Monday, October 08, 2012

Vermont/NH Trip: General Thoughts

Our trip up to Vermont and New Hampshire was great! We came to see fall foliage, and that, we did. We timed it perfectly: we were there right at peak foliage (confirmed by local news reports). Hands down, it was the best fall foliage I've ever seen. And we've seen a lot! Northern New England's reputation as the place to go in the Fall is well deserved.

Amber agreed with me...for the most part. She says that the foliage we saw around Lake Superior (in both Wisconsin and Northern Ontario) and was just as bright and colorful. Looking back, I think she's right...but the difference is the terrain. Northern New England has mountains, and that gives you some really nice views. The Great Lakes are more rugged than you might think, especially up towards Lake Superior, but it's not the same. Most of the time, up there, you don't have a nice view; instead, all you see are the trees on either side of you. For my money, northern New England is the place to be this time of year.

(Speaking of which, I'm introducing a new post tag, "fall foliage". It's basically a subset of the "road trips" tag, except that it only includes fall foliage-related trips. I've decided to use that tag in lieu of a new tag specific to this trip.)

You can go pretty much anywhere in Vermont this time of year and get some very nice scenery. For example, this is the view we had from the front porch of the cabin where we stayed for five nights:


That view did not get old. Leaving it behind to head back home was pretty hard. But the thing is, this is the kind of thing you get all across the entire state! Although I should note that southern Vermont and the Connecticut River valley won't see peak foliage until likely this week; we spent most of our trip in northern Vermont, which is where our cabin was located. (Specifically, the cabin was near the town of East Ryegate, a few miles south of St. Johnsbury.)

A little more about the cabin, which did have electricity, heat, and a full kitchen (in other words, it wasn't a "rustic" cabin). Given the challenges associated with staying in hotels these days (see below), we wanted a reasonably priced cabin, or rental house, or something along those lines that a) would give Marla her own room to sleep in, and b) was in the middle of "nature", I guess. This couldn't have worked out better. The only real "issue" we had was just getting there. Driving to the cabin required about 10 minutes each way on a narrow gravel road with some very steep grades. My car wasn't really designed for that sort of thing, but that's the price you pay for staying in "nature".


There was a journal inside the cabin where everyone who had stayed there before wrote a little note talking about how great a time they had during their stay. The people before us said that they saw a moose! We didn't, of course, because that's how it usually goes for us. But I imagine that most people who come here probably do more "staying" than we did. We were gone between 8 and 5 most every day we were up there, which didn't leave too many remaining daylight hours to see moose. And we usually had other concerns while in the cabin (i.e. watching Marla). In hindsight, taking one day to just stay at the cabin and not go anywhere at all might have been a nice idea.

Hotels are proving to be quite challenging these days. Marla won't go to sleep unless she has her own room, or if we all go to sleep at the same time (not ideal given that her usual bedtime is at 7). Even "suites" don't always work out, because they often don't have doors between the different sections of the room. They just have a divider, which is better than nothing, but, still. Packing up is also a much more laborious process than it used to be; it takes over an hour to pack everything up in the morning. And that's even if we skip breakfast! So, I think the long stay in one location, in a place that gives Marla her own room, is a pretty good road trip model for the short term. Drive somewhere, stay there for several consecutive nights, tour the area, drive home. Then again, our next such trip probably won't happen until Marla is approaching two years old. Who knows how different things will be then?

How was the weather in Vermont? Well...it could have been better. Tuesday, which we spent in New Hampshire, was warm and sunny. Our other four days, however...they all featured some rain, but at least none of those four days were complete washouts, I guess. Usually, the rain was light and intermittent, and was only an issue in either the morning or the afternoon, not both. The rain forced us to cut short at least two planned hikes, but I still feel like we got our fill of outdoor activity while we were up there. (Well, almost. I kind of wish we were there today.) And it was also quite warm, often reaching 70°F each day; that's good, because a 70° light rain is a lot better than a 40° light rain. So, pretty much every picture we're going to show from our trip, except for the New Hampshire pictures, will be against a gray backdrop.

And, yeah, I'm also going to talk statistics. By the Numbers is kind of a mess, so instead, I'll try to wade through the muck of my stat-keeping with an "obligatory dumb statistics" section at the bottom of each of my daily recaps. For example...

Obligatory dumb statistics - restaurant serving times: Our cabin had a full kitchen, so we took advantage of that and cooked our own meals three of the five nights we were there. That means we only went out to eat four times throughout our trip, and none of those four restaurants posted a statistically interesting serving time: all four were between 10 and 20 minutes. Boring. Not that I'm complaning - anything under 20, and I'm happy, especially when you have a hungry kid. But, statistically speaking, it's boring. By comparison, the Alaska trip produced both the fastest and the slowest serving times of the year that year.

Obligatory dumb statistics - gasoline: We spent about $300 on gas throughout the trip. By comparison, we spent "only" $800 on gas when we drove to Alaska, even though that trip had over three times the driving (10,000 miles compared to 2,800). Of course, gas was about $1 per gallon cheaper back when we made the Alaska trip (2010) compared to now; if we had made the Alaska trip now, we would have had to spend an extra $250 on gas. And that doesn't even consider the current US-Canada exchange rate, which is also less favorable now, at least for Americans. (More on that when I cover the Québec day.)

I'll post some of my pictures here on the blog, but I'll also post links to Amber's photo albums (which no doubt will be better) when they're ready. Enjoy!

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