Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vermont/New Hampshire Trip: Preview #1

Normally when we plan a big road trip ("big" meaning a road trip lasting a week or longer), we plan it well in advance, so much so that I usually write a preview of it weeks, sometimes months, in advance. Well...I've been busy. So this trip preview is coming only nine days before we leave!

We're Fall foliage geeks. For example, we planned our entire wedding around being able to enjoy peak foliage during our honeymoon. It takes priority over pretty much everything (even the curling league!). We've made one Fall foliage road trip every year since Amber moved to North Carolina, ranging from day trips to the mountains, to full two week vacations:
- 2007: US-64, Manteo to Murphy
- 2008: Northern Ontario, Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota
- 2009: Watkins Glen and the Adirondacks
- 2010: Quick Blue Ridge Parkway day trip
- 2011: Cherohala Skyway / Great Smoky Mountains

Well, it's getting to be about that time. And after some of our more recent road trips, I think it's time we go somewhere, you know, nice. The last real long non-family road trip we've done was the Alabama trip back in March, and...well, Alabama wasn't terrible, but it wasn't exactly a prime vacation destination. And we didn't do a whole lot of planning beforehand, either, so we just ended up driving around a lot (which when you have a young child, isn't an optimal way to spend a vacation). I think we deserve a real vacation.

So where do we go this year? Here are the four options we considered:
1) Shenandoah National Park (peak foliage: mid-October). We've never been there together, and could make a nice, low key, four day weekend out of it.
2) Vermont / New Hampshire (peak foliage: early October). The impression I have is that Fall in northern New England is better than Fall anywhere else, period. I've always wanted to go here for Fall. Is this the year?
3) Québec (peak foliage: late September). Marla's never been to Canada before. Let's take her there! The Laurentian Mountains north of the St. Lawrence River are supposed to be really nice. And we can visit Quebec City (which I've never been to) while we're there. (By the way, children under 16 only need a birth certificate, not a passport, when crossing the Canadian border by land or sea.)
4) Arkansas (peak foliage: late October). Don't laugh! Arkansas has a lot of mountains, too, and it certainly won't be as crowded as those other places. Not to mention, I haven't been to Arkansas in over 19 years, which is a longer gap than any other state. (To put it another way, I've been to all 49 of the other states since the last time I was in Arkansas. I'm due.)

Basically, it came down to #2 and #3. And once I realized that the only reason we were considering #3 was just because it was Canada, and that there would probably be more for us to do in Vermont/New Hampshire, that pretty much settled it. After all, Vermont is close enough to Québec, we could just drop in one day while we're up there. Vermont/New Hampshire it is!

Typical Chris and Amber road trips feature lots (and lots) of driving, and not a whole lot of staying in one place. In fact, out of all of our non-family road trips (and there have been a lot of them), we have only stayed in the same place for more than two nights in a row TWICE: four nights camping near Asheville, and four nights at a hotel near the Potomac Curling Club.

Well, now that we have a kid, we're going to slow things down a little bit and adjust our usual road trip habits:
- We booked a centrally located private cabin in northern Vermont, near St. Johnsbury, for five nights. It's going to be really nice. I think we got a great deal on it, too! - We used to be able to drive over 900 miles in one day, which would allow us to get to Vermont in just one day. But with Marla, the limit is now between 500 and 600, so we'll be splitting up the drive rather conservatively.
- Once we're in Vermont, in order to prevent us from doing too much driving while we're there, we'll be adhering to the following rule: we must always stay within two hours of our cabin.
- Also, to prevent us from doing too much driving, I'll have lots of potential activities and destinations planned out, so we don't have to drive around aimlessly looking for things.

What is there to do within two hours of St. Johnsbury, Vermont? Quite a bit! We chose that particular location because it's in the middle of everything, and we should have no problem whatsoever filling up our five days in the area, even with our self-imposed two hour rule. I'll go into the details of our "plan" in next week's "Preview #2", but basically, we'll spend one day west of the cabin (Green Mountains / Mount Mansfield), one day south (White River Junction area), one day east (White Mountains / Mount Washington), one day north (Mont-Orford National Park in Québec), and one day in the immediate area. At least, that's the plan. The only activity we're "committed" to is a train ride on one of the days, so we can play it by ear. This is our most ambitious Marla vacation yet, so we don't want to overdo it.

Our trip starts after work on September 28th (a week from Friday), and we'll be gone for a little more than a week, returning the following Saturday. Can't wait!

1 comment:

Adam said...

You'll love that area of Vermont & NH! I need to remember to give you my New England Scenic Drive and Tour Guide books Friday night at curling.