As we left Niagara Falls for New England we had a renewed feeling of freshness and adventure. After over two months on the road, and the vast majority of that time being spent in the West and Pacific Northwest, we felt that we were entering an entirely new and exciting region. Neither of us had ever visited any of the New England states before, and we were extremely thrilled to be doing so just as their legendary fall foliage began to appear.
The beginning of our adventure in New England was bittersweet as we entered western Vermont and began seeing the dramatic effects of Hurricane Irene. The cleanup from the intense flooding and landslides was just beginning as we passed through the towns of Wilmington and Brattleboro. There we witnessed the aftermath of the flooding – mud covered streets, gutted storefronts and restaurants, washed out bridges and homes that were completely destroyed. Even with the devastation, people seemed positive and matter-of-fact about the work ahead. In a farmer’s market where we stopped for fruits, veggies and cheese we overheard some of the candid discussions between neighbors and friends.
“How’d you do in the storm?”
“Flooded, but we’ll be fine.”
It was obvious that these towns won’t be underwater for long – their inhabitants are moving forward with positive and productive attitudes that are to be admired. It was a simple yet powerful lesson in perseverance.
But we also made a fun and unexpected discovery when we first entered Vermont. Driving through the town of Bennington we were suddenly struck by the appearance of an extremely old looking house. It was dilapidated and gigantic, looking like my mind’s picture of the House of Usher. We decided to pull over and take some pictures of the beautiful, decaying house when another sight caught our eyes – a cemetery. I love cemeteries. Perhaps I should qualify that statement. I love old cemeteries. Those that make my imagination go wild with thoughts of the lives of those interred; their experiences and stories from centuries past. So, suddenly, we had two attractions in a small town that we had no idea existed – an old house and an old cemetery. Maybe they aren’t the stuff of travel guides, but we enjoyed both thoroughly.
Since we parked closer to the cemetery, we went there first. Immediately we found the exciting cemetery fodder that I expected to find in New England – really, really old graves! Graves with medallions, marking that the men buried there had served in the Revolutionary War. The Revolutionary War! Then, Ted noticed a sign pointing to a particularly interesting grave farther back in the cemetery. It was the grave of Robert Frost. Robert Frost! We are both fans of the poet; a verse from a poem he wrote to his wife was even a part of our wedding ceremony. We were excited to have found, by sheer chance, the grave of a writer who we both love. When we reached the grave we were even more pleased to find that a line from the very same poem that was read at our wedding ceremony was carved onto Frost’s wife, Elinor’s headstone. “Together wing to wing and oar to oar.” It was amazing for Ted and I to find this together, almost one year after saying our own vows. After having our fill of the cemetery we crossed the street to photograph the house, and continued on our way, confident that we would have a wonderful time in New England.
That day we drove through all of southern Vermont and into New Hampshire where we stayed for the night in the city of Manchester. Although we only spent one night in Manchester we feel confident that we found one of the city’s best gems. This gem is a pub by the name of Strange Brew Tavern, and it just may be one of the best bars either of us has ever been to. It’s even been named one of the best bars in America by Esquire Magazine. There’s just something pretty perfect about a place with mini oil lamps on dark wooden tables, exposed brick decorated by a vast book collection, live (and awesome) blues music playing, and 60+ beers on tap. We had a great evening there and met some friendly locals who welcomed us heartily and in thick accents to, “New Hampsha’.”
The city of Manchester itself seemed nice and we would have stayed longer if we weren’t on a timetable. Up next was a visit to a close friend from back home that now lives in Freeport, Maine. We had to be to his house the next day for two very special occasions. We wanted to watch the Broncos’ Monday Night Football home opener against the rival Raiders, but more importantly we wanted to watch our best friends’ restaurant premier on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Jon, our buddy in Maine, just happens to be the brother of our friend who owns Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery, and we wanted to see the big show with family! So, after a fun day of catching up with Jon, eating a messy and delicious lobster by the sea at the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, visiting a couple of breweries, and picking up the ingredients for Indian Fry Bread and green chili stew, we settled in for a night of cooking and celebrating the accomplishments of our restaurateur friends back home. The show was great and even featured a cameo by Ted, describing the bison ribs as “big, meaty and (the sauce is) wonderful.” We enjoyed our homemade fry bread, all wishing we could be in the restaurant but happy to be together for this special occasion. The Broncos game? We don’t need to talk about that.
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