Day 1 – Arrive Boston via Southwest Airlines to a beautiful day – 73 degrees. Upon arrival we checked into the Boston Park Plaza. Shortly after, we met with our tour director, Daphne Nolte to receive our name badges, welcome packet and brief overview. Once our instructions were laid out for the evening, we headed out to enjoy the afternoon. Boston Park was beautiful. There we enjoyed people watching, the gorgeous weather and a chocolate covered dip cone ~ the perfect day.
At the welcome reception, we found that the tour was a full 52 passengers with 60% of our clientele from outside the US. Additionally, we would be beta testing the new Trafalgar Mercedes coach completed with a full sky roof at a cost of $650,000.00.
Dinner on our own at Maggiano’s just a pleasant walk across the street from the hotel. Delicious.
Day 2 – Up early to load the motorcoach at 7:50am for a long but beautiful drive up the coast to Maine. The first stop was the Nubble Light House ~ York, Maine.
In colonial days mariner traffic was important to the commerce of the area. Knowing that Maine’s rocky coast was very dangerous to those mariners and their livelihood, the Citizens petitioned the United States Government for a lighthouse.
In 1874 President Rutherford B. Hayes appropriated the sum of $15,000 to build a lighthouse on this “Nub” of land. On July 1, 1879 construction was completed on what, at the time, was known as the Knubble Lighthouse with a 4th order light began to protect our men and women on the sea. The men and women serving in the Lighthouse Service were the first guardians who provided great care for the light and its surrounding buildings.
The drive time up the coast was approximately 8 hours but had several stops along the way past old whaling villages and rocky beaches. On the way to Bar Harbor (Ba Ha Bar), you will see beautiful summer homes that use to be the playground to such aristocracy such as the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Astors.
Once we checked into our hotel, we had an informative dinner guest (Captain Nicolai) speak about lobster as we dined on lobster. YumO.
Day 3 – Up early and heading out to Acadia National Park (Earthly Paradise). This was one of the most beautiful sites I have personally witnessed. It’s breath taking. We were there early to witness the sun coming up over the mountains – in fact, Acadia National Part is the first spot in the United States were you can see the sunrise. The granite cliffs overlooking are dramatic and legendary. It’s a steep climb with rocky terrain but worth it once you reach the photo opt spots.
Sand Beach & Pocket Beach were the second and third stop of the morning. Sand Beach is a geologic rarity – one of the few cold-water, shell-based sand beached in the world. Sand beaches are uncommon in Maine, because cold water traps gases that dissolve seashells and most of the coastlines consists of hard granite that erodes slowly. But here, the offshore rock, called “Old Soaker,” diverts a strong current into a glacially formed pocket which captures shell fragments.
Afternoon at leisure and dinner on own. Fact …Maine produces 90% of all toothpicks.
Day 4 – Load the coach and head out to Pinkham Notch – North Conway for (2) Nights. Bid farewell to the coast and head over the rolling hills towards the wooded valley of Pinkham Notch formed during the last ice age as glaciers scored the earth.
The long coach ride produced these fun facts: Maine is the largest lumber export – Bangor, Maine is the cleanest city, 2014 one of the best cities to live for AARP under $30,000. – 90% of countries blueberries come from Maine. Moose – measure 9 feet at the shoulder and have an antler span of 7 feet wide.
Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire – we stopped to enjoy a little time to hike and stop at the Visitors Center. A picturesque setting with autumn colors, miles of walking trails, it was beautiful. People come from all over to hike, bike, cycle and ski in the winter. Ran into a couple guys who had been hiking the Appalachian Trail since April when they started in Georgia and were happy the they only had another 180 mikes to go of the 2200 mile trek. Amazing guys with amazing stories.
Another really interesting fact from here is that the the word Notch is a New England term for a narrow pass between two mountains. The western mountain on the side of Pinkham Notch is Mt. Washington, home of the tallest peak (6288 ft ) and the most prominent peak east of the Mississippi River. It’s summit is also home to the highest recorded windspeed in the 20th century with a whopping 231mph in 1931.
Settled in to the Red Jacket Inn at White Mountain National Forest for the evening. After check-in and before dinner we had a special guest speaker Chris Lewis who spoke on the Ecology of the North Woods.
Day 5 – Headed out for one of the favorite stops since the Civil War – the Rocky Gorge. In 1864, the White Mountains became accessible to tourist when the Boston & Maine Railroad brought its lines into Conway. Guests traveled by train, then stagecoach to the Carrington House nearby, the most elegant tourist site, in the Valley. Day trips to the Gorge were a favorite past time for all who visited.
Afternoon and evening spent on own …. Dinner at the Muddy Moose and walking down a very steep incline from our hotel … and then back UP after dinner.
Day 6 – Visit an Historic woolen mill in Quechee that now houses the Simon Pearce glassblowing workshop. We are off to enjoy our Be My Guest lunch featuring local ingredients delicately arranged on Simon Pearce’s beautiful stem and flatware and delve into the art of glassblowing. This was an awesome day.
We arrived to be greeted by a guest speaker who gave us a brief overview of the glass blowing history of Simon Pearce and fed us a lovely lunch. After lunch we had an opportunity to browse the store and observe the glassblowing first hand. The glassware is expensive, unique and quality.
Each piece of glass requires 2 people 4-5 minutes. The glass is hand finished and lead free crystal unlike Waterford & Tiffany which contain lead. The clover is the company signature. Simon is 70.
After our Be Our Guest luncheon we were off to Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont. The farm dates back to 1871, when native Vermonter Frederick Billings set out to build a farm and forestry operation that would serve future generations as a model of wise stewardship. The farm flourished and today is still a first-class dairy farm, with a museum of Vermont’s rural heritage. The farm includes cows, sheep, horses, chickens and oxen. We can speak first hand to the delicious, creamy ice cream.
Arrive back to hotel for dinner and a relaxing evening to revisit the day with new friends.
Day 7 – The trip is winding down but the autumn colors are lighting up as we approach Stockbridge on our way to Springfield. First stop of the day was in Bennington, Vermont at the Famous Apple Barn for what was most certainly the best apple cider donut sprinkled in cinnamon that I have ever tasted. This accompanied by warm apple cider certainly kicked off the morning as it was going to be a long coach drive.
Second stop … the Norman Rockwell Museum. Here we stopped along the picturesque countryside to see firsthand where Norman Rockwell was inspired to paint his small-town Americana. The museum was full of his iconic painting and the history of The Saturday Evening Post covers. While it was a long drive today, it was a beautiful fall day as we made our way to the hotel for our final evening at the Sheraton, Springfield, MA.
As we dined and said our goodbye to new friends over dinner, we had a chance to exchange emails and phone numbers before departing for the airport.
Day 8 – Hotel check-out, load the coach … head east to the birthplace of the American Revolution. We arrived Lexington & Concord to visit the “shot heard round the world” as made famous in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn.” The battles of Lexington and Concord were the first skirmishes in the American war for independence and these small towns are still rich in history. We had our own “Minute Man” first hand tour guide as we visited the historic site.
After the tour we were off to Boston for airport drop offs where goodbyes began.
Autumn colors … a phenomenon that affects the normally green leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs by which they take on, during a few weeks in the autumn season.