Twelve days in New England
I haven’t posted for a while because we have been on vacation in New England, centered around my stepdaughter Maddie’s wedding. Would you like to see pictures of something other than refinished floorboards? Here, let me bore you with a few hundred photos!
Eric’s four kids grew up in Maine, so we make trips to the East Coast every few years. But they’re all grown up now, and beginning to scatter around the country. We were excited to come to Vermont for the wedding and to enjoy a rare visit with Eric’s family. I always look forward to being called “Dah-cy.”
We flew into Boston and drove to East Berkshire in northern Vermont, following the route Google plotted for us … until I saw on a paper map that Hwy. 58 through Hazen’s Notch is unpaved. Did we really want to risk driving the proverbial ten miles of dirt road through the wilderness? (“… and they were never heard from again”) We chickened out and drove around. We had a wedding to get to!
Maddie and Holly chose a wedding venue far out in the sticks, but what a charming place. Pigeon Hill Farm features an 1870 Italianate farmhouse B&B, gorgeous English gardens, chickens and cows, and a rustic carriage house for wedding receptions. The entire property is surrounded by a tall hedge of over 50 varieties of lilacs, all of which were in glorious full bloom. Eric is allergic to lilacs.
The garden wedding went off without a hitch, neatly sandwiched between thundershowers, which resumed when we entered the stables for the dinner reception.
We enjoyed staying in the farmhouse, with its gently peeling, dusty ambiance and vast collection of antique artifacts. I feel inspired to display more of my own vintage heirlooms when I finally finish the kitchen. (No, it’s not done. You thought it was? HA!) I was particularly intrigued by the stoneware bucket built into the porch floor—just wring out your mop and toss the water. It’ll discharge somewhere down the hill.
The wallpaper in the bedrooms reminded me of the wallpaper I used to have in my house. (The bird pattern was custom-made to match a scrap of the original.)
This 1929 General Electric refrigerator with condenser top would look awesome in my kitchen. It still runs just fine.
After the excitement of the wedding, the next best attraction was the old store next door, also owned by Pigeon Hill. This store last operated in 1952. It’s part time capsule and part antique storage. Our favorite part was the little dentist/doctor office in the back, still stocked with equipment and medicine bottles. (Authorities relieved the premises of the cocaine and opium long ago.)
We sadly said goodbye to everyone and headed east to tiny Otis, Maine, where our friend Pam lives in a lakeside camp. (This time, with the assurance of locals, we took the very safe dirt road across the mountain.) We spent a day hiking on Mt. Desert Island in Acadia National Park, hanging out in Bar Harbor, and dining at the local lobster pound. Lobster No. 58, you were delicious!
We continued on to Freeport, Maine to try to catch up with Eric’s son, Ben (which, unfortunately, didn’t work out) and for our obligatory stop at LL Bean. Then we hopped back over to southern New Hampshire to visit Eric’s eldest daughter, Ellie, and our three little grandchildren. We see these kids only ever few years, so when Grandpa and Grandma show up, they don’t know who the heck we are. By the time we leave they are starting to bond, only to forget us again when we disappear. This falls short of most people’s grandparenting experience … but that’s what happens when you live 3000 miles away.
Along the way, we stayed at two of our favorite B&Bs, Freeport’s White Cedar Inn, and the Benjamin Prescott Inn in Jaffrey, NH. Both of these inns make us feel at home, and we stay there every time we’re back east.
With the family portion of the trip completed, we were off to Cape Cod for a few days of R&R. We’d been to the Cape before, but only for a couple of days. This time we had four and a half days to play. I insisted we stay in one B&B the whole time—unusual for us, but we’re so glad we did, as it gave us time to chill a bit. You never quite know what you’re going to get when you pick a B&B online—they’re all so different—but we hit the jackpot with the Mulberry Tree Inn in South Dennis. The 1802 house and gardens are perfect. The innkeepers thought of every comfort … and stuffed us with gourmet breakfasts! What a great way to relax!
Provincetown was our first day trip destination. Provincetown is built on a sandbar, with two long east-west streets and dozens of lanes that run between them, crammed with historic homes and cottages. We ate lunch at the Lobster Pot and wandered the main drag like the tourists we were. At a bookstore I bought a copy of Land’s End – A Walk in Provincetown by Michael Cunningham (author of The Hours). I read it on the flight home, but wished I’d read it before we came. Eric’s personal challenge was to photograph every lighthouse on the Cape (he’d already gotten four in 2010). On this day we bagged Long Point and Race Point lights, and enjoyed some beachcombing on beautiful Race Point Beach.
On our second day we took the passenger ferry to Nantucket. Besides the wedding, my favorite part of the trip. The whole island is a National Historic Landmark District, and as such, all buildings must be shingled, clapboard, or brick. Most are weathered gray shingled. This gives the community a sense of visual cohesion and order, similar to the feeling in Santa Fe or Sedona. I want to live there. Specifically, in one of these two cottages.
The fly in the ointment is that real estate on Nantucket is out-of-this-world ridiculous. This cottage was one of few listings we found under a million dollars. Maybe if we sold everything we owned we might be able to swing it, but we’d have to work until we were 90 … and the commute would be killer. Still, I can dream.
The following day, we drove all over the upper and lower Cape (from the elbow to the shoulder to the armpit, so to speak), meandering through picturesque communities. We bagged Chatham and Wood’s Hole lighthouses, ate a sandwich in Sandwich, and a bad burger in a cool old diner in Falmouth.
It was hard to leave Cape Cod, but I’m sure we’ll be back someday to dig deeper into its sandy history. On the way back to Boston we stopped to check out Plymouth Rock in its arcaded enclosure. (Do you think that’s really the actual rock??)
We took an evening stroll around Boston Garden, but by then we were too pooped to pop.
And then … we were home and back to work … like it never happened!