New England is steeped in history and known for its amazing fall foliage, and on this vacation you'll have a chance to experience the spectacular beauty and historic places. A couple of living history museums will show you what life was like in New England's past, including a living museum simulating life in a 1800s New England coastal village, a living history museum of Vermont's rural past, and a living history museum showcasing 19th-century New England, and a visit to Cornelius Vanderbilt's mansion gives you a taste for life in a bygone era.
History is not all you experience on this tour. See spectacular beauty and amazing fall foliage. In Maine, visit Acadia National Park, one of America's most visited national parks, and take a carriage ride. In New Hampshire, travel to the scenic White Mountains, New England's greatest range and premier outdoor playground, and enjoy the Raven Interpretive Program. Throughout your tour, marvel at the scenic drives and stunning fall colors full of blazing red, orange, and yellow leaves (if Mother Nature permits).
I'll stay a couple of days after the regular tour to see friends.
Day 1, Monday, Oct 7 Arrive in Boston
Although Tropical Storm Karen "went the other way," The forecast was that I would be flying into a winter storm front with lots of cool/cold rain when I get to Boston. However, as they often are, the weather guessperts were wrong - windy but that was all. With a mid-day flight, I scheduled the StuporShuttle pickup at a reasonable 8:10AM and for the flight, I upgraded the seats to Economy Plus. Thanks to clearer than expected weather, the flight went smoothly and was on time.
United UA 1295
Houston - Boston
11:10 A - 4:00 P
At least it is a direct flight this time. Welcome to "Bean Town!" The weather forecast says 50-60% chance of storms today and tonight, and 60% (or more) tomorrow but was wrong. Temperatures are forecast to range from 58 - 74.
On arrival, the first of the bad news - the baggage handlers ruined my suitcase by bending the pull-up handle so that it wouldn't come up/out. It was hard to move around and I had one of the hotel engineers use a pry-bar and hammer to get it to extend - but now it won't go back. I'll have to buy a new suitcase on the trip.
Glowbutt provides a shuttle voucher to the hotel ($16). I made it to the hotel about 4:45PM. At 6 pm, meet our traveling companions for a welcome drunk but no dinner. There are 44 head of cattle on the trip; our tour director is Hillary and our driver is Joann. Our Tour Director prepares us for our upcoming mis-adventure - with lots of bad news regarding Acadia.
Only one optional excursion is currently listed on the Globutt web page, a Nature Cruise in Arcadia National Park.
Day 2, Tuesday, Oct 8 Boston - Portland - Bar Harbor We do not have any local (Boston) tour. It's just "get out of town" time. At least the weatherman is wrong again: we have beautiful weather today. After a very nice breakfast, we start at 7:30; from Massachusetts, we head north via New Hampshire's short shoreline and along Maine's rocky coast taking many of the local roads rather than the main highways. Thus we get to see lots more of the interesting small towns. We eventually get to Portland, (ho hum) one of New England's most famous cities. Stroll down the cobblestone streets of Portland's famous Old Port Exchange, lined with its many boutiques, coffee houses, and art galleries. This is also our lunch stop. There is a short stop in Camden, then we also make a (replacement) stop at Mt. Battie which will give us some nice views of the coast - which we won't see tomorrow. The next two nights are in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine's oldest summer resort. Our dinner is (not for me) a typical (HORRORS!!) (not) a typical LOBSTER BAKE featuring Maine lobster and steamed mussels. YUCK! One bit of good news - there is a grilled steak option which turned out to be better than a hamburger patty but was very dry and tough = very poor dinner. Only the "corn on the cob" was good. (BD) HOTEL: Bluenose Inn (SF) 2 nights
Day 3, Wednesday, Oct 9 Bar Harbor - Excursion to Acadia National Park
Nowhere along the Atlantic Seaboard is the rock-bound coast as picturesque as in ACADIA NATIONAL PARK one of America's most visited national parks. This was supposed to be THE HIGHLIGHT of the trip - I've never been there - if it is not a casualty of the Government Shut-Down, However thanks to Presidunce Nobama and his cronies, all the National Parks are closed so everything scheduled for today is cancelled.
Take the scenic park road and enjoy the spectacular panorama from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the first place in the continental United States to see the sunrise. Afternoon is at leisure. Maybe join an optional whale-watching expedition or stroll around the charming Bar Harbor waterfront. This evening, enjoy a short CARRIAGE RIDE along the world-famous carriage roads in Acadia National Park, as designed and built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. We are then treated to dinner at the historic Jordan Pond House, located inside the park).
NATURE CRUISE: Board the Acadian for a cruise in the protected waters of Frenchman Bay, off Bar Harbor, Maine. This leisurely nature cruise follows the unspoiled shores of the rocky Maine coastline and navigates through the many tiny islands dotting the bay. Trip is fully narrated by naturalists onboard and lasts approximately 2 hours.$29 (yes)
INSTEAD: We have a very late start today - the hotel staff doesn't serve us our breakfast until almost lunch time - 7:45. At least it is fairly good. Rather than having the very scenic drive through the park and along the shore, we drive along some other (public) roads in the area to get a bit of a view of the interior of the island - not seeing any of the supposedly great Maine coastal views.Our tour director even got a ticket from the Park Service for leading some of us on a walk down a carriage path into the park to see a lake - even though the coach was parked out on a public road. We have lunch, on our own of course, in Bar Harbor and then the afternoon is free to wander the town until we go back to the hotel to wander around the hotel grounds. It's not what I was looking forward to seeing, but was better than I had expected after Presidunce NoBama shut the parks down. There still isn't much fall color to be seen. Dinner tonight is at the hotel.
Tomorrow when we get to North Conway, there is an outlet mall (many shops) adjacent to the hotel. I should be able to get my new suitcase.(BD)
Day 4, Thursday, Oct 10 Bar Harbor - North Conway
We leave at 8 for what is basically a driving day - with overcast in the morning and partial clearing in the afternoon We head back to the mainland and through Maine for minimal vistas of sparkling lakes and normal forests. Then, on to New Hampshire and the scenic White Mountains, New England's greatest range with quite a bit more color. Presidunce NoBama strikes again - one of our "rest stops" is in a National Forest - but the facilities are closed and locked. We make two photo stops: a) a very nice lake view with the mountains behind it, and also at one of the nice old covered bridges. Later enjoy an absolutely excellent RAVEN INTERPRETIVE PROGRAM focusing on the unique environs of northern New England and local wildlife. I did find a new suitcase, on sale, in the outlet mall adjacent to the hotel. (B) HOTEL: North Conway Grand (F)
Day 5, Friday, Oct 11 North Conway - Dartmouth - Woodstock - Ludlow
Depart at 7:45 for a beautiful drive through Franconia Notch with heavy overcast but nice colors (improving since we are in the White Mountains) and along the renowned Kancamagus Highway. We do make a couple of very nice scenic photo stops along the way. Lunch is in an interesting little town: Bath. But after that, it's almost all repeat. Hugging the Connecticut River, we head south to Hanover to see the Dartmouth College campus (been there twice before), one of the nation's eight prestigious Ivy League institutions. Cross the river into Vermont and visit Woodstock (my 5th or 6th visit there), its village green reminiscent of 19th-century England. Next, visit BILLINGS FARM & MUSEUM (I thought I hadn't been here before but I have), a staged, sorta boring, living (??) museum of Vermont's rural past as well as a working (??) dairy farm. We have a boo-fet dinner (VERY Boo! at the hotel in Ludlow (if I can manage the ½ mile walk from my room to the dining area). I settled for a soda from the slot machines and some crackers. (BD) HOTEL: Jackson Gore Inn (SF)
Day 6, Saturday, Oct 12 Ludlow - Stockbridge - Sturbridge
The day starts out nice enough - cooler and a bit cloudy, but not bad. There is a report that a Trafalgar Tour coach had a 5-6 hour breakdown on the highway we were travelling yesterday. I'm glad it wasn't us.
We journey south to Stockbridge in the Berkshire Mountains for a (HIGHLIGHT!!) visit to the NORMAN ROCKWELL STUDIO & MUSEUM, which houses a large collection of works by one of America's favorite artists. This is indeed a highlight visit. After the museum, we stop for a few minutes in the town before heading further south in worsening weather - now totally overcast, gray, gloomy, and turning cooler - almost cold. Continue on to Sturbridge, one of New England's most charming towns.
We (?) enjoy dinner at the Colonial Salem Cross Inn, which if they charged Globus a nickel each, then they overcharged by at least a quarter. Rain tonight; tomorrow? (BD) HOTEL: Sturbridge Host Hotel (F) 2 nights
Day 7, Sunday, Oct 13 Sturbridge - Mystic Seaport - Newport
Although we are leaving the fall colors area, we have two very nice but very short-changed visits today. This morning we visit STURBRIDGE VILLAGE (another highlight stop but we are there for only a bit over 2 hours) to explore early New England in the company of farmers, craftsmen, and fascinating characters at this 19th-century living history museum. Head south to explore MYSTIC SEAPORT which gives us two very limited specials in one day. It is a living museum showcasing the many activities that might have been found in a New England coastal village in the 1800s. We're very short changed here: less than 1 ½ hours. I could easily have stayed at least a couple of hours more at each of the stops. BAH! HUMBUG!
Next, travel to Rhode Island, the "Ocean State," for a couple of boring nights in a hotel in Never-again-port. No dinner is included tonight and, this being Newport, all the local eateries are very $$$$. (B) HOTEL: Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina (F) 2 nights
Day 8, Monday, Oct 14 Never-again-Port
Today, I won't enjoy another (I've been here before) boring Newport orientation tour and see the first state house, the nation's oldest synagogue, and the city's oldest meeting house and library. (Don't) explore the extravagant lifestyle of a bygone era when visiting THE BREAKERS, shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt's turn-of-the-century mansion. Ho-Hum! Boring!!
In fact, I'll skip it all and just take the local on-and-off (or 90 minutes non-stop) sight-seeing shuttle - at least that was the idea. When I get down to the Visitor's Center at 9 (first tour is at 10), there is already a line for tickets, possibly since a) it is a holiday weekend, b) a cruise ship is in port, and c) they have a discounted price on Mondays. This looks good and the weather is pretty, but then I see the very small busses (coaches) they use which are VERY cramped. Also since they are enclosed, any pictures would have to be taken through all the glare and reflections in the window glass and that's a hopeless cause. So I decide to skip even the short tour and just walk around the area to see the shops with the overpriced tourist junk. Any of the better merchandise is hopelessly out of my range.
After another $$$ snack for lunch ($18 for soup, sandwich and soda), our afternoon is free for exploring and/or more boredom. Essentially, for me at least, this is a totally wasted day.
This evening, we have a special (???) farewell dinner at a local "greasy spoon," the "Moorings." I hope that it is better than the usual "Farewell" dinner but it wasn't - not awful but very poor. (BD)
Day 9, Tuesday, Oct 15 Newport - Boston - Depart
Depart this morning for Boston. Our very super-brief tour (less than the usual quickie) of the city's landmarks with a Local Guide focuses on the city's most prominent landmarks, including the historic sites near Boston Common; Old State House; Old North Church, from where Paul Revere got the signal to start his famous ride; Freedom Trail; and Faneuil Hall, with an exceptionally short opportunity to browse through Quincy Market. Depart this morning for Boston. Our very super-brief tour (even less than the usual quickie) of the city's landmarks with a Local Guide focuses on the city's most prominent landmarks, including the historic sites near Boston Common; Old State House; Old North Church, from where Paul Revere got the signal to start his famous ride; Freedom Trail; and Faneuil Hall, with an opportunity to browse through Quincy Market - maybe including something for lunch.
After a transfer to the airport for guests who have homebound flights, (or staying in the area), probably arriving about 2:15. I'll get off there and take the Logan Express bus out to Framingham where my friend will pick me up. A round-trip ticket is cheap.(B)
Day 10-11, Wednesday-Thursday, Oct 16-17 Visit Friends
This is a couple of very nice days for a great visit with friends. The last time I saw them was on a quick up-and-back drive in October 16-19, 2008 - almost exactly 5 years ago. The weather continues to be very good and the colors here are good also.
Day 12, Friday, Oct 18 Depart
I'll take the 1:30 "Logan Express" from Framingham to the airport at 1:30 for only $10. I'm taking this fairly late flight home to make it easier to get to the airport. The flight takes off on time, but we have a 125mph headwind and also there is fairly rough (wind and rain) weather in Houston so we are about 35 minutes late getting into the airport.
United UA 1644
Boston - Houston
4:53 P - 8:05 P 4:53 P - 8:40 P
I was hoping to be home by about 9:30PM but thanks to the longer flight and rain in Houston, it's not to be. I finally get home at 10:35 in fairly heavy rain.
Overall, however, it has been a great trip: excellent weather, nice colors, and a wonderful visit with friends. I'm looking forward to a semi-repeat (different tour company) in about 2016.
Day 2 Bar Harbor - Lobster / or fossilized shoe leather - awful
Day 3 North Conway - Hotel - very good
Day 5 Ludlow - Hotel - skipped
Day 6 Sturbridge - Salem Cross Inn (prime rib) - inedible
Day 8 Never-Again-Port - The Moorings - not awful but very poor
So out of 5 included dinners, only one was good.