Monday, October 27, 2014

Road Trippin: Fall in New England

Fall in New many people dream of doing this trip and I was no exception.  I decided that my birthday present to myself this year was a massive road trip of New England with the majority of our stay focused on Bar Harbor, Maine or more precisely to visit Acadia National Park.  As I began planning, I just went gonzo adding a few days here, a few days there to other spots to break up the butt numbing drive.

By the time I was done planning the Mr's use or lose vacation time, an almost week vacation doubled to include Niagara Falls on the American side, a few nights in Vermont, a work week in Bar Harbor Maine and because I've always wanted to see it and with the success of our new favorite show, we added a few nights in Sleepy Hollow, New York on the loop back.

Come along for the adventure!

First was our stop off in Niagara Falls.  We had to do Cave of the Winds and went up and had the falls pummel us on the hurricane deck.

The Mr had a wonderful time and was like a kid.  We wandered the area and saw the top of Horseshoe Falls and watched the Maid of the Mist boats we rode when we went on the Canadian side in 2010.  We walked further up and watched the crazy fast water that would eventually dump you over the falls.  This was honestly our only "relaxation" stop.  We just kind of hung out at the hotel, the Giacomo for most of the night, ordered in, watched TV, explored the hotel and got a great night's sleep on their comfy bed.  I wish I could say the phrase "comfy bed" applied to the rest of the trip but it didn't.  Ugh.

The next morning we got up before the sun (a regular occurrence this trip) and I couldn't help but notice as we were on our way to Vermont, we would practically pass Sharon Springs, NY where the Beekman Boys had their store.  I was all over that shizz!

We picked up two jars of raw cinnamon honey.  To say it was the most heavenly thing I've had in my tea, on my flapjacks, on my sweet potato, etc is an understatement.  Completely amazing and I just saw they are expanding to the second floor soon.  I've already called road trip again.  Given there's a cozy hotel across the street it might be a nice quiet stop on the way to somewhere else as well.

We got to Vermont and had a wonderful time exploring the Stowe and Montpelier area.  Our favorite experience was a place called Bragg Sugar Farm.

We had to watch a little video about maple syrup making but we didn't mind and then we got to sample the grades and such afterward.  We both liked the same grades (Grade A mild amber and Grade B which is the best for cooking/baking)  The woman said the fact we agreed on the same grades was rare because people usually have big ol' fights when it comes time to buy and one couple was even like "we'll have to take this outside."  I don't know what she got him to agree to but he won that one from what we heard.  We got to try maple creamees, which is maple soft serve ice cream.  HOLY BALLS Y'ALL!!  SOOOOO good!  We got baby ones because we knew we were trying them elsewhere but they weren't good so I wished I'd gone full Monty on the ones from Bragg.  If you're in the Stowe or Montpelier area, make sure you stop by Bragg Sugar Farm!

We stopped by Emily's Bridge in Stowe.  You can read more about it here.

On our way to Maine, I had a surprise up my sleeve for the Mr.  When we're on vacations, it's kind of "our thing" to go on crazy roads that make people want to barf from fear.  I found such a road in Mt. Washington Auto Road in Gorham, New Hampshire.  Before we got there, he pointed to it's snow capped mountain and said "oh my gosh is that snow up there??"  I non chalantly said yes and giggled inside saying to myself "and you're gonna be on it in a few minutes!"

We went 6200+ feet up and went from beautiful fall trees to stunted pines to barron snow covered landscape.  Good thing we had our winter coats!  It was windy but we had fun exploring the summit and looking at the beautiful ice and snow formations on anything that would stand still on the summit from chains to banisters to railings, etc.  The bottom right up there are what we nicknamed "snow feathers" and they're formed from the super high winds at the summit.  Simply stunning.  The Auto Road is now closed for the season but if you plan peak season in New England next year, put this on your to do list...this was in our top three favorite things from the trip.

When we finally made it to Bar Harbor, it was later so we just grabbed dinner a few streets over from our rental home.  It was chilly on the patio but nothing some hot tea and chowder couldn't take the edge off of.  The next day we headed to have our first real lobster experience.  Lobster boils is what I think they call them where they slap ya a big ol lobster, mussels, taters and such.

The Mr was adequately weirded out by the whole thing but was a good sport and ended up enjoying it.  I was glad for the experience but the whole ripping apart an intact animal was more than my pansy ass would like to imbibe in again.  I prefer to keep my head in the ground where my meals come from.  Internally, I named him Larry and thanked him for his life.  When we got back and we saw live lobsters in the tank, I said a prayer for them and promised if there was a way to bust them out without going to jail, I'd consider it.

We strolled Bar Harbor's streets and were frankly very surprised at how touristy they were.  We've been to Hawaii, Florida, Vegas eons ago, Memphis and have never felt a true tourist throng until we came here.  Wow!  Between cruise lines and buses, it was flooded with people and we reveled in the two slower days in town on Sunday and Monday and maybe a little on Tuesday.    To escape the masses, we took a stroll on the Shore Path.

It runs the coast line and then back into town at the quiet end.  Worth a stroll should you go for great views of all of the ships, big and small, in harbor!

The next day was Acadia National Park.  I was so excited!  We went up for sunrise at Cadillac Mountain.  While the shot below makes it look like there were only a few people there, there were probably over 100 so it was not a quiet, zen experience.
The views from the park were ten kinds of stunning from Sand Beach (lower left) to Jordan Pond's view of Bubbles Mountain (lower right above.)   The trails here are no funny business.  We're talking many with railings drilled into the boulders and no way to back trail if you chicken out.  There are of course easy ones too but lots of moderate to strenuous ones for hardcore climbers and daredevils if you're into that kind of thing.

What we are into?  Movies.  What's the Mr into? Stephen King .  (affiliate link) So what did we do?  Oh yeah...we saw the Pet Sematary (affiliate link)  house and noted the hilarious placement of the "children at play" sign that now resides where Gage bit it by the Orinco truck.

We also swung by Stephen King's home in Bangor (red house, lower left above) and then on to Mount Hope Cemetery to the spot where Stephen presided over the house keeper's funeral.  (Lower right above)

On our way back, I decided to take a detour to another surprise I had in my back pocket if we were in the area.  Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory.

I think it was built to replace the old bridge in 2006 and we went straight to the top.

The views were amazing...

Toward the end of our stay, we went at low tide and walked across the sandbar to Bar Island.

You've got a 4 hour window (two hours before low tide and ninety minutes to two hours after) that the sandbar is exposed for you to walk (or drive) across.  When the tide rolls in, any cars or people stuck on the bar or on the island will be SOL until the tide rolls back out.  We got there plenty early and did the hike to the other side and top of the island.

The view of Bar Harbor was breathtaking.

We had the most amazing time in Bar Harbor and we're glad we were able to enjoy some down time as well as active adventures.

On the way to Sleepy Hollow, we made a pit stop in Portland to see the light house.

Truly a classic lighthouse!  We didn't have time to peruse the town but we definitely want to go back because it looked pretty cool there!

Then we arrived in Sleepy Hollow and stayed a few nights.

We visited the Olde Dutch Church, the Headless Horseman bridge and the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving's grave.

It was quite possibly the most peaceful place I've been in some time and the Headless Horseman Bridge has a beautiful waterfall nearby.  I could've stayed there all day.  Make this sleepy town a stop because they do it up right for Halloween.  If you want something a little more octane fueled, they do a Headless Horseman haunted house at Philipsburg Manor across the street.  But everyone and their mother comes here to celebrate Halloween so get your tickets for stuff at least 2 months in advance to guarantee they're not sold out.

We stopped by the lighthouse after strolling through the park.

We had a beautiful view of the Tappan Zee bridge and that gap under the bridge before the first peak?  You can see the Manhattan skyline through there...kind of a big ol' tease.

You know we got our pumpkins in Sleepy Hollow this year.  I mean, come on!

At night, we took a two hour lantern tour of Sleep Hollow Cemetery.

It was really cool and I'd take any of the tours they offer as well.  Super knowledgeable guides and such history in that place.

It was a very long drive but we had some good stops to break up the monotony and we had this little ditty play every hour and fifteen minutes on the 26 hour playlist I made to remind us to do calf raises and ankle pumps so we didn't get a blood clot from being bum bound so long.

It was a wonderful trip and I hope all of you consider doing it at some point because it's so beautiful.  If you'd like to see more pictures, swing by my Instagram!

Pay attention as the week winds down, I may have picked up some souvenirs I'll be giving away to a lucky reader!

What was your longest road trip?

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  1. Thank you for an amazing trip full of surprises and all kinds of amazing views and foods. It was a great trip and I highly recommend it to anyone considering it, although it looks like you should go next year at this point, because we lucked out and missed the "noreaster" that came through last week and I doubt there are very many leaves left to enjoy now.

    1. You're very welcome. I look back and still can't believe we did it...or that it's over. :-( Yes it's definitely an early to mid October venture. Vermont was already slightly past peak with the reds gone but Maine was in full glory toward the end of the stay. So weird how two days made such a huge difference in color!

  2. So glad you had a great time visiting my area. Missing the nor'easter was a blessing. I loved all your pictures and I always love reading your blog.

    1. Yeah on the day we left Maine it was drizzly but driving the rest of the way to NY was not fun with sheeting rain. I can't imagine going through days of it. One of the Mr's co-workers was in VT a few days after we were and ended up getting rained on the whole time.

  3. How fun! I've always wanted to go to Maine, and going in the fall is just that much better. I've spent time in the southwest, and in Michigan and Wisconsin - but never any time in the Northeast and I'd really like to.

    As a kid every year we drove to see my grandpa (dad's side) 20 hours drive time, 30+ when you added in gas and pee stops and a few hours sleep in the car). A few days there and then 8 hours to my grandma's (mom's side), several days there and then back to grandpa's for a few more days and then home. 56 total drive time hours not counting stops and usually we do the trip in about 14 days.

    1. If you can make it, do it. It was one of those trips I just thought I'd talk about doing my whole life but never would. I'm so glad we did.

      Wow, that is one helluva road trip! Makes ours look like a pee break! LOL Though I will say after having driven that far, we now consider 6 hour road trips to be nothing so we might be going a lot more places that we once deemed 'too far' for a weekend.

  4. Our longest road trip was from North Carolina to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. We actually drove farther north than Saint John, but we stayed in Saint John. We did makes stops to and fro. That was almost 20 years ago, when hubby and I had only been married a couple of years. It also did not even occur to me to keep a journal about my trip like I do for all our trips now. At least we took a lot of pictures.

    Since you love Sleepy Hollow, I assume you know the TV series is filmed here in North Carolina?

    1. That's quite a haul! I wish I would've journaled on our honeymoon. We only have pics and I can't remember the little stories or nuances like I do on every trip since then when we made that a priority.

      Of course! Wilmington gets many great filming opportunities but I've always wanted to visit the real thing and we have family ties to Sleepy Hollow NY. But I wouldn't mind making a trip to Wilmington if it means running into Tom Mison! Problem is, now when I see shots of what are supposed to be the Hudson or what I assume they want you to believe is the Tappan Zee I yell... LIES!!! LOL Given Orlando and Lyndie along with crew went to Sleepy Hollow a few weeks before we did, they could've filmed some shots to have the real landmarks represented but I'm a huge continuity nerd like that so...

  5. My longest trip was with my husband, 2 kids, niece, SIL and BIL. We left from Fl to Chattanooga, TN. We went to the Aquarium and also Chickamauga. We stayed there for 2 days and then went to Pigeon Forge, TN for another 2-3 days and went to an exotic petting zoo. Then we decided since we were halfway there, we would go to Gettysburg, PA. Of course we went to the battlegrounds and visited other areas of interest. Then on the way home, we decided to go thru Washington, DC and hit up the Museum of Natural History since it's free. Stayed there for a few hours and then continued heading back south. Next stop was Savannah, GA. We had been here before, so we just stayed the night and then let the kids play on one of the playgrounds to get out there energy, and then headed back home. We were gone for about 10 days. It was the best vacation I've had to date, and the kids have wonderful memories and still talk about it 3 years later. Hope to go to Gettysburg again soon.

    1. Making memories is what it's all about! Sounds like that was a fun loop to make! I would love to see Savannah sometime.

  6. These are beautiful photos!!!! I love the Bar Harbor area. I live in New Brunswick, which is on the Canadian-US Border of Maine and I just love visiting. I'm going to have to add some of these spots to our next trip! How fun!!!

    1. I can only imagine how beautiful it is in your region! Definitely make a trip to Acadia if you can, it's so beautiful!

  7. Longest road trip for me was the summer between 7th and 8th grade that my parents decided to drive to Oregon to visit my aunt then to Wisconsin for my brother's wedding, only we didn't take the most direct route from Tennessee. We drove across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, stopping at most National Parks along the way. Then from Utah we drove to Portland, Oregon and stayed for 1 week. After a week at the Aunt's house, we got back in the car and drove through parts of Washington, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. We spent 3 days for the wedding festivities and then drove home in one day.
    So, after over 3 weeks on the road we were home. A sedan wasn't the most spacious vehicle but I will never forget going to Carlsbad Caverns, the Painted Desert, Mt Rushmore, and the Devil's Tower.
    Now I'd like to visit the Northeast, so I appreciate you sharing information about your trip!

    1. While that sounds tiring, it also sounds AWESOME! We're batting around the idea of driving to Yellowstone and the Mr has just suggested we fly to Seattle, rent a car and spend time there then Portland and drive back home. I'll be doing some number crunching. ;-)

  8. I've always wanted to "head east" and this post just confirms why. I loved every single picture and description you wrote. I felt like I was right there with you for the adventure (minus the lobster--the hubs would have been all over that, but I just can't do seafood). I am so happy you both had such and awesome trip and for letting me share in the memories on Instagram. It's taken me out of my little world here and there to just enjoy the season. Welcome home kids!!

    1. Aww, so glad you enjoyed it! I hope you get to head that way because man, it is truly made for the phrase 'God's country!'


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