Opinion & Editorial

New England trip was one for the ages

My column has been silent for the past several weeks for several reasons, but the most important one, for Jim and me, was the preparation for and our actual long-anticipated eight-day vacation to New England for a “Fall Foliage” tour. 

We signed on for this bus tour shortly after our store was sold in March, but with Jim’s back surgery, challenged mobility and the subsequent healing and strengthening of muscles and balance, we were never sure if it would happen. We set the event, scheduled from Sept. 21-29, as our goal to work toward. We wanted to take part and enjoy each day’s activities without feeling like we were holding back our fellow travelers in any way and to get as much out of it as we could.

During our eight days, we visited six states – Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Each state was unique in its own way.

The forests were mostly hardwood trees, although as we got into Vermont and Rhode Island, more and more evergreens began to be seen. We quickly discovered that we were probably a week or two premature for the full color we were hoping to see, but to be honest, the scenery was beautiful anyway.

We traveled through the White Mountain and Green Mountain sections of the Appalachian Mountain range and the more altitude we attained, the more color we began to see.

We experienced the docks and quaint shops of Bar Harbor, Maine, and were lectured about the correct pronunciation used by the locals – “Ba Haba” with ‘whispered Rs.’ On the second day, we went into the Acadia National Park and experienced amazing views from atop Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Eastern seaboard.

As we traveled south again, we stopped at some of the covered bridges in New Hampshire. In Vermont, a favorite stop was the Billings Farm, a living-history working farm with interactive exhibits and demos. We also were treated to ice cream produced from the rich, creamy milk of the purebred Jersey cow herd for which it is also known.

We re-entered Massachusetts, traveling through the Berkshires, and spent our afternoon at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. On display were all 323 Saturday Evening Post covers painted by Rockwell.

That night, we stayed at the historic Publick Inn in Sturbridge, Mass., where we had a colonial-style dinner. The next morning, we crossed into Connecticut to New London where we visited the Mystic Seaport. While there, we viewed and boarded an authentic whaling ship and learned the history of the small boat named the Gerda III that was on display. It was used to help evacuate over 1,400 Jewish men, women and children from Hitler-occupied Denmark during WWII.

The last two nights were spent in beautiful Newport, R.I. When we first arrived there, we immediately took a tour of “The Breakers,” the Vanderbilt family’s huge Biltmore “summer home.” The house was massive and we wondered how anyone could consider such a massive building “home.”

On the way to our hotel, looking across the sunny Newport bay, the masts and white sails of dozens of sailboats bobbed on the blue water around and beneath the Claiborne Pell/Newport Bridge. Jim and I dined the first night in Newport with two couples, who had become good friends, at an Italian restaurant; the next day, lunched at an Irish Pub.

On our last morning, we drove back to Boston where we visited the Paul Revere statue and the Old North Church, walking some of the historic, narrow streets that our bus couldn’t navigate.

With the memories of all of the historical and beautiful sites we had seen, we both agree that the most precious gifts we were given on our trip were the friendships we made with our tour group of 44 people.

We got to know many of them on a personal level and each holds a special place in our hearts.



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