Fall Colors Travel Notes

October 6 – Tuesday

Departed home at 5:30am, picked up Bob and Susie at 5:45am, drove to LAX.  Arrived at 6:30, parked at Valet Autopark, through Security at a little after 7:00.  Had breakfast at Wolgang Puck’s, and bought salads for lunch on the plane.

United 162 departed LAX at about 8:32am, and landed at Logan at 4:15pm, about 45 minutes ahead of schedule.  Flight was uneventful – we had aisle seats in Economy Plus – but there was very little overhead bin space by the time they let us on, and the space under the aisle seat would not accommodate John’s computer case. Fortunately, the middle seat was open next to John, so the bag went there.  It was the only open middle seat in Economy Plus.  Need to complain to United about the inadequate space under the aisle seats.

Picked up a Chevy Tahoe from National Rentals, and drove up Highway 1, US 95 to Portsmouth, arriving at the Courtyard by Marriott about 6:30pm.   Left for dinner at the Portsmouth Gas Light Company – nice dinner – battered lobster tail, with chocolate mousse cake for desert.


October 7 – Wednesday

Departed Portsmouth about 10:30am, in the rain.  Drove up and around the west side of Lake Winnipesaukee, enjoying the view.  Sometimes in rain, sometimes in bright sun.  Had soup and sandwich for lunch in Meredith, then continued on scenic highway around west end of Squam Lake, then over to Conway.  During the drive to Conway it rained and blew pretty hard – at times we were driving in both a rain and leaf blizzard – very pretty.  Stopped at a view point in North Conway to view the valley and get an orientation of the area, then drove the rest of the way to Jackson and the Dana Point Inn. Arrived about 5:00pm.  We were in room 15, Bob and Susie were in room 5. Nice rooms in a converted farm house – lots of rooms.  There is a river running strongly out the back, and beautiful fall colors everywhere you look.  We are certainly here at the right time. 


We had dinner at the Red Fox – barbecue pulled pork – very tasty.


October 8 – Thursday

Today it was supposed to be sunny, and tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, so we decided to drive north and east on several scenic highways.  We started out heading north through Pinkham Notch past Mt. Washington on Highway 16 to Gorham, then north all the way to Errol, then west into Maine on Highway 26 through Grafton Notch, then down to Bethel, and back to Gorham and our B&B.  The drive was almost entirely 2 lane highways, mostly following along rivers, both Bear Creek (through Grafton Notch), and the Androscoggin River (from Errol on the north to Bethel on the west).  The hills are alive with color, mostly bright yellows now, with some reds showing.  The hills seem to change and become more colorful as we watch them.  Our return path covered parts of Highway 16 that we drove during the morning, and the hills looked even more colored this afternoon on our return drive than they did on the outbound leg.  While it was supposed to be sunny, it was actually cloudy most of the day, with some mist but no real rain. The overcast seems to brighten the contrasts between the reds, yellows and greens.  We did get some bright sunlight a few times, and the hills were brilliant.  Today we drove about 130 miles, and we were all tired. We had lunch in Errol, and some ice cream in Gorham on our return trip.  A beautiful drive and a very pleasant day.

We had dinner tonight at the Red Parka Pub in Glen.  Nice pepper steak dinner.

According to the Weather Channel’s Fall Foliage Map, we are now right in the middle of the peak viewing area!  What good timing.


October 9 – Friday

The weather report said it was supposed to rain today, but we decided to chance it and drive over toward the Mt. Washington Hotel.  The drive was very pleasant, and the foliage was spectacular.  We had been seeing lots of yellows and oranges, but not much in the way of red leaves, but on this drive, the sides of the mountains were full of red.  We drove up Highway 302 past the town of Bartlett, and through Crawford Notch State Park.  This is a steep, narrow pass, with a couple of pretty waterfalls, the Silver Cascade and the Flume Cascade at the top.  On the north side, we were into the White Mountains area, and near Mt. Washington.  

We stopped at the Mt. Washington Hotel, a turn-of-the-century hotel and host of the Bretton Woods Conference, also known as the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, where the International Monetary Fund was created in 1944.  We walked the grounds, which have a great view of the west face of Mt. Washington, and had lunch in Stickney’s Pub.  Then we drove to the west end (the lower end) of the Mt. Washington Cog Railway, and toured the Museum.  The mountain was completely shrouded in clouds, and it had snowed on the top the night before, so we decided against taking the 3 hour round trip ride up the Cog Railway.

Returning to the Dana Place Inn, we snacked on cheese, crackers and some delicious apple cider before going to the Thompson House Eatery for dinner.  We finished the evening with an inconclusive round of bridge – we played 10 hands and each had one game to show for it.  We’ll finish tomorrow.


October 10 – Saturday

Today was our shopping day.  We didn’t realize until we got here that this was the biggest weekend of the Fall season for the area – for two reasons – the fall colors, and the three day Columbus Day weekend.  But neither the heavy visitor traffic nor the weather (it was spitting rain all morning) detered our hardy shoppers.  First we stopped at the Wooden Soldier Outlet Store – for those who don’t know, the Wooden Soldier is a catalog store of wonderful clothes for children.  After shopping that store, we headed directly to the main store (in North Conway) of the Wooden Soldier – a quaint collection of buildings in what appeared to be an old cold storage locker.   Susie and Nancy came away with some treasures from those two stores.


We had lunch across the street at Hooligans – hot soups this time of year are really tasty.  Next we stopped for fruit at the local grocery store, then taking the back roads through North Conway (because traffic was bumper to bumper all the way through the approximately five miles of Conway and North Conway), we wandered our way to the Hartmann Model Railroad Museum.  We wandered through the museum for about an hour, and visited with Yogi Hartmann, the creator of the museum, swapping stories about our (Bob’s, John’s and Yogi’s) youths playing with model trains.


Back at the Dana Place Inn, we had some cheese, crackers and great apple cider, then we resumed our bridge game, and we finally finished the rubber, but the next rubber started poorly, with two set contracts.  We had an 8:15pm dinner reservation at the Thompson House Eatery, which we enjoyed even more the second night.


October 11 – Sunday


This was departure day from New Hampshire, and probably the prettiest drive of the week, as we drove from Conway to Lincoln (NH) across the Kancamagus Highway.  The highway winds its way through a lovely valley alongside the Swift River, and everywhere there were yellows, oranges, reds and even greens in the trees.  Not much sun this day, but when it did come out, it was spectacular.


We stopped for lunch at the Lumberyard Café in Lincoln a little after 1pm, and after perusing the menu and making our selections, we determined first that they had only one cup of hot chocolate left (that went to Bob), and one plate of their special ranch chicken wrap (that went to Bob also).  A few minutes later, at the table next to us, we learned that they were also out of chicken (fortunately both Bob and John had their chicken wraps – John had a BBQ chicken wrap), and white bread.  Fortunately, the Café only serves breakfast and lunch, otherwise who knows what they might have had left for dinner.


Departing Lincoln, we headed up toward Franconia Notch. We stopped at the parking area for the Flume, a deep crevasse that the river runs through, but the line to get onto the shuttle bus to view the Flume stretched all the way out of the Visitor’s Center, and we judged that we would need a couple of hours to view that attraction, so we passed and continued up the highway.   After cresting the Notch, the scenery turned a little more bleak, as many of the trees were without leaves on the northwest side of the notch.  Continuing our drive toward Shelburne, we passed through Montpelier, the capitol.  The scenery west of Montpelier was much prettier, with more leaves on the trees, and many that had not yet started turning.  We arrived at the Barnhouse B&B a little after 5pm.


We had dinner at Chef Leu’s Chinese Restaurant in Shelburne, and then went to Friendly’s for ice cream before returning to the B&B for more bridge.


October 12 – Monday


The day dawned sunny, and we had a wonderful breakfast at the Barnhouse B&B, and then headed to Middleburg to see Middleburg College, where Bob’s sister went to school for one year, then on to Ft. Ticonderoga (New York).  To get there, we took the Fort Ti Cable Ferry.  The fort has been restored nicely, and was fun to visit.  We had soup and sandwiches at the Visitor Center, then drove up the New York side to the Lake Champlain bridge, and back to Shelburne.  The drive down was in sunlight, and the foothills were bright with color.


We enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant about 2 miles from our B&B, the Bistro Sauce. Very tasty meals.


October 13 – Tuesday


It rained during the night, and was raining when we got up.  this was our day for a lunch cruise on Lake Champlain, but before we left, John and Bob got a tour of Paul’s workshop, which was the hay barn behind the main barn which is now the B&B.  The walls are simple vertical planks, and after about 150 years, there are some gaps in the walls, which seemed to let the 40 degree weather right into the shop.  Paul makes crafts for the local Farmers’ Market (every Saturday during season), including cutting boards, serving trays, all manner of fanciful baskets, and strings of wooden fish (some whole, some filleted.  


After the shop tour, we headed into downtown Burlington to find the Spirit of Ethan Allen, our luncheon cruise ship.  Today was the day chosen for the construction crew to demolish the entryway to the cruise ship, and their equipment was blocking the main entrance to the parking lot - so we had a bit of a time finding an alternate entrance.  We were glad to get on board, as it was spitting rain, and the temperature was about 45 degrees.  Lunch was nice, and there was a narration throughout the 90 minute cruise.  The rain and low clouds made it difficult to see very far along what is the largest lake in North America after the Great Lakes.


After returning to the dock, we drove down to the Shelburn Museum.  Our first stop was the Print Shop, then on to the weaving center, where we enjoyed a wonderful description of how their Jacquard Mill worked.  The Jacquard Mill originated the punch card, and dramatically altered the weaving industry.  After touring the Toy Shop and a display of dolls, dishes, and automatons, we headed for home, as it was quite cold.  On the way out of the museum grounds, we were treated with a beautiful rainbow that lasted until we got to the B&B.  There’s a photo of the rainbow taken from the driveway of the B&B showing a full rainbow (both ends).


We went to dinner at Pauline’s Café, on Highway 7 north of Shelburn, and enjoyed a very tasty dinner.


October 14 – Wednesday


It rained again last night, and was about 40 degrees when we got up this morning.  After a delicious breakfast (Phyllis is a very good cook), we headed back to the Shelburn Museum to view the Impressionist paintings, and the Tiffany display.  Arriving at the Museum, the light rain turned to SNOW!  Ok, it was a very light snow, and it melted pretty quickly, but it was SNOW!  The cold discouraged us from visiting any of the unheated display areas.   So after seeing both the art displays (which were both heated), plus a visit to the gift shop, we went to Harrigan’s for lunch.  Great soups and sandwiches, and right across the road from the Museum. 


Next, we drove to the Shelburn Farm, which is a 1400 acre demonstration farm on the edge of Lake Champlain.   Because it was so cold, we drove the grounds and took a few pictures, but didn’t go into any of the displays.  Then we drove to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory and toured the store.  We had planned to tour the factory, but somehow the tour we were to be on didn’t get announced, and we missed it (along with several other folks).  After waiting about 45 minutes for the tour to start (it was due to start in 15 minutes), we got our tour fee returned and headed for our B&B for some relaxation.