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Archive for December, 2011

Very late September / early October is a great time to visit New England.  Due to the distance from north to south, there is no way to see all the leaves at peak.  But if you go during the above time, you are sure to find beautiful color in Vermont and New Hampshire in the mountains.  And, what a site that is to see–just like in the pictures– the blazing fall colors, white church steeples and all the hills and dales.
Although you don’t have to take an escorted tour, it is a great way to travel.  You do not have to worry about finding a hotel room (especially since many are booked up with all the tour buses going through at that time) and not only do you learn about all the sites along the way, but you can also see them well, unlike when someone has to drive.
My favorite tour, although there are many, is New England Rails and Sails.  There are other tours in that area that feature Martha’s Vineyard and Newport, Rhode Island, but I prefer riding the charming boats and trains in each state.
Some of the highlights are a guided tour of Boston including the Freedom Trail and Boston Common, a ferry ride in Maine, the Notch train in New Hampshire in the White Mountains, and a short jaunt on the Kancamagus Scenic Byway.  You also ride the Essex train and riverboat in Connecticut and top the tour off with a Harbor cruise and ride on the Cape Cod Central Railroad.  And, of course, while in Hyannis, don’t forget the wonderful lobster dinner awaiting you.
Did you know all the New England states could fit into Maine and still have some room left?
Now, a closer look at this tour…
First stop…Boston.  A guided tour takes you on the Freedom Trail with stops at Old Ironsides, Paul Revere’s home and Old North Church (one if by land and 2 if by sea).  After lunch at Quincy Market (what a fun place this is) it’s a short 2 hour ride to Portland, Maine where dinner is served on an old ship converted to a bayside restaurant.
The next day is a ferry ride among the islands. The “summer homes” are unbelievable and can only be reached by boat.  After lunch there is a quick stop at a lighthouse (immortalized in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who came from this area). Then you continue on through the White Mountains to North Conway, NH.  In North Conway you will ride the Notch train up a steep mountain.  And after lunch along the Appalachian Trail, take a drive back to town on the “Kank”.  One time I was sure I saw Julie Andrews coming down the mountain side singing to me!
From there it’s a quick ride through the Green Mountains of Vermont to Connecticut.  So much to see and do along that drive to mention, however don’t look for “The Man in the Mountain” in New Hampshire–he fell a few years ago.  The Essex Riverboat and train is our next excursion.  The train was featured in the latest Indiana Jones movie.  The last time I was there, the conductor who was featured in the movie was still working on that train he loves.
Finally, you end the tour on Cape Cod in Hyannis for two nights.  You will do a harbor cruise to see the Kennedy compound and ride the Cape Cod train through all the cranberry bogs.  Dinner, of course, is lobster and the next day we are on our way back to Boston for our trip home.
However, memories of New England in the fall will last forever in our minds and hearts.

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The four deepest lakes in the US, are Lake Chelan in the Cascade mountains of Washington, Lake Tahoe up in the mountains from Reno, NV, Crater Lake in Oregon and finally in the Midwest, Lake Superior, one of the Great Lakes.

Crater Lake is filled almost entirely by melted snow. At 1,943 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the deepest in the world. It is also one of the clearest.  On sunny summer days, neither words nor photographs can capture Crater Lake’s remarkable blueness. For much of the year – usually October to July at higher elevations – a thick blanket of snow encircles the lake. An average of 524 inches of snow fall in the park every year.
Crater Lake, like Yellowstone, lies in a caldera, or volcanic basin, created when the nearly 12,000 foot high Mount Mazama collapsed around 7,700 years ago following a large eruption. Humans probably witnessed the cataclysmic eruption; nevertheless, local Indians said nothing about Crater Lake to trappers and pioneers, who did not find it until 1853.  In 1902 Crater Lake became a national park.  There is a beautiful lodge there and it’s easy to drive the rim.  Many people like to hike the area & there is a small island out in the lake that visitors can boat to (reservations strongly advised as the boat can fill up rapidly).
One time I met some friends who were camping there.  However tales of bears and mountain lions, as well as other wild animals in the vicinity, helped in making my decision to sleep in my car instead of a tent that evening.  Everyone was safe in the morning but I have never been a tent person and felt safer surrounded by steel.  We got up early and went over to the lodge for a nice breakfast.  The view of the lake early in the morning was breathtaking and the air refreshing and crisp.
If you ever get a chance to visit this beautiful lake, please do.  I have never seen a picture or video that does it justice as seeing it in person.  And, if you are already in Oregon, a drive through the Columbia River Gorge to Mount Hood is also recommended.  If you need to stay somewhere, Portland, the city of Roses, is a fun place to tour.

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