Our summer loop took us to New England for a family reunion, visits with friends, and exploring the Maine Coast, Vermont, and Upstate New York. All together, 3,665 miles and six weeks on the road. This post wraps up the highpoints and observations from this route via photos — all clickable to expand.
Nature in the Northeast
We saw some amazing landscapes and seascapes….
Where the Van Goes We Go
Our mostly trusty van provided access to camping in some very special places….
The WoodenBoat School
A hidden gem on the Maine Coast is the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine. Home of WoodenBoat Magazine, the School occupies a remarkable piece of property and sits over a harbor filled with all types of handbuilt wooden craft, from kayaks to schooners. The School’s program includes everything from boatbuilding to navigation, blacksmithing, and painting.
The St. Lawrence River
We deliberately chose to travel less and explore more on this trip. For beauty, history, and culture, the big surprise was navigating the northern stretch of the St. Lawrence River in Upstate New York. We honestly had not heard of the Thousand Islands region before, but observing the legacy of the gilded age in the mansions and compounds, the pure physical beauty of the islands themselves, and the adjacency of modern commerce as the mega cargo ships navigated past us down the river made for an extraordinary experience.
Where to Stay?
One of the challenges of traveling in the Northeast is that it is relatively difficult to find open spaces, off-grid camping, and privacy. Unlike the Midwest, the West, and the Southwest, there are few national forests and public lands available for off-grid camping. Instead, especially in the Adirondacks, we encountered pretty congested campgrounds with some unruly and obnoxious neighbors.
Fortunately, new opportunities for interesting and unusual van camping are appearing. We took advantage of Hipcamp (think airbnb for camping), Harvest Hosts (wonderful vineyards, breweries, farms, etc. that allow camping on their grounds), and Boondockers Welcome (individuals who open up their properties to members) to find unique and beautiful places to camp. The hosts of these alternatives to campgrounds were wonderful and generous people.
What Do We Do?
Many people ask us what we do on our roadtrips? Our highest priority on the road is the chance to visit family and friends. Thanks to all who allowed us to use driveways, fed us, and provided great conversation and hospitality. In addition to some great hiking, we were able to get in some biking and kayaking along the way but unfortunately no fishing.
Nicky the Husky
We have already written about Nicky’s contributions and her role in our van trips. Despite a nighttime encounter with a skunk, Nicky had an excellent adventure and was a magnet for doglovers.
And of course, New England and New York are replete with historical architecture, monuments, sites, and artifacts. The National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls (near the site of the first women’s rights convention) stood out. It is housed in the restored Seneca Woolen Mills.
Charles Kuralt’s On the Road taught us the importance of seeing local craft and whimsy wherever it might be: mailboxes, yard art, signs, etc.
When in Maine….
We met at Bowdoin College on the Maine Coast, so the opportunity to revisit our old stomping grounds is always a gift. Of course, when on the Maine Coast you eat lobster, hang out on docks, and swat bugs.