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Leaf-peeping in New England USA 2015

Well, it’s only taken 8 years to convince me to visit America as I was believed Americans were loud, brash and crass but within hours I was proved to be totally and absolutely wrong!!

Let’s get the apology made and move on - Sorry to all those wonderful Americans we met!!!

Our plan was to visit 6 New England states, Massachusetts, Rhodes Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and, finally Maine before returning to Boston for our homeward flight back to Blighty. The car we hired for this trip had to be something that fitted the occasion, a Ford Mustang, and that served us well over the 1300 miles trip.

Little did we know how Hurricane Joaquin was going to affect the weather by dragging hot and very wet weather across the region. Our first full day was spent following the Freedom Trial while getting soaked to the skin!!! So the first group of pictures probably shows Boston at the dampest but still it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Ignorance turned out to be a great tool when asked what I would like to drink I simply explained that I knew nothing about their beers and that nearly always led to a in-depth conversation and descriptions of their ales.

Little did we realise how lucky we were going to be with the rain during our road trip.


Boston.

I promise I won’t continue being negative but let’s get the Hampton Inn Crosstown Center out of the way.

The hotel itself is perfectly satisfactory but it’s location and poor double glazing led to three very disturbed nights. The hotel is on Massachusetts Ave near both a major hospital and a methadone re-hab centre. So if it wasn’t the continual twos and blues blaring through the night then it was arguing users, or perhaps ex-users. Strangely enough the staff never replied to my Tripadvisor review. See my review.



With our three days in Boston over it was time to collect the Mustang and seriously start making miles, although the Sat Nav we had ordered wasn’t available so back to good old fashioned paper maps to guide us to Cape Cod…… and still it rained. In fact, we only managed to have brief and damp, no not damp, truly wet, mooch around the quaint town of Sandwich before continuing to our destination of Chatham and our motel, the Seafarer. Our stay in Cape Cod was soon over and as we headed for the next town en-route plans were changed as we decided to head towards Connecticut, skipping through Rhode Island, hoping to avoid the rain and wind, finally as we reached Connecticut the clouds stopped shedding their moisture.



Now this is what you call so spacious that even the super king sized bed is dwarfed by the room and soooo reasonably priced but take a look at the view from the window!!!


Connecticut


Our route was chosen to use the "green routes", the more scenic ones, to Southbury and the Crowne Plaza in particular. As the Seafarer was room only we dropped into a Wendy's for brunch - a mistake never to be repeated. Another stop was in Deep River for coffee and I only mention this because within no time we were talking to some local ladies about our plans and their life in rural USA.


Having been a little horrified by the costs of accommodation in Boston we didn't really expect much for our dollars elsewhere but our room at the Crowne Plaza was seriously spacious - just a shame about the view over the roof and all the air-con units.


We hadn't realised how out of the way the way it was so I asked at Reception about getting a taxi into town and I was surprised that the hotel offered a free shuttle service, just ask for it, tell them where you're going and a few minutes later you're en route to your destination and to return, simply call them and you're on your way back to the hotel. Brilliantly simple but effective. Well done!!!


We ate in a bar in Southbury called Pies and Pints and had another in-depth conversation about their beers and tested a few, each one stronger than the previous one. Hic.


I won't bother moaning too much about my bank blocking my debit card as soon as I tried to use it but that's the wonderful HSBC for you!!!


First Sunday in October and today the leaf-peeping starts. A short drive to Squantz Pond before heading to Kent and the Kent State Park for a picnic and a waterfall walk and onto Lake Waramaug, finally to Litchfield. As the sun was finally shining the roof was down, it was a little cool but had to be done!!!


Massachusetts


Our drive to Vermont crosses Massachusetts as we take the scenic roads up to Stockbridge, famous for it's lack of street cables and wires, and continuing to Mount Greylock where I must confess I gave the Mustang a little test screeching types on the hairpins. Lunchtime at the summit in the Barcombe lodge where and to be honest the staff were the exception to the rule as they were really quite unwelcoming!!!


Arrived in North Adams, i still don't have a clue why we ended up there because from our point of view, it had very little to offer, plus there's a shortage of accommodation. You have the Holiday Inn, the Porches which we initially rejected and the odd B & B.


However, we did return to the Porches and were offered a free upgrade, always a bonus. The Porches is very, very good with a small outdoor pool, hot tub, a woodland area for evening campfires and extremely pleasant staff. It classifies itself as "industrial retro-chic".


Vermont


Leaving North Adams we hacked up, if you can do that with speed restrictions of 55 to 60mph, to Killington before turning off the State roads on to more scenic ones and, possibly the most scenic to date. Little did we know how busy Stowe would be and finding somewhere to stay was harder than expected, at one we almost gave up, but found a vacancy in the Commodores Inn. Not great, especially if you get the room overlooking the restaurant/bar. I mean that literally!!!


After doing a little drive up the mountain road in the late afternoon and seeing some very bright "fall" foliage we had built up an appetite but when we returned to town it was deserted where had everyone gone?


Had dinner in Grazers and served by a waiter named Cory who was most knowledgeable. In fact, we took his advice totally. first the local maple vodka cocktail, the local Bar Hill gin and even which burger to eat. Very good drinks, better food and excellent service from Cory.


The following morning before heading to New Hampshire we set off on a 5.5 mile circular walk although after 5 miles or so we realised it wasn't circular. A long and hurried walk and totaling some 11 miles odd before a quick snack and setting off for Gorham in New

Hampshire.


New Hampshire


Arriving later than expected due to our "non-circular" walk we arrived in Gorham mid-afternoon and found the Strictly Moose, our home, for the next couple of nights.


A quick breakfast at Guldie's before staring the day.


The main reason for this visit was to go up Mount Washington and although once we got away from the bad weather on the coast it hadn't been brilliant but the following day we woke to perfect clear blue sky and about 20⁰C (66⁰F in American). Another top down drive, well, no point in hiring a convertible and keeping it up. We had been told it was too dangerous to drive up, not the first time we had been told this, but that's what we did. Paid the fee and just as we started up the continual eight mile ascent the "tyre low pressure" warning light came on, shit!! After a quick inspection we continued uphill to the 6228 foot summit. And the higher we went the cooler it became until at the summit the car recorded  0.5⁰ or 33⁰F whereas the official temperature was below freezing in any language.


Bloody cold but amazing views with icicles were blown almost horizontal.


After a cautious drive down lunch and a walk through Notch State Park before visiting lake Saco and then a 1000 foot hike to the top of Mount Millard.


On our first night we were recommended to try J's Diner for dinner as Libby's Bistro/Saalt Pub were too expensive. Well, there are times not to follow advice but this time we did. Big mistake - the following night we ate at the Saalt Pub and wow, probably, the best meal we had had. Brilliant!!!


Maine


We hadn't realised how lucky we were with the weather until the following day. Our drive from Gorham to South West Harbor was thoroughly wet. Rain and heavy spray all the way.


It felt by now that we had been living out of suitcases for ages and we looked 3 nights at the Linden House Inn, just a few minutes walk to the "town centre". We received a very warm welcome from Jim and on such a wet dismal day an open fire in the sitting room was very friendly. As Jim escorted us to our "room" he explained that we had been upgraded, yay love upgrades, to the Top Sail apartment. A 2 bedroom apartment complete with kitchen, lounge, habour  views and a sun deck - won't need that then I thought.


The following days were spent exploring Acadia National Park and relaxing although walking was still a must. A 5.8 mile hike around Eagle Lake one day, then a drive up Mount Cadillac and a hike around  Jordan Pond. Easy days.


The End


Reading back over this I realise I had missed two important points. The first, the love for Halloween with pumpkins massed outside churches, in shop windows and private garden along with skeletons, graves, ghosts and ghouls. The second, and I have touched on this, but let me elaborate more about the friendliness of people we met.


Apart from "serving staff" in restaurants and hotels where good customer service is expected there were many occasions where people heard our accents and just wanted to talk.


Once in a bar I heard someone say "are you Australian"? and at the time I hadn't realised he was talking to me but a long conversation evolved or another time sitting at the bar when another dinner asked by another couple if we were enjoying our stay in South West Harbour. As we chatted a girl and her boyfriend joined the conversation as they had heard we'd been to Boston, her hometown. So very genuinely friendly.


As we headed further north the colours of the fall became more outstanding but we certainly didn't see the best but as we were told the recent warm weather had delayed it and some parts they really didn't expect any significant fall.


Ok that's pretty much the trip over and just the return drive back to Boston to be done - in the rain again!!!


So my starting comment about the weather, yes we had some truly wet days but they were driving days. Our three days in South West Habour were dry with lots of sun, our “Mount Washington” day was bright and sunny, if anything we had the worst of the rain on the best of the days.


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Many thanks - Al