to go on our journey in New England
All packed up and ready to go!
It was pouring rain when we left the campsite. Fall colors hadn't reached Massachusetts yet, so I had no qualms about not being able to see the views clearly. We crossed into New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state, and also our 25th state on this trip, and drove to Manchester. Being a rainy Sunday morning we were not surprised to find downtown deserted. Instead we headed to Livingston Park, following a tip I read on Trip Adviser  There we stretched our legs and walked Chloe and Sammy around Dorrs Pond and then ate a picnic lunch on the swings on the playground.

Walking around Dorrs Pond in Manchester, New Hampshire
Walking around Dorrs Pond in Manchester, NH
The rain let up a bit right before lunch. We set off again to further venture on our journey, and the further north we drove, the more color we started to see. The color combinations turned from muted collections of oranges to a vibrant mix of flaming reds, glowing yellows and deep burnt oranges.

Driving through New Hampshire during peak Fall season in New England
Driving through New Hampshire
Driving through New Hampshire during peak Fall season in New England
Vibrant colors in New Hampshire
Our next stop was in Hanover, right on the border with Vermont. We picked up a large cup of Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks (it was the perfect drink for a walk in the rain in my opinion, a perfect drink for fall in general really), and went walking around the Dartmouth campus. The Appalachian Trail runs right through campus and we found the commemorative trail marker on the sidewalk. The campus reminded me of walking around an old estate somewhere in the heart of England. Most of the female students were walking around in tall leather boots and tights, as if they had just gotten done horseback riding.

Walking on the Dartmouth campus
On Dartmouth campus
The Appalachian Trail marker on the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, New Hampshire
The Appalachian Trail maker on Dartmouth campus
We crossed into Vermont, our 26th state. Vermont is the second least populous state in the United States (following Wyoming), and is known as the Green Mountain State. The French Verts Monts literally translates to Green Mountain. The Green Mountains weren't green at all though, they were a carpet of intense colors. An hour later and we were in Montpelier, the capitol of Vermont. Montpelier has a population of less than 9,000 people, making it the smallest capitol in the US. By the time we’d gotten there it was getting close to dark, so we didn't linger, and after climbing the Hubbard Tower, we drove to our destination for the night, Burlington.

Beautiful fall colors in Vermont as seen from the Hubbard Tower in Montpelier
Vermont state capitol building in Montpelier during fall
The State Capitol building in Montpelier
Burlington is the largest city in Vermont, with a population of just over 40k. The city lies on the shores of Lake Champlain, just over 14 miles across the lake from New York. This was Chloe and Sammy’s first night ever to stay in a hotel, and they did not like it at first. Every noise and smell caught their attention. Chloe would begin to growl at someone’s scuffling in the hallway. Sammy freaked out anytime someone closed their door. We were worried at first that we’d made a mistake on bringing them with us to stay in the hotels for this trip, but after a while they seemed to get used to it. They climbed up on our queen sized bed and we all snuggled up for the night.

Views of Lake Champlain and lighthouse from Burlington, Vermont
Lake Champlain views from Burlington
The following morning we decided to see the leaves up close by hiking to Vermont’s second highest peak at Camel’s Head State Park, just outside of Burlington. We hiked the Monroe trail to the summit. It was a 6.8 mile round trip out and back hike with 2,200 elevation gain. While hiking I came to the realization that I was present in one of my “epic moment” pictures. I was walking on a forest trail, in New England, among the most vibrant colors of fall. I stopped to take it all in and quietly thanked the powers that be for the opportunity. Rain had decided to pick back up, but it was just a gentle drizzle, and if anything, it added to the mystique of the forest. We crossed spring after spring, all overflowing from the recent rain accumulation, and found multiple hidden waterfalls among the trees.

Driving to Camel's Hump State Park to hike the Monroe Trail during fall
Driving to Camel's Hump State Park
Colorful fall leaves on the Monroe Trail in Camel's Hump State Park
Colorful leaves on the hike
Colorful fall leaves on the Monroe Trail in Camel's Hump State Park
Gorgeous colors
Running streams on the Monroe Trail in Camel's Hump State Park
Running streams
A waterfall on the Monroe Trail in Camel's Hump State Park
Hidden waterfalls
Views while hiking the Monroe Trail in Camel's Hump State Park during fall
The Epic Moment
We made it to the top and came out in the middle of a huge cloud. I was hoping to see far off views of the Vermont valleys, but alas all we saw was where the cliff ended in front of us. It was like there was nothing past the abyss of the clouds. We were completely wiped out by the time we returned to our car, five hours later. We only had energy to pick up some food on the way home and eat it in bed before passing out for the night.

The view from the summit at Camel's Hump State Park during fog
Staring into the abyss at the Camel's Head summit
We woke up early the next day and went into town to get a breakfast of Nutella, banana and almond filled crepes at a café on the Church Street promenade. We strolled on the banks of Lake Champlain and then continued on our way. We followed Route 2, a rural two lane highway, all the way from Burlington to Bangor Maine that day. The road meandered between farms and through Main Streets of small towns. I had the urge to pull over and take pictures every time we rounded a bend and I caught sight of more fall colors. The painted hillsides came together in picturesque views, and I wanted to take it all in.

Beautiful fall colors on Route 2 in Vermont
Views in Vermont
Beautiful fall colors on Route 2 in Vermont
Lake reflections
Our final stop in Vermont was at a working maple syrup farm. We hadn’t meant to stop there, but as I was driving down the road I saw their sign advertising free tours and we decided to pull over. Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. Before coming on this trip I hadn’t given maple syrup much though aside from what I was going to put on my pancakes. We learned quite a bit about how maple sap is gathered from trees by tapping them, and then boiled down to become the syrup that we are all familiar with. We tasted different grades of maple syrup and learned about all the different uses for the product. It was all very interesting to learn about REAL maple syrup (as opposed to the imitation syrups sold on the store shelves). Too bad REAL maple syrup costs so much more than the fake stuff…

Maple syrup evaporizer machinery in a Vermont sugarhouse
Maple syrup making machine
Grades of Vermont maple syrup in a Vermont sugarhouse
Maple syrup grades
That’s it for the first portion of our journey. Maine, Acadia National Park and the Atlantic Shore are all To Be Continued…

To see more pictures of New England Part 1, click here.

Happy New England frolicking,


Email me

1 comment:

  1. This looks fantastic! I will be doing the same thing this summer. I want to go all over New England especially Boston, Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod. I am looking forward to Cape Cod and just booked a Cape Cod summer rental for August!