Leaf Peeping in the White Mountains

Fall in New Hampshire is magical. While it’s a sign that winter is coming (BOO), the grace and beauty of this season makes me almost grateful for winter.  Fall days are wonderful. Indian Summer often springs days in the high 70’s, while the evenings are crisp.

When I first visited New England, Tom took me on a trip up to the Kancamagus Highway to see the fall foliage. Ever since then, this drive, spanning from Lincoln, NH to Conway, NH, has been my very favorite byway in New Hampshire. The road, NH Route 112, is a 56.39-mile-long east–west state highway in northern New Hampshire. This scenic byway skirts the Southern end of the White Mountain National Forest and reaches a peak elevation of around 2900 feet.

The day started out a bit grey, but it didn’t matter. The colors (while not quite at peak) were vibrant and lovely and the day was mild.

Kancamagus Highway Lincoln NH

The beginning of the Kancamagus Highway

There were a surprising number of visitors on the highway and in the parking areas for a weekday. However, we got in a groove and didn’t see much traffic.

Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Highway – Alive with color

Kancamagus Highway

Today’s open road

Even though the vista points were mobbed, we had to stop for the lovely views. Surprisingly, some of the area had already peaked, and many of the trees were bare. Others hadn’t peaked yet and were still green. Still, there was vibrant color everywhere, and the day really was a bit of food for the soul.

Kancamagus Highway

Panoramic Vista (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

After coming to the end of the highway, we continued meandering across New Hampshire, pointing the front of the car somewhat towards home. All in all, we drove over 250 miles over the course of six hours. A lovely way to spend the day.

Fall leaf

Souvenir from our drive

And yes, Jasmine and Juliet enjoyed the ride too.

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Birthday Extravaganza Part II: Mid-Coast Maine

The day after we came back from my birthday celebration in Portsmouth, we headed back out on the road. This time, we headed up to mid-coast Maine. We had vacationed up there around the same time last year, and we loved it. Tom’s sister and brother-in-law own a house up in Northport, and they were gracious enough to let us stay again.

The main attraction for us to visit the area again was for the 10th Annual Belfast Wienerfest! For the last 9 years, Dachshunds of all shapes, sizes and colors have been gathering to celebrate their wiener-ness. We had happened upon the fest (thanks to Tom’s brother-in-law) last year, and we made it a point to attend again this year.

It’s a lot of fun. All the proceeds go to help fund the lovely dog park in Belfast. There were Wiener Dog Races, a costume contest (see below), a parade and more. Last year, I just put some purchased costumes on the girls. This year, I went all out and made them Geisha costumes.

Jasmine and Juliet Geisha Girls

Aren’t my Geisha Girls sweet?

We didn’t win the contest, but came in the top five (out of over 30 entries). If you want to read more about our time at the Wienerfest, check out the post on the Jasmine and Juliet blog!

We ate at all our favorite places and really enjoyed the area. Suzuki, a sushi restaurant in Rockland, Maine, has the freshest sushi I’ve had on the East coast. Of course, we had to visit!

Suzuki Rockland Omakase

Mmmm! Sushi!

We mainly hung out in our favorite town up there, Belfast. Relatively un-touristy, Belfast was once a town of ill repute. Chicken processing plants befouled the waters with ‘extra’ parts. Which is probably why the lobsters are so plentiful and good in Penobscott Bay! We really enjoyed the views and the lazy days.

Camden Maine

Camden Harbor

Northport Bayside Penobscott

Penobscott Bay view from Northport Bayside (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

We also explored new areas that we had not visited last year, including Deer Island and Castine. We really enjoyed Castine’s small shops and charm. This small harbor teems with tourists in the summer, so we were glad to miss the crowds!

Castine Maritime Academy

Maine Maritime Academy in Castine

As usual, the dogs were perfect travel companions. Hey, they’re pros at it by now! Of course, they were both glad to get back home.

Jasmine

Jasmine is happy to be home!

New England is a lovely area to explore. I’ll post more of our adventures soon!

The Adventure Continues: Birthday Extravaganza (Part I)

Even though the official ‘Lost in America’ trip is now over, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t stopped wandering. We love to discover new places and just wander through small towns across backroads. It’s no wonder that we’ve driven most of the major backroads in Southern New Hampshire since our move here, and we have continued that passion since our return from the ‘big’ trip. I have decided to continue blogging our travels, if only to give John Howell more trips to follow for his flight simulator!

One such adventure started on my birthday. Tom surprised me with a trip out of town. The whole day was a big surprise. I had no idea where we were going or what we were doing. We got on the highway and headed East towards the Seacoast. However, when we didn’t take the exit for the expressway North, I thought we were going to Hampton Beach. Nope. We drove up through Hampton, but drove on. It was an absolutely crisp and lovely day, and we were driving along the shore. Lovely!

We approached Porstmouth, NH (that was my other guess as to our destination), but we just drove through and across the river to Maine. Hm. We drove around Kittery, did some shopping and then headed back down to Portsmouth. It did turn out that my guess was right, but sneaky Mr. Tom…he tried to hide it from me! We checked into our hotel and then headed out to walk around town with the dogs.

I love Portsmouth. It’s downtown area is filled with great restaurants, shops and galleries. The buildings are old andfunky, and I think the food is the best in New Hampshire. We ended up eating dinner at Mombo, an absolutely stellar casual fine dining restaurant (more props to Tom for picking this place!). The food was fabulous and the night was warm enough to dine on their patio.

Mombo Watermelon Feta Salad

Mombo – Watermelon and Whipped Feta Salad w/Balsamic Glaze and Pop Rocks!

Mombo Charcuterie

Mombo – Charcuterie Plate

 

Mombo Steak

Mombo – Wagu Kobe Hanger Steak

Given the number of drinks we both had, we staggered back to the hotel. It was a fine way to celebrate my birthday!

The next morning, we had a great breakfast at a local cafe and then headed up the coast. Once again, we just wanted to wander and decided to drive as far as we wanted. The drive up coastal Maine is spectacular. The houses are incredible, and the bright sunny day made the drive even more pleasant. We stopped at my very favorite lighthouse–the Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick. This picturesque lighthouse is the epitome of Maine lighthouses…quaint and beautiful.

Nubble Lighthouse

Nubble Lighthouse – Cape Neddick Maine

We continued up the coast and finally stopped for lunch at a wonderful little seafood shack.

After a few more hours, we turned back for home. It was a great couple of days, and just the beginning of a week and a half of travel! Stay tuned for Part II! (P.S. Will add pics here soon! Check back!)

Did We Really Do All This?

RecapI went back over our entire trip, and there’s just SO much that we saw and did…it’s really unbelievable. I also noticed that I mis-counted the number of days we were on the road. We actually spent 53 days on the road. I had mis-counted early on in the trip!

People have asked what I liked the most out of this trip. Here are my favorites:

  • Favorite National Park(s): Zion, Grand Tetons
  • Favorite Food/Meal(s): Southwestern Cuisine in Santa Fe and Taos
  • Favorite Hotel: Cowboy Village Resort, Jackson, WY
  • Best Surprise: Dinosaur Tracks, Tuba City
  • Favorite Road: Tie between Blue Ridge Parkway and High Road to Taos
  • Favorite Person Met on the Road: Gary Turner, Gay Parita Sinclair Station
  • Friendliest People: On Route 66
  • Cheesiest Stop(s): Trading Posts along Route 66
  • Favorite Memory: All of them

Here’s a recap of everything we did. I’m combing through the 703 photos I printed from the trip in preparation for the creation of my Scrapbook. Check with me several years from now to see how much I’ve accomplished…

Date Day Start End  Driven  Total  Activities/Visited
Mon 4/29 1 Amherst, NH Painted Post, NY 405 405 Travel to Duncannon through Catskills, Margaretville
Tue 4/30 2 Corning, NY Duncannon, PA 157 562 Corning Museum, Travel to Duncannon
Wed 5/1 3 Duncannon, PA Duncannon, PA  – 562 Amish Country (Intercourse, PA)
Thu 5/2 4 Duncannon, PA Duncannon, PA  – 562 Cobra ride, Waggoners Gap
Fri 5/3 5 Duncannon, PA Burlington, KY 504 1,066 Travel to KY (via PA, WV, OH, KY), Buckeye Lake
Sat 5/4 6 Burlington, KY Burlington, KY 40 1,106 Villa Hills (Mrs. Egan, Mrs. Wilson), Skyline Chili, Derby Day Party
Sun 5/5 7 Burlington, KY Burlington, KY  – 1,106 Heather Visit, Montgomery Inn Ribs
Mon 5/6 8 Burlington, KY Corydon, IN 159 1,265 Anderson Ferry, Ohio Scenic River Byway
Tue 5/7 9 Corydon, IN Evansville, IN 157 1,422 Indiana: Marengo Cave (Corydon), George Rogers Clark Trail, Hoosier National Forest,
Wed 5/8 10 Evansville, IN Poplar Bluff, MO 267 1,689 Shawneetown Bridge (KY to IL), Shawnee National Forest (IL), Cave-In-Rock State Park, Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge into Cape Giradeau MO, (Indiana, KY, Illinois, Missouri)
Thu 5/9 11 Poplar Bluff, MO Cuba, MO 208 1,897 Ozark National Scenic Byways(Current River, Jacks Fork River), Mark Twain National Forest, Ozarks, Route 66 Cuba, Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba Mural City,
Fri 5/10 12 Cuba, MO Springfield, MO 139 2,036 Route 66: Shelly’s Route 66 Café (Slinger), World’s Largest Rocking Chair (Fanning Trading Post), Mule Trading Post, Hooker Cut, Devil’s Elbow, Redmond’s “World’s Largest Gift Shop”
Sat 5/11 13 Springfield, MO Joplin, MO 82 2,118 Route 66: Gay Parita Sinclair Station (Paris Springs, MO), Red Oak, Carthage MO
Su 5/12 14 Joplin, MO Tulsa, OK 166 2,284 Route 66: Galena Kansas, Rainbow Curve Bridge, Oklahoma State Line, Afton Station and Route 66 Packard Museum, Totem Pole Park (Foyil), Blue Whale
Mon 5/13 15 Tulsa, OK Oklahoma City, OK 140 2,424 Route 66: Oklahoma City Quilt Shops (Quilt Sampler, Cotton Patch), McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery in Chandler, OK (Jerry McClanahan), Arcadia Round Barn (Mr. Sam),
Tue 5/14 16 Oklahoma City, OK Elk City, OK 116 2,540 Route 66: Fort Reno (El Reno), Cherokee Trading Post (bison, longhorn), Route 66 National Museum (Elk City),
Wed 5/15 17 Elk City, OK Amarillo, TX 196 2,736 Route 66: Oklahoma (Will Rodger Hwy Sign), Texas, Devil’s Rope/Old Route 66 Museum (Barbed Wire Museum in McLean, TX), Bug Ranch (Conway, TX), Amarillo, The Big Texan Steak Ranch
Thu 5/16 18 Amarillo, TX Tucumcari, NM 116 2,852 Route 66: Amarillo Antique Road, Lile Art Gallery (Bob “Crocodile” Lile), Cadillac Ranch, Sunflower Station Gift Shop (Adiran TX), New Mexico, Russell’s Truck Stop auto museum, Tucumcari Mountain, Tucumcari
Fri 5/17 19 Tucamcari, NM Santa Fe, NM 201 3,053 Route 66: To Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe Trail, ThreadBear Quilt Shop, Pecos National Historic Forest (Puebo), Eldorado Hotel and Spa, Blue Corn Café
Sat 5/18 20 Santa Fe, NM Santa Fe, NM  – 3,053 Santa Fe Art Day: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe Museum of Art, Guadalupe’s Fun Rubber Stamps,
Su 5/19 21 Santa Fe, NM Santa Fe, NM  – 3,053 Santa Fe: Canyon Road, Nidah Spa, Tia Sophia’s, Agave Lounge
Mon 5/20 22 Santa Fe, NM Taos, NM 91 3,144 High Road to Taos, Carson National Forest, Santuario de Chimayo, Taos, Downtown Bistro
Tue 5/21 23 Taos, NM Taos, NM 159 3,303 Taos: Taos Pueblo, Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Earthships, Abiquiu, Lake Abiquiu, Downtown Bistro
Wed 5/22 24 Taos, NM Taos, NM 53 3,356 Taos: Michael’s Kitchen, Taos Valley Ski Area (Carson National Forest), Arroyo Seco, Old Town Taos, Ranchos Plaza Grill
Thu 5/23 25 Taos, NM Albuquerque, NM 183 3,539 Bandeleir National Monument, Albuquerque
Fri 5/24 26 Albuquerque, NM Albuquerque, NM 49 3,588 Old Town Albuquerque, Back Street Grill, Sandia Peak, High Finance Restaurant,
Sat 5/25 27 Albuquerque, NM Albuquerque, NM 178 3,766 Acoma Sky City, Academy Kennel, Hip Stitch, County Line BBQ
Su 5/26 28 Albuquerque, NM Albuquerque, NM 32 3,798 Albuquerque (down day)
Mon 5/27 29 Albuquerque, NM Flagstaff, AZ 333 4,131 Road to Flagstaff, To’hajilltee, Fort Courage, El Rancho Hotel (Gallup), Meteor Crater (Winslow),
Tue 5/28 30 Flagstaff, AZ Flagstaff, AZ 156 4,287 Grand Canyon, Aloha BBQ (Flagstaff)
Wed 5/29 31 Flagstaff, AZ Springdale, UT 263 4,550 To Zion: Dinosaur Tracks (near Tuba City), Glen Canyon, Kanab (Best Friends), Zion
Thu 5/30 32 Springdale, UT Springdale, UT  – 4,550 Zion, Doggy Dude Ranch, MeMe’s Café (crepes)
Fri 5/31 33 Springdale, UT Bryce City, UT 187 4,737 Zion, Checkerboard Mesa, Dixie national Forest, Cedar Breaks, Red Canyon, Bryce City
Sat 6/1 34 Bryce City, UT Bryce City, UT 40 4,777 Bryce Canyon
Sun 6/2 35 Bryce City, UT Richfield, UT 215 4,992 Escalante Grand Staircase, Kodachrome State Park, Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park,
Mon 6/3 36 Richfield, UT Jackson, WY 418 5,410 Bridger National Forest, Targhee National Forest, Afton Wyoming, Jackson, WY (Cowboy Village Resort)
Tue 6/4 37 Jackson, WY Jackson, WY 94 5,504 Grand Teton National Park, Downtown Jackson, Shoot Out Show,
Wed 6/5 38 Jackson, WY Jackson, WY 259 5,763 Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Lake, wild bison
Thu 6/6 39 Jackson, WY Jackson, WY  – 5,763 Jacskon ‘down’ day
Fri 6/7 40 Jackson, WY Ft. Collins, CO 466 6,229 Medicine Bow National Forest, Ft. Collins, CO
Sat 6/8 41 Ft. Collins, CO Colorado Springs, CO 343 6,572 Rocky Mountain National Park, Arapaho National Forest, Top of the Rockies Scenib Byway, Pike National Forest, San Isabel National Forest, Pike’s Peak, Forissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Sun 6/9 42 Colorado Springs, CO Independence, MO 580 7,152 Colorado, Kansas, Missouri
Mon 6/10 43 Independence, MO Louisville, KY 501 7,653 Illinios, Indiana, to Louisville
Tue 6/11 44 Louisville, KY Burlington, KY 94 7,747 Burlington, KY
Wed 6/12 45 Burlington, KY Burlington, KY  – 7,747 Burlington, KY
Thu 6/13 46 Burlington, KY Burlington, KY  – 7,747 Burlington, KY
Fri 6/14 47 Burlington, KY Sevierville, TN 331 8,078 Bourbon Trail, Cumberland Gap
Sat 6/15 48 Sevierville, TN Asheville, NC 140 8,218 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway (Asheville), Little Pigs BBQ
Sun 6/16 49 Asheville, NC Wilkesboro, NC 156 8,374 Blue Ridge Parkway: Folk Art Center (Asheville), Little Switzerland, Emerald Mines,
Mon 6/17 50 Wilkesboro, NC Salem, VA 176 8,550 Blue Ridge Parkway: Blue Ridge Music Center, Buck Mountain Band, Mabry Mill,
Tue 6/18 51 Salem, VA Winchester, VA 237 8,787 Blue Ridge Parkway (end)
Wed 6/19 52 Winchester, VA Duncannon, PA 141 8,928 Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm, Duncannon, PA
Thu 6/20 53 Duncannon, PA Amherst, NH 450 9,378 Home!

Home Again, Home Again

Day 52: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Start: Duncannon, PA
End: Amherst, NH
Miles Driven Today: 450
Total Miles: 9,378

It’s over. I’m sitting here in my easy chair, getting used to home again. There’s a huge pile of mail to sort through. Bags to unpack. Laundry to be done. But that’s for tomorrow.

We had another lovely visit with Bob and Sharon yesterday. Sitting around the kitchen table, we caught up on the trip and the happenings in the almost two months since we last saw them. It was a nice respite before the final sprint home, and visiting with good friends was a fit way to start and end this grand adventure.

Of course, Jasmine felt right at home and climbed up onto the kitchen table. Perhaps she wanted to get in on the conversation. Or perhaps, she was just a little thirsty!

Singha! Jasmine's favorite brand!

Singha! Jasmine’s favorite brand!

Juliet spent the evening searching for food. She sniffed (and snarfed) every inch of the house, looking for tidbits of food that the resident dog, Lily, had dropped on the floor, under furniture, etc. She was driving us nuts! I think we’ve created a monster… 🙂

Buddies

Buddies

We have marveled at how much both dogs have changed throughout this journey. Jasmine is much quicker to acclimate to a new situation. She co-existed with Lily after a few minutes. Perhaps it’s because she had met Lily on the way out. But climbing on the table, accepting treats from everyone, and running around the house without her tail between her legs…such progress. Juliet is so much more curious, confident and STUBBORN. True Dachshund traits are coming out. But what’s really great is to see the two dogs finally bonding.

Our final leg of open road

Our final leg of open road

We’ve had a great run. NOTHING bad happened to us. No flat tires. No pickpockets. No items stolen from our room. No car trouble. Rarely any crowds. No tornadoes. No forest fires. We’ve had an incredible experience and the trip of a lifetime. I’ll summarize it all this weekend, after a bit of sleep and settling in!

Today’s travels were long, but relatively easy. There had been an accident on the bridge through Harrisburg a few weeks ago, so we decided to skip going through Harrisburg and went some backroads to reach the Interstate. So, once again, we had some picturesque travels across open roads.

But we were soon motoring our way back to New Hampshire. We flowed through New York, retracing some of our route on the Turnpike to the East of the Catskills and then through Mass and up home to New Hampshire. We hit very little heavy traffic except for areas with road work. Even then, we made it home in around 8 hours.

Back to New York

Back to New York

Massachusetts - We skipped it on the way out

Massachusetts – We skipped it on the way out

Close to home

Close to home

Waiting for us when we got home was a huge pile of mail, some packages we sent home, and Tom’s prized piece of Acoma pottery that we purchased in Albuquerque. It was a great welcome home, along with an in-tact house (thanks Sam!).

Acoma Pottery by Michael & Robin Romero

Acoma Pottery by Michael & Robin Romero

All is well. We’re a bit sad that the trip is over. But there’s really no place like home. As we were driving the last few minutes until we reached our house, I looked at the lush landscape that we call home. We’ve seen a lot of beautiful places and driven some wonderful open road. But seeing our town…the road home rivals any of the picturesque and quaint backroads we took.

It’s good to be back.

Back in Pennsylvania

Day 51: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Start: Winchester, VA
End: Duncannon, PA
Miles Driven Today: 141
Total Miles: 8,928

Today was a day to visit friends. We started out in Winchester and headed just 30 minutes East to visit one of Tom’s former colleagues, Paris Resnick. Paris now owns and runs the Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm in Berryville, VA.

It was a short but lovely drive to the farm. Our open road was quite nice.

Today's open road - Berryville, VA

Today’s open road – Berryville, VA

We were soon at the farm. Perfectly manicured Christmas trees greeted us at the foot of the driveway.

Arriving at Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm

Arriving at Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm

As we pulled up the driveway, we saw a fabulous log cabin. There was a huge wrap-around porch (which we later found out wrapped ALL the way around the large house).

Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm - Log Cabin

Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm – Log Cabin

We got a tour of the place. They have a nice variety of trees. What was great was that it was quiet…but not. Tons of birds were chirping and darting amongst the trees; sweet voices surrounded us. We spotted a bunny in the blueberry patch. There were nests all around the rafters. A little paradise!

The farm does (not surprisingly) almost all of their business between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but many people come out in October to pick and tag their trees. The farm will also be hosting a wine tasting in October with a local winery. Taste a bit of vino, pick out a tree…come back and cut it down. Sweet!

Tom and Paris

Tom and Paris

The inside of the house was even more spectacular than the outside! And the handmade crafts were fabulous! Kathy, Paris’ wife, paints and their daughter makes stained glass and fused glass (we bought an ornament). The farm also has jams, jellies and syrups made specifically for them. I picked up a jug or two of Brandy Vanilla Syrup. YUM!

We said goodbye to the Resnicks and motored on to Duncannon, PA to visit Bob and Sharon. Our route took us through an unusual part of the area where we were in three states in a matter of five minutes. We traveled from West Virginia to Virginia and into Maryland in a short spell! What travelers we are!

Hello there Maryland!

Hello there Maryland!

We were soon in Pennsylvania and headed for our final destination.

Hello again, Pennsylvania!

Hello again, Pennsylvania!

It was good to be in familiar territory! We started out our journey here; it was fitting that this be our last stop! Jasmine was looking forward to the visit!

Checkin' out the scenery

Checkin’ out the scenery

Perhaps Jasmine likes it here because she gets away with a lot. She climbed onto the kitchen table from my lap. Sharon’s response? “She’s allowed to do that HERE!” 🙂

Dogs are allowed on the kitchen table here!

Dogs are allowed on the kitchen table here!

We’ll stay the night here, and then we’re heading HOME. Yes, our journey is coming to an end.

Of course, before we left for home, we had to see one more thing…

First there was Margaretville, then...

First there was Margaretville, then…

Good day for a drive …. Not!

Today’s drive was CARappy to say the least. The sky opened up on us all day today; at times it was the veritable 40 days and 40 nights type of rain. The good news is it washed the 7 weeks of dead bugs off of the Tulle and hood of the car. Then there was the fog. Basically, we were driving in the clouds. There were times that I could only see the yellow line on the road and nothing else. This went on for almost half the drive, about 128 miles. Once we dropped into the valley we were out of the clouds and the rain eased off.

Well our time is coming to an end, shortly. What am I to do?

Oh yeah, we had a small fawn cross the road in front of us. It was a real awwww moment. A turtle also ran across the road. They can move pretty quickly when they want, I couldn’t catch him. 😉