Monday, October 29, 2012

Enveloped in Northeastern Wonder: A Rainy Day on the Kancamagus

Shortly after our Sojourn Into Canada we found ourselves on the other side of the Vermont/New Hampshire border and officially entered historic New England! 

We were pleased to observe that the beautiful fall color continued on the eastern side of the state dividing line. But even in regions where the leaves had not yet changed, signs along the side of the road reminded us to keep a wary eye out for moose. We did precisely that throughout our trip, but sadly never encountered one of the awkward beasts. 

Our first destination in New Hampshire was the Robert Frost House in Franconia, on the western edge of the White Mountains. We decided not to pay to go into the house once we discovered that you could only go through part of it (since the rest is used as a retreat for modern day poets) and that it did not contain much in the way of any actual artifacts associated with Frost. Instead, we watched a video about Frost’s life in New Hampshire and enjoyed the grounds, especially a walk through the surrounding woods which even included passage through a yellow wood. 

      We had to cross over the mountains to reach the Bed & Breakfast where we were staying in North Conway and found that the color was well worth the trip! This waterfall was one we encountered on the side of the road through the mountains.

 Our destination and home for the next two nights was the Buttonwood Inn, a charming B & B nestled into the Eastern edge of the White Mountains and ideally positioned for exploration of the mountains.

It even included a welcoming kitty who we later learned was actually the neighbor’s cat who had figured out he could get lots of attention hanging out near the parking area and front porch of the inn.

We had our own private bathroom across the hall from our room, which provided a very convenient location for us to hang up the rainfly so that it could actually dry off after having twice broken camp in the rain.

Upon the recommendation of our hosts we went back into town and enjoyed dinner at the Red Parka, which we quickly decided would be the perfect place to eat after a day of skiing in the winter. Even without the skiing, it was a great meal in a fun environment, which included an impressive free desert!

Our plans for exploring the White Mountains the next day changed pretty dramatically when it became clear that the rain was showing no signs of quitting. Driving up to Mt. Washington or up to other viewpoints in the mountains didn’t make much sense with all the fog, and doing much in the way of hiking rapidly lost its appeal as well.
So we decided to take things slowly and enjoyed a pleasant morning complete with a superb breakfast courtesy of our hosts and reading in the parlor. 

Although we could have been content to stay at the Buttonwood throughout the day, we didn’t want to miss out on the chance to see more fall color completely.  So we reevaluated our plans and devised a nice driving circuit that took us along the Kancamagus Highway. Although driving with the top down on the convertible as I had hoped to wasn’t exactly a viable option, it still proved to be an excellent trip.

In addition to the beauty surrounding us on the road we enjoyed exploring features such as the Lower Falls Scenic Area, Rocky Gorge, Sabbaday Falls, and the Sugar Hill Scenic Overlook along the way.

Lower Falls Scenic Area

Rocky Gorge

Sabbaday Falls

Sugar Hill Scenic Overlook

We returned to the Buttonwood and after exploring a bit more around the inn we spent a couple of hours playing games and reading in the common room (I had school reading I had to do so this was a good chance) before partaking of a stint in the hot tub in the rain.  

It was a great way to enjoy the rainy day, especially when coupled with ending our day with a hearty meal of Irish comfort food at May Kellys Pub. 

For more pictures Click Here

Friday, October 26, 2012

Enveloped in Northeastern Wonder: Ben and Jerry go to Canada

After Leaving Burlington we continued half an hour east to Little River State Park. Shortly before we arrived at the campgrounds the rain returned which meant we had the pleasure of setting up camp in the rain after breaking camp in the rain that morning.  We must have been quite the site to behold as we huddled our umbrella cooking soup over my backpacking stove and trying to stay dry!
Site where we stayed in our tent despite the rain

The next morning we again enjoyed the pleasure of breaking camp in the rain, but were a bit more successful in keeping things dry than we had been the previous morning! 

After stuffing the sodden rainfly in the car we set forth to bring to fruition a plan that could still be implemented despite the rain. That plan was to pay a visit to the original Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory, which is still in operation.

Did you know that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was started in Vermont by two guys named Ben and Jerry? I didn’t. I also didn’t know that they are so intentional about what goes into their product. Let’s just say that after this visit I feel like I should only ever eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

After taking a few requisite silly pictures outside in the rain we headed indoors for some additional silly pictures and a tour of the factory. The best part of the tour was unquestionably sampling a new flavor of ice cream in the “Flavo Room.”

After the tour we braved the rain again to see the factory more clearly and visit the flavor graveyard where we paid our respects to such inspired flavors as “Ethan Almond” and “Vermonty Python.”

The next stage of our journey took us north all the way to the Canadian border. Along the way we encountered color around every corner as we drove through a series of small towns in Northern Vermont. Here are a few snapshots of the region we were driving through.

When we got to this sign we knew that we had to be close to the border!

In addition to seeing all of the beautiful color along the road we specifically wanted to find the border between the United States and Canada in the town of Stanhope. Why did we want to find this border crossing you ask? Well, because, despite the official crossing nearby complete with the usual array of border patrol agents, we crossed into Canada here, right in the middle of town…

One moment we were in the United States and the next we were in Canada. It was that easy. The town of Stanhope is literally split by the US/Canadian border. We both found that to be quite entertaining.

After marveling at how simple it had been to go to Canada we headed south once more, expecting to see helicopters and DHS agents descending on us at any moment. But that didn’t happen. We successfully went to Canada, and then returned to the United States, where we would soon cross into our second new state of the trip: New Hampshire.

For more pictures Click Here