Movin’ on Up(state) and Beyond

Posted from Stony Point, New York, United States.

Reunion with Tess....

On Thursday we left our friends in beautiful Connecticut and headed to another friend’s country house on the Hudson River, about an hour north of New York City.  This is the same friend who generously housed us in uptown Minneapolis and has two dogs, Tess and Leo, who also summer in upstate New York with her.  The drive was relatively short (less than two hours) but, as has been the case for most of our recent travels, quite mountainous and curvy.

...and goofball Leo

Our time in upstate New York was very relaxing and would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for the oppressive heat and humidity.  We spent our time swimming in a nearby lake, shopping at a farmer’s market, reading books, and helping our friend with household maintenance – and of course being entertained by Tess and Leo.  We also had the great fortune of spending time with other neighbors in the area; people who go by names like Sal, Marvin, and Gloria and who represent a different time in New York’s culture, a past but very endearing time.

Our friend's country house where we stayed

Our big excitement that weekend was the purchase of a GPS.  We left on our journey with no intent of buying one, but we realized that far too much time was being spent planning routes to little-known places.  That time could be better spent in other pursuits, such as eating, drinking, reading, and bathing.  Erik selected the voice of a man with a British accent who goes by the name Daniel.  Joe was hoping for someone like the Soup Nazi, (“I said turn right!  You turned left!  No route for you!”) but that was apparently not an option.  (Note to Garmin…)

On a hazy day, a pretty, green view in Vermont

After a wonderful extended weekend, on Monday we drove through eastern New York, the northwestern corner of Massachusetts, and settled in for the evening in southwestern Vermont.  Taking the Taconic State Parkway, our drive was very scenic and green.  Although it somewhat resembled the countrysides of Minnesota or Wisconsin, it was the architecture of the houses that was the big difference.  The buildings were more traditionally New England (such as colonial and saltbox styles) and were also taller.  It’s a hard thing to describe, but the difference is noticeable.

Curiously, the national forest campground that Erik selected for our first of four nights camping happened to be closed for the summer.  Very luckily, there was a Vermont state park campground right across the street.  So, in the rain, we unlatched Maggi and settled in among the trees.  Because of the cold and rainy evening, we spent our time perfecting our Rummy skills and making friends with Daniel, who will be very instrumental in our future journeying, as he came equipped with topographical knowledge of Canada and Mexico.

The capital building in Concord

Our drive on Tuesday took us through southern Vermont and New Hampshire.  We took our time and stopped off to check out some views and some sights along the way, admired both the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and even bought some Vermont maple syrup along the way.  We also made a special point of driving through Concord, New Hampshire, exploring along the residential areas and admiring the houses, and had our modest lunch on the lawn on the capital building, which is the oldest in the country.  We arrived at our campsite on the southern coast of Maine, walked through the area to have dinner (lobster rolls and ice cream), and then called it a day at our No Kids Allowed campsite (which also had free showers – bonus!).

A beautiful Maine view

Wednesday we continued through Maine, driving mostly on the coastal highway, Route 1.  The scenery in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine is generally wonderful but there are some peculiarities.  Firstly, since we try to accomplish most of our drive on country highways, we really did not see all that many fast food restaurants.  In fact, if you added up all the fast food restaurants we did see in the past two days – I’m not kidding, I mean ALL – you would still not have one-half the number of Dunkin’ Donuts that we passed.  These things are everywhere.  In addition to Dunkin’ Donuts, there is also a disproportionate number of independently owned pizzerias (always with the owner’s name at the top: Frank’s Pizzeria or Jerry’s Pizza and Pasta), services for pets (like clinics or spas), antique shops (no surprise), small art galleries (nice touch) and signs for moose crossings (no moose were spotted by us – so far).  Many of the small towns are just normal, quaint towns with few chain stores and more small businesses, but some of the “small towns” are tourist hotbeds and their boutiques, candy stores, and ocean-view restaurants probably do great business three months of the year.

Erik at the Rockland lighthouse

The walk to the lighthouse (see it at the end?)

One of our spontaneous stops was to see a lighthouse in Rockland, Maine.  Literally, we saw a sign that said “Lighthouse” with an arrow, so we followed it.  The lighthouse wasn’t tall, but it was at the end of a 4400-foot breakwater made of granite.  The lighthouse itself was not open, but it was still fun to traverse the 5/6 of a mile on huge stone boulders that took 10 years to assemble more than 100 years ago.  After stopping for lunch at a roadside diner (lobster rolls), we arrived at a campground in Sullivan, and our site was about maybe 100 yards from the ocean – although technically it was a bay.

Sunset at our Maine campground

Dinner was at a local place called The Galley, and it was time to get serious.  Enough of the lobster rolls.  For dinner we each had our first real lobster dinner.  The only waitress was an adorable older woman with a great Maine accent (“lobstah”) whose son was the owner of the restaurant AND the lobsterman.  In fact, while we were dining we saw him in his boat (with his dog) checking his traps.  Since we were both newbies, we were offered a brief lesson in how to eat a lobster.  Ours were new shell lobsters as opposed to hard shell.  It was not pretty, we both wore the bibs that were provided, but we were successful and it was fantastic – and amazingly cheap!  Now we understand why people like lobster, and in this case it could not have been fresher – from boat to kitchen.  And as if that weren’t good enough, dessert was homemade blueberry pie, featuring those famous Maine Wild Blueberries, and made by the mother/waitress.  Our exciting day concluded by catching the sunset on the bay before bed.

A view from our campground inside the city of St. John, New Brunswick

On Thursday morning we said “Au revoir” to the United States and finally made ours an international adventure, crossing the border into New Brunswick.  After one night in St. John, we head to Prince Edward Island to begin our next Help Exchange.  More excitement to come!

States visited so far:  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine (16)

Total miles driven:  3895

This entry was posted in U.S. (June - July 2011) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Movin’ on Up(state) and Beyond

  1. Donna Hoffman says:

    Hi Joe and Erik—Got your website from Kathy and Ron(my neighbors) Sounds like a wonderful trip. I spent my honeymoon 52 years ago in Maine and New Hampshire—love that area. Fascinating to follow your travels—sefe journey—donna

  2. BethAnne Nelson says:

    Hey Joe & Erik,

    Thank you so much for keeping us updated on your amazing adventures! It’s been so fun to catch up (now that I’m safely back from AZ [with every intent on returning next year] and have finally found some reliable internet access) on everything you have been doing! I went to college in the Finger Lakes region of NY and spent many a spring break touring around New England. Have some interesting memories in Portsmouth, NH and Eliot, ME (I actually might be banned from entering city limits, but that’s another story for another time)! Also, if you end up in Ware, MA there are some interesting people that work the Dunkin’ Donuts there, again will have to find another time to tell those stories!

    I can’t wait to hear more with all that awaits you! Your blog has been a bright bit of sunshine this summer, always makes me smile when I read it! :) And the vegan in me will refrain from commenting on the eating of sea creatures (did you ever see Little Mermaid? Crustaceans are fabulous musicians!)

    Bienvenue au Canada! Bon voyage!


    • Joe says:

      Hi, BethAnne! We are so glad to hear that you had a productive and safe time in Arizona! Thanks for letting us know. The next time our paths cross, we get those NH and ME stories out of you. Ha!

  3. Erika says:

    One of our running jokes during our eight years in Boston was the futility of using Dunkin’ Donuts as directional tools. “OK, take Cambridge Street to the Dunkin’ Donuts…turn right…go two blocks and turn left at the Dunkin’ Donuts…at the next Dunkin’ Donuts, enter the Jamaicaway…”

  4. Linda L Kidder says:

    Oh gosh – I love Lobster and since tomorrow is my last day of work and we have decisions to make about what we will be doing during our retirement. I have decided a trip to Maine will be in the plans for sure!

  5. Aunt Mary says:

    Hi Joe and Erik~~~~ You two are doing just great, and eating well…Oh, that maple syrup will be so good on your cold cereal or oatmeal… and the lobster, oh my gosh, that I bet, that was so good…Beautiful scenery keep up the safe driving…. Be careful…Love to both…Aunt Mary & Uncle Bill

  6. Wendy says:

    That lobstah meal sounds fantastic!!

  7. Alice Williams says:

    I’m happy for you both that things are going so well. That’s a beautiful sunset.

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