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New England - Part 1 Woodstock, Vermont

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As a change from our motorhome tours around Europe we travelled to New England for some "Leaf Peeping" in October 2012, flying from Manchester to Boston via Ireland (as you can save a lot of time by passing through US Immigration at Shannon or Dublin airports with minimal delay, and a shorter transatlantic flight time). We had pre-booked three self-catering places so after an overnight stay at a hotel near the airport we hired a car and drove about 120 miles mostly on interstate freeways to Vermont where our first accommodation was an amazing log cabin set in its own woodlands near Woodstock.
Woodstock Middle covered bridge
Woodstock Middle Covered Bridge
Woodstock trees
Near our cabin
Our Woodstock log cabin
The Log cabin
After an evening of exploring the cabin we  settled down to a good night's sleep under the pitch black skies we drove about three miles into the centre of the small town of Woodstock a popular tourist town with interesting shops and three covered bridges, the Middle Bridge, built entirely of wood, having been restored after an arson attack in 1974. We found an informative visitor bureau where we obtained leaflets and maps of the local attractions Despite being only the beginning of October the shops and restaurants were already decorated for Halloween with witches, ghosts and pumpkins.

Pumpkins at Woodstock
Halloween in Woodstock

Many of the minor lanes in Vermont are dirt roads with fine gravel surfaces usually fairly smooth with not too many potholes and often  single track with occasional passing places. We went for a couple of walks from the cabin along these tree lined roads and on the rare occasions that a vehicle came by, usually a pickup truck, the drivers stopped for a chat - we guessed people walking along these roads were a rare sight although there were some waymarked tracks and walks leaflets available. We also passed extensive plastic piping systems for modern maple syrup collection  (Apparently there is a fifth "mud" season in April and May after the winter thaw around these parts). Not far from Woodstock we drove east along Route 4 to the Quechee Gorge a major attraction where the river passes through a steep wooded straight defile about a mile long. There is ample free parking and a modern visitor centre as well as several gift shops, one selling Cabot cheddar cheese of various strengths from mild to seriously and shockingly strong and many varieties of maple syrup (free tastings available), a huge antiques emporium and a traditional American diner as well as other restaurants and a motel. Paths lead alongside the gorge to viewpoints and there are more attractions in the village centre a mile north of the main road. The covered bridge in the village was severely damaged as were several others in Vermont during the Hurricane Irene floods in August 2011 and is being rebuilt.

Traditional Quechee diner
Traditional American diner

Another rather damp day trip took us from Woodstock to the historic town of Windsor passing Jenne Farm near Reading. This typical old farm is the most photographed in Vermont and has been used for several film sets including Forrest Gump. At Windsor we visited the interesting (for engineers at least) American Precision Museum where the first mass production methods (for making guns unfortunately) were set up in 1840's, then after a stroll up the main street we crossed the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, the longest in the USA, to visit the National Historic Site of the house, gardens and galleries of the American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), famous for his statues of Abraham Lincoln and more so for his bas-relief works ranging from miniature cameo brooches and coins up to large public monuments and memorials.

Woodstock Our log cabin     on a dirt road
The cabin in the woods

View from the deck
View from the deck

Maple syrup collection    maple syrup collection system
Modern maple Syrup sap collection

Quechee GorgeQuechee Gorge in the rain

Jenne Farm Vermont
Jenne Farm
Windsor -Cornish covered bridge
Cornish - Windsor covered bridge


bas relief statue       Abraham Lincoln statue        Monument
Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculptures

On our last day at the Woodstock cabin we had time for another walk in glorious sunshine before heading for our next accommodation at North Calais near the Vermont state capitol of Montpelier, about seventy miles north. We took a route passing through the towns of Killington and Rochester to Hancock then diverted on Scenic Route 125 over the Green Mountains to look at the Texas Falls. We  then drove to the college town of East Middlebury and north to Bristol before turning back on Route 17 through the impressive Appalachian Gap where the Fall colours were at their most spectacular. We continued down to Waitesfield in the Mad River valley to join the main road to Montpelier. Texas Falls      Texas Falls
Texas Falls

Fall colours on the Appalachian gap, Vermont         Appalachian Gap
 Wonderful Autumn colours on the Appalachian Gap road

Part 2 - around Montpelier >>