From Franconia Notch and the now oft missed “Old Man on the Mountain,”
New Hampshire is a wonderful New England locality that boasts some of the best camping, hiking, vacationing, and natural sights and sounds of any American state. Loon Lake and with its mountain gondola ride, and Lake Winnipesaukee with its incredible panoramas and but a few of the wonders that await you in The Granite State. New Hampshire is also the home of the first Presidential Primary in the country—a politically distinctive honor. Plus, you’ve got to love their motto, “live free or die!” And of course their lack of sales tax is a much favored quality of this state by New England shoppers.
It is a real easy drive up from Boston to Portsmouth. Old Route 1A passes by some really nice New England towns including Salem, Salisbury, and Topsfield (home of America’s oldest fair). Upon arriving in Portsmouth one feels like they’ve stepped a little back into the country’s younger days with its brick buildings and antique shops. Portsmouth and its sister city of Newburyport are old-fashioned mill-towns that border the ocean and act as gateways to the land of L.L. Bean®, more lobsters, bottled spring water, and potatoes, i.e. Maine.
Stacey and I spent the day antiquing, buying nick-knacks of all sorts, and of course enjoying the picturesque scenery sitting outside a faux trattoria-like eatery—all the while sipping at my lush Samuel Adams Summer Ale®.
Later, we took a quick jaunt up to the outlet shops in Kittery Maine. My wife enjoys purchasing designer pocket books and clothes at really good discounts (you can find the same deals at the Wrentham Common Outlets in Wrentham Massachusetts as well). I on the other hand peruse the consumer electronics stores in the hopes of getting that 50-inch LCD HDTV someday at a steal. Well, I can dream can’t I?
Like every other state in New England, we love Maine and make it a habit to drive far into the state for romantic overnight stays. One of our favorite Maine destinations is in Camden (also known as the “Jewel of The Maine Coast”) where we’ve occasionally stayed in the loveliest little bed in breakfast in the whole state, The Blackberry Inn. Here is a very special place known for its berry-colored exterior and rooms that provides whirlpool baths and fireplaces as amenities.
So our next trip took us all the way up to Camden by way of Freeport the home of L.L. Bean®. Freeport is considered Maine’s number one visitor destination in the whole state, and it is not hard to see why. Whether you approach it by land or sea this magical little city has the amenities of a larger city with the charm of a New England colonial coastal town. Many natural wonders are close at hand to Freeport including two state parks that offer everything from hiking to canoeing. Freeport is also home to artists and musicians, as well as over 170 outlet stores of their own. And of course plenty of Sam Summer and other Boston Beer Company™ varieties are there to be enjoyed.
On the way down back towards Boston we stopped off at The Maine Diner on Route 1 in Wells for a quick bite and yes another Samuel Adams Summer Ale®.
A very sweet waitress named Mari-lee tells us that, “you’ve got to have the blueberry pie—it’s to die for.”
Ah, beer and pie. This is a wonderful New England day.
“I think we should head over to Vermont for our next day trip sometime soon, Woodstock perhaps,” My lovely wife suggests.
To which I heartily reply, “Why not, Vermont is just as beautiful in the summer as it is in the winter when we go skiing up at Pico Mountain.”
“Bunny slopes for us this winter!” Stace jokes.
But actually autumn and winter in New England are every bit as exciting and picturesque as the warmer months. Whether you’re touring the colorful fall foliage out towards the Berkshires, skiing on Vermont’s great trails that rival even Aspen Colorado, taking a haunted hayride during Halloween time at the same charming farms where you went apple picking a few weeks prior, soaring down the rapids of the Connecticut and Lowell rivers, gearing up for a fine American Thanksgiving feast which originated in this part of the country, celebrating the holiday season with lights and music through out the modern cities such as Freeport and Providence or in the old-world communities such as Williamstown and Greenwich, and ringing in the New Year with style at the fabulous First Night of Boston, New England in the winter holds a world of grace and fairy-tale wonder that simply can not be out done. And just wait until you try the Samuel Adams Octoberfest® and Winter Lager®!
But getting back to our summer odyssey, a week or two later we were off to Vermont to visit a dear friend up there and kick around the charming little hamlets like Quechee (with its famous gorge, a natural New England wonder) and Woodstock (with its polite and colonial little shops and art galleries). However by far, one of the most delightful places to visit in the Green Mountain State is Sugar And Spice on Route 4 in Killington (near the largest ski resort in New England), which is a place of fascinating and delectable pancake varieties and maple syrup made before your eyes while you wait for your breakfast—or brunch because you woke up late after a hard day of skiing or hiking the day before.
Sadly, there’s no beer at Sugar and Spice, but there is at the many varieties of restaurants, lounges, and bars that line the ski resort enclave. The Grist Mill being one of the most notable. That’s where I always order a Sam Adams no matter what the season is. And sure enough they had a cold Sam Summer Ale waiting for me when I arrived for dinner.
Now I could have had myself a traditional Vermont Long Trail Ale, and when traveling about the country I always try one of the local brews, but it was summer and I was in the mood for a Sam summer brew. That’s not to say the Long Trail Ale or any of the other offering from the Long Trail Brewing Company™ aren’t good, indeed they are. Their stock ale has a malt-like flavoring that is reminiscent of Samuel Adams Boston Lager®; both have a spicy bitterness to them that really dances on the tongue. Though with the Long Trail Ale you can taste a hint of chocolate in it where as the Boston Lager is more traditional with a woody flavor and the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg on top of a smooth effervescent head.
However you’ll have to read about my adventures in San Francisco to learn more about the Samuel Adams Boston Lager®.
Getting back to our story, with a hearty Black Angus steak and a zesty Samuel Adams, it seems life cannot get any better than this.
But it does.
Vermont is also the most utilized gateway (via Interstate 91) into Canada and the Province of Quebec in all of New England.
Quebec City is one of the most beautiful cities in North America and it is just wonderful that a fine New England state such as Vermont provides a nice easy road to that resplendent French-speaking enclave on the Saint Lawrence River. The quiet little town of Derby Vermont actually straddles both countries and the Opera House (upstairs to the freely accessible “international” Library) actually sits right on the border. The stage is in Canada while the audience sits in the United States!
Heading back to Boston from Vermont by way of Hanover New Hampshire, we made it a point to stop over and visit my wife’s alma mater, Dartmouth College. Now here’s a really interesting old-school academic institution. Dartmouth College is comprised of colonial-style architecture for some of the buildings nestled in between modern brick and mortar edifices, large park-like spaces full of summer students casually tossing Frisbees and other toys around to each other, and the Connecticut River nearby hosting happy boaters and sunbathers alike. From Dr. Seuss to Animal House, Dartmouth College has been the source of inspiration and education for many held within its petite Ivy League halls. In fact, New England is home to four of the nation’s Ivy League schools, i.e. Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth College—a fact not lost on the remaining four as New England Ivy Leaguers bring home many laurels for their beloved region.
With the day waning and after spending some time reliving the fun days of Sue’s college years, it was time to get back on the road and go home to Boston.
After spending half the summer hanging out mostly in Northern New England, the Cape, and the Islands, it was time for us to the other half enjoying the unique treasures of Southern New England: Massachusetts (Boston in particular), Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
To Be Continued…
Next month read all about the continuing adventures exploring more of New England and enjoying the Samuel Adams Summer Ale® everywhere we traveled. We’ll visit places like The Mohawk Trail, Foxwoods™ Resort and Casino, and The Big “E!” Stay tuned.
Nicholas Iandolo is a screenwriter and author. His recently published book Cut The Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY! is available on Amazon.com and for Apple’s iPad/iPhone. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.tenthsphere.com to learn more about Nick and his writing.