When making a route we usually have an idea as to where we want to go and occasionally we have a date constraint making us plan in what might seem a weird way. In order for the state to be colored in on our map (see right sidebar) our requirement is that, since started full-timing in Shadowfax in 2017, we need to have stayed at least one night in that state and hopefully have done a little exploring. We like to drive between 3 to 4 hours a day which means we might miss a state or two traveling from one destination to another as some are so small, like Vermont. We had a time constraint going north earlier this month to get to Lubec by the 4th of July. Coming from NY our 4 hour window had us blow right through Vermont without stopping. As we are hoping to hit all of the New England states on this trip we had to backtracked to the Green Mountain state.
We really didn’t mind heading back to Vermont as we so enjoyed the scenic
drives along the small blue roads that criss-cross New England. Though we would highly recommend that all of the states up here spend a little bit more on road improvement! We picked Abel Mountain Campground in Braintree, VT for our week long stay as it is in the center of the state and we would be able to reach just about everything within an hour or so drive. Our site was right along the White River and, as this campground is mostly seasonals (people who rent a site for the entire season year after year), who only come up on the weekend, it was a wonderfully quiet week!
Even as full-timers we still have to do errands and chores living on the road whether that is having to do 9 loads of laundry because we didn’t have a sewer connection while in Lubec or just going to the grocery, we can always make it an adventure. Our first day here was a different style of sightseeing than we have done in a while. We needed to go to the grocery but we took a round-a-bout route to the store by taking one of the Vermont Scenic Byways going through really cute historic mountain villages. We stopped at the Falls General Store in Northfield to get sweets, driving through Moretown Gap and stopping at artist boutiques in Waitsfield, & Warren, stopping to see covered bridges, waterfalls, and we found the perfect swimming hole before making it back around to the grocery that was only 10 minutes away from the campground. We drove 4 hours to get to the grocery! All on back country and gravel roads along the White River and on the Mad River Byway. See, even going to the grocery can be an adventure!
And if the grocery can be an adventure then why not the hardware store! I broke our Dremel and needed to replace it so we picked a store a little out of the way so that we could go to the awesome Vermont landmark – Ben and Jerry’s! It’s amazing how two guys with a converted bus hawking crazy flavors of ice cream to the locals completely changed the entire worldwide frozen dessert business. Not only can you get a sample of the flavor of the day but you can take a factory tour and see the crew in action. We actually caught a very “Lucy” moment when one of the sensors on the conveyor belt stopped functioning and they had the entire crew frantically shifting pints of deliciousness from one belt to another as fast as they could, chucking some aside, while other techs scrambled to fix the sensor. Sorry no pictures of the madness as we you can’t take pictures on the tour. Don’t want those Häagen-Dazs people stealing their secrets! And any trip to the factory would not be complete without a stop at the Flavor Graveyard where they honor all of the flavors that have been discontinued. We did notice a couple of zombie flavors that seem to keep coming back to life!
From ice cream to maple syrup! It was definitely a sweet day as after the Ben and Jerry’s tour we stopped at the Bragg Farm Sugarhouse and took a tour to see how maple syrup is processed and to stock up on authentic Vermont maple syrup, candy, cream …. oh my aching sweet tooth!
To compensate for all of that sweetness we spent time hiking the trails next to the campground that went up the mountain and I joined the other women in the park for water aerobics. That is one of the nice things about RV parks that have a lot of seasonal campers they have lots of activities right in the campground. Bingo, water aerobics, and even live music! On Saturday night they had a pretty decent rock cover band called Soda Club. It was a fun night of mostly sun-burnt sexagenarians doing the two step shuffle dancing the night away! Not even a thunderstorm could keep them from passing jello shots and rockin’ to the oldies.
After Vermont it was on to Massachusetts to visit with my cousins and to take a return trip to Old Sturbridge Village. It seems a large majority of the
New England campgrounds now are a seasonals’ paradise. Partridge Hollow was as a bit of a challenge to get to as our all of our GPSs took us in the small back roads but once we were in it was a great site. Again the seasonals tend to spend only the weekends at the campground so we had our entire loop to ourselves until Friday night when the weekend warriors arrived.
One of the difficult things about living full-time is finding community. Now for Jonathan this isn’t a problem at all as he is more of an introvert anyway but for me I need to have social interactions. One of the best ways to get this is schedule our stops near family and friends. Getting a week with John and Lucy in Maine was wonderful and helped us to stay connected. We
scheduled our stop in MA so that we would be close enough to visit with my cousins Meg & Beth. We had a delightful day getting to see most of their children and grandchildren, many of which we had not seen since they were quite young. It was so nice to spend enough time with them to really get to know the kids and hear about their lives.
While here we also wanted to stop by Old Sturbridge Village again. When we lived in Boston we had visited several times but now that we are Workamping in a living history museum we would look at it from a different viewpoint. We truly enjoyed our day chatting with the demonstrators and seeing how they interact with the patrons. We especially liked the wagoner on our trolley ride, the printer, the girls making cheese and butter, and the storyteller who performed as Uncle Ezra Unpacking His Trunk. One of the things we found that set them apart from other living history museums we have visited this summer is that they have both a high school and college internship demonstrator programs as well as youth camps during the summer.
For our Massachusetts hike we went down near the Connecticut River in Holyoke and found real dinosaur tracks in the shale rocks. It really is amazing to see something that takes us back 200 million years on this earth. Unfortunately, they are just in a roadside park which is not being cared for and will soon be overgrown.
From the river we went on to Mt. Tom State Reservation and hiked the trails up to the lookout tower. Amazing views of Springfield, Holyoke and Western Massachusetts.
Another issue we have had here in the Northeast is low or no cell signal. Jon has a Verizon phone and hotspot and I have both on AT&T. In most places we have been able to use at least one of these to connect with the outside world but we have been staying in areas in New England where we were getting nothing … nada. This means no internet but also no phone which can make living a normal everyday life a bit difficult. Now disconnecting for a weekend or even a week is great but it can make doing even the smallest of things, like confirming you next location, very difficult when you have to drive to the nearest town and sit in parking lots to even make basic calls. Jonathan had been researching and waiting for the new releases on cell boosters before purchasing one to be installed in the coach but we had gotten so frustrated that he finally purchased a Connect 4G weBoost. We went from having no bars on any devices to having almost perfect call quality and download speeds that went from of practically nil to 2 Mps. This will make living life on the road soooo much easier no matter how close we are to a cell tower!
To finish off New England we had two one night stops. First at Ginny B’s Campground in northwest Rhode Island. We had been in Rhode Island many times before so we did little exploring but we did walk over to Tavern 19 at the Foster Country Club right next door for a very nice dinner.
And our last stop in NE was in Connecticut at the Harvest Host site at the Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Farm. Now normally a Harvest Host site is quite a bit less expensive than getting a site with full hook-ups. They are free but they do expect you to buy a bottle of wine or a bit of produce but it still beats the $$ it would be at a campground. At Ellsworth it was blueberry picking season and with our upcoming stay in NY with Alex and his friends we stocked up on 2 gallons of blueberries, a dozen cider donuts, a berry pie, and peaches. Sixty dollars later ……. more expensive than a campground would have been plus as these sites have no utilities it meant a sleepless night with no A/C in 90º + heat. Needless to say we will hold off on any more Harvest Host stays through the rest of the summer!
So this now completes our map for New England. We loved all of the quaint towns, the majestic mountains, the picturesque seasides, the friendly people and the quirky adventures we had during our summer in the northeast. After a week with Alex in NY (more on that in the next post) we are now beginning our slow trek south. We plan a stop in Savannah then a side trip to Blackshear, GA to do a bit of research for the Settlement so still a bit of summer yet to go before making it back to Florida.