Despite rising numbers of those infected by the variants of COVID, travel was recently at the highest point since before the pandemic began. People are tired of being stuck at home and anxious to get out and do things and live life fully again. I’m one of those. I hadn’t traveled since last summer, when my daughter and I successfully navigated a cross-country road trip during one of the worst times of COVID exposure. It was a weird trip, with many tourism sites closed or limited in capacity due to the pandemic. Hotels had many restrictions, and cleanliness was almost more important than the accommodations themselves.
So here we are, one year later. My daughter and I are vaccinated, and we needed a vacation. Based on the horror stories of canceled and overbooked flights, poor customer service, and violence occurring on planes in flight, we had no desire to fly anywhere. Being isolated on a large ship with the potential of infection meant no to a cruise. Even amusement parks are somewhat tenuous due to the amount of touchpoints offering high chances of exposure. What’s left? Another road trip!
We decided to take a road trip to a region we hadn’t explored much, and wasn’t too far from home: New England.
Here are a few highlights:
New Haven, CT – We started the day visiting the PEZ candy factory, followed by lunch at Louis Lunch, where the Hamburger was invented. Then, in a driving rain, we visited Yale University, where a security guard saw us wandering around and ended up giving us a two hour tour of the campus. My daughter had not considered attending an Ivy League school, but the tour was so enjoyable, she has decided to at least apply to Yale. A few days later, we visited Harvard, as well.
Bethel, NY, site of the original Woodstock – Because the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt home, museum, and library in Hyde Park, NY, was still closed due to the pandemic, we adjusted on the fly and ended up in Bethel, NY. There we visited the Bethel Woods Center of the Arts, which provides a wonderful museum and overview of the Woodstock Music Festival in August 1969.
The Coast of Maine – So many highlights, with scenic lighthouses (Portland Head Light, Bass Harbor Head Light, and West Quoddy Head Lighthouse); Acadia National Park; Penobscot Narrows Observatory; “Lenny,” the 1700 pound chocolate moose, in Scarborough; and Eartha, the largest rotating globe in the world, in Yarmouth.
Mount Washington, NH – The tallest peak in the White Mountains, there are a few ways other than hiking to reach the top. The Auto Road allows you to drive your car, and that’s somewhat scary if you have a fear of heights due to the lack of guard rails above the tree line. The most fun way to the top is the Cog Railway, which is what we did.
Dog Mountain, St. Johnsbury, VT – Home to the Stephen Huneck Gallery, Dog Mountain stands as a tribute and memorial to those who have lost a member of their family, man’s best friend, their dog. There is a chapel at the site containing notes from floor to ceiling left by owners of their loved ones, and it begs the question, “Do dogs have a soul?”
Seneca Falls, NY – Home of the IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE Museum, this is the city that inspired Bedford Falls, the town featured in the movie and home to George Bailey. Frank Capra, the director, visited Seneca Falls just before the movie went into production.
Watkins Glen, NY – Home of the Watkins Glen International road course, my favorite race track. Aside from the annual NASCAR event, it hosts races of every kind and at every level. And, for $30, you can take three laps around the track in your own car! This was a bucket list item for me, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. And if I hadn’t gotten stuck behind a Ford pickup during my laps (we were not allowed to pass any vehicles), I would’ve gone much faster than my high speed of 86 mph.
It was a great trip, and I highly recommend getting out and taking a road trip vacation (if you have gotten vaccinated). It does the body, mind, and soul and world of good, and almost makes it feel like life is normal once again.