John & Bron's trip to New England, May 2009

Daily Blog

Wednesday 29th April

Thrifty's Dodge Caliber Pleasant but long flight to Boston via Dublin & Shannon, where we cleared US customs & immigration. Airbus 320-200. Thrifty pretty efficient at hiring out our Dodge Caliber (silver). Garmin took us to Econolodge. Comfortable, if somewhat traditional motel. Got to bed at 8:20pm after buying a few groceries (cereal & milk) and having tea in a nearby shopping mall food court. Very comfortable bed!
Thursday 30th April
Up and about at 5:30am. Found broken tyre valve stem so took car back to Thrifty. Sunny day today. Revere beach (walk) then to Lexington & Concord having picked up discount hotel coupon book from where I'd researched one to be. Excellent evening meal at Applebees on way back to motel. Beer very expensive at $5.50 for 16oz glass. Oh yes, very helpful young guy (Rex) at T-mobile shop sold us a PAYG simcard for our 'phone and also tried and failed to find a suitable PAYG deal for mobile broadband. Note that at home I should be able to winkle a sim card out of (say) vodaphone PAYG dongle.
Friday 1st May
Overcast morning. Motel burnt toast breakfast. Drove to downtown Boston which was a traffic nightmare. Didn't park at Faneuil Hall but drove on to Quincy for excellent (if rather detailed) visit to John Adams House. Lunch at nearby Bickfords then struggled in traffic past Harvard (rowing eights) to Quality Inn at Lexington where our walk in coupon was honoured (2 nights). Evening skirmish to fancy nearby Burlington Mall.
Saturday 2nd May
The Bridge at Concord Fife & Drum Day (morning and evening). Also excellent visit to Concord and Arnold Arbouretum on a progressively sunnier day. Lively evening meal at "Border Cafe" near Burlington Mall. Leaving for Portland ME tomorrow.
Sunday 3rd May.
Left around 9:00am after busy breakfast. Overcast low 60s. Easy journey up I95 to Portsmouth (for a look'see) then on to Kittery & outlet shops (J shirts'n'hat B trousers'n'top) Lucky drive by of open quilt shop ( Knights Cape Neddick). Upmarket brunch at Ogunquit. Then on to Freeport, beyond Portland for 3 nights at Econolodge at $42 a night - bargain. Tried and failed to find somewhere to walk at the coast at Freeport so bought rolls, cheese & jam to eat in motel room.
Monday 4th May
Surprisingly sunny today. Bron was on nearby quilt shop's door for 10 o'clock opening. Then (later) down US1 to Yarmouth and world's largest globe at DeLorme Yarmouth. The on to Portland for walk & pub lunch in old town harbor area. Another walk along eastern promenade looking at Fort Gorges, on Hog Island in Portland Harbour. Then cruise south Portland + lovely icecream at neighbourhood parlor. Back home along US1 to have soup & rolls tea in motel room.
Tuesday 5th May
Setting of for Bar Harbor and Acadia NP with fingers crossed for weather - rain is forecast, but it was also so for today here, and we had sunshine). Easy dry journey up US1 apart from a couple of urgent pee stops for John. Pleasant lunch at Denny's in Ellsworth, just before going on to Mount Desert Island for Bar Harbor & Acadia Natl Park. Started to rain as we got on to the island. Our chosen hotel (from saver coupon book) was closed but B spotted a Quality Inn in Bar harbor and we got room for $71 by asking for senior discount. Really cold and rainy so "we" did a load of washing at hotel laundromat. John walked around town and found nearby supermarket to buy groceries for tea. Rained all evening. Spent time on the Internet finding and booking a hotel in Quebec for the weekend.
Wednesday 6th May
O'cast morning but at least it's not raining! Lovely drive round loop road in Acadia Natl Park including sand beach and Thunder hole. First truly American breakfast/brunch at Garage Deli, Northeast Harbor. Continued loop road and tried Cadillac mountain but too cloudy. Left Island for seaside quilt shop at nearby Trenton then back to Cadillac Mountain for slightly more succesful (but cold) views. John more comfortable in the car now that he's found the seat-height adjusting lever. Evening meal at a bar harbor eatery. (Bar Harbor Route 66)
Thursday 7th May.
Rainy morning. Breakfast in motel room then check-out and tour the southwest part of the island, including seawall and Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Rain eased during morning. Rather excellent lunch and postcard writing session at Denny's in Ellsworth before hitting US1A and I95 to Waterville in readiness to take US102(N) to Quebec tomorrow. Day ended dry and cool. Checked into Budget Host motel for $45 (roomsaver coupon) and made cheese rolls tea in motel room. Probably plan prompt start for the 230 mile trip to Quebec City tomorrow (but hotel is already booked for the weekend)
Friday 8th May
Comfortable enough night, but hotel really too basic. Woke up to a flat tyre (#12 self tapper by my reckoning). Expertly fixed by folks at nearby Ford garage. They trook less than 45 minutes total and only charged $24. We were on the road again by 9 o'clock by which time the sun had burnt off the early morning mist. Took I95 the US201 north, first to Skowhegan where Bron had marked up another quilt shop! Warm and sunny mornig for scenic byway drive up through Moose country (increasingly wild and empty) to Jackman where we had brilliant "mom'n'pop" style lunch, then on to US/Canadian border. Soon after experienced a potentially lethal 3 lane motorway (not dual carriageway) that eventually became a "proper" motorway and so to Quebec City. Checked into rather nice hotel (Sepia) just over the St Lawrence river. Had a kip then drove to city centre (Old Quebec) which has a brilliant mix of tiny streets, impressive public buildings and castle walls, to say nothing of riverside docks. More tomorrow.
Saturday 9th May
Very comfortable night. Cereal & juice breakfast in room, then back to Old Quebec City along Champlain Blvd next to the river. Lovely promenade to walk there, together with thousands of locals walking, cycling, roller-blading and skateboarding. Pleasant sunny morning. More exploring old town before finding nice cafe (Restaurant Kalimera) for omelette lunch. Back to hotel for a Zzzz then headed east to Ile d'Orleans along the Canadian motorway system. Brilliant spectacle of migrating geese. Also St Anne Falls at the mouth of the Montmerency River is pretty dramatic. Weather cooling and clouding over to end the day. Back to hotel via supermarket for tea provisions.
Sunday 10th May - Mothers Day
Cold and overcast this morning so decided on leisurely breakfast then car trip North of Quebec to a little village in the mountains called Tewkesbury! Watched a group whitewater rafting in a pretty turbulent small river (either St Charles or one of its tribituries). Then back to Quebec for a spectacular 360 degree aerial view from L'Observatoire de la Capitale on the 31st floor of the skyscraper "Edifice Marie Guyart". Then off to "the largest Mall in Eastern Canada" for lunch and a people-watching stroll. From there we went east to properly visit St Anne's Falls. Back to hotel for tea and tidy-up prior to moving on tomorrow and then finally cruising back to Old Quebec and St Anne Falls to see the illuminations.
Monday 11th May
Travelled back to USA today on a sunny but quite cold day, about 50 deg(F). 276 miles of easy motorway including a section of the transcanadian highway (A20) to Drummondville and then A55 south to the border which turns into I91 south into Vermont. Finally along I93 to the White Mountains region of New Hampshire to stay near Plymouth NH (Days Inn). We stopped at Drummondville for R&R and found it to be a delightfully clean and modern provincial town.
Tuesday 12th May
Sunny and mild today. Inspected nearby covered bridge across the Blair river and then set off for a tour round the shores of Lake Winnipesauke, the largest lake of the region. Center Harbor is a delightful little town with everyone busy getting ready for the summer season. John enjoyed browsing round an enormous Truvalue hardware store whilst Bronwen was in 7th heaven at the largest quilt shop yet - Keepsake Quilting. Super lunch at Hart's Turkey farm Restaurant (turkey of course!) and then continued around lake. John's driving was impeccable for 15 miles or so as we were being tailed by a state plice car that had pulled away from a "crime scene"'d house in Wolfeboro. Tea "back at the ranch" and Bronwen did second dose of laundry.
Wednesday 13th May
The Blair Bridge A fine, sunny and almost warm day today to go covered bridge hunting in the Southwest corner of our region (we're staying near Plymouth NH). We could only find one of the three bridges close to the motel but found several more elsewhere. There are more than fifty I believe - check out this website for a list with photographs. Of course we checked out the Waterloo Bridge over the Warner river at Warner as well as finding a railway covered bridge at Contoocook. We had an exciting "All American Lunch" at the "tilt'n'diner" in Tilton, and finsished our tour with a look at the rather elegant New Hampshire Capital City, Concord.
Thursday 14th May
We moved on from Day's Inn near Plymouth to North Conway via the Kancamagus Scenic Byway The weather was the complete opposite of yesterday, wet, windy and cold - not the sort of day for enjoying mountain scenery but we did our best. At North Conway we added to our holiday experiences after checking in to a local motel by consulting first a chemist, then a telephone call to our travel insurers to authorise a visit to the local "walk in" medical clinic. John has been rather uncomfortable (with the H-word complaint) and wanted to get checked over and get a prescriptiion drug which will be stronger and hopefully more effective than "over the counter" stuff. An interesting and not unpleasant experience. Heyhoh! and so to bed, Bronwen comforted by the fact that our motel is in the middle of dozens of outlet shops - Aaaghhh!
Friday 15th May
John's not getting any better so we've made the decision to "cut and run". We've re-arranged the flight home for Sunday 17th May. Bron did have a succesful browse'n'buy in the North Conway outlet shops before we set off south on a lovely sunny day for a Hotel on the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border for the last couple of nights. Stopped for an R&R break at the lovely town of Meredith in the NH lake district before hightailing it down I93 to Haverhill. John did very little over the next couple of days/nights except sweat his fever out. We finally re-packed for the journey home Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning - ditching a load of personal eats & drinks that we had stocked up on earlier. We took a very pleasant back roads journey to Revere on the coast to turn the car in at Thrifty's depot and to get transported to the airport in good time for our flight home. The kids are both away for this weekend so I can't crave a lift home from Birmingham from them but my friend Brian Roberts has volunteered to turn out early for a 7:30am pickup - bless him!
Tuesday 19th May - End of trip Postscript
We're back home! Arrived safely yeasterday norning after very comfortable flight back for Boston via Dublin to Birmingham (Aer Lingus). John has been to the doctor who diagnosed Diverticulitis and is on a week's course of penicillin. We're very glad to be home of course and happy to be in the care of the good old, but much malinged NHS. We had a last lingering stop at Meredith, in the New Hampshire Lake district on the way back to Boston on a lovely Sunny day. Two nights in a Comfort Suites hotel in Haverhill MA, about 35 miles north of Boston allowed us to repack and rest up ready for the journey home. Our final car trip was also surprisngly pleasant - non-motorway roads down to coast to the Thrifty rental depot at Revere and so by their courtesy bus to the airport.