We spent a week in late June in Lincoln, New Hampshire in the White Mountain National Forest. This being our first trip to New Hampshire, we had no idea what to expect. The White Mountains are simply gorgeous, with endless trails to walk, hike, bike and drive. Johan went out the first afternoon to pick up some groceries and on his way found a car racing event, which was also an unexpected surprise. Being in the mountains was a change from the coastal towns we’ve been frequenting lately, and we forgot how calming it is to take long, quiet hikes while surrounded by tall trees. On Father’s Day we hiked the Franconia Falls Trail in Franconia Notch. Franconia Falls is about 7 miles out and back, and we tacked on a detour to Black Pond to make the total trip an even 10. Next we took the 26-mile Franconia Notch Bike Trail from the Skookumchuck Trailhead to Flume Gorge, stopping along the way to see the Old Man of the Mountain (though the actual “old man” has fallen off the mountain, they have created a really cool exhibit where you can stand and see what you would have seen before the rocks fell away), Echo Lake, Cannon Mountain and the New England Ski Museum, The Basin, and Flume Gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. Twice we went to the town of Littleton for dinner, it’s an adorable village with some darling shops and restaurants. We had great pizza and beer at Schilling Beer Company, and a really good burger at the Beal House. It’s another town with truly genuine people, and I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in the fall and winter. On our last day, we hiked 3 miles up Mt. Washington, getting just above the treeline to take some pics of the breathtaking views before ducking out of the wind and heading back down. Some very brave hikers (undeterred by extreme wind conditions and in much better shape than we are) go all the way to the top, but we’ll save that for another day. We’ll just call that a stretch goal for a future visit. You can also ride a steam train on the COG Railway to the top and hike down the mountain, getting the views and mileage in but without the whole part where you first have to walk UP the mountain. Before going home for the night we stopped to explore the grounds of the Mt. Washington Resort, so lovely. A convention of Edward Jones employees wandered around with nametags and portfolios reminding us of a time when we worked 9-to-5. Boy do we miss those days. (Ha) We’ll head back to New Hampshire in the winter sometime so Johan can get in some skiing, and in the summer when we have forgotten how many shades of green there are in the White Mountains.
On June 12th we left Cape Cod for Winslow Memorial Park in Freeport, Maine. The views from our site were incredible, and the park itself is located about 15 miles north of downtown Portland. Freeport is home to L.L. Bean and has become a town with outlet stores of all kinds lining the streets in old buildings, which makes for a charming downtown area that feels nothing at all like an outlet mall. We scored some good hiking pants and shirts at the North Face outlet, but after two more stores, Johan was anxious to get out of Freeport. I suppose we don’t have any room in Clyde for more clothes anyway.
There is so much more to downtown Portland than we expected, so we went a few times. We were most pleasantly surprised by the food, which was wonderful whether it was local seafood or a good old fashioned burger. We had great meals at the Blue Spoon in Munjoy Hill, Alisson’s in Kennebunkport, and Gather in Yarmouth. In addition to great foodie food, Portland and the surrounding area surprised us with it’s beautiful landscapes, walking paths, lack of traffic, and cool brewery scene. (Allagash!) For both of us, this was our first time in Maine. It’s definitely up there with Idaho when we consider our favorite places in the states, mostly because while there are many gorgeous parts of this incredible country, there are few inhabited by people who collectively make visitors wish they could become locals someday. Greater Portland is a culture of welcoming, artistic and kind folks who are so enjoyable to be around. We love Portland!
In mid-June, we hopped on the ferry from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard with the e-bikes. We had a beautiful day and spent all of it riding around and exploring as much of the island as we could. There are a number of hop-on/hop-off trails, and a few areas where you must share the (very) narrow road with cars and construction trucks, but we lived to ride another day so it couldn’t have been too bad. The island is 100 square miles but my butt isn’t fully accustomed to the bike seat, so we explored about 20 of them. We got to see Tisbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs, which was enough to assure us we’d be back for more of Martha’s Vineyard someday. It is SO adorable. The best part is the little neighborhood of gingerbread houses in Oak Bluffs, which are so delicately decorated and colorfully painted. We parked the bikes and walked around trying to decide just how many pictures of darling gingerbread houses were too many, but one was cuter than the next, so I couldn’t help but take at least a hundred.
The boat that takes passengers with cars and/or bikes from Cape Cod to the island is so well run and the ride feels very short. There are tons of lovely houses to rent, beautiful beaches, places to eat, and of course, the original Vineyard Vines store. We’ll be back!
Newport is such a beautiful place, we already can’t wait to come back. The 3.5 mile Cliff Walk is a pedestrian path along the cliffs and right through the back yards of many of the famous Newport mansions (adorably called “cottages” by the Newport elite in the Gilded Age). You can purchase a ticket through the Preservation Society of Newport County to see five of the mansions, many of which have self-guided audio tours that introduce you to the cast of characters who built and lived in these incredible homes in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. Marble House, aptly named for the 500,000 cubic of feet of marble lining the interior walls was built by William Vanderbilt for his wife Alva. The Breakers, another Vanderbilt cottage built by Cornelius II, has 125,339 square feet decorated in Italian Renaissance style. And everyone will recognize Rosecliff, built by the Olerich family and the home featured in the original Great Gatsby film. After about 5 hours, our eyes burned from gold leaf trim, marble staircases and sparkling chandeliers, and we had to remind ourselves that where WE belong is not floating through a 10,000 square foot ballroom with fancy champagne, but at Anthony’s Seafood House eating a lobster roll on a hot dog bun for dinner.
Boston is such an awesome city to visit because it is so easy to guide yourself through so many landmarks along The Freedom Trail. We parked in the North End and first walked north across the Charleston River to see the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill. Then we returned to the car and moved it a block (2-hour parking limit on the street) and headed in the opposite direction to see the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House, Faneuil Hall, the Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, the site of the Boston Massacre, the King’s Chapel Burying Ground, Park Street Church, the State House and Boston Common. Then we walked along the wharf and stopped at the Sail Loft for clam chowder (actually clam chowder for Johan, chicken soup for me) and headed back to the camp site at The Cod.
What do you do in Plymouth, MA after you’ve seen Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower? You go on the Plymouth Lobster Crawl in search of 29 painted lobsters around town and take pictures of them! Actually, if you’re in Plymouth in 2018 you’re going to see Plymouth Rock but you are NOT going to see the Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower that landed here in 1620, because it is in Connecticut for repairs until 2019. And after seeing a handful of painted lobsters, you may continue to search for 20-25 more, but we opted to get out of the rain and have a beer instead. Surprised? Plymouth Rock, check. The Mayflower remains on the bucket list, so it looks like we will be returning someday.
The scariest day of travel to date was our relocation from New Jersey to Massachusetts by way of the lower George Washington Bridge in NY. After a comedy of errors that ended in an involuntary stopover in The Bronx, a need for 4 new tires and a jump start for Bonnie, we arrived at the Gateway to Cape Cod Campground in Rochester, MA. We’re within an hour drive to so many different places and have spent the last two weeks exploring all of it. On the first day we drove to the tip of Cape Cod (“The Cod” as Johan calls it) and rode the Provincetown Bike Trails by the beach. Then we drove into P town to browse the shops and pier. We had dinner and local beer in Hyannis before heading home on the first day. The bike trails in The Cod are fantastic but Johan’s e-bike battery won’t charge any longer so we’ll have to stick to walking until the new battery arrives. How did we live before Amazon???