13. Leaf Peeping in New England

At the top of Kelly’s retirement trip was experiencing Fall in the Northeastern part of the United States.  We became part of a group called “leaf peepers”.  People travel all over the world to see the colors of autumn in New England.  One encounter was with a group of Japanese tourists who unloaded off a big tour bus.  A man jumped off the bus and became fascinated with us!  He began taking many photos of our trailer (even the hitch!)  He only spoke a few words in English, but I understood he wanted to know all the places that we had traveled with our trailer.  I showed him the vinyl map of the United States and the colored state stickers marking the ones we had traveled to on this trip.  He started taking my picture like I was a celebrity.  It was very interesting.

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Our first stop was Burlington VT.  It is the largest city in the state. We stayed at an Elks Lodge there for two nights.  During our stay we saw the Ethan Allen Homestead, beautiful views of Lake Champlain, rode our bikes along a pretty rail trail, and went to Church Street Marketplace.  I thought only Portland and Austin TX were the only cities that claim to be weird, but the whole state of Vermont is also competing for the title.

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This is Ethan Allen’s homestead.  A little different from the high end line of furniture who borrowed the Ethan Allen name so that the people would think of the strong Vermont Revolutionary leader.  Ethan became interested in buying land and because of the legal disputes he was having with the land deals, he formed the Green Mountain Boys.  The purpose of the group was to drive New York settlers from the Grants.  Later when the Revolutionary War broke out, he and the “boys” seized and captured Fort Ticonderoga.  He also participated in controversial negotiations with the British over the possibility of Vermont becoming a separate British province.  Artists have created an image of what they thought Allen would of looked like but there is not any true image of him anywhere.

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Church Street Marketplace is a pedestrian shopping and dining mall.  Very nice! 

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This brand name is known all over the state and we visited the factory and tested some of their ice cream flavors.  They even have a graveyard for the past flavors that they retired or stopped production of.  Their ice cream is known for the chunks of yummy things that they put in it.  I was surprised when they just gave us plain vanilla!  They sold the company in 2000 but the partners are still active in politics and the causes that they believe in.

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I could not believe how much maple syrup is sold here!  How would you ever use up a whole half gallon of syrup before it crystallized. You would have to eat it on everything like “Elf” did in the movie. I found out it contains vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and B6. It also has antioxidant properties that protect our body from free radicals.  Our son Andrew has been telling us that Maple Syrup is a better option to use in our coffee each morning than other sweeteners.

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A view of Lake Champlain in Burlington VT.

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One of my favorite towns on the trip was Stowe VT.  It sits in a valley between Mount Mansfield and the Green Mountains.  It is a quaint, beautiful town of about 5,000 people.  In the Winter it is popular for skiing but we hiked a long winding trail near a river for our entertainment.  Maria Von Trapp the matriarch of the Trapp Family Singers who became famous because of the movie “The Sound of Music” also lived here.  Her family owns a huge Inn, brewery, restaurant and conference center just outside of the city.  I love her grand kids who have preformed in our area as the Von Trapps, but recently broke up.  They are so talented, I know we will see them again.

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This was a site next to a grocery store in Stowe that I just had to capture with a photo.

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Homes like this were all over the town.  The homeowners really kept up their homes and yards for the visitors to enjoy too.  Like me!

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Here is a picture of the original Von Trapp family singers.

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This is the Inn at the Von Trapp property.  It has a setting similar to Austria, their homeland where they escaped just before World War II broke out.

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The Long hiking trail in Stowe is 265 mile trail system.  We only went about 4 miles.  

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We saw another capital in Montpelier, VT.  It is least populated capital city in the United States with about 8,000 people living in the town.  It was a wonderfully decorated building and a treasure to its community members.

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We went to Cabot Creamery to test out all 30 samples of their cheeses and then they recommended we go to a local apple farm to pick our own apples.  Great weather for outside activities and lots and lots of apples!  I made applesauce with maple sugar for when Andrew will come to visit in a couple of weeks.  It turned out yummy!

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I took this photo as we were flying down the road.   It was a good way to transition into another state.

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We hiked up to view Beaver Lake and then walked around the lake.  It was a very rocky trail, and took us way longer than we expected.  We did make it back before dark though.

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View of Beaver lake.

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This is Lonesome Lake near Franconia Notch.  We also hiked around the lake that had views of all the ski lifts in the area.

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We visited the New England Ski Museum and saw Bode Miller’s Olympic metals. It was one of the first ski museums in the United States.  Bode is from the area and locals are very proud of him!  This was the first resort based ski school in the states when it opened its doors in 1929.

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Another hike near our campground.

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Coming back from a day of sightseeing, I could not stop taking pictures!  The pink fog was amazing and the views kept changing each moment!

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New Hampshire is definitely a beautiful state!

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A cute church in the small little town of Sugar Hill. The name comes from a large grove of Sugar Maple in the area. Actress Bette Davis used to spend her summers here.

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This is from the top of the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway.  In the top left part of the mountain you can see the Appalachian Trail.  Kelly wants to hike it at some point on our trip.  We read the Bill Bryson book, A Walk in the Woods which was made into a movie with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte about the trail.  It stretches from Georgia to Maine along the ridges of mountains, forests, roads and farms.  The “AT” is the longest hiking only trail in the world!  

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What a view from up here!  Now we will head to the Flume Gorge.

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The Flume Gorge is a natural gorge that extends 800 feet horizontally at the base of Mount Liberty.  The walls are solid granite and can be as high as 90 feet tall in parts of the flume.

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This is one of 7 covered bridges in New Hampshire.

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We ate at the famous Polly’s Pancake Parlor which has been featured in Road Food, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Cooking with Paula Deen and in the Food Network Magazine.  We must have ordered the wrong thing.  It seemed very average.  I know now how spoiled we are with the Portland and local restaurants in our region of the Northwest.  Our restaurants are SO much better!                         Onto Maine….

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We stayed at another interesting Elks Lodge in the little town of Chesterville, Maine. We went to their county fair just to experience something local.  It has fun seeing the people get excited about their fair.  We watched a “horse pull” which consists of a team of two horses that pull tons of rock, saw usual farm tools, and looked at the handmade or homegrown exhibits. 

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Did you know, for almost 130 years Grange Halls have existed as community centers where locals gather for events, dances, potlucks, town meetings and political rallies?  I loved our little grange in Kellogg near Elkton, OR.

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Then we arrived in Bar Harbor Maine.  This would be the most Easterly place on our trip.  We could not wait to see Arcadia National Park.  I helped Andrew do a “brochure” on the park about 20 years ago in Mr. Nelson’s 4th grade class.  (The same Mr. Nelson and his lovely wife Judy that we visited in Virginia, on this trip.)  It looked so beautiful, I always kept that trip in the back of my mind.  I loved the town and surrounding area!

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These sunflowers were growing wild in a field.   To pretty to pass up.

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Kelly wanted to attend this historic Episcopal Church.  It was built in sections from 1877 to 1938.  The English Gothic style church also has a cemetery connected to it like many churches back East have.  The windows where designed by the Tiffany Studio and it had a  bell tower at its peak.  We went to the service, but it was not my cup of tea.

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Later that day we went sailing on the 4 masted schooner ship the Margaret Todd.  She was first launched in  1998, so she is not very old.  

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 The weather turned cold quickly, and that day I had to wear 4 layers of clothing to keep warm!  One layer for each mast!

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At low tide we walked the “bar” to Bar Island.  This spectacular view of Mount Desert Island and the city of Bar Harbor made the hike special.  Some people have been stranded on the island overnight until the next low tide or they can pay the high price of a water taxi back to Bar Harbor.

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John D. Rockefeller donated about 1/3 of the land in Acadia National Park and built the carriage roads that are used for hiking and biking.  The Vanderbilts also had cottages here.  They also had an artist community, a number of journalists lived here as well as sportsmen which lead to the “rusticators” coming to the island. Rusticators were tourists that came to get relief from the city and its noise, pollution and crowds. Eventually, they decided that they missed the comforts of home, and many hotels and resorts were built to satisfy their needs.  So many gorgeous views it is easy to see why everyone wanted to see this place.

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While in Maine…do as the Mainers do.  That is the real name of people from Maine. Each lobster has to weigh only one and a quarter pounds or less to serve at restaurants. They throw back the larger lobster because they are good breeders and can live as long as 100 years! 

While in the National Park we hiked of course and also attended the Arcadia Night Sky Festival.  The event was put on by the local chamber and was very well organized. They had chartered school buses to take people up to the top of Cadillac Mountain.  They then had 50 different sized telescopes observing different constellations in the beautiful but VERY cold night sky!  It was very memorable.

Back to New Hampshire.

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This KOA was nice and had hiking trails around the lake here.

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A view of the lake and the leaves are starting to turn. 

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The Conway Scenic Railroad station was built in 1874.  The unique Victorian style building was were we waited before boarding the Notch train.  The “Notch”, “Hollow” or “Gap” are all terms for the space between mountains that cause a valley.  These were the natural low spots where early pioneers used to navigate thru the mountain ranges. So our Notch train took us by dramatic bluffs and steep ravines and it was amazing to think about how they constructed these tracks through such rugged territory.

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Enjoying an old-fashioned railroad experience on a vintage train.

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I felt like I had gone back in time at Zeb’s General Store in the village of Conway.

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Views from the KOA campground hike.

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The colors were just starting to turn when we had to leaf.  LOL

Back thru Vermont…

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We had to really search for color!

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Hiking around Rutland VT.

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Hathaway Farm Corn Maze has 12 acres and was the largest maze in Vermont!

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The political themed maze had 4 clue stations in it.  We had to answer the Republican and Democrat multiple choice questions correctly and then the answer would point us in the right direction.  We ended up going out the entrance and going back through the exit to find our way out that way.  It was hard and I walked about 20,000 steps on my Fitbit!   It was nice to do something different for exercise.

Vermont Country Store, Rockingham            Name tells it all

We stopped on the way back through Vermont at the famous Vermont Country Store.

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The hamburgers at the little food cart were one of the best we have ever had.

Next blog- Onto Shenandoah National Park.

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