While normally I focus on mountains, hiking and exploring more remote areas this is a road trip report that covers diverse experiences around New England. Hope you enjoy and maybe get some ideas and inspiration !
Some locations discussed are lands of original peoples or discuss political activity as they fought for rights – I have hopefully been sensitive in what I write and do apologise unreservedly in advance if I write anything incorrect or by error offensive and would encourage anyone with corrections to reach out to me via my contact details so I can rectify the piece. As a Scot, with a deep love of history I have a vested interest in representing original cultures, peoples and their rights accurately – and where able to celebrate them.
For anyone following we visited a number of US states and National parks before the world was transformed through the pandemic of then last couple of years, so once an element of “normality” had returned to travel, and after a great ski trip to Les2Alps in late winter we decided to get another US Road Trip under our belts.
Driving the US is for me by far the best way to experience the people, places and culture . Its built for driving – the infrastructure be it roads, gas stations, attractions and places to stay along the way are second to none and putting the environmental impact aside we love it – granted the impact now is something we need to seriously consider so I suspect electric travel will factor in our next one!
Having explored 5 states, 6 national parks and covering 3000 miles plus across The Rockies, Utah and Moab last time out we decided this time to do East coast – New England. Between is history, connection to the US, its diversity of landscape and people and (importantly to me !) its connection to all things spooky and horror related it was a no brainer.
Plan then … land Boston (a city I’ve only briefly visited on business), head down to Cape Cod (of Splash fame!), loop back up through witch central (Salem) , along the Eastern seaboard to Bangor in Maine (Stephen King country), head across to the mountains of Vermont and wind our way south again to finish up with a couple of days and a show in NYC .2500 miles , 6 states and 10 days – here we go!
Using the Roadtrippers app to plan (amazing find and well worth the small subscription – I will share the full route at the end of the series so stay tuned) I was able to plot a detailed route, places to stay, sites to sea and even judge times and “gas” costs ! This is both a desktop and mobile app so great for planning when you are at home or in your hotel and then handy to use on the road as GPS / navigation aid. Using the stack of hotel points my wife has accrued we also grabbed a bunch of free night stays along the way so managed to keep costs down. As it was June the temps between states would vary a little but not as much as the ice and snow to desert backing swing we got last time so packing was a little easier (and lighter). Also with no bear presence we could forego bear spray this time!
So after a hop from Glasgow to London we flew to Boston Logan , picked up the hire car (FAR too big for what I needed or asked for! ) loaded up and headed to our first hotel where we would stay for 2 night, letting us hit Boston city and also get down to Cape Cod. Checked in (US service always impresses me – lovely folks who cant do enough for you) we had a view across Boston harbour to the city and discovered we could get the water Taxi to cross and explore the town. A short but really fun trip later we arrived at the wharf of Boston and headed into the city to explore ahead of visiting my previous find on a business trip Daryll’s Kitchen – quite simply the best place in Boston for welcome, food and importantly Jazz ! Each night you have bands from the nearby home of Jazz schools Berklee perform to a small , intimate and packed but very welcoming crowd. Get a table booked, get in early and enjoy the AMAZING food while listening – perfect !
Next day was a trip down to Cape Cod to visit the historic “pilgrim” village of Plymouth , see the Mayflower 2 and enjoy the drive – this latter bit questionable as day 1 driving in then US on very busy roads, out of Boston (most stressful place I’ve ever driven ) and on a Saturday was a bit of a trial by fire.. think I still have white knuckles from the steering wheel..
Setting of early we had only a loose plan but pone key stop was Plimouth Patuxet Plantation includes a fully recreated 17th century pilgrim village on Plymouth coast, with live action role players living and working in the village. Touring around it you not only get to see how the village was laid out , can enter each to see how people lived after the voyages from England but you can (and often do) interact with the “villagers” who are fully in character as they go about their daily chores. Should you speak to one you will quickly find you are having a conversation of the time ! A great place for education as well as enjoyment, it includes the village, a fort and – for us very important – retains a first peoples site nearby.
This site on the Eel river , known as Historic Patuxet is where, through local contemporary interpreters, you can learn about those who have been here for the last 12,000 years (spoiler alert – Columbus did not “Discover America”.) Sitting on deep fur convered benches in a wetu (house) listening to one young lady of the Wampanoag people talk about daily community life was completely fascinating and is something anyone visiting New England should experience – to remind us all of the history , culture and civilisation of the region, BEFORE the Europeans invaded. Touring the areas you can see examples of crops, cooking and of dug out canoes (mishoon) – a great and unexpected experience .
From Plimouth village and after speaking to a lovely lady at the visitor centre we headed to Plymouth and to see the Mayflower II. Arriving for lunch we parked up, found a [place to eat on main street and chilled watching the world go by and settling into the US way of life. A short walk to the harbour , sunny but breezy, we arrived at the impressive Mayflower II. The Mayflower II is a faithful (mostly) reproduction of the famous ship that carried the “Pilgrims” across the Atlantic to land in what’s now known as New England. Wandering around the massive ship , seeing how deep it went and how large the hold was , how tall the sails are – it really was impressive. Then talking to the lovely folks on board we were amazed to discover the ship is fully seagoing, and had to be for modern requirements, its at times sailed up the coast or out of the harbour for shows, events and the like – that really would be something to see.
Our tour wrapped up and the day getting later we jumped back in the car and headed back for Boston (still finding driving the “bus” way too stressful in heavy NE traffic).
Wandering downtown Boston, exploring the streets, old building cheek and jowel with new gleaming ones, wandering the park up to the capitol building we were sad not to have longer to explore and definitely felt it was city we would like to spend longer in. Dinner spot found we got our fill , had a beer and then headed back to then hotel for what turned out to be a fun filled one where we ended up talking to (entertaining) a whole bunch of folk at the bar and stayed up WAY longer than we should have – good times !
Check out the next report for where we went next, spoilers it involves witches!