A Travellerspoint blog

USA - part 2

Vermont and New Hampshire

all seasons in one day 22 °C
View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.

Think the passenger next to me by the window was a nervous flyer, if all the leg bouncing and reaction to asking to have the blinds shut was anything to go by... After a rude awakening from the light pouring through the window we were lucky enough to have landed early and could immediately go to our gate. As it was an internal flight it was a quick exit (no security) and once my bag was collected I headed out to the car rentals on the shuttle bus (a repeat of what I’d done with mum back in October) and went to choose my car (how dollar operates apparently)… The only one that was a hatchback was a Fiesta so opted for that. Also knowing Fiestas well meant I was more comfortable driving it on my own…
I had decided to spend the day exploring on my way to the B&B I was staying at for the next 3 nights – my treat to myself after 3 months of on and off hostel living – and decided I didn’t want to just sit on the freeway but have a look around at the same time and see places I’d not been to before. Looking at the map I could take route 2 (Mohawk trail) from just west of Boston and could follow it all the way across to south of the Green mountains but still in Massachusetts – so that’s what I did. I even found myself near Deerfield, an historic town that we’d visited last October with friends, so had a little detour to take a picture of the bridge we’d gone over, before continuing on to Shelburne Falls. This was a little town but found the visitor centre and they mentioned about the falls and the glacier potholes in some rocks so went and had a look at those before carrying on. I had seen a maple sugarhouse nearby in the map but was told that they were shut so that idea went out of the window…
From Shelburne Falls I took route 112 north, crossed into Vermont, and picked up route 100 at Whitingham and continued north. This route is also called the ‘scenic route 100 byway’ and runs north – south through the middle of the state of Vermont. This effectively meant I followed the East side of the green mountains up to Waterbury, only stopping once for a look at a nice waterfall. The scenery was amazing and so different to my last visit, when I got to experience the varied colours of autumn. This time everything was just so green. Once through the hell of Waterbury, major roadworks going on in town, and over the intersection with the i-89 I headed to one of my favourite places in Vermont - Ben and Jerry’s factory - for a break and some of their ice cream…. Soooo tasty. From there it was just another 6 or 7 miles till my final destination for the next 3 days – The Little River Inn. After staying there last October I knew I had to go back as the food and accommodation was really good, the hot tub was a godsend and it was a nice location for visiting big hills… Unfortunately there were still roadworks outside but this time I’d chosen a room at the back of the Inn so hopefully the noise wouldn’t be so bad.. Headed for the hot tub and then a lovely relaxing bath – so nice to be able to have one of those as last one had been early May and before that early March! Showers were the norm…
As I was quite tired after the overnight flight, time change and then long drive the day before my original plan to hike up Mt Mansfield was abandoned. I headed to the gondola as I thought I could get that up to the top and then walk the rest of the way to the summit, only this was closed till the 22nd. Alternative plan was to drive up the auto road and then walk to the summit from there so this is what I did. After a 5 mile drive up mostly unsealed road with some nice hairpin turns I eventually reached the car park, put on the hiking boots as I decided not to try it in my sandals! This was not a walk as such but more of a walk with quite a bit of scrambling over rocks following little white lines painted on to the rocks and keeping within the string edging the path to avoid stepping on precious alone flora/fauna.
1.5 miles later, taking about an hour to do it, I reached ‘the chin’- the summit of Mt Mansfield, best point in Vermont. Amazing views from there so worth the effort. Even though it was hazy to the west you could clearly see Lake Champlain and the Adirondack range behind, in New York state, and the camel’s hump to the south. On the east side you could see the gondola, Stowe and all the other things I’d seen last October, only with green trees this time and no fall colours… and the bugs that kept bombarding us. Not just midges but bigger beetle like creatures, possibly fireflies. Not biters thankfully but kept trying to get in my bag, down my top etc! After a short break it was time to head back to the car. A slightly easier walk as it was mostly downhill but there was still all the scrambling to do over the rocks. Once back at the car it was time to head into town for some fuel – both for me and the car! I succumbed to a subway but this one was set up at the back of the gas station with the nicest guy running the place. He was more than happy to make your sandwich however you wanted it, adapting the official menu to suit… and the choice of cheese – at least 4 to choose from unlike the one option back home. With my sandwich and drink I headed into stowe only to find the sidewalks were all being redone so parking was a nightmare. Eventually found a spot and headed to some benches to enjoy lunch in the sun…
After lunch it was time to have another look around the town. Nothing had really changed from the last visit so I headed back to the Inn and chilled in the lounge area with book and rest of subway sarnie for my dinner. Another family staying popped in before going out for dinner so had a chat with them. I’d met them at breakfast so we were giving each other an update on what we’d done during the day. Everyone who has stayed there has been so friendly and happy to chat to others also staying – also happened during last visit. My type of place really… ???? It was also nice to be able to chill in a lounge area with a lovely view out of the window rather than being stuck in a bedroom or having to go out.
The following day I had thought about going to Canada but it was raining and the thought of driving for 3 hours to Montreal, finding parking, walking around and then driving back for another 3 hours didn’t really appeal. Instead I decided to head to the west side of the state and visit Shelburne museum, just south of Burlington. This is an outdoor museum with old buildings/structures that have been donated and physically moved to the museum. This included a steam paddle boat (used to cross lake champlain between ny state and vermont), a lighthouse, a 2 lane covered bridge to name a few! Thankfully it was warm so I could wear my shorts and sandals. Much quicker to dry. The coat did pretty well to be fair. Never sure just how waterproof packaway raincoats are! This one only failed at the very bottom at the front where it was taking the brunt of the rain and all the water that was pouring off me too! Eventually I was too wet to stay any longer and gave up – I’d seen all that I’d really wanted to see. Luckily for me, just over the road was the Vermont Teddy Bear factory.
This factory pretty much started the build a bear style bear. I’d been given a free tour voucher from the family from the Inn so I did that. It was really interesting to see how the parts are made, what the stuffing is made of and the fact there is a lifetime warranty on them and can be sent to the hospital to be fixed if required. Not only could you buy ones that you stuff all parts they also have ones where you can choose your arms, legs, head etc and then get them attached to the body, that you choose and stuff to your liking. This means your bear could have different coloured arms and legs, all 4 being different if you so wanted to… and all limbs and head can move. They had examples of those with multi coloured limbs and they just looked freaky! I couldn’t resist though and bought a small stuff your own 15” Holstein bear – black and white with a pink nose and eyes with ‘born in vermont’ visible in the irises. This one is the only 15” bear actually made at that factory, hence the eyes and different label. The others are made elsewhere. I even got to wish on his heart, chose what to fill him with (love, friendship, giggles etc) and then pressed the foot peddle to add his stuffing. Once sewn up I cut the cord and the time recorded was when he was ‘born’ – also recorded on his birth certificate. I’ve called him Monty as he’s from Vermont… I decided that the hot tub would be required too, especially as the rain had eased off by that time. I had also bought some very tasty ginger infused cider from Vermont so felt very decadent drinking a cider while reading a book in the hot tub… The Inn had also had some new guests arrive that day so before and after the hot tub we were having a chat about all sorts…. One thing that was confusing me was that most Americans were asking if I was Australian… I didn’t think I’d picked up an accent but only those that knew British accents were asking if I was a brit! Will see what the brits think when I get home…! ☺️
The following morning was a lazy start as it was going to be a long day… Breakfast was superb, as per usual, and then headed back to my room to chill and pack. Left as late as possible and headed north to take the scenic route across into New Hampshire and the white mountains – decided to take a different route to last time too. Today I was going up Mount Washington, and to the top this time! Last time mum and I only made it to the skyline on the cog railway, due to ice and rime, so this time I was driving up. I’d also joined and become a member of the Mount Washington observatory so I could have a tour of the weather station at the summit. Arrived to find the top shrouded in fog but that wasn’t stopping me, I was going up. Paid my money, got given a CD that I could have listened to on the way up (if my sat nav holder wasn’t in the CD drive I would have!), an info sheet on how to drive up and down the road and a sticker for my car (not going on the hire car but will stick it somewhere). This road was 8 miles long, sealed (apart from a little bit in the middle), had no edge barrier and went to the summit at over 6000 feet (nearly 2000m)… The added bit of fun was driving up this road in the fog as I got higher up … Meant I had no view as I was going up so just kept going. It was 2 cars wide so no pulling over but you could tell some didn’t really feel so comfortable as I kept coming up against those driving in the middle of the road, and usually when I was on the outside with the drop my side! Some felt the need to put on their hazards too!
Arrived at the top some 20-30 minutes later (think this and Mt mansfield are slowest I’ve ever driven over a distance!) and donned my jumper and raincoat. I’d already put on my long sleeved t shirt when I’d stopped for lunch but I was still in shorts and sandals though… From there it was a short walk up some steps to the summit and the observatory. There were 2 others that had also paid for membership to do the tour so the 3 of us were taken into the weather station and met Ian, who was doing the tour. He just happened to be the person mum and I talked to last October when we did live from the rock pile at the observatory’s discovery centre in Conway! He showed us all the instrumentation, how they worked, why they used them, etc, and then took us on a tour of the rest of the facilities. Went downstairs to the living quarters – kitchen, bedrooms, larder, living area - and found out members can volunteer to be a helper for a week; cook, clean and help out in the weather station (hmmm, wonder if I could do that? !). We then headed up to the roof of the tower where the instruments are set up. Thankfully it wasn’t raining or blowing a gale otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to go up there.. The instruments were saying it was 41f (5c) out there but that didn’t factor in any wind chill…. And I was still in shorts and sandals - brrr….! Up some spiral stairs and then 2 sets of ladders and we were outside on the tower. Only bit left was heading up to the extra bit where the instruments actually were. Had to make sure only touched red metal (otherwise the instruments record you as a blip forever in the charts!) and involved a bit of crawling under a bar to get there. Once up there I was technically the highest person on the mountain as this tower is higher than the actual summit… once we’d all been up and taken some photos – not many coz fog was still quite thick at this time – we headed back down and tour was then over. After this I went to the actual summit, had a look around the original hut that used to be the weather station and quarters, and then the observation deck. Here the wind was really cold and my legs really felt it… Headed indoors and had a chat with the cog railway guys and happened to see Eli the brakeman that had been on the road the cog railway when I did it in October. Still the same character…
Headed out to watch the trains head back down and then back to the car. Just as I was leaving the fog was blowing away so got a couple pictures. As I drove down further all the fog blew away – should have turned around at one of the turnout stops (meant to help with brake cooling or scenery enjoying) and gone back up to take pics but I didn’t for some reason – and could then see the road and the drop down the side… Didn’t worry me and the car coped perfectly well without overheating either engine or brakes… From there I headed south towards Boston, to pick up Claire from the airport. On the way I HAD to pass through Conway (was on the way), which just happened to have an outlet village and I had time to kill before going to the airport… what a hardship….! ???? I was well behaved and only bought items I had been looking for during the trip before stopping at a restaurant for some dinner. Left there around 9pm so that I arrived at Logan around 11.45pm-midnight, giving Claire plenty of time to get through customs/security. Found the cell parking lot, a free half hour parking lot to wait for a call. I hit my half hour just as I got the message from Claire to say through security… found the pick up point and Claire easily and we were off to Cape Cod for the next few days…..

Posted by Labgirluk 13:37 Archived in USA Tagged vermont new_hampshire stowe mohawk_trail mount_mansfield shelburne_museum vermont_teddy_bear mount_washington ben_and_jerry's

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