New England in the fall? Sounds good!
My sister Michele's step-son got married on October 17 in Monroe, Connecticut. Mom and the rest of the sisters decided it was a golden opportunity to leaf peep. Drew and I made a double family trip out of it by visiting his parents in Philadelphia for a few days before the wedding. I even went a day earlier so I could do the important-to-every-American site seeing and spend some time with my in-laws.
Miskit and Mr. Jordan were fine tour guides. First, we drove downtown, around city hall (pic left)...
...and saw the famous LOVE statue and a giant clothespin statue.
When in Philly, one must eat an authentic cheese steak sandwich. Mr. Jordan found us the original joint at Geno's. Mmm, tasty.
We needed the hearty sandwich to brave the cold, pouring rain* to go to the Liberty Bell.
*And oh did it hurt to read the weather forecast for Salt Lake of 70 degrees and sunny the entire time we were gone.
The display is pretty nice and I learned a ton about the history of this American icon, including that the crack was made larger by filing the sides so that the edges would not vibrate against each another upon ringing. The Pennsylvania State House, where the bell used to hang, is out the window in the above photos.
Across the street, we took a guided tour of Independence Hall
and stood in the very room where the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution were discussed and signed. That very chair at the far side of the room in the picture below is the chair George Washington sat in as he presided over the assembly.
And the Syng Inkstand (pic left) is believed to be the inkstand used to sign these documents. Whoa, the history!
We also visited Reading Market, a colorful place full of good stuff to eat. Miskit bought some fabulous cheese that we enjoyed later that evening and the following night as Drew's great aunt Connie and cousin Richard joined us for another fabulous dinner prepared by Miskit.
Drew arrived a day after I did, so he took me to see his old Boy Scout haunts. Scouts were a huge part of Drew's life growing up. He remembers camping out in the woods near this lean-to where the leaders slept.
My history tour was not complete until we visited Valley Forge, just a few minutes from the in-law's house, where George Washington and the young Continental Army spent the winter of 1777-78, while British troops stayed in Philadelphia .
Here I am on the steps of Washington's headquarters, and Drew is in the enlisted men's quarters. There were six beds in there.
Saturday morning we got up really early and drove Miskit's car on the New Jersey turnpike and across the George Washington bridge to Connecticut, where my sister Michele's step-son, Derek, got married. Here are all us sisters and Mom looking good at the reception.
L to R: Jane, me, Jackie, Di, Mom (Rita), Michele
The wedding was nice and later we went to Michele's house where we feasted on excellent food made by Michele's husband Dennis.
The next morning, we headed north through more and more rain. On the drive through Connecticut and Massachusetts we saw a number of cool covered bridges. That is the rental van driving across Bulls Bridge.
Our destination was Vermont. The attraction we chose to visit in Bennington was the Park-McCullough mansion, built by a lawyer with his fortune made in California during the gold rush of 1848. It was a 35 room summer cottage for his family. Some summer cottage!
This is the mansion. You can tell how far I can run in 10 seconds.
Group photo by a cute little playhouse at the mansion. L ro R: Di, Jane, Jackie, me, Michele, Mom.
Then it was on the road again to our bed and breakfast in Arlington.
The Lucy's are a generally frugal bunch, but we splurged for a night at the West Mountain Inn near the small town of Arlington, Vermont.
Our suite included the upstairs portion of the wing to the left in the photo above. We had three bedrooms, two baths, a living room, kitchen, and balcony.
The grounds included gardens for weddings...
and at least four resident llamas.
It was a fabulous New England bed and breakfast.
After checking out our accommodations, Drew, Di, and I had just barely enough daylight left to explore a few of the hiking trails on the inn's property.
But after all that work, we needed to just relax around the fire with beer and pizza in the suite's living room. It was really great to be able to hang out together in a big comfy living room instead of a crammed hotel room.
In the morning we feasted on a deluxe gourmet breakfast at the inn and snapped a few more photos. Above L to R: Mom, Michele, Jackie, Jane, and Di.
We were sorry to leave our cozy inn, but eager to see more of Vermont. While the family took a scenic drive to the top of Mount Equinox, Drew and I had a nice, steep hike on the lower slopes of the mountain.
After our morning activities, the plan was to drive highway 130 to Brattleborough, Vermont, but as our caravan moved through Manchester, we screeched to a halt at the Orvis outlet store. Manchester, apparently, is the New Englander's place to shop. Among the outlet stores were many fine little craft and gift shops through which to browse. After a long debate and search for a suitable local eatery for lunch, which turned out to be a yummy cafe inside an outstanding local bookstore, we finally pointed the vehicles east toward more sights.
A fun impromptu stop along the way was Scott Bridge, the longest unsupported wooden span covered bridge in Vermont. The picture below is me, Jackie and Jane in the bridge, and in the picture below that you can just see Jackie's head poking out of an opening in the bridge.
Pretty fall scene. The leaf colors were actually a little past prime here, although farther south in CT, MA, and PA the colors were very nice.
Another New Englandy site are all these old cemeteries. We stopped to wander in one where I found a headstone dating back to 1810. You just don't see that in Utah.
Drew and I were in the lead car when someone in Di's car texted us and said, "we brake for fudge". Jackie had the keen eye to see this store, which has a big sign that says "QUILTS - FUDGE". If that isn't a pit stop for three quilters and six fudge lovers, I don't know what is. We all hoofed it to the store just before closing time.
Across the road from the store, in Newfane, Vermont are a number of picturesque buildings made even prettier by the fall colors and late afternoon light.
We continued to Hartford, where we spent one last night together before the Midwest crew flew out the next morning. Drew and I delivered Michele home to Southbury, where we said our goodbyes before turning east on a longer, more scenic, and cheaper route to avoid toll roads and traffic. This route took us through eastern and central Pennsylvania and next to the Delaware Water Gap, a must see for any hydrogeologist, and textbook example of stream piracy. In this case of stream piracy, the ancestral Delaware River eroded its way headward through the ridge that now forms the gap and captured the flow of a river running in the valley behind the ridge. Unfortunately, we were unprepared and out of time for a detour to actually see the water gap, and there are so dang many trees in Pennsylvania, that sadly, I had to settle for touching the Delaware River and reading informational signs near the gap.
We ended our 8-day driving tour of New England at the Pottstown airport near Drew's parents' house where his dad keeps his hand-built plane. The next post will be all about Drew's adventures with the plane.
It was a grand trip, and it was good to have fun with our families.