Saturday, December 12, 2015

New Hampshire, Vermont, Quebec and Maine

In September 2011 we had a free companion fare plane ticket we needed to use, an anniversary to celebrate, I needed to add a few notches to my state belt and we hoped we might catch some early fall colors. So a trip was born. I give a brief day-by-day description with links to related blog posts by Judy and I. 

Monday night we flew from LAX at 11:00 p.m. for Manchester, New Hampshire. 

Tuesday morning we had a layover in Detroit for an hour and ten minutes, then arrived in Manchester at 9:28 a.m. We rented a car and set out for Canterbury Shaker Village about 36 miles distant (a 48 minute drive). We had a wonderful tour of the Shaker Village and a nice lunch, then set out for an 80 mile drive (1 hour, 30 minutes) to West Lebanon, New Hampshire to try and find the location of the home (no longer standing) where Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, had leg surgery when he was a young boy. From there we drove a short distance to Dartmouth College in Hanover (just 3 miles distant), an Ivy League school, where we walked part of the grounds to get a feel for the school. Then off to the Joseph Smith Birthplace in South Royalton, Vermont, 25 miles (33 minutes) where we found an LDS Visitors Center, a large obelisk and some beautiful grounds. Then off to Waterbury, Vermont for a 6:00 p.m. tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and was not terribly informative, but we did get some good ice cream. The highlight of the day was a lovely meal at Hen of the Wood in Waterbury, housed in a 19th century mill next to a stream, and less than a mile from Ben & Jerry's. It was better than ice cream. We stayed at a La Quinta Inn & Suites in St. Albans, VT, 51 miles (52 minutes) to the northwest near Lake Champlain.
     Canterbury Shaker Village  (Bob)
     Hen of the Wood  (Bob)

Wednesday morning we got off early for Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 70 miles distant and about a two hour drive. We passed lots of flat open ground in Quebec and then as we approached Montreal went over the huge St. Lawrence River on a phenomenally high, scary bridge. Our first destination was Notre Dame Basilica, built in 1656. Then to Premier Moisson Bakery where we enjoyed wonderful looking and tasting French pastries, along with French inspired lunch food. Our next destination was St. Joseph's Oratory near Mount Royal. We were near Mount Royal and decided to walk it. It turned out to be much further than we anticipated, about two hours up and over Mount Royal - but we got great views of Montreal and burned off some calories from lunch. St. Joseph's is the largest church in Canada and the third largest dome of its kind in the world. Well worth the effort to get to it. We had dinner reservations at Au Cinquieme Peche and we decided to take a cab and avoid another long walk. Au Cinquieme Peche is now closed, but it is probably in the top ten of my favorite meals. I had seal, duck heart tartare and guinea fowl with lobster mushrooms and red and yellow beats.. We drove the two hours back to St. Albans, VT where we stayed at La Quinta Inn another night. 
     Au Cinquieme Peche: French Canadian Food  (Bob)

Thursday we drove to Stowe, VT to take the Stowe Auto Toll Road up Mt. Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont. We planned to drive to the end and then hike to its summit. Unfortunately, the road was closed for repairs. So we drove on through the beautiful mountains, on a rainy day. Along our route, in Walden, we stopped at Rowell Sugarhouse and purchased three different grades of maple syrup, something we'd seen for sale at farmhouses and shops along the road. I'd never been a fan of maple syrup, but this trip changed that. I now love it and we almost always have some in our refrigerator. On to Franconia, New Hampshire, to visit Frost Place Museum, the home of the poet Robert Frost from 1915 to 1920. Out behind his home we followed a trail with lots of mushrooms that reminded us of our mushroom-fanatic son. We continued on to Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in New Hampshire, and took the Cog Railway to the summit. The cog railway was built in 1869, the first cog railway up a mountain in the world. On top we found ourselves in pea soup fog, howling wind and rain. Fortunately, there is a lodge on top with some things to do before the train headed back down to better weather. From there we drove the beautiful 34 mile Kancamagus Highway to North Conway, NH where we stayed at the Fox Ridge Resort.
     Maple Syrup  (Bob)
     Happy Birthday, Robert Frost!  (Judy)
     Mount Washington  (Bob)
The White Mountains in New Hampshire. Some fall colors, but we were too early for the main show. 
There were occasional trees that gave us a glimpse of what the real show is all about. 
Friday morning we drove back up Kancamagus Highway partway in an unsuccessful attempt to see some moose, then drove 58 miles (1 1/2 hours) to Lake Grange, Maine to visit the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village. We were a little disappointed, it was not anywhere near as large or fun to visit as the Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire. From there we drove southeast toward Portland and then on to Wells where we ate lunch at Maine Diner, which was the beginning of a quest to have some of the best seafood in the northeast. According to 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late, Maine Diner has the 2nd best clam chowder, 2nd best lobster pie and 3rd best lobster roll in the U.S. We tried one of each. Then we visited the nearby Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and followed a trail through a forest inundated with mushrooms, and thought of our son again. We back-tracked to Kennebunkport, the summer residence of the George Bush family, and stopped for round two of the seafood quest at the Clam Shack, right off the water, which had the 2nd best lobster roll and 2nd best fried clams in the country. We tried one of each, as well as a fried haddock sandwich. We drove by the Bush compound and through Kennebunkport, then on for round three of the seafood quest. We almost skipped it, we were quite full, but our sense of duty to complete the research prevailed. Mabel's Lobster Claw had the no. 4 rated clam chowder and no. 4 rated lobster roll, so we got one of each. It was literally a stretch to eat them. We spent the night in Saco, ME at the Hampton Inn.
     Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village  (Bob)
     Maine Diner  (Bob)
     The Clam Shack - Kennebunkport, Maine  (Bob)
     Mabel's Lobster Claw - Kennebunkport, Maine  (Bob)
Standing near the Saco River.
Saturday we drove to Portsmouth, ME and walked through the city. Then we decided to drive to Concord, NH and visit the New Hampshire Capitol building which we'd seen from the freeway when we first arrived. We walked through it and then went across the street to St. Paul's Episcopal Church which had some fun stained glass windows. Judy'd read about Quilted Threads in Henniker, NH, so we drove to Henniker and I left her to ponder fabric to her hearts content while I visited Daniel's Restaurant & Pub for further research and ate the fourth lobster roll (and one of the best) of the trip. That evening for dinner we stopped at a Nepalese restaurant in Manchester, Cafe MoMo, run by a family originally from Kathmandu who grew the vegetables in our meal in a garden right outside. Delicious. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manchester that night.
     St. Paul's Episcopal Church - Concord, NH  (Bob)
     Lobster Rolls  (Bob)
     Cafe MoMo: Nepalese Cuisine  (Bob)

Sunday morning we had an early flight out of Manchester at 7:10 a.m. I was able to find lobster roll no. 5 in the airport to complete my research, and not surprisingly, it was the worst. We flew to LAX, via Atlanta, and got to California about 12:30 p.m. 


  1. I notice that you didn't mention my food poisoning episode (which I'm sure was caused by one of the lobster rolls). I'm not sure I'll ever eat another one.

    1. I didn't get food poisoning, so I'm sure it must have come from some other source. I loved them and will gladly eat yours.