Visiting Seven New England States In One Weekend

New England

If you've looked at my bucket list, you know that one of my goals is to visit all 50 states of the US. And even though it's not spelled out, I intend to complete that goal before the end of next year. Well, I just returned from a whirlwind journey through seven states in 3 days... so after this weekend, I've now been to 34 of the 50 states.

Friday was a work-from-home day for everyone in our office. We moved to a new office over the weekend, and workers needed to move furniture on Friday. So I took advantage of the extra day out of the office by booking a flight out of town! (Work from home doesn't have to be from home, does it?)

This whole trip was organized on very short notice, and probably could have been done better, but it was still quite fun. On the whole, New Englanders are mostly pleasant people, and the region is beautiful.

Here's how I did it. Maybe some of you will adapt what I learned on my trip and make one of your own.

Thursday after work, I flew from Chicago to Manchester, NH, where I then rented a car and drove to Montpelier, VT.

Day 1

As I mentioned, Friday was a work day, so when I woke up, I drove into town and looked for a place that both serves breakfast and offers Wi-Fi. I found The Skinny Pancake. Street parking in downtown Montpelier has a 2 hour limit, which matches up well with a business's tolerance for freeloading Wi-Fi users, so after 2 hours I moved the car, and then went to a the Capital Grounds coffee shop and worked another 2 hours.

Afterward, I wandered through town and looked in a few gift shops. Honestly, it's kind of boring. Without a doubt, the draw in Vermont is nature. You don't go there to hang out in town, you go there to get away from towns.

Next I hit the highway toward Albany, NY. Both Vermont and New York offer Wi-Fi access at highway rest areas, so along the way to Albany I stopped twice for an hour each time get some more work done while people were still online. Crossing the border from Vermont into New York feels like leaving the garden of Eden and entering the industrial revolution.

In general, I found Albany to be mostly uninteresting, though the suburb Latham was very pleasant. I found a wonderful diner in Latham, where I got an epic Monte Cristo sandwich. Then I went to my hotel and put in my last two hours of work for the day.

Day 2

I knew this would be the busiest day, so I left early. From Albany, I drove through Springfield, MA and Hartford, CT before stopping in Middletown, CT to eat at O'Rourkes Diner. There, I ate Brian's Breakfast, a mystery plate the the subtitle "you have to believe!" Apparently, it's different every time. The waitress said I was very brave. But it was amazing.

Next, I continued through New Haven, CT - a coastal city with a skyline of cranes. It's exactly what I imagine Odessa looks like. I would have loved to spend an hour there taking photos, but a massive rain storm had been following me all morning and there was no way I was going to get a shot I liked.

On the coastal road from New Haven to Providence, RI, there are lots of little scenic stops along the side of the road, but the come up with almost no notice. If you happen to make this drive, I suggest you drive in the right-hand lane - even if it's slower - because you'll want to pull off and get some beautiful photos. Also, with a little more time, there are some more stops I'd have liked to make along the way.

Providence was quite uninteresting, not to mention a bit frustrating. In general, I felt like everything about that city was poorly maintained. But the people are nice. I had authentic New England clam chowder and johnny cakes at the Liberty Elm Diner. The chowder ("chowda") wasn't much different than any I'd had anywhere else, but the johnny cakes are something special.

From Providence it was onward to Boston, a city that's impossible to navigate without a GPS. Fortunately, my iPhone served that role adequately. I didn't see any sights in Boston, because the only item on my agenda was a chance to catch up with my friend Trapper Markelz. We talked about computers, languages, iPads, travel, untemplated lifestyles, and Tuscany. It's always nice to see an old friend.

Day 3

Finally, Sunday was my easy day. I slept late, and didn't hurry. I took scenic Route-1 out of Boston, rather than the expressway, so I could see a bit more of the area. Here's what I learned: if you want to start a suburb of Boston, just tack -ham or -chester onto the end of any word, then go to the intersection of two busy roads and put in a rotary. Now you've got a Boston suburb.

Eventually, route-1 meets the expressway, and the next 90 minutes into Portland, ME are the most beautiful I've ever driven. Once again, there were several places I'd have loved to stop, but I was in the left lane and there was really no warning. That's when I realized the reason why driving in New England is so pleasant: there are no billboards! All you see is beautiful landscapes.

If you're in Maine, there's one thing at the top of your food agenda: Maine lobster ("lobsta"). I found the Portland Lobster Company, and ate my lobsta, then found a friendly tavern nearby that was showing the World Cup final. I was surrounded by Dutch (everyone paid for their own meal, lol!) but I was secretly rooting for Spain. In truth, I would have enjoyed the game no matter who won. Over 110 minutes without a score!

Finally, it was back to Manchester for some sleep before my early flight back to Chicago, and back to work. I still haven't been home since I left for work last Thursday. But I had a great time, and I've crossed of six more states on my way to 50!


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  • *puts on her protective hat* As a New Englander...
    We only have 6 states in New England. ;) New York is not part of New England, it consists of CT, MA, RI, VT, NH, and ME.We're strangely protective about the New Englander identity here, and where I live (CT), kids are fairly well indoctrinated that NY is part of "the Northeast", but is not, and will never be, part of New England. There are some sociolinguistic proclivities that I've found between "New England" and "not New England", and Lebov's dialect map of the US is of great interest to me (I'm a sucker for dialects).Anyway, glad you had fun tromping around. ;)

  • Based on my experience, I can easily agree with that. My detour into upstate NY definitely stands out as entirely unlike the rest of the trip. :)

  • I'm glad you liked Maine... that's how we make our money :)

  • Yes, I liked Maine very much!

  • YAY RANDY!! I've been eagerly anticpating those States turning red since you first mentioned your trip. It's always wonderful to see people going after their goals. So, when you're done with the States are you going to try and see Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories? ;)

  • They've been turning... But it can't always be as quickly as it was this weekend.After the 50 states, it will be the 7 continents. Antarctica should be interesting?

  • What's wrong with my Canada idea?! Just kidding. The nice thing about Antarctica is that no matter how you get there, you will end up crossing another continent off the list to do it. There's a show produced by OLN in Canada called departures (yes, will a lower case 'd' at the start) about two friends (well, three including the camera man, Andre) who travel the world together. Season 2, Episode 13 (season finale) is their trip to Antactica. You should find it (my only source is geo-locked to Canada, sorry), it's a lot of fun to watch. Made me move Antartica up my travel list.

  • As a New Englander I must say that you missed out on so many wonderful places! But then again, you can't see that much in just three days.For your next trip, some definite musts are
    1) Kancamagus Scenic Byway in the White Mountains (NH) - preferably in the fall when the New England Foliage is at its best
    2) Cape Cod (MA)
    3) Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor (ME)
    4) Mount Washington (NH) - this is just kind of a fun trip, especially on a windy day
    5) Boston in depth (if you are into history, Freedom trail takes you past the most important sites. Otherwise, try the whale watch!)These are just to name a few. There are countless others, the names of which I have forgotten over the years as I live abroad.

  • I know I missed a lot... and in part, I know that precisely because of my experience driving past them and wishing I had more time. My plan all along was to get the experience of being there, and during the trip make note of things I'd like to come back for: definitely Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, historic Boston... Mystic looked interesting. Fortunately, all of this is closer together than where I was this weekend, so it'd be easy to get back and do it on another 3-day weekend, preferably during the fall season!

  • The 50 states is motivated, at least in part, by the fact that I'm a native of the US. This is my country. Canada is interesting to me, and there's a lot I'd like to see there, but not in a visit-all-10-provinces kind of way. :)

  • Monte Cristo sandwiches are, indeed, epic. I only got to experience one for the first time about a year ago: mind blown. Wow.I think if I were going to pick a U.S. state to retire to when I'm older, it would definitely be Vermont, it's just such a perfect mixture of everything. The only real downside is the lack of just one major city, or at least a medium-sized one like Denver or St. Louis, where you can find anything you need. This way you can have a house in the beautiful countryside but access to a major city and all the things it offers if you really need it, just an hour or so's drive away.Cheers,
    Andrew

  • Yeah, Vermont is a really beautiful state, but that lack of a major city is a deal-breaker for me. Maine, on the other hand... equally beautiful, and Portland is a fine city. It's also not too far to Boston. I could imagine retiring to southern Maine.

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