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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Live in SW England, Work in Dubai, Travel in USA
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    175

    Default 2015 - The Surprise Return

    Day 0 – Saturday September 26th

    So barely a year after our last road trip, we’re heading back to add another few to the tally!

    Flying from London Heathrow to Boston, we’re pleasantly surprised to be upgraded from Business into First class as we board the plane – lovely to be able to sleep properly on board for a few hours….

    The sleep is important as we’re not stopping in Boston, instead our first night’s stop is in Springfield. It’s 1am when we check in and set the alarms for 7.45.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Live in SW England, Work in Dubai, Travel in USA
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    175

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    Day 1 – Sunday September 27th

    So it is that at 8am after a quick breakfast we’re off to our first stop of the day…. The Dr Seuss Sculpture Gardens in downtown Springfield…. The writer, affectionately nicknamed Dr Seuss was originally from Springfield and this well executed public garden is the city’s tribute to him.





    Next stop is Bash Bish Falls state park… the falls here aren’t in full flow today but it’s easy to see just how powerful they will be in late spring as the snow melt cascades down the mountain…



    Even today it’s a lovely way to pass the time and we spend an hour walking the steeper of the 2 trails on offer as well as the short trail to the scenic overlook.



    A longer drive now out to the Hancock Shaker Village.

    This is one of the best attractions of its type that we have done, it’s busy on this sunny Sunday afternoon and the costumed, skilled docents are in full swing entertaining the crowds with various of the Shaker skills, including a working water powered woodworking shop



    A barn raising



    We spend a few hours here in order to fully explore but eventually we head out to Mount Greylock and drive the scenic road to the summit.



    The views from the top extend some 90 miles and are popular this afternoon with people getting into positon to photograph the eclipse and blood moon forecast for this evening.
    Part of the path we walk here is actually the Appalachian Trail…. This is our first walk on the famed route, though it won’t be our last this trip.



    It’s quite a bit later than planned when we roll into town to check out the near 100 year old bridge of flowers… this volunteer maintained footbridge is lined on both sides with a riot of colour, trees and flowers combining to provide a stunning backdrop to a walk over the river.



    Onwards to Brattleboro VT (our first new state of the trip and my 46th) to overnight ready for a busy day tomorrow.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Live in SW England, Work in Dubai, Travel in USA
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    175

    Default

    To finish the night off, a really good look at the blood moon... the best chance to see it until the 2030s if the TV is to be believed!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Live in SW England, Work in Dubai, Travel in USA
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    175

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    Day 2 – Monday September 28th

    Today dawned rather misty, but we decided to head into the centre of Brattleboro and walk amongst the town’s famous trees…. This tree walk runs to a 2.25 mile route laid out by the town chamber of commerce and took us just over an hour to gently stroll around… kind of hard to photograph trees from a short distance away, but it was a nice walk as the morning got slowly nicer.


    Next stop is Woodstock, VT. Often called the prettiest small town in America, Mum and I were hoping to score a cup of tea here, possibly by the side of the river.
    Alas it was not to be. Although Woodstock is undoubtedly a pretty place, it doesn’t appear to have a coffee shop!
    What it does have is a lovely town green


    As well as a recently refurbished wooden bridge over the river



    From here we head toward the State Capitol and our first stop, a Vermont Maple Syrup farm.
    It’s a very short video tour as the making season is long over but it’s informative and the attached shop provides a chance to buy some real syrup.



    For every liter of syrup produced, 40+ litres of sap must be boiled (to remove the water) this image shows the vats that are used (heated by a wood fire) to boil off the water, a smelly and time consuming process.

    Onward to the first of our State Capitols of this trip… Montpelier is probably the smallest town to host a Capitol that we have visited, whilst the town itself is nothing to write home about, the Capitol itself is beautiful, certainly one of our favourites and well worth a visit.



    The House and Senate rooms are beautifully finished and were restored in recent times with a number of artifacts that had been in storage for over half a century…… lovely.





    Ever since I started the first stages of planning for this trip, Mum has wanted to visit our next stop…. The Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream factory offers short tours of the facility that end with a unique, non-commercially available flavor tasting.



    The tour showcases Ben and Jerry products that have been made, are currently made or may be made in the future… it was interesting to note all the flavours that we don’t get in the UK.



    Mum enjoyed the taste test of Orange Swirl, held in the small testing kitchen (this is where media personalities come to create their own flavours)



    Our last stop of the day is a cider mill and factory just up the road from Ben and Jerrys, interestingly cider here doesn’t mean what Mum and I are used to it meaning… leading to a small amount of confusion on our arrival!



    This should explain our confusion…. Where’s the alcohol!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    9,270

    Default

    Over here, we call alcoholic apple cider "hard cider".

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Over here, we call alcoholic apple cider "hard cider".
    Downunder, we do as well.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Live in SW England, Work in Dubai, Travel in USA
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    Day 3 - Tuesday September 29th

    The weather turned against us a little this morning, our plan was to drive the skyline drive up Mount Equinox however it was completely shrouded in cloud, so there was little point.

    We headed instead to Hildene, the summer home of the Lincoln family… this partially self-guided tour takes about 90 minutes to enjoy fully and is a great insight into how the upper class lived a hundred or so years ago… the house is actually pretty unassuming for its time, but is still larger than any home I’ve lived in!



    Robert was a success in business, remaining senior in the most profitable engineering company in America over the course of his life – Pullman, he did much of his work in this wonderfully understated study.



    Pullman made many things, chiefly Rail Cars and there’s a beautifully restored one at Hildene… well worth a look.



    From Hildene we drive into Albany, to visit the State Capitol of New York….. this is probably the most confusing Capitol we have visited, with no signs in the car park to direct you to the capitol building (the car park is underground) and once actually in the (very large) Capitol there are no signs either!

    Not our favourite Capitol but we spend an hour wandering its halls.



    It isn’t possible to see the Senate chamber (the first time in more than 25 Capitols that we haven’t been



    Into the car again now for what must be our longest road trip….. from Albany we are to drive over 9 hours and the thick end of 700 miles to Charleston, WV…. We had originally planned this trip to take a few days but due to flight availability we had to cut it to one long road session….. unfortunately the weather gods are not with us and not only does it rain for the whole 9 hours but at certain points the rain is so bad that I’m reduced to driving at 20mph…
    We made it in the end though, checking in to the hotel just before 2am.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Live in SW England, Work in Dubai, Travel in USA
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    Day 4 - Wednesday September 30th

    After a fairly short night’s sleep we’re up and out of the hotel at just after 9 today, heading a short distance to the State Capitol of West Virginia…..



    Often called the most beautiful Capitol in the nation, it certainly is very attractive, even in the dullness of an overcast morning the gold dome gleams..
    We are able to access most of the rooms in the Statehouse, including a nicely appointed House Chamber:



    We leave Charleston under overcast skies heading to Bedford to the National D-Day Memorial… as we travel along the weather gets nicer and nicer and the scenery as we cross the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountain ranges is nothing short of incredible



    The D-Day memorial is a very moving place, it takes about an hour to wander leisurely around its 4 zones and read the information panels that describe a little part of the life of those people who lived and died for us.
    From the centerpiece arch, surrounded by the flags of all the nations who lost people



    To the modern sculpture depicting the beach landings, this site makes you think….





    Our last stop of the day is Appomatox, the site of the signing of the surrender of the Confederate forces and the end of the civil war…. Many of the buildings here are original and the self-guided tour introduces the themes of the surrender as well as the reasons for the outbreak of war in the first place…. Very interesting though a knowledge of US history before attending the site would help.
    This is the actual building where that surrender was signed, even the furniture in the room is original.





    From here it’s a couple of hours down some wonderful roads to our overnight halt in Williamsburg where we await to hear weather the expected hurricane is going to batter us or not!

  9. #9
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    Aug 2008
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    Day 5 – Thursday October 1st

    We weren’t sure what to expect from this morning, hurricane Joaquim has been battering the East Coast almost since we arrived and the forecasts showed that today was supposed to be heavy rain all day….

    It didn’t seem too bad though so we headed to Yorktown to walk around….. Yorktown is the site of the last major battle of the revolutionary war and is commemorated by a series of reproductions of the ramparts, storage areas, battle sites, field hospitals and the like.
    Just away from the visitors centre is the memorial statue to the lives lost in the battle.



    There’s a scenic drive that covers the area and although the rain was falling it was still a pleasant hour.

    From Yorktown it’s a short drive to Colonial Williamsburg.



    Williamsburg is a great day out, in fact it would be more than possible to spend a few days here if you take part in all the ranger tours.



    We opt to take part in a few of these, including an excellent look at the capitol, this includes a brief overview of the legal system and some great background on the town of Williamsburg as a whole.
    One of the best of these was the bookbinder, our family history includes book printing so it’s interesting to see how leather is used to bind books.



    To end our visit I manage to entice Mum into the stocks outside the Courthouse….



    I did release her before leaving though!!
    To end our day we headed to Jamestown settlement, it’s a great reproduction of the life of the early settlers in the fort that was erected almost on the site of where the first 104 settlers landed.
    The docents here demonstrate the routine of daily life as well as the armaments used to defend it



    A short walk from the fort lie 3 replica tall ships, you’re welcome to board these and hear about life on board… suffice it to say that, for once, the crew had it better than the passengers in that they were in the open air for a lot of the time.



    Just as we’re leaving the rain starts up so we head into downtown Williamsburg for a stroll around and some dinner before driving up to Richmond where we stay tonight.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,059

    Default Glad you didn't stick to the original plan!

    Derek,

    Great photos and commentary as always.

    And a real treat (for us) that you didn't stick to your plan of not returning to the USA for a couple of years.

    Mark

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