A walk in the woods

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Oct 092012

Although we did a lot of walking in NYC and Boston, we haven’t done much since then. A hike was definitely in order.

When we were planning this trip, part of our inspiration for the New England part of the trip came from our love of the Bill Bryson book “A Walk in the Woods.” If you aren’t familiar with it, Bill and a friend decide to walk (part of) the Appalachian Trail. It’s typical Bill Bryson exaggeration and hilarity.

The trail just happens to pass through the Green Mountains in Vermont, right near where we’re staying in Manchester. After a rather unhelpful (but friendly) discussion with the lady in the local Chamber of Commerce, we got some useful advice from the Ranger at the US Forestry Service.

So at around 11am we set out to do the Little Rock Pond/Green Mountain Loop.

The hike is a 6.5 mile loop, out to the lovely Little Rock Pond along a portion of the Appalachian trail, and then looping back on the other side of the mountains. It is classified as ‘moderate-difficult’ although the ranger seemed to think it was quite easy.

We’re not seasoned hikers, so we definitely found it to be at the more difficult end of the spectrum. To give you some perspective, here is a picture of one portion of the trail.

It was challenging, but definitely worth it – this is a beautiful part of the world.

More photos from Vermont.

Live Free or Die

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Oct 072012

Leaving the Cape we headed north, along with half the population of New England. It was Columbus Day long weekend and the good folks of America were heading to the mountains for a spot of leaf peeping. White Mountain is toward the north of the ultra-conservative state, New Hampshire. Here the folks take their ‘Live free or die’ motto quite literally, you don’t have to wear a seatbelt or a motorcycle helmet…

Anyhow back to the leaves. We stayed at Campton, West Campton in fact – I think there are just two addresses in West Campton. The Kancamagus Highway spans the White Mountain National Forest and is a most beautiful drive especially in the Fall. There are many places and walks to stop at along the way – if you can get a parking space!

You can peep at more photos here.

On the Cape

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Oct 052012

I don’t know about you, but I associate Cape Cod with mansions and celebrities and beach style. And those associations are all true – particularly when you go to a smaller town called Chatham – mansions and resorts galore.

However, the Cape is much bigger than Julian or I anticipated. We drove to the farthest tip (Provincetown) and it took us over an hour from Yarmouth Port (which is already halfway out on the Cape). It was almost sunny when we left, but right out on the tip it was foggy. We stopped at the National Seashore on the tip and gazed out at the view…all 2 metres of it that we could see. Doesn’t appear to deter the sunbathers however, they were out with the deck chairs, soaking up the…atmosphere?

We enjoyed dinner at the Old Yarmouth Inn one night, and Julian indulged in a whole lobster, stuffed with prawns (shrimp) and scallops. Amazingly, that only cost $42 for the whole thing!

We pulled over on the side of the road, and walked down to a cranberry farm. Cranberries are grown in a bog, which is then flooded and the fields agitated to harvest the cranberries. They simply float to the top of the water, you scoop them up, and empty the field.

We also arrived at the Fish Pier in Chatham just in time to see a boat clearing the decks before heading back out. Not so exciting you’d think, but the local sea lions are familiar with the routine, and swim around the boat waiting for scraps. They are enormous, not afraid to look right at you, and seem to spend a large portion of time floating on their backs with only their noses popping up for air occasionally.

Sandwich is a sweet little town, with gorgeous Cape Cod houses, a cute little boardwalk. It seems you can purchase naming rights for each plank of the boardwalk, and virtually all of them are carved with the names of couples, tributes to lost family members, and even what appeared to be business names.

I can certainly see the appeal of the Cape, particularly in warmer weather. Its big limitation is that there are essentially only two roads in – and everyone in the local area and nearby Boston goes to the Cape for summer holidays.


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Oct 032012

Harvard University, in Cambridge just west of Boston, is the oldest in the US, established in 1636. We joined a tour led by one of the students who gave us some insight into the history of Havard.

It was an enjoyable tour, we learnt much trivia (or campus legends?) including which famous graduates (past presidents, Tommy Lee Jones, Portman) or non-graduates (Damon, Zuckerberg) stayed in which dorms. Did you know the John Harvard (the University’s first benefactor) statue is not actually a likeness of him but rather of a 19th-century student?

Some more photos from Boston are here.

 Posted by at 4:28 pm

The Freedom Trail

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Oct 022012

The Freedom Trail in Boston is a walking trail that links 16 various historical landmarks and sights.
After a late start we caught the subway then a ferry to our first stop, the USS Constitution, built in Boston in 1797 and still in commission!

The Bunker Hill Monument commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill, where in 1775 the American colonists faced the British (and lost).

After lunch at Figs, the rain started to fall lightly as we continued the trail through North End. The Burying grounds along the trail dated back to 1660 and are the final resting place of many of the patriots involved with the revolution.

 Posted by at 3:55 pm