Fort Crown Point, New York

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View from Crown Point Fort

A couple of weekends ago we decided to stay local. We wanted to save up a little cash flow by staying in for the weekend and maybe grabbing a movie or something. We ended up driving through Western Vermont until we crossed the new Lake Champlain bridge and explored Fort Crown Point on the New York side of Lake Champlain. I guess we just can’t sit still. We may not have stayed local, but exploring the ruins of one of America’s oldest forts was actually completely free. For just a moment, as I looked out over Lake Champlain and the rolling green hills from crumbling, 18th century fort ruins, I was reminded of ruins along the craggly, deep green coast of Ireland.

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This fort was originally built by the French in the 1730’s out of limestone. Although frequently targeted by the British during the French and Indian War, the French held on to it until 1759 when they destroyed it. Then, in 1759, the British began construction of Crown Point for as a staging area. In 1775, though, the Green Mountain Boys took over at the beginning of the American Revolution. This actually played an important part in helping drive the British out of Boston Harbor. Later, the Fort was abandoned to the British and then for good it 1780.

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The ruins are basically an open air museum. You can walk along the coast of Lake Champlain, weaving in and out of the old limestone walls as you wish. After we were finished, we walked down to the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse which memorializes Samuel Champlain’s 1609 voyage on Lake Champlain. You can see the lighthouse from the bridge, but it is much more commanding up close.

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New England Photo of the Day: Franconia Notch State Park, NH

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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.

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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.

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Quick Trips: Gloucester & the Cape Ann Coastline

The Fisherman’s Memorial Statue, 1925.

Gloucester is a small, coastal town that I immediately felt a connection with the first time I visited. It is one of our favorite “quick trips” within New England, and we make sure we stop there every time we are in the Boston area. Located about a 40 minute drive north of Boston, Gloucester has both sandy, pristine beaches and rocky, wavy beaches. In and around Gloucester, you can also explore six different lighthouses and hang out at one of my favorite brew pubs.

Although part of the fun of visiting coastal Massachusetts is finding different beaches on your own, one of my favorite beaches is Wingaersheek Beach. I only recommend it in the off season, however, as it gets extremely crowded and can cost a pretty penny for parking. My favorite time to visit is in the off season, when it is freely open to everyone, and most of the visitors are locals and dogs. It can be too cold for swimming at this time, but you have the whole beach to play on, including exploring every little nook and cranny. You can’t beat the views from this beach, also, including one of Gloucester’s many lighthouses.

All over town you are likely to see the town’s logo, a captain steering a boat.

My favorite lighthouses to visit are theĀ  Twin Lighthouses located on Thacher Island. They are also referred to as Cape Ann Light Station which is where Cape Ann Brewing (mentioned below) gets its name and logo from. Not only are these two lighthouses among some of America’s oldest (erected in 1789), but they point true North when a ship sites on both towers.

Cape Ann Brewing is the local brewpub right in town. They actually grow some of their hops on Thacher Island where the Twin Lighthouses reside. They offer a relaxing atmosphere complete with shuffle board and a deck right on the water. They also always have at least 6 beers on tap. If they happen to have their Tea Party beer on tap, make sure to check it out. It incorporates all of the teas from the Boston Tea Party that were destroyed. I’ll also personally recommend both the fish sandwich and fish tacos, but only after a game of shuffle board and a beer.

Wingaersheek Beach with a lighthouse in the distance.

Lastly, Gloucester is well known for its lobster and fishing history. If you are only able to visit Gloucester once, make sure to do you research the area so that you can experience both the history of the town and the seafood. I’d recommend this site to make sure you don’t miss out on anything. If you are lucky enough to live in New England (like me!), Gloucester is the perfect reoccurring quick trip.