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In September 2022 Tibby and I did a 23-day, 2,500 mile motorhome trip from Boston to Niagara Falls to Maine and back to Boston. We travelled with our friends, Richard and Jean Thompson from London. Each couple hired a motorhome.

The guidebook company Lonely Planet produces a book entitled ’52 Best USA Road Trips’. Having decided to travel from and return to Boston we created a trip by linking part of five of the trips in the guide. These included the following trips:

Coastal New England

Finger Lakes Loop

Vermont’s Spine

Fall Foliage Tour

Acadia National Park

We added places to the itinerary which others told us about or which we read about elsewhere. We did not stick to the itinerary inflexibly but varied it when we all agreed. We travelled together for the first three days but after that left camp separately, often seeing different things during the day and meeting up at the campsite at night. On one occasion Richard and Jean wanted to spend a day in the Adirondack Mountains, which was not on the itinerary, so they went off and caught up with us the following day.

Queen Elizabeth died on the day before the trip started. We were very sad at her passing and sad that we were not in the UK over the lead up to and during her funeral. We were determined to watch the funeral live and wanted to do it in comfortable environment and so we rented Rudyard Kipling’s house in Dummerston, Vermont, for two nights. There was good WIFI in the house and so we were able to watch the complete funeral. We were impressed that many flags in the areas we passed through, were at half-mast to acknowledge her death.

Day 1 – Worcester, near Boston, Massachusetts to Foxboro, Massachusetts – 43 miles

We met Richard and Jean at MetroWest Auto Sales in Worcester, the local agents for Cruise America at 12h00 on Friday 9th September 2022. The checkin clerk whipped us through an orientation of the motor homes. R&J were renting a 25’ vehicle and we rented a 30’ vehicle. R&J drew the short straw and were given a well-worn vehicle with 138,000 miles on the clock, while ours had a modest 9,000 miles recorded.

We drove five miles to a giant Walmart store where we bought basic provisions, food for the next few days, camp chairs, extra pillows, coffee plungers and a stock of food storage containers.

We were caught in Friday afternoon traffic and crawled the forty miles to our campsite in almost two hours (This was the only time in 22 days on the road when we were held up by traffic).

I had booked, from London, the last two available sites in the 500 site campsite at Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort in Foxboro near Providence. Meeters directed us to the office, where we were checked in. As we were new to the site, an escort lead us to our site and reminded us how we should hook up to electricity, water and sewer. We busied ourselves packing our clothes and provisions into the cupboards. This is a great campsite with plenty of activities on offer and walking trails in the forest. Unfortunately, we did not have time to enjoy the amenities. We slept well.

Day 2 – Via Providence, Little Compton and Middletown, all in Rhode Island – 90 miles

We had a short drive in to Providence, the capital of Rhode Island State. Our first challenge was to find parking. Our campers stretched over two parking spaces. Fortunately, the city was quiet on a Saturday morning. A passing policeman told us that we had two hour’s free parking.

We met our guide Jim, at the Graduate Hotel and walked two miles with him to the Rhode Island State House, through the Roger Williams State Park (a block sized park – one of the smallest state parks), to the First Baptist Church in America, past the Rhode Island School of Design and back through downtown to the start point.

We learnt that Providence is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. One of the oldest cities in New England, it was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Reformed Baptist theologian and religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honour of “God’s merciful Providence” which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay.

A rummage sale was happening in the basement of the Baptist Church. I asked if we could see the inside of the church and a woman led us there and told us about the history if the church. It transpired that the lady guiding us through the church is the pastor of the church, Rev. Dr. Jamie Washam. Jamie explained that the congregation was the first Baptist Congregation in America and was ‘gathered’ by Roger Williams in 1638.  The present church building was completed and held its first meetings in May 1775. Jamie explained that the church is very simple with plain glass windows so that people can look in and see what is happening. She showed us the pews which had small half doors closing each pew off. Families were historically assigned pews according to how much they contributed to the church. The current congregation is about 100. The organist and Minister of Music, Stephen Martorella, was holding off practising while Jamie spoke to us. The organ is a magnificent instrument consisting of 2,843 pipes, 80 stops, and 49 ranks. We asked Stephen to play something for us and (acknowledging the death of Queen Elizabeth, two days before) he immediately, and with no reference to sheet music, played ‘God Save the Queen’. That was an emotional moment for us from Britain.

Once back on our walking tour, Jim told us that Providence has seven major educational institutions including Brown University.

We left Providence and headed 30 miles south to Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard near Little Compton.

The vineyard is in an idyllic location with attractive buildings and a lovely environment to taste wine and eat a light lunch. Unfortunately, the wine was mediocre and the sandwiches were unappetising.

We drove a further six miles south to Lloyds Beach at the end of the peninsula. (Tomorrow we will go to the end of three further peninsulas in Narragansett Bay in the Atlantic Ocean). A pretty place with a small yacht marina.

Nearby Little Compton is another pretty village.

We ended the day at Meadowlark RV Park in Middletown, just north of Newport.

We have elected to do this road trip in a campervan or RV (recreation vehicle). Ours is 30’ long, 10’ wide and 12’ high. The underlying vehicle is a Ford 450 V-10 automatic with a 208-litre petrol tank. I did not keep track of our consumption, but it was high, ameliorated somewhat by the fact that petrol cost half what it does in the UK. In theory seven adults can sleep in the vehicle but there will be no privacy, insufficient clothing storage space and uncomfortable seating when driving. For two people it is luxurious. The double bed at the rear can be accessed from both sides and the toilet and shower are in separate rooms. Richard and Jean’s vehicle was 5’ shorter at 25’ and the bathroom was fitted next to the bed at the rear. The toilet and shower were separated by a curtain and the shower was smaller than ours. As a result, they tended to use the showers in the ablution blocks at the camps we stayed at, whereas our shower was comfortable enough for us to shower in the vehicle most of the time. The van has a three-plate gas hob and a microwave, a large fridge and a freezer. A 43-litre tank of propane fuelled the gas hob and the water heater. On this trip we used the air conditioning once and the heating on a few nights. A full hook up at campsites meant connecting to power, water and a sewer. When those were not available, we had a 150-litre freshwater tank, a 22-litre hot water tank, a 95 litre sewage tank and an 83 litre grey water tank. There is a 2.3 cubic metre storage space under the bed which is accessed from outside and where we stored our suitcases, firewood and water hose. This does not come cheap. The overall cost of the vehicle hire, petrol, gas and campsites came to about $400 per day. Hotels are expensive in the areas we travelled and so we estimate that hotels and car hire would cost a similar amount. The swing factor is that we self-catered almost all our meals which was a lot cheaper than eating out every meal and also more comfortable. We had the convenience of unpacking our clothes once and having them available to us in the cupboards of the van. There was a small inconvenience of unhooking the vehicle from the utilities when we wanted to travel off the campsite. As a result we used Uber a few times.

Day 3 – Via Newport, Beavertail National Park, Point Judith to Wakefield, all in Rhode Island – 70 miles

We underestimated how much there was to see in Newport and had not organised a guide or tour.

The narrated bus tour at 10h00 was full with the next being 13h00. The Visitor’s Centre pointed us to the free Bus 67 which had six stops in the major areas of interest, including near the Cliff Walk. We were not successful in finding parking downtown or near the marina so we drove to the Cliff Walk near Ruggles Avenue where we found parking in a side street. We walked two miles along the Cliff Walk to Memorial Avenue and then on to Bellevue Avenue. We passed by Breakers House and the Salve Regina University. This was delightful. Lots of people were walking the Cliff Walk. The shops on Bellevue Avenue were doing good business. We caught Bus 67 back to our vehicles and left town, knowing that we had not done it justice.

We crossed the Claiborne Pell Bridge (an amazingly high bridge to allow ships to pass underneath on their way to Providence) and passed by Mackeral Cove Beach on our way to the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum. There we met 81-year-old Richard Chellis, whose father was the lighthouse keeper, when he was born. He lived the first seven years of his life in the house attached to the lighthouse. Richard was the highlight of our visit although the museum taught us things we did not know.

We crossed the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge on our 23-mile journey to the Point Judith Lighthouse. We could not get close to the lighthouse because it is a Coastguard station under lock and key. Instead we watched surfers battle to catch a wave.

We camped in Worden Pond Family Campground.

Day 4 – via Mystic and Groton to North Branford, all in Connecticut – 100 miles

It rained heavily all night and drizzled on and off all morning.

Because we live in Richmond London we are always interested in seeing other towns called Richmond. There are 45 in the US. Unexpectedly we passed through Richmond, Rhode Island which has a population of only 8,000. We almost missed it.

We made our way to the Mystic Seaport Museum which is a 17 acre site on the Mystic River. It includes 60 historic buildings, four tall ships and smaller vessels. It is a centre for the restoration of older ships and boats. They have gone to a lot of trouble to present information, buildings and boats. There is a very interesting museum explaining the whale hunting industry.  They have a large boatshed where they actively restore boats using techniques from a hundred years ago. We did not do justice to the museum because of the rain but were fascinated.

We moved on to the mouth of the Thames River to Groton opposite New London, to the Submarine Force Library and Museum. We went to see USS Nautilus which was the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine and the first submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole on 3 August 1958. After 25 years of service, it was retired and is now available for tourists to walk through. The walk through is well organised in the restricted space and we were able to see the work and living spaces and the torpedoes. There is also a museum building with more information on this and other submarines. A very interesting and different experience.

We camped near New Haven at Totoket Valley RV Park and caught an Uber to Franke Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana which normally requires one to stand in a long queue. Because we arrived late there was no queue, and we were left with the difficult decision of which pie to have. Pepe’s call their pizzas ‘pies’ but they are the same product and totally delicious.

Pepe’s do not sell espresso coffee and were agreeable to us bringing in take out coffee. Jean and I crossed the street to Zenelli’s Pizza where we met Grandfather Zenelli savouring a glass of wine at the bar, while his four adult sons ran the restaurant, and his wife babysat the four grandchildren at home. While our coffee was made we were told that Pepe’s sold Americanised pizza whereas the Zenelli product was the same as that made in Naples, Italy!

Day 5 – to Clarence Fahnestock State Park in New York– 70 miles

It rained all night but the day was largely dry. We have had warm, comfortable weather since we started.

Our guide to Yale University was Jordie, a third-year student. We learnt that Yale is 350 years old and is one of the eight Ivy League Universities. It has 6,500 undergraduate and 8,000 graduate students studying a wide variety of subjects in fourteen schools. The full cost of undergraduate study and accommodation is $72,000 with 50% of students receiving a discount or aid of some sort. The university owns 260 acres in central New Haven and a further 500 acres in western New Haven. The campus in the centre of town is mainly connected and is a beautiful collection of historic and modern buildings with wide pedestrian walkways and magnificent squares.

After the tour we visited the Yale Center for British Art which is part of the University and which houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. The collection of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, rare books, and manuscripts reflects the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period. The center was established by a gift from Paul Mellon (Yale College Class of 1929) of his British art collection to Yale in 1966, together with an endowment for operations of the center, and funds for a building to house the works of art.

We made our way to the Clarence Fahnestock State Park in New York where we camped in a beautiful wild environment.

This was the cheapest campsite at $27. Our most expensive of the trip was $150 per night at Niagara Falls and the average was $73. For the first four nights we found that many campsites were fully booked, and we had to enquire at several campsites before finding one. I downloaded the app ‘Dyrt’ which was supposed to help find campsites. It found the worst campsite so far, last night at Totoket and also the not ideal Worden Pond Campsite, the night before. I concluded that Dyrt was not a good source and cancelled my subscription. We then focused on the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) website with over 500 campgrounds in North America. We found their sites to be a reasonable quality. Availability also improved as we passed out of the main holiday season. Almost all the sites offered electricity and water hook-ups, most also offered sewer connections. Most offered cable connections (which we did not use) and almost all offered free WIFI with payment for streaming broadband.

Day 6 – via West Point, Port Jervis and Hancock, all in New York to – 87 miles

We arrived at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, in plenty of time for our 10h30 tour. Located on the Hudson River in New York, 50 miles from New York City, West Point was identified by General George Washington as the most important strategic position in America during the American Revolution. On January 27, 1778, Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons and his brigade crossed the ice on the Hudson River and climbed to the plain on West Point and from that day to the present, West Point has been occupied by the United States Army. It comprises approximately 16,000 acres including the campus of USMA, which is commonly called “West Point”. The USMA runs a four-year degree course to prepare cadets to become officers in the Army. There are 4,400 students who can choose from forty-five academic majors, the most popular of which are foreign languages, management information systems, history, economics, and mechanical engineering. Unsurprisingly there is a strong focus on team sports and so there is a wide range of sports activities and facilities available. The course is free to those who subsequently serve eight years in the Army. There are many statues to notable people who were attached to West Point.

We did a 75-minute tour. The campus is big, so we were transported by coach from the Visitor Meeting Area, through security on to the campus. We passed by academic, accommodation and sporting buildings and descended from the coach at the beautiful Protestant Chapel. The coach then took us to the viewpoint over the Hudson River which included cannon won in battle in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. We also had a view from there of many of the major buildings and statues. We learnt about the life and process of the students over their four years. This was a fascinating insight into an important institution of both the Army and the Country.

We then crossed to Port Jervis on the Delaware River and travelled seventy miles next to the river to Hancock. The road would once have provided many views of the river but now trees obscure most views. I was slightly frustrated at the lack of views and lack of places to stop along the route. Nonetheless it was a lovely drive.

We camped thirty miles further north at the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) campsite at Unadilla. We were short of kindling for our fire so Richard borrowed an axe from a neighbour and began slicing the larger logs we had. Jean had disappeared in search of kindling and now reappeared perched on the back of quad bike, driven by Todd, a campsite employee, pulling a trailer of branches. They had collected the wood in the nearby forest. The happy scene was disturbed by the arrival of Avril, Todd’s wife who expressed unhappiness at him fraternising with a beautiful lady. As Todd and Avril returned to their trailer we weren’t sure if she was serious or not. The fire was great.

Day 7 – to Ithaca, New York – 94 miles

We travelled seventy miles eastwards through beautiful rolling countryside. This was an even more pleasant drive than the day before. We stopped at the Valley View Farm Stall near Richford and were delighted by the colourful displays of vegetables and fruit. The owner, Donna, expressed her condolences on the death of Queen Elizabeth and then remarked that her daughter, who is a funeral director, was intrigued to see that the coffin was transported in a glass hearse. She told us that in the US one cannot see into hearses.

We visited Buttermilk Falls, near Ithaca, where water cascades down angled rock formations.

We joined a tour of Cornell University guided by Luke, a third-year student. The university was founded in 1865 and the 745-acre campus is on the hill overlooking the town of Ithaca, NY. It is one of the eight Ivy League universities and has 15,000 undergraduate and 10,000 graduate students studying a huge variety of subjects. The large campus has many interesting academic, accommodation and sports buildings with several squares and lawns. It must be a delight to study here even if the unsubsidised undergraduate fees for study and accommodation are $85,000 pa.

Jean and Richard did not accompany us to Cornell but instead hiked up the gorge behind Buttermilk Falls. They reported that it was a beautiful hike.

Our friend, David Scheinerman, had recommended the vegan Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca so we went there for dinner and had a delicious meal, with most of us enjoying the Coconut Curry.

We stayed at Spruce Row Campground ten miles from Ithaca.

Day 8 – via Geneva and Corning to Bath, all in New York – 131 miles

We were awake by 07h00. Our son, David, is a captain in the British Army Regiment ‘The Irish Guards’. He and eleven fellow officers were standing vigil on the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall for six hours from midday UK time. Four of them stood vigil for twenty minutes in each hour as the public filed past. He told us later that it was a very moving experience. We were very proud that he could participate. We were able to view it as there was a continual TV stream of the scene.

We were now in the Finger Lakes which are a group of eleven long, narrow, roughly north–south lakes in the north-west of New York State. Cayuga and Seneca Lakes are among the deepest in the United States, measuring 435 feet and 618 feet respectively, with bottoms well below sea level. Though none of the lakes’ widths exceed 3.5 miles, Seneca Lake is 38 miles long, and 67 square miles, the largest in total area. There are many waterfalls in the area.

Soon after leaving the campsite, we took a side road to the observation place for the spectacular Taughannock Falls.

We followed the shore road on the western side of the Cayuga Lake to Sheldrake Point seeing lovely homes along the shore, many with boathouses on the lake.

On the way back to the main road we came across the roadside stall of Wyckoff Farms. Todd told us that that all his produce was sourced from neighbouring farms including his pork and beef. We bought sausages, corn and the sweetest baby tomatoes.

In the next hour we must have passed thirty wineries but unfortunately did not have time to stop and taste. We parked by the lakeside in the Seneca Lake State Park near Geneva and made and ate sandwiches for lunch.

The houses in Main Street, Geneva were beautiful.

We turned south along the western shore of Seneca Lake marvelling at the beauty of the lake and of the homes along the lake side.

At 15h00 we arrived at the Corning Glass Museum. I was unprepared for the wonder of this museum. I was like a boy in a sweet shop. There was so much to delight the eye. I started in the Contemporary Glass Gallery, moved on to 35 Centuries of Glass, the Ben W. Heineman Sr. Family Gallery of Contemporary Glass and display of Fire and Vine: The Story of Glass and Wine. The museum shop was huge and revealed more glass delights. We spent twenty minutes in the auditorium and watched a glass blower create a vase. This was an absolute delight.

We then travelled twenty miles to Hammondsport / Bath KOA campsite near Bath, NY.

Day 9 – to Niagara Falls, New York – 153 miles

We started the day by making our way along the attractive shore road on the eastern side of Keuka Lake, to the Windmill Farm & Craft Market near Penn Yan. We had been told that this was an Amish market but in fact only about 10% of the 250 stalls were managed by Amish. The market was a mix of crafts, household goods, curious looking wines (one included instructions on how to mix the wine with fruit juices and freeze the product to create a wine slushie) and tat. Our enthusiasm for a Bloomin Onion turned to disappointment at the poor quality of the finished product.

We pushed on and arrived at our Niagara Falls / Grand Island KOA campsite, seven miles before Niagara Falls, at 13h00.

Uber could not provide us with a cab so we called a local cab driver, Tom, who took us to the start of the Rainbow Bridge, over the Niagara River, downstream from the Falls. He told us that every few years the Falls froze for a few days. There was no chance of freezing today as it was a piping hot day.

We had been correctly advised that the best viewing of the Falls was from the Canadian side so we walked across the bridge and, after showing copies of our COVID vaccination certificates, stepped on to the Canadian bank.

The Niagara River is the boundary between the USA and Canada and drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The largest of the three falls is Horseshoe Falls, which straddles the international border of the two countries. The smaller American Falls and the even smaller Bridal Veil Falls lie within the United States.

We headed directly to Niagara City Cruises to take a boat to the base of the three Falls. This was a very slick operation, funnelling customers down the cliff to the boats, with red plastic rain ponchos being provided en-route. The company runs two boats all day, doing 32 cruises per day with a capacity of 700 customers on each cruise. With the peak tourist season over, they loaded 400 on to our boat. The boat had two decks with most people standing on the exposed top deck. The identical operation of the Maid of the Mist boat cruises runs from the US side. On our twenty-minute ride we were taken along the base of the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. We got close enough for the spray to come down like rain. We then entered the horseshoe of the Horseshoe Falls and water hammered down on the boat and all those standing on the top deck. Watching the boat from the land later, it appeared that the boat had engines running at full steam and yet the power of the water flow kept the boat stationary. We saw beautiful rainbows.

After the boat cruise we walked up to the 160-metre-tall Skylon Tower. Our reservation to the revolving restaurant gave us quick access to the lift, which ascends on the outside of the tower. The view of the Falls from the restaurant was amazing. The restaurant did a revolution once an hour. The food was horrible, for a sky high price.

We walked upriver to the top of the Horseshoe Falls and marvelled as the water dropped over the edge of the Falls.

The Canadian side of the Falls has a large boulevard stretching from the Rainbow Bridge to the top of the Horseshoe Falls, which makes it easy to walk and view the falls. On this lovely warm Saturday night there were a lot of people out and about.

We crossed back into the USA and were tempted by an ice cream vendor.

Tom, the cab driver. whisked us home to our campsite.

Day 10 – to Dummerston, Vermont – 370 miles

This was the longest driving day of the holiday. The route to Albany (70% of the distance) was through undulating farm country, on motorways, with no one sticking to the 65mph speed limit. After Albany the route became more mountainous as we travelled through the beautiful Green Mountain National Forest between Hoosick NY and Wilmington VT.

We arrived at Naulakha on Kipling Road in Dummerston, Vermont near Brattleboro at 16h00. The four bedroomed house was built by the British author, Rudyard Kipling, (then aged 27) in 1893. During the three years that he lived there with his wife, Carrie, he wrote the two Jungle Books, a book of short stories (The Day’s Work), a novel (Captains Courageous), and a profusion of poetry, including the volume The Seven Seas. The collection of Barrack-Room Ballads was issued in March 1892, first published individually for the most part in 1890, and contained his poems “Mandalay” and “Gunga Din”. The family moved back to the UK in 1896. The house is owned and let for holiday purposes by Landmark Trust USA an affiliate of the UK Landmark Trust charity. The house is big and comfortable with Kipling’s original desk and hundreds of books. It is a joy to stay in such a special place. Tibby and I had stayed in the house four years ago and were delighted to return. We stayed for two nights.

Day 11 – Remained in Dummerston

Today was the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Being royalists, we were very sad that we were not in the UK over the previous twelve days since her death. We were determined to watch the funeral service on the BBC. We had a disturbed night not wanting to oversleep. At 05h00 (10h00 UK time) we were up and started watching. We found the service and the ceremony very moving.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying the house. Jean and Richard returned from a walk with a big collection of apples which were a great accompaniment to our pork roast dinner.

Day 12 – along the VT100 via Weston and Killington to Waterbury and then to Shelburne near Burlington, all in Vermont – 181 miles

We started the day at the Vermont Country Store near Rockingham, which had a huge collection of textile, clothing, household and craft items for sale. I quickly retreated to the camper van, but Tibby found a few items of interest.

We then followed the VT100 route northwards through the most beautiful countryside. The route was hilly, forested with many lakes and cute villages. It was an absolute delight. Probably the most scenic route we have done on this trip. It drizzled on and off for much of the day.

From Waterbury we drove to Richmond, New York which is an attractive village with a 1912 Round Church.

We camped at Shelburne Camping in Shelburne, just south of Burlington.

Day 13 – to Twin Mountain in New Hampshire – 146 miles

It rained for much of the night, was dry and clouded in the morning and blue in the afternoon.

Jean and Richard left us to spend the day in the Adirondack Mountains which we had visited in 2018.

We entered the wonder that is the Shelburne Museum. Thirty-nine historic Vermont buildings have been relocated to this 45-acre site which also includes a lake steamer and a covered bridge. Within these buildings are items that are relevant to the building like a store, church and school but other buildings are used to display art and historic objects. We particularly liked the temporary exhibition of paintings of Vermont by Luigi Lucioni, the paintings in the temporary exhibition ‘Eyesight & Insight: Lens on American Art’, the permanent exhibitions of masters and impressionist art in the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building, the American Art in the Webb Gallery and the collection of hat boxes and toys in the Dana-Spencer Textile Gallery at Hat and Fragrance. One needs several visits to this museum to do it justice. We thoroughly enjoyed our single visit.

We drove through Burlington and reminded ourselves of the city, which we had visited in 2018.

We then drove 120 miles east to Twin Mountain in the White Mountain National Forest. The whole route was forested on low level mountains providing beautiful views especially as some of the trees were displaying autumn colours.

We had dinner in Stickneys Restaurant in the Mount Washington Resort hotel, previously called the Mount Washington Hotel. The hotel is in the Bretton Woods near the town of Carroll. The Bretton Woods Conference was the gathering of 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations at the Mount Washington Hotel, for three weeks in July 1944, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War. The conference agreed that the US dollar would be backed by gold and that all the countries’ currencies would be pegged to the US dollar. This system lasted for thirty years and created a stable global financial system. At the conference it was also agreed to establish both the IMF and the World Bank.

The 200-bedroom hotel was completed in 1902. The hotel has a huge profile standing above a plain. The communal parts which we saw have been well maintained but not updated and were not comfortable and I am sure that the hotel is principally used by conferences rather than individuals. Our dinner was mediocre, worsened by the fact that the Jordanian manager and the Indonesian server were determined to fully inform us of their life journeys to their current position.

We camped at Twin Mountain / Mt. Washington KOA.

Day 14 – Lincoln in New Hampshire – 58 miles

We woke to heavy rain. We arrived at the Mount Washington Cog Railway for our booked 10h00 departure in rain and cloud. Tibby took the sensible step and stayed at the base. I proceeded on the train. The Cog Railway has been in place for 153 years and is the second steepest rack railway in the world after the Pilatus Railway in Switzerland, with an average grade of over 25% and a maximum grade of 37%. The railway is approximately 3 miles long and ascends Mount Washington’s western slope, beginning at an elevation of 2,700 feet (820 m) above sea level and ending just short of the mountain’s summit peak of 6,288 feet (1,917 m). The train ascends the mountain at 2.8 miles per hour and descends at 4.6 mph. A single 70 seat train carriage is pushed by a bio-diesel locomotive and up to three carriages can ascend together. The seats are angled which makes for more comfortable seating when on the slope. The train reverses on the way down so the left side of the train (when viewed in the direction of upward travel) (where the three-seater benches are located) get the view. The seat backs are pushed over for the return journey so one is always facing the direction of travel. A guide talks about the railway, the mountain and life.

Our whole trip up was done in rain and cloud, and we saw no views on the way up or at the summit. The schedule assumes that one will stay at the summit for an hour and catch the next train back. It was clear that I would have no views and the people waiting to descend on the train looked so miserable that I joined them and returned immediately. The guide did say that the summit is covered by cloud for part or all of 300 days each year. One can drive to the summit on the eastern slope.

We made our way, in the rain, through beautiful countryside, to our Lincoln / Woodstock KOA campsite and relaxed. The rain eased and patches of blue sky appeared. Jean and Richard re-joined us at campsite. We were forced indoors for dinner as the evening was the coldest yet.

Day 15 – to Acadia National Park in Maine – 252 miles

It rained on and off during the night and got colder. The morning was the coldest we have had on this trip.

This was the second longest driving day, in terms of miles, of the trip.

We took the Kancamagus Highway for 35 miles from Lincoln to Conway to an elevation of just under 3,000 feet at its highest point at Kancamagus Pass on the flank of Mt. Kancamagus. There was a lot of low cloud so we did not get the benefit of the views that there must be on a clear day. We have travelled on many beautiful roads this trip, but this must rate as the best with mountains, forests and rivers and the leaves of some trees changing colour. This is hiking heaven as there were many hiking trailheads along the road.

We stopped at Rocky Gorge and walked a short distance along the Swift River to lovely falls.

We stopped in Conway at the Sweet Maple Café and shared a plate of three breakfast pancakes with Maine syrup which were not as tasty as they looked nor as we had hoped.

We crossed into Maine at Fryeburg and the drive got even better as we drove 73 miles through the Lakes Area of Maine via Naples to North Windham. There are 50 lakes in this beautiful area.

We joined the Maine Turnpike and quickly entered a toll station. In New York State we had passed through many toll points, which were all automated overhead readers. We then registered our vehicle online and our credit card was charged for all our tolls. Here a toll keeper asked us for $5.65 and when I tried to pay by credit card, I was told that the only way to pay was by cash or personal check! I have no idea how long a transaction with a check takes but it will certainly not be fast or efficient. This is antiquated technology.

The wind was blowing strongly and every now and then a strong gust would hit the camper van and I would struggle to keep the vehicle on a straight path. I later discovered that Hurricane Fiona was progressing northwards in the Atlantic towards Nova Scotia, Canada and the windy conditions in Maine were on her outskirts. We were told to expect a windy night.

Our Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA campsite was on the edge of Mount Desert Island near Acadia National Park. We stayed there for three nights. At 18h45 we caught an Uber the one mile back over the bridge to Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound where we spent $135 on four huge lobsters which we enjoyed with melted butter.

When our Uber driver had picked us up she made the point that we were lucky to find an Uber as they are few and far apart in this area and that she would not be around after we finished our dinner. She was correct and we could not get an Uber at 20h15 when we finished dinner. Although it was only a mile to the campsite, we would have to walk in the pitch dark on a narrow unlit pavement on the bridge next to a busy road. We felt that would not be safe. The restaurant called a local taxi driver who couldn’t believe that we accepted his quote of $35 to leave the comfort of his home and was quickly with us. A very expensive mile!

Day 16 – Acadia National Park – 23 miles in our vehicle

Hurricane Fiona peaked during the night with the camper rocking often. This was the third time that we have turned on the heating in the van during the night. It is highly efficient and can quickly heat the space in a few minutes. We set it at a low level to remove the chill.

We were surprised to see how big the town of Bar Harbor is. We enjoyed lobster rolls for lunch at Testa’s Restaurant and then joined a tour provided by Acadia National Park Tours.

There is a road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain but private vehicles longer than 21’ are not permitted. This tour took us to the summit. The wind was still blowing but it had blown the clouds away, so we had beautiful views in all directions. There are many other islands surrounding the island we were on.

The coach then took us to Sieur de Mont Spring where we enjoyed the Wild Gardens of Acadia although there were not many flowers in bloom.

Our guide, Cindy, told us how the efforts of one man, George Dorr, resulted in the Park being proclaimed during the First World War in 1916. His cause was helped by John D. Rockefeller Jnr who financed the construction of a 57-mile network of paths for horses and carriages. The park now preserves about half of Mount Desert Island, part of the Isle au Haut, the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula, and portions of 16 smaller outlying islands.

Cindy drove us past Sand Beach and let us off at Thunder Hole to let us hear the thunderclap as the waves were caught in the hole in the rock. People numbers are limited at the summit of Cadillac Mountain by a booking system. There is no booking system for Sand Beach and Thunder Hole and on a lovely blue Saturday afternoon in September there were thousands of people enjoying that area.

We returned to Bar Harbor and while Tibby checked out the shops I wandered down to the shore, across the green and to the Congregational and Episcopal churches. We met up and had a drink in the garden of the Ivy Manor Inn where a musician was singing our type of songs.

Day 17 – Acadia National Park – 71 miles

The Park has four million visitors a year which is huge amount for a relatively small park (49,000 acres). They have tried to manage numbers by requiring visitors to book their drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and by providing a bus system that not only gets to every corner of the park but is also free. That was little consolation to us, and many others, who tried to visit Jordan Pond House today. Every car parking space was taken including cars parked in three of the four RV spaces. We left without seeing the house.

We made our way through Southwest Harbor to Bass Harbor and returned by crossing from Echo Lake Beach via the part gravel roads of Lurvey Springs Road, Long Pond Road and Seal Cove Road and through Pretty Marsh. We were surrounded by forest all the way but often the trees opened up to show us beautiful stretches of water, mainly being inlets from the sea.

Jean and Richard spent six hours today cycling along the carriage ways.

The campsite was full with a wide range of camping vehicles or RVs.  Wikipedia: ‘A recreational vehicle, often abbreviated as RV, is a motor vehicle or trailer that includes living quarters designed for accommodation. Types of RVs include motorhomes, campervans, coaches, caravans (also known as travel trailers and camper trailers), fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers.’ We have been intrigued by the variety of camping vehicles we have seen. The most basic is a normal caravan but there are few of those. A step up is the Airstream Caravan. Airstream is an American brand of caravan easily recognized by the distinctive shape of its rounded and polished aluminium coachwork. This body shape dates back to the 1930s and is the oldest in the industry. Modern day Airstreams are insulated, heated and have all mod cons. If one is not keen on towing then a solution is a truck camper where a caravan carcass is mounted on to the back of a pick up truck for the holiday. If one is prepared to dedicate a vehicle to the camping endeavour then a motorised motor home, like the ones we hired, is the answer. Some people consider motorhomes to be too small, so they add slide-outs which often accommodate beds. The top of the range are coaches and the similarly sized trailers that provide a huge amount of accommodation and almost all have slide outs. Talking to the owners of some of these mammoth vehicles, one often finds that most of the time they are occupied only by a couple (always old and often wealthy) and the space is taken up principally with a bedroom, bathroom, sitting area and kitchen. There may be a guest bedroom! The average price of an American Coach Class A Motorhome tends to range from $350,000 to $500,000 depending on the features and accessories you choose. A new coach motorhome built by Newell will cost at least $2,000,000 and may include features like an aluminium roller blind on the exterior of the vehicle which opens to reveal an outward facing television which can be watched from around the fire.

Day 18 – Via Rockland to Freeport near Portland in Maine – 140 miles

We woke to it raining but it stopped by 10h00 and the day brightened and warmed up.

We stopped at the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory. The Bridge is a 2,120-foot-long cable-stayed bridge that carries US 1 over the Penobscot River. It connects Verona Island to Prospect, in the state of Maine. It opened in December 2006. The bridge is an engineering feat even for an accountant like me. What makes it more interesting is that at the top of one of the two towers of the bridge is an observation tower. We ascended quickly by lift and had 360⁰ views of the lovely countryside and the Narrows going out to sea.

We walked through the nearby Fort Knox (not to be confused with the more important United States Army post in Kentucky). With the Penobscot Narrows being an important access point to the sea, near the Canadian border, and military losses in the area to the British in 1779 and 1814, the decision was taken to build the fort, which was almost completed by 1869, when all masonry fort funding was withdrawn. The fort never saw battle.

We followed the coast southwards and stopped for our last lobster roll at McLaughlins Lobster Shack on the sea front at Lincolnville.

For the next 70 miles we drove through one pretty town after another. Each one looked like a good place to explore for a few days. This is genteel living at its best. The towns generally have access to the sea, sometimes up long inlets. There are many lakes and forests and gentle hills and rolling farm lands.

We camped at Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Camping (20 miles before Portland) on a peninsula at the sea. This forested campsite was the prettiest we stayed at.

Day 19 – via Portland, Maine to North Hampton, New Hampshire  – 92 miles

We had a tour of the childhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) (author of ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ and many other poems) in Portland. Henry’s grandfather, General Peleg Wadsworth had the house built in the open countryside in 1786. Henry lived in the house as a young child and returned to it for visits with his sister, Anne Longfellow Pierce. Anne lived in the house until her death in 1901 at which point it passed to the Maine Historical Society. The house is the oldest house in Portland is and now in a main street of the city and displays life as it was in the 1850’s with all the original furniture, kitchen and paintings. This was a fascinating tour.

We had parked at Whole Foods but needed to move on and would have parked on the sea front if we could have found parking for our large vehicle. We were sorry not to walk along the sea front because it was a hive of activity.

We made our way to Kennebunkport. This unusual name describes a bank on a river in a local Indian language. The river is called Kennebunk and the two nearby towns are Kennebunk and (at the sea) Kennebunkport. These are both popular and pretty tourist towns made more popular by the fact that the Presidents Bush had their summer house on the nearby coast. There is little parking in Kennebunkport and certainly none for a 30’ campervan, so we moved on.

We stopped to buy a chocolate cake and candles and at 17h00 in the Sea Coast Camping and RV Resort we celebrated Jean’s 65th birthday.

Richard and Jean told us about a painting, called Hillside by Anne Ireland, that they had bought during the day in Portland. It was shipped directly to the UK so we had to wait to see it, but you can see it now.

Two hours later an Uber took us eight miles to the Library Restaurant in Portsmouth where a wonderful birthday meal was had.

Day 20 – to Gloucester in Massachusetts – 71 miles

Gloucester is on a peninsula at the far end of Boston Bay. We walked for a while on Good Harbor Beach which was delightful on a sunny but cool afternoon. We chatted to an American couple on an end of season holiday from their home near Dummerston. They had attended weddings at Naulakha and were envious that we had stayed there. They had lived for a few years in Hampstead, near our previous home. This is a small world.

Elizabeth was our guide to the Beauport Sleeper-McCann House. Wikipedia: ‘Beauport was built starting in 1908 as the summer home of interior decorator and antique collector Henry Davis Sleeper. Situated on the rocks overlooking Gloucester Harbor, the structure was repeatedly enlarged and modified by Sleeper, and filled with a large collection of fine art, folk art, architectural artifacts, and other collectible materials. Sleeper decorated its rooms, which came to number 56, to evoke different historical and literary themes. After his death, Charles and Helena Woolworth McCann acquired the house and its contents. They preserved much of the Sleeper’s designs and decorations, but made some modifications, including adding their porcelain collection to the house. Their heirs donated the property to the Society for the Protection of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England) in 1947, who operate the property as a house museum. Beauport served as Sleeper’s escape, a backdrop for summer parties, and as a showcase for his professional skills. Beauport was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2003, in recognition for its distinctive architecture, its unique collection of artifacts, and for its association for Sleeper, whose design influence extended across the wealthy elite of the eastern United States.’

It was difficult to make sense of the house with multiple dining and living rooms, no consistent style and many rooms that were distinctly quirky. Sleeper bought old houses elsewhere so that he could bring notable parts of them to Beauport to incorporate into the house. There are spectacular views over the sea including distant views of Boston.

We camped for the next two nights at the Cape Ann Camping Site.

Day 21 – to Salem in Massachusetts and back – 32 miles

Wikipedia: ‘The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than two hundred people were accused. Thirty were found guilty, nineteen of whom were executed by hanging (fourteen women and five men). One other man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death for refusing to plead, and at least five people died in jail. The episode is one of Colonial America’s most notorious cases of mass hysteria. It has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolation, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process.’

We had hoped to find a serious interpretation of these events in our visit to Salem. It quickly became evident that most tours were pandering to the sensational. We thought that we had found an appropriate venue at the Salem Witch Museum. They provided all the important facts but tried to make it exciting rather than serious. Jean and Richard found a far better presentation at the Peabody Essex Museum.

The yacht ‘When and If’ was commissioned in 1939 by then Colonel George S. Patton, a widely regarded American war hero and his wife, Beatrice, after their previous yacht was badly damaged. Patton intended to sail the schooner around the world with his wife “when and if I return from the war”, this phrase being the source of the yacht’s name. Patton never fulfilled his dream after dying in a car accident in 1945 near Speyer, Germany, shortly after the end of World War II. The ship’s four lower sails have a total area of 1,770 square feet. The yacht is based on the Massachusetts coast in the summer and at Key West in the winter.

We sailed on the ‘When and If’ for two hours this afternoon in the bay off Salem. It was beautiful autumnal afternoon for us to have this special experience. We marvelled at yet more beautiful shore side holiday homes and were intrigued to see that there are about 55 homes on the 55-acre Baker’s Island, about three miles from Salem harbour. We helped hoist the sails. The sails filled with wind. Richard took the helm for a while. This was an idyllic way to spend our last day with Richard and Jean.

We barbecued pork chops and ate them outside on a distinctly cool night and talked about our experiences of the last three weeks.

Day 22 – back to Worcester, Massachusetts – 82 miles

The night got colder, and we were pleased that our on-board heating system was working well. Many campsites close for the season in the next two weeks.

Richard locked himself out of their motorhome so had to make an undignified entrance through a window that was fortunately not latched.

We bade farewell to Jean and Richard who were staying one more day.

We met David from Wales who bought a fifty-year-old camper van, with 25,000 miles on the clock, a month ago in Canada. He was on his way to Baltimore to ship it home to Wales where he intends to restore it to its previous glory.

We spent about three hours packing our luggage to go home and assembling the food and items that we needed to dispose of. We were delighted that the campsite receptionist agreed to take our food, kitchen implements and bedding for the homeless shelter. Tibby had not drunk as many Bud Lites as I had expected so the receptionist got 18 cans. We cleaned the RV, emptied the foul water tanks, filled the freshwater tank, diverted to Gloucester town to fill our propane, and then hit the road to circle around Boston to Worcester. It was Friday afternoon, and the roads were busy but all the traffic on the motorways were travelling at 60mph, so we were not held up. We topped up the petrol and handed the RV back to MetroWest.

A fast Uber brought us the 38 miles to Cambridge.

We oriented ourselves by walking up Massachusetts Avenue.

Over the last few days, I have noticed signs by the side of the motorway saying, ‘Plows wanted’. Our Uber driver to dinner, Khalid, explained that municipalities paid individuals to clear the snow in the winter. The individuals need to own a truck with a strong engine and a snowplow fixed to the front. Insurance is expensive for fear that the driver will hit a car hidden by snow. Khalid says that when it snows, he can make very good money clearing snow,

We arrived for our 20h00 reserved table at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse at the Seaport and had to wait 35 minutes for a table. We shared a 16oz rib-eye steak that was wonderful. I have no idea how a normal person eats that much meat in one sitting.

Day 23 – Cambridge, MA

Our guide to Harvard University, Roddy, is a third-year undergraduate student. He told us that the university was founded in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, the Puritan clergyman, John Harvard. Harvard is a large, highly residential research university offering 50 undergraduate majors, 134 graduate degrees, and 32 professional degrees. It has about 7,200 undergraduates and 4,500 postgraduates. Fees and accommodation per undergraduate year are $75,000. Harvard has the largest university endowment in the world, valued at about $42 billion in 2020. This allows it to subsidise fees for those who cannot afford the fees. About 50% of undergraduates are subsidised with 20% paying nothing. Its 209-acre main campus is centred on Harvard Yard (“the Yard”) in Cambridge, about 3 miles from downtown Boston. Roddy walked us round the Yard talking about the various buildings which include old and more recent buildings. A number of buildings were built as memorials to individuals or war dead. The university has 77 libraries holding about 20.4 million items. All freshmen (first year undergraduates) live on the Yard. This is a leafy attractive university undiminished by the drizzling rain.

We caught the subway two stops to MIT University, still in Cambridge, but on the banks of the Charles River.

Grace, a second-year student, was the weakest guide that we had of the five universities we toured on this trip. I have had to rely on Wikipedia to tell me: ‘The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was established in 1861 and has since played a key role in the development of modern technology and science. Founded in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. The institute has an urban 166-acre campus that extends more than a mile alongside the Charles River. The annual undergraduate cost of fees and accommodation is $80,000 with 62% receiving a subsidy. Although most undergraduates are studying scientific subjects all of them are required to complete eight humanities courses before graduating.’ Grace walked us past and through many buildings which were largely functional but with a few having architectural interest.

And so, our glorious trip ended on 1st October 2022 and we made our way to the airport for our flight home to London.

Campsites we stayed at (prices are per night for a camper van and two adults):

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort in Foxboro – $105 for full hookup and great ablution blocks – Large campground with close to 500 sites. Well organised, efficient, helpful, good amenities and a forest walk with good sized sites. In retrospect probably the best organised campsite we visited. 10/10

Meadowlark RV Park in Middletown – $77 with only electricity and no ablution block– 60 sites with many people appearing to live there. Run down. 3/10

Worden Pond Family Campground in Wakefield – $60 for electrical and water hookups and pleasant ablutions – 100 sites overlooking broken down farm equipment. 5/10

Totoket Valley RV Park in North Branford – $60 for full hookup – 25 sites around a miserable gravel yard 1/10

Clarence Fahnestock State Park, near North Highland – $27 for no hookups in a wonderful wild environment. 9/10

Unadilla/I-88/Oneonta KOA, Franklin – $60 for electrical and water hookup. 7/10

Spruce Row Campground in Ithaca – $50 for full hookup. Slightly dishevelled. 6/10

Hammondsport / Bath KOA – $79 for full hookup – $47 for full hookup – 7/10

Niagara Falls / Grand Island KOA – $150 for full hook up and good ablutions – spacious sites on a lovely campsite but with traffic noise all night. Our most expensive campsite of the trip. Because we were so busy at the Falls and ate out we did not have time to appreciate this campsite. 9/10

Shelburne Camping in Shelburne near Burlington, NY – $46 for electrical and water hook up – muddy site. Might be attractive in dry weather. Hopeless WIFI. Camp office completely disorganised. 4/10

Twin Mountain / Mt. Washington KOA in Twin Mountain, NH – $60 for full hook up. Weak WIFI. Very little grass, Convenient for Mount Washington. 7/10

Lincoln / Woodstock KOA in Lincoln, NH – $76 for full hook up. Not a lot of grass but well drained (given how much rain we had in the previous 24 hours). Pleasant. 8/10

Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA near Acadia National Park, ME – $93 for full hook up. On the shore although only a few sites have sea views. Store on site selling lobster meals. Hugely convenient for Acadia National Park. 8/10

Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Camping in Freeport, ME – $71 for electric and water hook up. The prettiest campsite that we stayed at. 10/10

Sea Coast Camping and RV Resort near North Hampton, MA – $55 for a full hookup. Functional. 7/10

Cape Ann Camping Site near Gloucester, MA – $54 for electricity and water hook up. Deep in the woods. Pleasant although hook-ups shared between sites so difficult to access. 9/10

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