Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vermont/NH: Day 5 - White River Junction

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(Map key: Point B - Dartmouth College; Point C - Quechee Gorge; Point D - A general store near Sunapee, NH; Point E - arbitrary turnaround point; Point F - White River Junction train station; Point G - the cabin.)

Probably the least interesting day of the trip, if I'm honest. But we can blame the weather for that; the morning was pretty much all wet.

What do you do when it's raining? Go inside! (Or, attempt to hike to the highest point in Vermont, I guess.) We spent 30 minutes at an art museum on the Dartmouth College campus, and a little more time walking around the campus and the adjacent town of Hanover, with umbrella in hand. (Art museums are more Amber's thing, of course.)

Obligatory dumb statistics - Ivy League campuses: By my count, Dartmouth is the second (of eight) Ivy League campus I've been on, the other being the Princeton campus some 20 years ago. (The Princeton visit wasn't as a prospective student, but was because my dad was there grading AP Chemistry tests.) We might have driven by the Cornell campus on this trip, but drive-bys don't count in this case. I haven't toured a whole lot of college campuses, but from what I've seen, college campuses in the Northeast have to be the most scenic ones out there. Everyone else is just copying the campus feel that you get at a small northern college, right? (And for the most part, the colleges up here were certainly "first".)

A break in the rain. Quick! Let's go to Quechee Gorge while we can!

On a nicer day, we would have spent more time here, and perhaps actually walked down into the gorge. But not today; instead, we just took a quick peak from the bridge.

It started raining again, so we drove back into New Hampshire and hung out on the porch of a general store for a little while. That was actually kind of nice. The Fudge Round was nice, too.

After that, it was Marla's nap time, so we gave Marla a nice long car nap by driving down I-89 until an arbitrary turnaround point, and then back to Vermont. (Well, the turnaround point wasn't completely arbitrary, because we had a 2:30 train to catch. Otherwise, we may have gone all the way to Concord.)

Obligatory dumb statistics - interstate mileage: I really like the interstates up here in interior Vermont and New Hampshire. They're scenic, and they don't have much traffic to speak of. If we had time - and if it was practical - I would have driven every mile of them! Instead, we only drove about a third of I-89 (65/191 miles) and a quarter of I-93 (40/143 miles in Vermont/NH). But we did drive the entire length of I-91 throughout the week, all the way from the Quebec border down to New Haven, Connecticut*, making it my 14th completed interstate, and the 6th that I've finished off just this year. (* - Disclaimer: I-91 is not as much fun in Connecticut.)

Obligatory dumb statistics - counties visited: Another benefit of that Marla nap drive down I-89: two additional counties! I now have 6 out of 10 in New Hampshire, combined with 13 out of 14 in Vermont. (Despite spending almost a whole week up there, we actually only visited 9 of Vermont's 14 counties; however, I had previously visited 4 of the other 5.)

And, finally...train ride!

The train we took in Skagway, Alaska was great, and we figured Marla would enjoy the fact that a train ride does not require you to be restrained in a car seat. Scenery, plus a happy Marla! Win-win!

The train ride was okay, but fell short of expectations. For one, the route was kind of boring. I thought the train would take us into the mountains or something, but instead it just paralleled US-5 most of the way. (That's my fault for poor planning.) And because of that, the foliage we saw on the train was short of peak; while the mountains of northern Vermont were at peak that week, the river valleys farther south (which is where this was) were still up to two weeks short of peak. So, the moral of the story is this: if you're going to take a train ride, you may want to research where the ride actually goes.

Tomorrow: Marla's first trip to Canada!

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