Monday, July 9, 2012

New England Trip Wrap Up

 Sunset over Lake Champlain - Colchester, Vermont
May 12, 2012

It's time to close the books on our 2012 Summer Adventure, treasure the memories and get to work planning our next adventure.  New England had been on our short list of Summer Adventure destinations for quite some time.   Bill lobbied heavily for it LAST year, but I had remained skeptical for a few reasons, not the least of which was the fact that we'd be there in the middle of black fly season.  Not sure why I gave in other than I knew had badly he was wanting to return to New England and last year's trip to Colorado was my top choice, so it was his turn!  In the end, I'm so glad I relented as black flies never were a problem.   New England's weather has been as unusual and unpredictable as everyone elses, but in our case, this served to our advantage.  It was unseasonably cool which we like.  We thoroughly enjoyed every place we visited and for the most part, accomplished everything we set out to do.

Having learned some valuable lessons from past planning, I got started very early this year locating and securing our accommodations.   Lodging decisions take up a LOT of time because I am very picky. That is where we save the dollars that allow us to do this, yet it isn't necessarily "cheap" lodging I seek out. These places are "home" for a week or more and need to be comfortable with a good kitchen. We choose to cook our own meals to save money and maintain our healthy eating habits plus Bill just enjoys cooking, so only on rare occasions or one-night stopovers will we choose lodging that doesn't have a FULL kitchen.  I find most of our places on or as I love working directly with the owners of the places where we hope to stay.   But as you might imagine, this takes a lot of time and coordination with my biggest fear being finding that I've accidentally overlapped dates or left a stray night with no where to stay.  Starting this process very early gets me ahead of the game so most of the top choices are available for the dates I desire and many of the homeowners are willing to negotiate the listed rate in order to get a rental secured that early in the season.  ALL of our lodging decisions had been made and reserved by the middle of February this year!   

The other valuable lesson we've learned regarding lodging is to leave some flexibility in arrangements while driving TO our main destination area and our return trip home.  That lesson was reinforced this year.  Although the reservations I had made heading up to New England stayed the same, you might remember that our return trip completely changed a couple of days before we were scheduled to leave Maine.  With just a few clicks, I was able to cancel existing reservations and make new ones.

I'd be remiss if I didn't refer to the things that went wrong this year.   We have been very, VERY fortunate (and believe me, we don't take this for granted) in the fact that for all the traveling we have done over the past 30 years, we've had few things go wrong.   But this year, our luck changed and we truly got to the point that we were constantly wondering what in the WORLD was going to happen  next.  Some of the things, I wrote about.....but there came a point that we discussed it and decided that although we wanted the journal to be "real," we didn't want the focus to be on all that was going wrong.  Rather than dwell on it any further, here's a list of the things that happened.................

1)  We left our bike tire pump in Branford, CT  (It's really unusual for us to leave anything behind as we have a very careful system where we BOTH take responsibility for checking) Still don't know exactly what happened or where we left it - we just didn't have it when we got ready to ride in New York.

2)  Had a little incident with the bike rack in New York which we thought we fixed with bungee cords and duct tape.  Ultimately, we ended up ordering a new one through a terrific bike shop near our house in Southwest Harbor, ME.   The guys at Southwest Cycle were great!

3)  Our major issue with the car is well documented in this post!  We will be forever indebted to Girlington Garage in Burlington, VT for their kindness.

4)  I was sick much of the first week we were in Woodstock, Vermont.  Still not 100% sure exactly what it was, but I was miserable for several days.  While still in Woodstock, I ran into a chair and was fairly certain I'd broken two toes on my right foot as they IMMEDIATELY swelled and turned purple.  After a few minutes, I could move them and oddly enough, it wasn't long until they stopped hurting. By the next morning, I could get my shoes on.  But they sure were ugly and if you look real close, you can still see traces of the discoloration.

5) And speaking of feet, Bill is having a problem with his right foot and it was quite painful on a few of the days.  He was a VERY good sport, but there were a couple of times, he could hardly put any weight on it at all.  This issue still has not resolved itself completely although anti-inflammatory meds are helping.  I suspect he'll end up going to the doctor.

6)  For some odd reason (perhaps because he was up at 3:45 a.m. to catch a flight to meet me at Dulles), Bill made the decision to leave his car keys at home.  Once we realized we were traveling with only one set of keys, we tried to be extra careful about making sure they were in hand before locking the car.  So of course, I LOCK THE KEYS IN THE CAR!  And naturally, it was on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend!   Again, good fortune smiled on us as AAA had a vehicle within 10 miles of us and we had keys back in hand within 45 minutes.  (The kid who was driving the tow truck mentioned that normally he would have had to come 50 miles to Woodstock, but he just "happened" to have been dispatched to pick up the car he was towing in a town only 10 miles away!)

7)  And then, more car issues.   We were sitting at a traffic light in Ellesworth, Maine and the car died.  JUST DIED!!  I was driving and although it started right back up, I pulled into a parking lot and it immediately stalled again.   And again.  This went on for a few minutes and then as suddenly as it started, it began running smoothly again.   We had no more problems although given our record to that point, it took me a few days to relax!!  Our theory is this......we had just gotten gas about an hour before this happened.   Google tells us it could've been air bubbles in the gas, condensation on the gas pump or a host of other odd sounding explanations.  Who knows???

Despite all of those things, it was a wonderful trip!  We so enjoy traveling together and each trip becomes a collection of experiences and memories that we will treasure forever.   I am so very grateful that Bill and I both enjoy travel and even in the ways our personalities are uniquely different, we find ways to compromise so that both of us enjoy the trip equally.  Lessons learned from last year's trip were incorporated into this year's agenda and despite all the things that went haywire, I believe this was our best trip ever with respect to the mix of activity vs. rest, hectic vs. leisurely pace, driving vs. walking/biking and indoor activities vs. outdoor activities.

Lessons learned this year include:

1)  There are excellent auto-repair facilities everywhere.  Thanks to the convenience of internet research, user reviews and designations such as AAA Approved Auto Repair, I'll never fear what "might" happen again because I've proven that good people are all around.

2)  We continue to learn what a good team we make.   And when things don't go exactly as we plan,  ONE of us always keeps a level head and works hard to console the other.

3)  This may seem random, but another lesson we learned is that we can travel with very little.  When Bill retires, we plan to do a great deal of travel abroad and we hope to do it with minimal luggage (think one carry-on and two backpacks).  I won't go into detail, but we conducted a little experiment and realized that yes, we can do this easily and have everything we could possibly need.  In case anyone noticed that we always seemed to have on the same clothes in all the pictures, it's because we did!!  It was all part of the experiment and rest assured, those clothes were ALWAYS clean!! LOL!



TOTAL MILES TRAVELED:  Just over 5,000


May 6 - May 8
Residence Inn by Marriott Dulles Airport at Dulles 28 Centre 

May 8 - May 10
Residence Inn by Marriott Dover

May 10 - May 12
Branford, Connecticut

May 12 - May 19
Bolton Landing, New York

May 19 - May 23
Colchester, Vermont

May 23 - June 2
Woodstock, Vermont

June 2 - June 9
Meredith, New Hampshire

June 9 - June 23
Southwest Harbor, Maine

Springhill Suites by Marriott
Danbury, Connecticut

TownePlace Suites by Marriott
Winchester, Virginia

All of these places were excellent and we would not hesitate to stay in them again.  If anyone has specific questions about what we did or how I plan, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email.  I love planning our trips and I love talking about it!!

What will the 2013 Summer Adventure be??   There is no clear front runner at this point.    The list of places to explore just keeps growing.   But rest assured, there will be plenty to see and plenty to write about between now and next May.

As always, thanks so much for reading!!


  1. I never noticed your clothes! If you ever decide to go back to work, you could become a trip consultant:) People would pay you big money to do this planning and organizing for them. I'm rather burned out on my research I've been doing for a trip next summer. I get an initial burst of motivation and energy, then, suddenly, done. Hmm, sounds rather like what happens when I go on a "diet."

  2. I really enjoyed reading your vacation travels this year. Interesting experiment about traveling with less. It is hard for me to do that!

  3. You are such an organized trip planner! Thanks for all those tips on places to stay. We are going to be doing a New England driving trip next year, but no long term stays in any one place.

    I agree with Karen - you should be a trip consultant or organizer. Maybe a little part-time job! :D

  4. Thank you for sharing all of this! I have family in South Hero VT and they look at that lake view everyday. Lucky them in the summer - sad for them in the winter. Brrrr.

  5. I enjoyed very much reading of your travels, Sharon, and greatly appreciate you sharing them. I love my vicarious journeys! The sunset shot is lovely, by the way.

    Great idea to travel light---I never noticed that you were wearing the same clothes. It wouldn't have mattered if I had! :-)

  6. Loved the wrap up, and you guys are exactly who David and I want to be when we "grow up"...ha! Thanks for sharing how you guys travel, and all the tid bits about your lifestyle that have helped you to get where you are now, and where you want to be when Bill retires. I use VRBO from time to time as well. It is great!

  7. Such a lovely trip, and I'm so glad you have a spouse that compliments you so well. What a great team you two make. Thanks for the wrap-up. Travel abroad? Let's GO!!

  8. Thanks for the wrap-up!

    It's such a relief having AAA, isn't it?

  9. What a agreat wrap up. You must be a writer! I especially appreciated your list of places you stayed. Handy in that we might head up that way sometime. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I loved reading about your adventures this year. You have rekindled my desire to return to Maine, one of my favorite places on earth? Thanks for haring how you booked your week long stays. I was wondering about just that. We are not able to take Long trips since we are both working, but We plan to in a few years when we retire.

  11. I enjoyed reading about your travels. I 'discovered' you in the 'middle' (after you met Lori) so I want to go back and start at the beginning to catch the whole story. Thank you for sharing.