Tag Archives: scenic drive

Lake Willoughby.

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The undiscovered country is always the best.. and when we travel, we love nothing more than stumbling upon a place we never knew existed.

Enter Lake Willoughby in Vermont.

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Imagine randomly picking a road to travel home and finding this.

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Not being in any hurry, we stopped.

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And groaned at the bad grammar.

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But bad spelling aside…. wow.

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There was a path that ran alongside part of the lake and though I wasn’t dressed for hiking, I happily headed out.

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This is a glacial lake and every part of it was glorious.

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My pictures don’t really do it justice, but in spots the colors were positively surreal.

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The wind was ripping and I couldn’t feel my nose, but we pressed on.

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Being careful not to trample any seedlings.

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Mountains, rocks and a glacial lake.

Yes please.

To be continued…

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Heading home through the Kingdom.

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All good things must end and after a wonderful 5 days in Vermont our mini vacation did.

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Vermont. The state where even private driveways have covered bridges.

As we left the resort and headed for the Northern Kingdom, I found proof it does exist.

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If only I could have found the garden.

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A lonely cemetery.

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The Kingdom is another world. Rugged, mountainous and sparsely populated.

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With some rather odd inhabitants.

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And as we were heading home, we discovered a hidden, and heretofore unknown to us, gem.

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Lake Willoughby.

To be continued…

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Day two: Truck envy, The Champlain Islands and cows.

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On our second day in Vermont we headed for New York. Seems crazy, but stick with me … it was worth it.

Of course we didn’t make it very far before my husband had to turn around and check out an old Ford truck.

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It looked just like his… same year, same color except this was a 250 instead of a 150. Price tag, for a truck made in 1994? $22,000. That is beyond insane (and made me want to list his for sale as soon as we got home).

Back on the road, we pointed the car towards the Champlain Islands.

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If you’re unfamiliar with this area, Lake Champlain is large. 107 miles long, 64 foot deep. There’s often talk about adding it to the Great Lakes but nothing ever comes of it.

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There are a few ferries that cross it from the Vermont side, but the ride is pretty and we weren’t in any rush.

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South Hero, North Hero….

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And Grand Isle.

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Miles and miles of nothing but farms, mountains and lake. (spellcheck changed lake to kale. No one wants miles of that!)

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Peaceful doesn’t begin to describe it.

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And hey, look….

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COWS!!

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Leaves, more leaves…. and a few random turkeys.

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One of the nicest things about our resort in the mountains? Beautiful fall foliage right outside our door.

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We were a little past peak for this trip but it was still a lovely palette of color to wake up to.

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This quirky coffee house right down the road only opened the day we left which was disappointing. I haven’t been half baked in decades.

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First day of our trip? We drove…

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Here.

There.

Wherever the leaves took us.

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And if you’re driving with my husband that means traveling on some pretty obscure back roads. Often ones that turn to dirt.

Miles and miles, up and over mountains where there’s nothing but glorious foliage, nature….

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Bear warnings….

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And a randomly placed portapotty.

( Spellcheck kept changing this to portal Otto. I may have missed a prime Tardis opportunity there.)

Here’s a short clip of the splendor. Yours truly is announcing the sighting of turkeys on the left, repeatedly and quite loudly. I do this when I spot cows as well, though in the deeper audible resonance they deserve.

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Ah….

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I love fall!

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Stonington, part three.

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Heading out of the harbor proper, we found some scenically beautiful spots.

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For gorgeous coastline, it’s hard to top Maine.

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We drove at will, no destination in mind. And sometimes cutting down side streets resulted in dead ends.

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Like a marina we didn’t know was there.

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Other times there were loop roads….

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With extremely peaceful seating.

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And if you want peace and quiet? Take a tip from that guy.

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He certainly had the right idea.

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The journey home.

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Since we weren’t in a huge hurry to get home, we took the longer scenic route back and that meant driving through the Northeast Kingdom.

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It’s a rural and mountainous region of Vermont, similar to areas in northern Maine with its low population density and differing political views.

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Unspoiled and undisturbed.

Beautiful? You betcha!

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This region takes their designation seriously so you’ll find “Kingdom” gas stations and “Kingdom” diners scattered throughout the area.

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There’s even a covered bridge staircase.

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While the majority of Vermont is an environmentally friendly, liberal, churn your own butter, Birkenstock type of place… the Kingdom is a bit wilder and leans much farther right. It’s often said there are two Maines, southern and northern.. I find that’s true of Vermont as well.

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And if you’re wondering how far north we were?

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I could see Canada from my window.

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And though we didn’t cross the border, Verizon let us know we might as well have.

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Another scenic drive.

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Fortified with a wonderful meal, we continued our aimless wandering through Vermont.

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It’s hard to take a bad photo there, especially in the fall. Mountains, trees, and cows.

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Mountains, cows, and farms.

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Every once in a while you’ll pass through a town.

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Then it’s back to mountains, trees, and cows.

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And a very serious porch lover.

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Also, there were fish.

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I have no explanation for random fish, but they were delightful all the same.

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Robert Frost was right.

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Seeing that we were in Robert Frost country, we followed his example and took the road less traveled.

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In Vermont that means one minute you’re passing open fields and meadows…

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And the next you’re driving a road cut through a mountain.

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My car was straining on some of the inclines, I can’t imagine bicycling up it.

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Or down it in the drizzle and fog.

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That pretty much describes the way we travel. I pick a spot of interest and we explore at will along the way.

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You never know what you’ll find.

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Like this sweet little riverfront park in the middle of nowhere.

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With a touching memorial rock.

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And some funky flora.

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Required selfie.

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And more heartfelt rocks.

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Rock snot!

Proof positive you really do learn something new every day.

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The Notch and a (boozy) meal.

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Since resort check in wasn’t until 4:00pm we had some time to kill. And when you have time to kill in this area of Vermont? You drive through The Notch.

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It’s basically a road cut right through the mountain and it’s one of my absolute favorite drives.

Twisty, turny and littered with glacial granite boulders…. it’s a rock lovers dream.

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Not that it’s the easiest road to navigate mind you. The switchbacks are breath taking, the proximity to boulders cringe worthy. In places you’re absolutely blind and are left crossing everything you have that nothing is coming the other way when the road narrows so tightly only one car can pass.

My husband drives it like sport.

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On the other side of The Notch? Stowe… a lovely village I’ll highlight later. And in Stowe?

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An amazing local brewery.

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We had to stand in line half an hour to get in, on a Tuesday, at 2:30 in the afternoon. It’s that good. I was willing to wait longer to sit in one of the artfully decorated dining rooms (the giant velvet cow print couch was calling my name) but the husband snatched two seats at the bar as soon as they became available.

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One flight in…. on an amazing polished copper bar, we were already loving this place.

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The Kolsch was delightful, the Pink and Pale seriously puckering.

And since we were at a brewery….

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I had to try the monster soft pretzel. Not only does Idletyme brew their own beer, they make their own beer cheese and grind their own mustard. A win win.

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As was this hot spiced cider with rum. Hey, when in Rome…

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My chargrilled mushroom Swiss burger with crispy onions and Caesar salad was good, but my husband’s choice?

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Ooh la la! So beyond the normal pub fare … we might have drooled. Butternut squash ravioli with maple cream sauce, sliced almonds and a hint of cayenne for bite. It was utterly fabulous.

Too stuffed for dessert, we headed back through The Notch and it’s amazing selection of rocks.

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And mini waterfalls breaking through at random intervals.

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And by then, it was time to check in.

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Yes, the resort is named after The Notch… which was originally used by smugglers and bootleggers. Yet another reason to love it.

A little history if you’re interested…

With cliffs on either side that sometimes reach a height of 1,000 feet, it’s also easy to see how very few people would have been caught on their way to and from one country to another. The landscape looked completely different in the early 1800s and there were far fewer people – and towns – meaning this region was even more remote. After former president Thomas Jefferson passed the Embargo Act in 1807, the restriction of trade between countries had a drastically negative impact on the state of Vermont. As the state shares a border with Canada, this trade route was by far the easiest to use, and once that was cut off there were many citizens and businesses that suffered in the northern part of the state.

This route was not only used for trading. Fugitive slaves would also utilize the route to make their way through Vermont and into Canada, which gave it another historic purpose.

The use of Smugglers’ Notch didn’t just end there, though. As Vermont progressed into the 20th century, they would be subject to yet another restriction – this time, on alcohol. When Prohibition came about in 1922, the state was lucky enough to have opened Smugglers’ Notch to automobile traffic. This meant that those using the route would no longer need to cross on foot or horseback, which opened up even more illegal trade route options. In this case, it was Vermont’s loophole during the time when it was legally a dry state.

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*Not my photo , but it gives you a better idea of the scope*

The Notch is closed to tractor trailer trucks due to the precarious turns, and though there are ample signs warning them not to enter, a few idiots try it every year, getting stuck and causing horrible traffic jams and back ups.

The entire road is closed for the season starting in mid October so we were lucky and slipped in right before the gates came down.

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Coastal Maine

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After our delightfully boozy lunch at the Boathouse we took a scenic drive along the coast of Kennebunkport.

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It’s a beautiful area…

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Wild and windswept.

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With some seriously gorgeous waterfront homes.

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Needless to say it’s a little out of our tax bracket.

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But with President Bush’s summer home at Walker’s Point for neighbors….

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That’s not the least bit surprising.

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