Autumn in New England

We rush out of Albany to get started on exploring New England’s fall colors. I would have enjoyed taking time to walk around the downtown area of Albany; the buildings were super pretty. So I will just need to journey back out here again in the autumn to tour. I also still had in my mind, I need to hurry to get to Maine. However, as soon I as we drive into Vermont, I realize that we need to slow down and enjoy the ride. Vermont and New Hampshire are states that are also worthy of exploring. I’m so glad I made this realization before we sped through these states.

Immediately driving into Vermont, the fall colors came alive. The maple trees lined the highways with magnificent displays of yellow, rusty orange, and deep red. A farm would appear in an opening of these incredible trees. But it’s not just the trees changing color, it’s the bushes growing under the trees and the vines crawling up the trunks.

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One of the recommended must stops of Vermont is the headquarters of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. I do love the taste of ice cream, but it really hates me. So unless I want to be pain, I usually avoid it 😦 But we still made the stop at the headquarters just to see what it was like. This was one of the most crowded stops we’ve made so far on the trip. The visitor center is not very big, which adds to the crowded feeling. Unfortunately, the tour of the headquarters is not for another 50 minutes, we don’t feel like waiting around. If we had stuck for the tour and gotten ice cream to bide the time, we would have been waiting 20 minutes in line just to get ice cream, which was not what either Dad or I wanted to do. So we headed down to Montpelier, the capital of Vermont.

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Hunger drove our first stop in Montpelier, so we went strait to the Three Penny Taproom. This was my kind of pub. They had great beer from the New England region on tap and some of my favorites from California as well. I guess it was looking at all the autumn leaves, but I didn’t feel like beer. I went for a crisp and refreshing apple cider and dad went for an Old Rasputin.  We also had the burger special which was pickled jalapeños and peanut butter. I had expected the peanut butter to be a stronger flavor on the burger, but really all I could do was smell it. The burger was still super flavorful, and I would definitely recommend it.

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After eating, we decided to wander around town, which is not a big town with only 8,000 people. Even though the town is super small, there were a lot of quaint churches in town. I had to wander around and check out the steeples.

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We camped again in Walmart, but this was the first Walmart I’ve seen that was on the banks of the river. We woke up to fog in the morning rising above this gorgeous river, which is not a bad way to start the morning.

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We then headed into New Hampshire to take a few scenic drives around the White Mountains. Originally, I had planned for us to go to the top of Mount Washington, but when we got there, they wanted to charge us $38 to make it to the top, which had an elevation of 6,000 feet. Considering, I grew up in the mountains of Utah and had just gone through Glacier, I wasn’t motivated to spend that kind of money just to go to the top. So we continued on the scenic route to look at all the trees changing color. The drive was absolutely spectacular.

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We make it into Portland, Maine in the early afternoon. First stop, is stop number 2 at FedEx; this time the package is for me. My mom had to send out my unemployment forms for me to complete and send back. But then it was straight down into Old Port to wander the streets and get our first taste of lobster.

Old Port is an older section of the city with lots of restaurants and tourists. It was even more alive than usual since two huge cruise ships had just docked in port. First we head to fish market in hopes of freshly steamed lobster, but the market had partly rotted and fallen into the sea. So they were only selling raw fish, which is all they had room left for. So we continued down the harbor until we reached Portland Lobster Company. This is my first taste of a lobster roll. The bread was buttery and perfect, and the lobster super sweet and tasty. It was a great introduction to the lobster roll.

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Then we wander around the cobblestone streets until we found a cafe for me to work on my blog for a bit. The Bard Cafe was the stop, even though it was sweltering in the cafe. We did arrive in Portland on a record breaking 86 degree day. The cafe did not have fans or windows that opened so it was definitely hot and humid in there. But my cappuccino was very tasty. It was made more third-wave style with a poured heart, and not the crazy dry foam of the Italian style I’d been having else where.

We then headed a bit further south to Saco to camp at the KOA for the evening before we started to head north in the morning.

I had a lot of recommendations from Sandy, who was born and raised in Maine. I basically took her list and followed it. So we headed north on I95 through Augusta and Bangor. It was Sunday, which for not tourist stops I expect to be a bit slower. However, Augusta was dead. As we drove down the main street of shops, there were only 2 people out wandering about, and there were hardly any cars on the road. We quickly head out and continued onto Bangor.

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Bangor, we drove past several churches and some beautiful old homes. This town was definitely more alive than Augusta. We headed downtown and drove through. It was at this moment I realized that my Dad was being impatient and rushing me. I could have spent more time wandering and taking photos, but he didn’t even pull over to park. He just asked how to get out of town. Dad likes the nature parts of the journey, but he has not been as keen on exploring the small towns and cities.

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So we head east towards the coast and cross into Mount Desert. I find a fantastic lobster shop just outside of the town of Bar Harbor. We had our first lobster feast at Bar Harbor Lobster Pound, which was fantastic. The food was great, the prices reasonable, and the service fantastic. This was definitely my favorite of the lobster places we tried.

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Then we drove into Bar Harbor to wander around and grab a beer. Cottage Street Pub was the place to stop and had the best craft cocktails, I’ve had so far on the journey. Tess had created several of the drinks, which were fantastic. This is also where I learned what we explores of autumn in New England are called – Leaf Peepers. I agree this name is absolutely perfect for what we were exploring.

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We headed over to our camp ground in Acadia National Park for an early night, since we were waking at 5 am to enjoy the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the Atlantic sea coast. The sun rise was a recommend to do. Plus I’ve seen several sunsets from the Pacific Ocean; watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean seemed like something I must do.

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We got to the top of Cadillac Mountain by 6:00 am. The sky was already lightening as we were driving. When we got to the top, the ski was already lined in red. We sat there for 45 minutes to watch the sun break over the horizon. As soon as it came up, it went straight into the clouds. This was the only sun we saw for the rest of the day.

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After the sunrise, we both needed coffee because of the early start, so we headed back to Bar Harbor to grab some caffeine. I hung out in the cafe for a while to work on my blog again. Plus it was overcast and cold outside, so it was nice to drink warm cappuccino and relax for a bit.  Then we headed down to the harbor to wander around.

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Finally, I felt energetic enough to go explore Acadia National Park. We took the loop road around the park. The fall colors were absolutely stunning on the drive. The overcast clouds made the colors pop. We pulled out at all the view points, but it was so cold neither of us were up for hiking. We did stop at Thunder Hole, but it wasn’t going off. It seemed like the waves were being knocked down as the storm slowly rolled in.

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We then headed over to the other side of the island for lunch and to see what the rest of island looked like. We went to Thurston Lobster Pound, which was my least favorite lobster stop. I had another lobster roll which was no where as good as the one in Portland. But worse, was halfway through I started to feel sick eating the lobster. I spent the rest of the day not feeling well, and I knew I was lobstered out at that point.

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Even though we didn’t hike, we had explored Acadia pretty thoroughly, so we decided to head south. We camped on Permaquid Point at Sherwood Campground. This campground was my favorite so far. At night, I could tell the dirt path felt really soft as I walked around, but it wasn’t until morning I realized the campground paths were all covered with moss. The entire campground was set into the woods and ferns. It was a super peaceful place to stay.

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The next morning we officially made our turn south and spent the day exploring the lighthouses of Maine. Permaquid Point, Portland Head Lighthouse, and Nubble Lighthouse were all on the itinerary. Even through it was small, my favorite was Permaquid Point, since we could climb to the top and see the light. It is so cool to see these old lighthouses still in use.

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We also stopped at Boothbay for lunch and to wander around the harbor. We stopped at a very flowery and cute cafe, Bridge Street Cafe. After three days of lobster, our egg meals were so satisfying and good. Lobster does not last with you for as long as other meals. I scarfed my egg and sausage wrap so quickly, I didn’t even take the time to take off my camera or purse. Both Dad and I tried to lick the plates before heading out into a cold fall day. Before leaving, we did walk across the bridge on the harbor, which was windy and beautiful.

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Then we continued south through Maine chasing the rest of the lighthouse for the day. We then traversed back into New Hampshire on the coast. For dinner and beer, we met up with another colleague, Scott, who has been giving me tons of great tips for the journey. We met at Portsmouth Brewing Company in downtown Portsmouth. Portsmouth is a very lovely and alive port town. The buildings house many shops and restaurants, and the streets were filled with people enjoying the night.  It was a perfect location for a great brewery. Dinner with Scott and his wife Dorothy was laughter filled evening complemented by great beer! I had the Rye Ale and the Brown Ale. The Rye was on the hoppy side for my taste, but the Brown Ale was smooth and flavorful.

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Dinner with Scott and Dorothy was a great way for us to wrap up our northern New England exploration. A land filled with incredible trees that explore with color in the autumn, small quaint towns that seem to have as many steeples as people, seafood that nets the foodies, and friendly and fun people. I will definitely be back some future autumn to explore again.

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