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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Vermont and New Hampshire

Brennan and I took a fantastic trip to Vermont and New Hampshire (and a little bit of Massachusetts and New York).  We had a really great trip and took a lot of iPhone photos between us. 
We flew into Albany, NY and drove to Bennington, VT

In Bennington we had a great lunch and toured the Battle Monument commemorating the Battle of Bennington in 1777.
View from the Battle Monument 
Brennan at the Battle Monument 
We went to a number of local spots in Bennington including the Apple Barn where we pumpkin fudge, fresh pressed apple cider, and my favorite - apple slush.  Bennington has a lot of these decorated moose all around the town.  Sadly, we didn't see any live moose on our trip, just lots of Moose Xing signs.

We drove east through the Green Mountain National Forest and the views were absolutely stunning!
There really wasn't anything but beautiful views in Vermont.

We weren't in the Green Mountains more than 20 minutes when we saw our first (of many) Appalachian Trail through hikers.  They were all walking in the same direction - my guess is that they were headed to the end of the Trail in Maine before the weather hit in a month or two.  It was incredible to see them.
Here I am on the Appalachian Trail.

Brennan and I took a side trip to drive to the summit of Mt. Equinox in the Green Mountains.  It was a long, very steep drive, but the views were totally worth it!

We had dinner in Manchester - a picturesque little town in the Green Mountains.
And checked into the Olympia Lodge for the night.  A quaint bed and breakfast style lodge, nestled in the mountains.  The owners' dog was a big hit with Brennan.

The next day we headed to Burlington, Vermont, with several side trips along the way. 
First up was a tour of Middlebury College. 
The New England college campuses that we toured did not disappoint.  They were as beautiful as I had imagined.

On our drive north to Burlington we spotted a farm and orchard with all sorts of fun Fall activities.  Brennan really, really wanted to do the 10-acre corn maze.  It was monstrously huge, and had a scavenger hunt included in it.  And he wanted to do it alone.  I sat with the owner and listened to a history of the area, while sipping cider.  Not a bad deal.  

Random public art we passed in Vermont.  
And Burlington was so pretty.  By far the largest city we encountered on our trip.  Full of great restaurants, universities, athletic people, and so, so picturesque.  We walked the length of Waterfront Park on Lake Champlain. 

Swings and benches lined the length of the park to view the Lake.
A swing finally became available for us to enjoy.

We had to check out the "world's largest filing cabinet" sculpture. 
Finally, Brennan was impressed with Vermont.

We drove through a number of colleges and the University of Vermont in Burlington.

And settled for the night at the Starlight Inn in Colchester on Malletts Bay.  The Inn is impeccable and has 4 drive-in screens.  We were in the Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin room.  It was a great place to stay.
No more universities or battle monuments.  Our next day was all about Brennan - which means food and hiking.
Stowe and Waterbury, VT have some great company headquarters.  It was our only drizzly day, but it didn't stop us.  We had a great time touring a lot of cool places.
Like the original Ben & Jerry's and their factory!

And the Green Mountain Coffee Company headquarters and visitor's center!

Tea for me, an Americano for Brennan

And Cabot cheddar.  Where we bought our lunch to eat at a park later in the mountains.

mmmm, samples!

And everywhere we went we saw local Vermont maple syrup in cute bottles.
I remembered our trip to Boston years before when I couldn't get my maple syrup back on the plane, so we didn't buy any - which seems such a shame.  We enjoyed the samples though!

And then we spent a little time in picturesque Stowe.  It wasn't skiing season yet, but it was full of people like us who were so taken with the scenery, all the little restaurants and cafes, the covered bridges.  We did see a number of Olympic skiing athletes who were together at a cafe.  They train at Stowe Mountain.
And then we toured the Trapp Family Lodge!
When the von Trapps left Austria, they settled in Stowe.
They eventually built a lodge and ran a successful business for years and years.  Maria and the Captain had children of their own.  One of their grandsons is running the business now.

One of the individual cabins (The Villas) that can be rented, overlooking Mt. Mansfield State Forest.

This sign says
"The Trapp Family invites you to share a little of Austria, a lot of Vermont"

The Trapp Family Lodge

After that fun little side trip (which was totally for me - Brennan was shocked to hear The Sound of Music was based on a true story!), we headed to the summit of Mt. Manchester - the highest point in Vermont.  We drove as high as we could, but it would be another 4 hour intense climb to the peak.  We didn't do that, but we did hike quite a bit in the area.  Brennan loved it.

And then we headed to New Hampshire!
I've seen the eastern edge of New Hampshire before and it didn't leave that much of an impression.
Until we drove through the rest of Vermont and into New Hampshire on the west, and saw the White Mountains.  Holy Cow!
Sooooo many through hikers.  The mountains were absolutely incredible.  I would go back just to explore them more.
Mt. Washington and the Auto Road all through some of the highest peaks, Franconia Notch, 100 miles of Appalachian Trails, the Presidential Range of the National Forest (peaks named for presidents), the Caribou Wildnerness Area, the cog railway train going through some of the peaks.  Just incredible.

On our final day there we chose to take the Sawyer Highway through the White Mountains instead of following the GPS and leaving the mountains and getting on a highway.  It's a good thing we had gas, but the rustic drive cutting through was worth it.  

After two days in NH we headed back to Albany, taking the long way through Massachusetts, and taking a few side trips.
Our first one was in Hanover, NH at Dartmouth College.  If I could pick an Ivy League school, this would be it.  It just so happened to be Homecoming Weekend and undefeated Dartmouth was playing undefeated Yale.
We had lunch before the game in a very good Japanese restaurant in the heart of Hanover.  We overhead students having an Economics debate.  Brennan was smitten with Dartmouth.
Because he is 13, we also enjoyed recommendations for the best gelato in New England (very yummy), and we toured a gourmet chocolate shop.  It can't all be about the scenery.

On the drive from Hanover south, we listened to the Dartmouth-Yale game (Dartmouth won!) and enjoyed the stunning scenery.

We ended up in Williamstown, Massachusetts in time for dinner at a quaint inn before heading to our hotel and a few hours' sleep before our flight home. 

I highly recommend Vermont and New Hampshire.
I don't think it matters if it's "peak season" for the leaves.
Vermont is idyllic - we never saw a McDonalds in Vermont, and billboards were sparse and quaint.  It was incredibly serene and clean and inviting. 
New Hampshire would not have been that impressive to me except for the White Mountain National Forest.  And that made it totally worth it.
Brennan's favorite part of the trip - the hiking.
I loved spending the Fall Break with him!