Taken in August 2013, New Hampshire
Taken in Vermont in July 2013
In just a couple of months, this same picture will be covered in snow. Taken August 2013.
Vermont is the only landlocked state in New England. Oh boo hoo! Right? I mean, it is kind of hard to complain about this when we have the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain still offers ferry rides, lighthouses, and islands to explore.
Franconia Notch State Park is located in the North West part of New Hampshire in the vast, yet pure white mountains. The park is made up of countless mountain hikes that run along the clearest of creeks, rivers, springs, and waterfalls. What is most unique about the area, though, are the boulders, rocks, and riverbanks that were formed by melting glaciers, over 25,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age. The solid granite bedrock was smoothed down by years of erosion.
The Basin (shown above) is a popular stop within Franconia and is an example of the glacial erosion along the great Pemigewasset River. Standing in front of the gigantic pothole, I get overwhelmed by thoughts of jumping in and splashing around. Interestingly enough, Henry David Thoreau, the American Naturalist, stood in the same spot in 1839. He described the pothole as, “perhaps the most remarkable curiosity of its kind in New England.”
Franconia Notch is large and spread out with multiple places to park all along exits that jut off interstate 93. You could spend a 15 minute stop at the basin to days of camping because of the easy accessibility the park offers.
Block Island is located about 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. Only accessible by boat or plane, the easiest way to get there is by ferry from Point Judith, Rhode Island. From there, the ferry crosses the Block Island Sound. Once you reach the island, it is easy to forget you are still in New England. The milky blue salt water slides effortlessly over the snowy white sand unlike that of the somewhat chaotic waves that crash along much of the rest of New England’s rocky coast.
A short, though up-hill, bike ride from the ferry port will lead you to one of two of Block Island’s lighthouses. The Southeast Light (in the photo above) was erected in 1975 and was home to the same keeper family for the first 55 years. Though deactivated in 1990, by the early 90’s it was dangerously only 50 feet from the edge of one of Block Island’s most treacherous bluffs. The Block Island Southeast Lighthouse Foundation was able to raise enough money ($2 million) to move the lighthouse 300 feet away to where it stands today. A trip to this lighthouse is not complete without walking down to the ocean from the top of the bluff. Though quite a hike back up, the views are worth it.
The Mad River Valley is a magical area of Vermont. Located in the Northern Central portion of Vermont, the Mad River Valley has some of the more scenic drives, best wineries, and best small towns. Warren Falls is one of the best swimming holes in this part of Vermont. The falls offers aqua hued water that is clear in even the deepest spots. There are also boulders to jump from and even natural slides. I’ve never witnessed a more beautiful swimming hole. Head into Warren, Vermont and from the intersection of rt 100 and rt 17, go outh on rt 100 for about 8 miles. You will see parking alongside the road in front of Forest Service gate. A short path leads to the falls. If it is swimming season (August in Vermont!), you will most likely be able to follow the crowd.
The Portland Observatory was built in 1807 as a way to communicate with ships coming in to the Portland harbor. In some ways, it is the opposite of a lighthouse which is a guide for ships; the Portland Observatory was a guide for those on shore to see the ships. It is the only observatory left of its kind and tourists can still climb its wooden stairs to the top.
If you head to Lake Elmore State Park (about 20 miles north of Montpelier), you can take the Elmore Mountain Trail to the summit of Mt. Elmore. At Elmore’s 2608 foot high summit lies one of Vermont’s few remaining fire towers. The hike to the top is approximately 1.25 miles with views of the Worcester Range (shown here and includes Mt. Hunger), Mt. Mansfield, and into New Hampshire. If you do not have a fear of heights, you can still climb the 60 foot high fire tower for the best views. The photo above is taken from the top of the fire tower on a cool, August afternoon.