For the last two days we have practically had the White Mountains to ourselves. Today, every man, woman, child and goldfish has come for a day out. Parking lots that were empty two days ago are now over spilling with cars double parking all over the place. Welcome to New Hampshire on a sunny September Saturday morning.
With a last lingering look at the Riverside Inn, we check out and attempt a sweep up of the a few of the sights we have missed. First stop, “Diana’s Baths”. This place is so much fun. We spend a good hour scrambling up and down rocks, using hands, feet and knees to climb closer to the waterfall and teetering on the edge of rocky precipices.
We have a lot of miles to do today, so we can’t spend all day fooling aroung here. A final drive along the Kancamagus highway (a lot more colour today – and a lot more cars); a short hike to Sabbaday Falls; leftover BBQ chicken pizza for lunch at Echo Lake, and then we are on our way out of New Hampshire and into Vermont.
We are in Stowe by late afternoon, and pull up into our lodgings for the next two nights. The Sun & Ski Inn is no Aysgarth Station or Riverside Inn. However, we have a rear deck facing the lawn, miniature golf on tap, and – most importantly – AMC. This means we can watch the Breaking Bad finale tomorrow night. This scores big brownie points on the Fletche hotel-o-meter.
As we’ve arrived ahead of schedule, we decide to go for a walk along the Stowe recreation path. We decide to walk the 1.7 miles into town, get some food and then walk back. We are about ¼ of a mile from our destination when the sun sets and it starts to get dark. Realisation dawns that I am still wearing my sunglasses. And I do not have my regular glasses with me. Unless I want to spend the evening squinting and being unable to make eye contact with anyone without frowning, we are forced to return. Mr Fletche is not impressed with his ditzy wife. We have walked the road to nowhere. I point out that this unexpected evening hike has built up a healthy appetite.
The Fletche’s food list has many suggestions for dining in the local region. The Blue Donkey is not on the list but a) is right next to the Sun & Ski Inn and b) is not rammed like every other restaurant in Stowe tonight. The food is simple – burgers, burgers, burgers – but good. It’s messy but fills a burger-shaped gap. Hopefully tomorrow the weekend guests will have all gone back home and we can eat in a real restaurant where the food doesn’t drip down your chin with every bite.
Cursing the Blue Donkey
The Blue Donkey did not agree with Mr Fletche. A restless night means a trip down to town in search of Pepto-Bismol. We postpone our morning plans until Mr Fletche feels a little better. By 11am, we are ready to face the world (ish). It’s a beautiful sunny morning now that the early morning fog has lifted, and everyone is driving up Mountain Road to Smugglers Notch. That means everyone. Cars are parking on the side of the road, on blind bends and squeezed in every accessible space – and some inaccessible spaces too. We decide not to hang around, and will take another drive up tomorrow morning when the weekend tourists are all back at home.
We make a quick stop in Jacksonville, before pushing on to Burlington. The fall colours which seemed muted yesterday are in their full glory today, displaying a cacophony of colour.
We negotiate the Burlingon streets and find ourselves a free parking space on Cherry St. Yah boo sucks to all those paying $10 to park on the waterfront. We take a walk down to Lake Champlain. Mr Fletche decides that this is the perfect place for sunset. It is 2pm. We decide to drive back to Stowe after lunch, and return for sunset. We have a light lunch at Burlington Bay Market and Café which settles Mr Fletche’s stomach a little more.
We return to Stowe, I pack my Kindle and a jumper, and then we hop back into the FM2013 to return to Burlington. We park up in a similar spot to earlier, and this time we walk up to Church St. When in Vermont it is the law to have at least one Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Mr Fletche has Cherry Garcia; I have Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl. It takes approximately two minutes for the brown ice cream to drip all the way down my cream top. And all the way around my face. And on my hands. I look like a particularly unruly child. And I don’t even manage to finish my ice cream. Luckily, I picked up that jumper and manage to cover the embarrassing stains.
Everyone in Burlington, locals and tourists alike, has gathered at the waterfront to view what promises to be a spectacular sunset. And it doesn’t disappoint. Mr Fletche wanders up and down the promenade taking photographs of the boats on the lake; I curl up on a bench reading Game of Thrones with the setting sun warming my face.
Daylight is fading fast. Ususally television doesn’t figure in our holiday itinerary, however tonight is the Breaking Bad series finale. We had resigned ourselves to having to catch the show later and do our best to avoid spoilers; however fate has stepped in and out of all the places we’ve stayed so far, this is the ONLY place to have AMC. We travel back from Burlington, grab a Subway (no room for anything more substantial after that ice cream), get into our pyjamas and settle down for the finale. We know how to live the high life!!
Tomorrow… a final night in New Hampshire before heading back to city life!