NEW ENGLAND Diary - 22/09 to 05/10, 2016 - The Colors of the Indian Summer

The Colors of the Indian Summer

Good thing I chose to arrive here. Hardly any queue at the immigration and it is a real piece of cake to do all the formalities, get the luggage and be out in the terminal. The whole process took roughly 35min. A free shuttle goes to the car-rent terminal organized like an airline counter. THRIFTY does my check-in efficiently with a friendly staff. I choose to get a mobile GPS that gives me a phone number as well as WiFi for the entire journey! Since I had a choice, I opt for a compact Chevrolet, all automatic as it is customary in the States. And off I go on congested expressways out of Boston towards Plymouth on the south coast of Massachusetts. I get there easily after roughly an hour.
New England states

Map of New England
Drive to PLYMOUTH, Massachusetts. (About 70 km) 
It has been roughly fourteen years since I last came to the States! (Last time, ISKL chose to send me to attend a language workshop in Salt Lake City, Utah).
The Pilgrim Fathers' landing site monument in Plymouth, MA.
On Plymouth main street
I rediscover the US with a renewed interest. The size of the cars is now similar to any other countries (except for trucks). The old colonial colony of
Colonial house
 Plymouth is a nice historical background to the American history. This is where the Pilgrim Fathers founded the colony in 1620 and where Thanksgiving originated a year later to thank the Algonquins for their help. My hotel, the Bradford Inn & Suites is on the front side but functions like a motel and has no real character. Fortunately, there is quite a lot to discover in town. Here, it is a beautiful, sunny day with a temperature of 20ºC. I follow the colonial heritage trail: the Mayflower II, the first two log cabins, the landing stone monument, the historical statues, the old stone church and many examples of old colonial wooden houses. Plymouth has a lot of character and is quite a pleasant place to visit. 
Historic sign in Old Plymouth

Plymouth fishing harbor
Historic house of Plymouth

The 'Mayflower' boat.
There are many restaurants serving seafood but tonight, I choose to go to a Mexican restaurant.
Night view of the Mayflower II (reproduction)
Map of Cape Cod with main locations.
D2. 23/09- Drive to CAPE COD, MA. 91km.
Except for the bridge over the Cape Cod canal, the road to Eastham offers nothing really spectacular. I managed to make an early check-in at Captains Quarters Motel, which is much nicer than the last in Plymouth. Then, I spend the rest of the day exploring the upper curving tip of Cape Cod. The first stop is the Cape Cod Highland Light above the cliffs on the North Atlantic. The 
At Provincetown
the ocean looks calm as it is a partly sunny day, slightly cooler than yesterday. Next, I head towards Provincetown, at the tip of the cape on Cape Cod Bay, facing the Plymouth coastline. This former whale harbor has become a tourist
In the street of Provincetown, Cape Cod.
destination, particularly for gays as it seems that every house features a rainbow flag. Anyway, this is an absolutely charming place with lots of character. This part of the U.S. is definitively more civilized and holds an Old World atmosphere. Walking along the main street feels like being in Europe in spite of the definite American architecture of its houses and public buildings. There are shops, cafés, restaurants, art galleries, hotels and guesthouses everywhere. Many famous American artists used to come here, in particular, Eugene O'Neill with his theater group. I truly enjoyed being there. On my way back to the hotel, I drove along the coastline of Cape Cod Bay and went to the smaller fishing community of 
Wellfleet, a typical New England village. I had a seafood dinner at a roadside restaurant in Eastham, near my motel. 
Wellfleet beach on Nantucket Sound
A typical house in Wellfleet, MA.

D3. 24/09- Drive to DENNIS, MA (Nantucket Sound).
Beach of the Nantucket Sound at low tide
A day spent exploring the mid part of Cape Cod. I first drove to the Eastern coast of Eastham, along
Chatham beach
with the Atlantic Ocean but was not able to find a parking place at the US Coast Guard station. So, I drove on across the Cape forest of pine & oak trees to the Western part of Eastham on Cape Cod Bay. It was another fine day, although cooler already.Then, I went to the seaside resort of Orleans. I was intrigued by its name. The Michelin guide book mentioned its connection with France: its name and the cable underwater station ending here linking France to America. Apart from a fake mill by the water's edge, there is nothing else worth seeing here. My next stop was for Chatham, a lovely New England little village attracting many visitors. I had a hard time finding a place to park the car. I remained here for a couple of hours and walked through the sound harbor first and then to the lighthouse.
Residential area in Chatham
Around 3:00 pm, I started heading towards South Dennis on the Nantucket Sound and easily found Rob & Toni Mullen's little house nestling under the trees. Fine afternoon and evening spent with my former colleagues from ISKL. Again, so many things to talk about. They took me for a short walk in their area as far as the river, which we reached just before sunset.
At Rob & Toni's  home in South Dennis, MA.
River sunset at the Cape.
D4. 25/09- Drive to Woods Hole (about 75km) & ferry to Vineyard Haven, MARTHA'S VINEYARD island (45 min). 

Toni & Rob Mullen's house at South Dennis, MA.
Map of Martha's Vineyard
Aboard the ferry
I left Rob & Toni a little before 8:00 am and it took me about an hour to get the Steamship Company parking lot, north of Woods Hole. The ferry company provides a shuttle bus to the harbor. I arrived well before the 10:45 am the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. It is another beautiful day and the crossing on the deck was fine. Tom & Marylin Hopkins was expecting me on the jetty at Vineyard Haven and drove me to their nice, little house in the nearby forest. Happy to be back with old friends again, first from ISKL in Malaysia and then from ACST, Tunisia. We had lunch on their terrace under the sun. Then we drove through the western part of the island during the afternoon. We had a long walk on the fine sandy beach near Gay Head Cliffs. The cliffs there have some amazing mineral colors. Then we drove up the cliffs to get another view by the lighthouse and a small Amerindian community, who lives there. Our next stop was the small, picturesque fishing harbor of Menemsha. On the way back to Vineyard Haven we saw many deer along the way. And back home, there was a big skunk near the house. I walked to the nearby sound with Marylin at sunset.
Vineyard Haven harbor.
At Tom & Marylin's

Gay Head Cliffs
Menemsha fishing harbor
D5. 26/09- Full day on MARTHA'S VINEYARD.
Northern coast of Martha's Vineyard
Oak Bluffs
Another great, sunny day. Marilyn took me on a drive to the eastern coast of the island while Tom went fishing on his boat.First, we drove along the northern coast from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs making a few stops along the way. Then, we parked the car in Oak Bluffs to go and see the gingerbread cottages. Oak Bluffs has been nicknamed “Cottage City' because of its many colorful tiny wooden houses. They had been built by a Methodist community around a square under an oak-tree, where now stands their open temple called “Tabernacle”. This is a unique and wonderful heritage. After that, we went to a former whaling harbor called Edgartown. It has now become an upscale community with many art galleries. We drove back to Tom & Marilyns through a different road across the island. Later in the afternoon, Marilyn took me to her favorite secluded beach on the northern coast of Martha's Vineyard. Then later still, we went for a coffee at Vineyard Hole and drove as far as the lighthouse.

Panorama of Edgartown Harbor & Sound
D6. 27/09- Drive to Hartford & Wethetersfied, Connecticut.
Ferry dep. 08:15 am from Martha Haven
Ferry arrives at 09:00 am at Woods Hole
Parking dep. 09:30am / arr. 12:30 pm at Wethersfield, CT. Drive: 286km

Sila Deane's Home in Old Wethersfield
This was probably the longest journey on this trip. It was raining over Martha'sVineyard and Cape Cod. But as I was heading north, it became drier and finally sunny and even warm in Connecticut. After checking in at Comfort Inn, Wethersfield, I drove to Old Wethersfield, a few kilometers away near the Connecticut River. All the main landmarks are on Main Street. This old colonial Puritan settlement became an important place during the American War of Independence. The first diplomat sent to Versailles was from here. Later, General Washington and General Lafayette met Admiral Rochambeau here in order to prepare for the battle of Yorktown. People keep being friendly, saying hi or even stopping to chat briefly with me. The park by the Connecticut River is particularly attractive.

D7. 28/09- Drive to the Berkshires & Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Dep. 9:45am / arr. 4:30 pm after several stops for visit. Distance: about 190km.
Stockbridge Library
The road north takes me to Hartford, CT, and Springfield, MA before heading west towards the Berkshires, a part of the Appalachian range. My first stop is for Stockbridge, a historical village where the painter Norman Rockwell lived. The two other main attractions are Stockbridge Red Lion Inn and the library, which is also a museum. Next, I drive south to Great Barrington
Lake near Great Barrington
along the Housatonic River valley. Great Barrington has not much to offer except upscale art & decoration boutiques. The countryside has become lovely in a region of forests and lakes. I turn back north on Road 7N and make the 3rd stop at Lenox. This is another interesting place and I get a light lunch here before walking through the 
town. Pursuing my way up north, I cross the town of Pittsfield with a nice lake soon after Pontoosuc Lake. The road to Williamstown is superb: green meadows, rolling hills, and great viewpoints. I check in at Williamstown Motel, probably the nicest on this section of my trip. Williamstown is considered as one of New England's most beautiful places. It is the home of Williams College, a prestigious university with an outstanding Art Museum.
River near Williamstown, MA.
Williamstown Church

D8. 29/09- Leisure drive from the Berkshires in Massachusetts to the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Dep.8:45am / arr.2:30pm. About 120km in the mountains.
Old Bennington, VT.
Oh! What a beautiful day! Bright and sunny for the weather and gorgeous for the colors and the countryside. As an educator, I paid tribute to Williams College, bowed on the grave of Robert Frost, hailed to the sun on the Mohawk Trail, came across the stunning Fall colors of the Green Mountains and contemplated the ski resorts of beautiful Vermont
-Williamstown, Massachusetts. After breakfast, around 8:00 am, I saw the sun rise above the hills and went back to Williams College.
-Old Bennington, Vermont. A lovely mountain drive from the Berkshires to the foothills of the Green Mountains. Vermont becomes the 3rd New England state
Robert Frost
visited. Old Bennington is another lovely village. It was the site of a battle against the British during the war for independence (a tall stone obelisk commemorates the American victory). And in the Old First Church cemetery, I looked for the grave of Robert Frost.
Two roads diverged in a wood and me - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
Then, I came back to Williamstown Motel and drove off on many country roads through stunning landscapes, ponds and lakes, forest trees changing color, and bucolic sceneries with cows and horses. 
-Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts. After the industrial city of North Adams, the trail climbs the mountains in many curves offering stunning viewpoints: 
Tribute to the Mohawks
Hairpin CurveWestern SummitWhitcomb Summit (the highest) before winding downhill to 
Country farm
Florida and the Mohawk Trail State Forest with its statue honoring the Mohawks (“Hail to the Sunrise”).
From there, I keep on driving through narrow country roads up north till I reach Route 100, the best road to see the autumn change of colors.
-Snowdon Chalet is near the little village of Londonderry, in Vermont. A cozy and lonely place in the forest inhabited by moose and bears.
Old Manchester
-The rest of the afternoon will be spent visiting Manchester, Vermont. The road offers many viewpoints passing by some of the ski stations. Old Manchester has sidewalks made of white marble provided by a nearby quarry.
Great dinner at a fine restaurant in Londonderry on the way back. Had a glass of a wonderful Pinot noir from California and a crab cake dinner.
Autumn colors in Vermont
Map of southern Vermont
D9. 30/09- The villages of Southern Vermont.
A leisure day touring the villages of the Green Mountains of Vermont on scenic country roads. 
New England church
Overcast but dry with a cooler temperature.
Londonderry to Weston (Rt.100)
ChesterGraftonTownshend and as far south as Newfane, one of the most picturesque villages of this area.
Many of these places have been built in the English manner with a large central Green. 
The loop to the northwest starts with Jamaica (where I stop for a light snack at a country store); there are a few covered bridges in this area; Ball Mountain Lake State Park with beautiful autumn colors and scenic views of the countryside.
At Bondville, I take a side trip up to Stratton Mountain Resort, one of the main skiing location in Vermont.
Back to Manchester, heading south on Scenic Drive Route 7 to Mount Equinox Skyline Drive (toll
of $15). This is the only Carthusian Monastery out of La Grande Chartreuse, in France. Stunning 360º view at the summit with a strong wind. Back to Route 7, I drive as far as Arlington where the painter Norman Rockwell lived.
End of the afternoon in Dorset, a few miles north of Manchester. 
View from Mount Equinox
Back to Londonderry and another great dinner with a lobster bisque + a Cajun Jambalaya + a glass of Pinot noir from California. Second night at Snowdon Chalet.
D10. 01/10- Drive from the Green Mountains, VT to the White Mountains, NH.
Dep.9:00 am / arr.12:15 after many photo-stops along the way. Overcast but mostly dry. About 166km.
Covered bridge
I tried to remain on scenic Route 100 as long as I could. The autumn colors became even more vivid as I was driving north through many other scenic country roads. I stopped for an authentic covered bridge over a mountain brook. New Hampshire is the 4th state visited. This is as far north as I will be on this trip. Near the town of Hanover, NH, I drove past Dartmouth College, one of the Ivy Leagues of America. Soon after, I took a bypass to see Mascoma Lake with great reflecting images on the water. When I arrived at the Days Inn – Campton, the room was not ready until 1:00 pm, so I looked for a place to have a quick lunch.
Route from VT to NH
Mascoma Lake, NH
-The White Mountains National Park. By 2:00 pm, I was on the road again to drive north to Lincoln, NH. There Route 112, called Kancamagus Highway, crosses the White Mountains from west to east. The White Mountains are also part of the Appalachian range and are the highest summits in New England. Great viewpoints, sights, and magnificent tree colors. This is the White Mountains, National Park

Panoramic view of the White Mountains of New Hampshire
Trees at Fall
In the Lake District, NH.
-Lake district of New Hampshire. On my way back to the motel, I drove through the lake district. I was back by 5:30 pm.
Nice dinner nearby at the Covered Bridge Farm Table restaurant: New England clam chowder + chicken green curry + chocolate cake & a glass of red Malbec from Argentina (USB35).
D11. 02/10- From the White Mountains, NH to Portland, ME.
Dep.8:05 am / arr.11:15 am, after several stops along the way. About 160km. Overcast; slightly rainy in NH, dry and mild in ME.
NH to Portland, Maine
The first morning stop was at the covered bridge over the Pemigewasset River near the hotel. Today's drive was almost entirely done on country roads with bright autumn foliage.
-New Hampshire LAKE AREA. The road went through many lakes: Little Squam LakeSquam Lake and the huge Winnipesaukee Lake, all bearing Indian names. 
Covered bridge
NH lake area
I passed mountain rivers lined with their autumn foliage and country farmlands for cattle, corn, and pumpkins. There were signs warning for moose but I did not spot any. 
The Best Western Merry Manor Inn in South Portland could not check me in until 3:00 pm. So. I drove on to Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse and breathed the pungent Atlantic breeze. There was a small gray sandy beach and rocks that took the shape of logs. (I wondered whether they were real petrified wood). I did collect a few samples (sand & rocks) for my collection. Then, I found a modern country restaurant where I had something to eat. I drove on to the bay shore of South Portland that looked deserted on a Sunday.

Map to Cape Elizabeth 

A mountain river in New Hampshire

Cape Elizabeth, ME
-PORTLAND, Maine. Maine has become the 5th New England state visited. The villages are not as
Longfellow's home in Portland, ME.
pretty as in western Massachusetts or Vermont. Portland is a dreary (and boring) typical American city. The only place with some activity is the docks, which have been revitalized in the 70s. There are cobbled streets in this area and many interesting shops or café signs. This is the birthplace of the American poet Longfellow. I went into an interesting bookstore and found a paperback copy of Robert Frost's poems.
Back to the hotel by 5:30 pm. Dinner at the restaurant: stuffed haddock with a glass of white Pinot from California, which was excellent ($28). 
Portland, ME central square.
D12. 03/10- From Portland, ME to Boston, MA.
Dep.8:30 / arr.11:15 at Logan Airport. About 140km.
From Portland to BOS
After giving back the rental car, I took the metro to downtown Boston (Chinatown station), then walked my way to Milner Hotel Boston Common. Not very convenient to walk there. The hotel does not look too good. The reception is not really welcoming and I cannot check in until 3:00 pm. So. I leave the luggage in the luggage room and go out exploring Boston. It is 12:30 pm. My first impression is not too good. I find a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown and order a nasi goreng (fried rice). Chinatown is a mixed of Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian with a few Japanese! After lunch, I walk through the Boston Common. It is a fine day and this looks better. On the other side of the Commons, there is a street (Beacon Street) lined with some fine examples of colonial houses. Then, I go to the Public Garden before heading to the area near the South Station and the Boston Tea Party Museumon the East Point Chanel
Boston Chinatown

A walk through Boston Common
Boston skyline & the Tea Party Museum.
In the evening, I eat at a nearby Thai restaurant, 'The Montien', ordering a duck curry. I asked for a spicy dish but it was only moderately spicy.
D13. 04/10. Full day in Boston.
Stroll at Beacon Hill
Another beautiful day inviting me to walk uphill and downhill in this historical city. If the first impression was negative, I must confess that today I was truly thrilled by the sites and the fulfilling enchantment of Boston. I did as much as I could to see all the interesting landmarks. There are much more than I anticipated. There is no doubt that the past heritage of the city makes the visit more interesting than any other American cities (with the exception of NYC). I did the two major attractions I wanted to see: Beacon Hill and Freedom Trail.
-BEACON HILL.This is an upscale colonial side of Boston. It has preserved its old world charm. I 
Beacon Hill house
simply followed the Michelin green guidebook walking through this lovely area: Charles Street Meeting HouseMount Vernon Street & Louisburg SquareHarrison Gray Otis House, and the State House above the Common.
Massachusetts State House
-The FREEDOM TRAIL. After a light lunch, I started following this historical trail starting at Park Street Church at the upper corner of the Common. Once again, I followed the Michelin suggested itinerary as there were many historical landmarks to see:
A tribute to Paul Revere
*Old Granary Burying Ground where some famous personalities are buried: Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, Peter Faneuil & the well-known story-teller 'Mother Goose'.
*Walking past the Old City Hall, I crossed the small square where there are the Old Corner Bookstore (now a fast-food restaurant) & the Old South Meeting House.
Old Corner Bookstore & square.
*The Old State House (a visitor center), Faneuil Hall (Peter Faneuil was another Huguenot, who played a major role in the war of independence). 
Then, I walked on to the nearby Union & Marshall Streets to see 'Ye Old Union Oyster House', where the future King of France, Louis-Philippe, lived and made a living by giving French lessons!
'Ye Old Union Oyster House'
 (This is a historical even I totally ignored!). 
*North End is another city area, which used to be another colonial part of town. Nowadays, it has
Old North Church
become Little Italy and there are Italian restaurants and shops everywhere. But there are many historical landmarks to visit: Paul Revere's House(which I visited); his equestrian statue on Paul Revere's Mall near the Old North Church (where President Ford inaugurated the Bicentennial in 1986), and finally Copp's Hill Burying Ground, the first cemetery of the colonial town.
-The Waterfront. To walk back to the Milner Hotel, I walked past the upper section of the harbor water-front: Christopher Columbus ParkLong Wharf & Central Wharf.
At Boston Waterfront
This was a long, interesting day. I fully understand why Boston holds such a dear place in the American hearts. I ended the evening at a seafood restaurant near the hotel in the Theater District. Of course, I had once more my favorite New England Clam Chowder before having the main course with a glass of Spanish Shiraz.
D14. 05/10. Last full day in Boston. 
Check-out time is 11:00 am. But I leave by 10:00 am to head to the South End and the Museums at the Back Bay Fens. As it is another gorgeous day, I decide to walk all the way. Pretty far, mainly on a round trip, but worth it.
John Hancock Tower
After the Public Garden, I stay on Boylston Street until Copley Square. This is a new section of town but extremely well-off. This is where all the branded shops are. The John Hancock Tower on Copley Square reflects the sky and the clouds above an old stone church. Quite a contrast! This is where the Boston Public Library is, built in the neoclassic style. I turn into Dartmouth Street towards Back Bay area and the bank of the Charles River separating Boston from Cambridge, MA. MIT is just on the opposite side. Back Bay is an old residential area with huge mansions and shaded streets. Commonwealth Avenue looks like a long park in its middle section.
The Charles River & a view of Cambridge, MA.
Turning back to Copley Square, I turn into Huntington Avenue. This way goes by the massive 
Christian Science Plaza
Christian Science Plaza, the Symphony Hall (home of the famous Boston Symphonic Orchestra), and also the Northeastern University. The two museums I want to see are located near Back Bay Fens: first the Museum of Fine Arts and then, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
A view of Muddy River at the Back Bay Fens
-ISABELLA STEWARD GARDNER MUSEUM. Toni in South Dennis, Cape Cod, had recommended this museum and I must say it was absolutely stunning. I had a great lunch in the modern section of the museum as it was past noon already. Then, I went through this amazing museum built around a huge atrium in the Venetian style.
The museum atrium

Venetian architecture
The Gothic room of the museum.

The Veronese Room.
The Muddy River at the Back Bay Fens is a lovely natural park with squirrels, ducks and giant geese.

-The MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS. This is a well-known institution. Too big to see it all. I made the choice to see the American collection and the European section, mainly the Impressionists on the 2F. Absolutely fabulous.
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
'Le Facteur Roulin' & his wife by Van Gogh

'Where do we come from...' by Paul Gauguin

'Le Pont du Jardin de Giverny' by Claude Monet

Colonial American home interior.

Back to the Milner Htl., I'll wait for a few hours before going to the airport. I've asked for a taxi pickup so that I can get from door to door from the hotel to Terminal E (Qatar Airways). It only takes 15min to get there ($20). Check-in and formalities are as easy as when I arrived. I think Boston is a convenient port of entry to the US like Las Vegas was many years ago. I spent a couple of hours at the Air France business lounge before boarding the flight to Doha.
Route map from BOS to BKK
- End of the trip -

Flights from BKK to BOS

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