Maine: the Way Life Should be, proclaims the state slogan, which greets us as we drive over the border into this wild, beautiful land. Cars all around us bear the former slogan, Vacationland, on their licence plates and before too long we realise the truth of both these statements. In summer, crowds flock to Maine searching for quaint seaside towns, unspoilt beaches, well-preserved national parks and miles of rugged forest. Although we visited in Autumn, Maine's beauty still struck us hard - here are the highlights from our time there.
“You’re here for three months?” a guy from Maine asked us, “Now that’s the way to take a vacation!” For cost and visa issues, we limited our US trip to three months; compared to the two years we’ve just spent in Asia, those three months sounded very short, but travelling here in the US has made me feel incredibly grateful for this trip and the lifestyle we've carved for ourselves.
“Oh, yeah, this is supposedly one of the most haunted houses in Maine,” our Airbnb host told us, “It used to be a brothel, funeral parlour, and doctor’s room…I’ve had paranormal groups here investigating.” Andrew and I exchanged wary looks, trying to figure out whether our host was just messing with us or whether he really believed the house was haunted. Either way, as we listened to his tales of heavy footsteps in the halls, voices coming from the billiard room at night and a boy ghost trying to play with his dog, I knew the images popping into my head were going to keep me awake that night.
Unbelievably, we’ve been in New England for nearly two months now; the time has flown by in a whirl of scenic drives, golden foliage, forest walks and pancake breakfasts. This week finds us in Portland, Maine, facing the tail-end of our journey in this incredible corner of the country. Although we’ll be moving on to other parts of the US in a week or so, my heart still breaks a little at the thought of leaving. With that in mind, here are some of the things we’ve loved about New England.
Vermont is a land of plenty; rolling fields with grazing dairy cows, maple-tree forests, vegetable patches and orchards produce lots of fresh, delicious food. While travelling through the state we sampled so much scrumptious, homemade and grown food; here’s a little taste of what we ate in Vermont.
In Vermont I felt like I was living through one long leafy dream where we drove endlessly down roads carved through forest and the trees around us transformed to shades of copper, bronze and citrus; peach, plum and rust. The days floated by prettily like the leaves fluttering from the trees and I knew that I was living through moments I would crave to have back in the future. In Vermont we’d finally found the autumn we’d been searching for and I didn’t want to leave.
To visit Niagara Falls we took a nine-hour detour from our road trip through New England. During the drive up through New York state I was hopeful, convinced that the falls would stun us and the trip would be worthwhile. While I wasn’t wrong about the majesty of those mighty waterfalls, everything else about our trip to Niagara Falls turned out to be a bit – strange.
Martha’s Vineyard was high on my list of places to visit in New England. I was hoping to experience a small slice of idyllic island life; pretty lighthouses, rugged beaches, sailboats and salty air – and that was pretty much what we got, along with cute gingerbread houses and a stunning sunset.
The night was full of autumn; frosty dark air, the taste of hot apple cider and the smell of wood smoke. Our boat cut a smooth path down the river while the orange heat of bonfires blazing on the water’s surface warmed our noses. I like to think of myself as an expert planner, but sometimes the best travel experiences turn out to be totally unexpected, like the Providence WaterFire Festival.
Have I mentioned yet that we love having a rental car? America is perfect for road trips; the petrol is a crazy $2.20 per gallon and the roads are wide and empty, well, at least compared to the UK. It’s so easy to throw all of our stuff into our red steed, Cherry, and zip from one state to the next; we’ve even grown to love the country music station on the radio. After our week in rugged New Hampshire we fired Cherry up and whizzed down to the coastal state of Connecticut.