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Trip Report Panecott’s Rowing and Roading Trip to New England

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I’ll try to keep this brief because my trips are usually pretty uneventful and of little interest to anyone but me. This one was no exception, but it was a lovely, relaxing vacation in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, and was my first road trip in my very first car - purchased this year.

First stop was Craftsbury, VT, where I spent a week at a sculling camp. I just took up sculling this summer and Craftsbury was a great place to improve my technique and gain confidence. It was a rigorous, but fun, program, with three rowing sessions a day beginning at 7 a.m., yoga, hikes, fabulous healthy meals cooked with all fresh and natural ingredients, great coaching and very congenial company.

We rowed on a beautiful, 2 mile long lake amidst beautiful scenery and perfect weather, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irene. When I wasn’t on the water, I was in it, and the cold, mountain lake was invigorating and soothing to my aching muscles. On the last day there was a race, followed by a farewell party with T-shirt and gag gift exchange. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire Craftsbury experience and can’t wait to go back next year.

Sadly, some areas of Vermont and New Hampshire were hard hit by Irene and several roads and bridges were closed. It was sad to hear of so much damage amidst all that beauty. I hope both states recover soon.

Next stop was Jackson, NH, where I spent 3 days at the lovely Inn at Ellis River, a perfect B&B on Route 16, set back from the road, so it is quiet but still very convenient. Fortunately, the Inn, which is on a hill, escaped damage from Irene, although I was told that the river overflowed onto the lawn and came close.

The Inn is beautifully decorated, with every convenience and amenity, including a jacuzzi, swimming pool and sauna. My room had a balcony overlooking the lawn and the river, which was a perfect place to relax. Breakfasts were scrumptious feasts of fresh fruit, freshly baked breads and muffins, homemade granola, yogurt, cereal, and a choice of frittata or pancakes or waffles for the main course. Coffee and tea were available all day, and in the afternoon, cold drinks and cookies were served. I discovered early on that New England is not a good place to count calories, or WW points!

Jackson is a cute little village, which I much preferred to nearby North Conway, which is more crowded and commercial. Jackson has a scenic historic trail of about 1.5 miles, which I walked each day, and visited some galleries and a local crafts fair along the way. I enjoyed two delicious dinners at the Thompson House Eatery (T.H.E.) right across the road from the Inn. T.H.E. is in an old mansion where dinner is served on a lovely enclosed porch or in the adjacent dining room. Service was friendly and pleasant, and since I could walk there from the Inn, I was able to enjoy a glass or two of wine with dinner.

Unfortunately, the scenic Kancamagus Road was closed due to damage from Irene, but the beautiful White Mountain Forest offered lovely scenery, including waterfalls, streams, covered bridges and enjoyable hiking trails. I did more driving than hiking, but thoroughly enjoyed my surroundings in the process.

I took the challenge and drove up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, which was not nearly as bad as it was described to me by the man at the entry gate. He made it sound as though I were about to enter a world from which I might not return! The weather was clear, and good enough for some lovely views, and the drive up and down was uneventful.

After Jackson, I headed for the Schoodic Peninsula just north of Bar Harbor, ME. On the recommendation of a couple I met at the Inn, I took Route 2, a secondary scenic road, which was pleasantly uncrowded and passed through some typical Maine towns, complete with rows of American flags hanging from the homes and stores on Main Street - very Norman Rockwell.

It was Labor Day and most places were closed, but it made for some easy, traffic free driving. I picked up lunch along the way and stopped at a lovely picnic area by a lake. I passed through a town with the familiar name of Skowhegan, which I recalled having been to as a child with my parents on the way up to Canada. Nice memory.

I arrived at the Schoodic Peninsula in early evening and was pleased with the quietness of the place. I instantly fell in love with my home for the next two nights, the Oceanside Meadows Inn, which is situated on 200 oceanfront acres and consists of an old sea captain’s house and an adjacent farmhouse, which are furnished with antiques collected by the owners over the years, and surrounded by lovely gardens and grounds that are available for guests’ enjoyment. The Inn served delicious breakfasts, with cold homemade fruit soup, muffins, and different types of frittata.

The gracious host, Ben Walter, gave me pamphlets and info on the flora and fauna and sea life of the area and loaned me his copy of “The Peninsula”, a first person account of a woman’s introduction to the area more than 60 years ago. I got hooked on the book and was happy to later find my own copy in an antique shop in Corea, which was formerly a general store that was actually mentioned in the book.

One evening, coming in from a cold drizzle, I entered the cozy sitting room where Beethoven was playing softly on the stereo and a fire was burning in the fireplace. I had the place to myself and made a cup of tea, took out my book and snuggled up on one of the comfortable sofas to read. It felt as if I’d been transported back to the time when the sea captain was in residence. I had an oceanfront room upstairs and fell asleep each night to the sound of the waves. Although more cozy than luxurious, it was my favorite lodging of the trip.

I had one delicious dinner of lobster stew and grilled scallops with asparagus at Bunker’s Wharf, a waterside restaurant, and one terrible dinner at the Fishermen’s Inn, also near the water in Prospect Harbor. Lunch on both days was a tasty lobster roll from a roadside trailer.

A portion of Acadia National Park is located on the Schoodic. The park drive, about 8-10 miles long, is mainly on the water, more so than the one on Mt. Desert Island. It was beautifully scenic and pleasantly uncrowded, and I drove it several times, in the rain, in the clouds, and in the sunshine. The town of Corea, at the end of the peninsula, is a picturesque fishing village which was fun to walk around.

After the Schoodic I headed to Bar Harbor, where I spent 3 nights at the Mira Monte Inn, a beautiful Victorian B&B, conveniently located right in the heart of town. I had a lovely, sun filled room with a small balcony facing the gardens, and of course, enjoyed huge homemade breakfasts every morning.

Weather was drizzly and cloudy, but it cleared up on the last day, when I drove the park loop and explored Mt. Desert Island, including Bass Harbor and SW Harbor. On the park road I was stopped by a ranger for going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone, and got off with a written warning, instead of a $120 ticket! I truly didn’t think I was going that fast but I didn’t argue. LOL! After decades of driving that would have been my second "speeding" ticket!

The drive up to Cadillac Mountain was beautiful, as were the views from the top. The afternoon was capped off with a stop at Jordan Pond for tea and popovers on the lawn. On the other days I rode the park buses and explored the town on foot, including the native museum and the pretty St. Savior’s church, with its Tiffany windows.

I stuck to restaurants in town which were all walkable from my B&B. Testa’s, Parkside Restaurant, and another that I can’t remember, which was very nice. The evenings were nice enough for al fresco dining, which I took advantage of, and ate lobster, lobster and more lobster, and enjoyed it all. Dessert was always a double scoop of Maine blueberry ice cream from the ice cream store across from the park.

Acadia was still fairly crowded that week right after Labor Day and I really enjoyed the Schoodic Peninsula more than Bar Harbor and Mt. Desert Island.

Of course, I brought home some Vermont Maple Syrup, Maine Wild Blueberry Jam, Maine Wild Blueberry Soap, and Maine Wild Blueberry Pancake Mix.

Lexington, MA, was a perfect town for a stopover on the way home - very picturesque - and the Element Hotel was very cool - brand new, sparkling and very "green", and easy to find.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with suggestions for driving directions, places to see, etc. I managed with Google directions and maps, and no GPS, and was happy to see that I could find my way from one point to another without an electronic voice telling me where to go!

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