In an attempt to catch up on the two month backlog of blog posts, it is time to cover more than a day at a time with each post, before I forget the details altogether.
One of the main reasons for including New England in our route was to experience some of the Autumnal colours that the area is famous for at this time of year. We started with Borderland State Park, about 30 miles south of Boston. At almost 1800 acres, the park offers hiking trails, a variety of water sports and even cross country skiing in the Winter, but the draw for us was disc golf.
Outside of Wii Sports, disc golf is a game I’d never heard of but the boys were enthusiastic so we picked up a couple of frisbees at a nearby sports mega mall and headed to the first tee. What we discovered is that disc golf is not as easy as it ought to be! We laughed at each other’s poor attempts to launch a frisbee with finesse and enough speed and lift to travel further than a couple of feet, before watching some of the more experienced locals. It turns out that just like traditional golf, having the right equipment really helps. There are, in fact, different types of disc for different jobs – some are more rigid than others and some are flatter or heavier – all of these factors can influence distance and accuracy. So just as you wouldn’t use a putter to tee off, you can’t expect a floppy beach frisbee to navigate accurately through a forest with any reliability. We still had tremendous fun and have some hilarious videos of our bumbling attempts.
We took the scenic route back to Braintree via Mann’s Pond, Sharon and enjoyed more fall foliage, parks and playgrounds before calling it a day.
The following morning we were up early to explore Cape Cod. We started at Woods Hole where the Science Aquarium of the Oceanographic Institute is home to local sea creatures including two seals (who cannot be released on account of blindness and an inability to hunt for food) and numerous fish and crustaceans. This is a small, free of charge aquarium that dates back to the late nineteenth century and claims to be the oldest in the nation. We passed an informative hour looking at the exhibits and chatting to the staff, who could not have been more helpful and invited us back for the seal feeding later in the day.
Walking from the aquarium to Taft’s Playground for a picnic lunch, we passed Eel Pond, picturesque with its moored fishing boats and million dollar waterside residences. Life here feels slow and relaxing and we passed more time than we meant to just playing and eating and generally taking it easy. It’s on my list of places to spend the elusive lottery winnings, once they come our way.
Back in the car, we decided that Chatham Lighthouse might be worth a look. The drive took us along Falmouth’s Main Street, filled with quaint, locally owned shops and restaurants where I’m certain I could have had a good time but I guess it’s good to save something for next time.
Once in Chatham we strolled to the lighthouse and then down to the beach and the sand spits with their spectacular views of the sunset over the Atlantic. During the Summer months these beaches are said to be packed but on a mild October day there were very few people – possibly because it was restaurant week in Chatham and everyone was eating! Not to miss out, we found a family friendly restaurant to indulge and had a cracking fish supper.
I’d share details of the restaurant if it wasn’t for the fact that later that evening Nick was reacquainted with his calamari in a most unfortunate turn of events. Unfortunate, because the following day we were due in Vermont for a soaring experience I’d booked for Nick’s 40th.
Ever the pragmatist, Nick decided to make the journey and see how he felt once there. We were looking at a three to four hour drive to get to Sugarbush so we started early and hoped for the best. This was another one of those occasions when the hire car’s sat nav was adamant the journey would take 4 hours whilst Google maps promised a route almost 30 minutes shorter. As the journey progressed we encountered the odd traffic jam and the lure of Google became too much, so we hit the alternative route button.
Google doesn’t care about mountain roads. It doesn’t care if your route will take you up roads that are impassable if it has rained a bit too heavily or if you don’t happen to have an off roader. Nick and the boys thought it was side-splittingly funny that I had a minor coronary every time we turned a corner and refused to turn back so I closed my eyes and looked at it as penance for my lack of sympathy with the food poisoning.
We got there in one piece and that’s all I have to say about that.
Sugarbush is beautiful in the Fall, as is Vermont generally with some of the most startling reds, oranges and yellows I’ve ever seen. Nick filmed the landscape from the cockpit of the glider and, if I ever figure out how to do it, I’ll add the GoPro footage to the website.
I’d booked him a thirty minute flight, during which time the boys and I enjoyed watching the tow planes take off and land and chatted to the staff and volunteers who drove the boys around on the golf buggies and explained all the procedures.
Nick lasted about 22 minutes before he felt the risk of seeing last night’s dinner for a third time was too great and he landed looking just a little off colour. I tried to be sympathetic but was still smarting from the mountain road, not least because, whilst the boys had been busy mocking me, they felt their father was a hero!
To make us all feel better we decided that what we needed was a tour of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory up the road. There was a short film to watch before our guide took us to a viewing window to watch the process of ice cream making and finally a stop in the tasting kitchen for the free samples that had lured us in the first place. Delicious. I am officially a Ben & Jerry’s convert and look forward to sampling some of the unique flavours created especially for Japan once we get there. Purple Sweet Potato with Sweet Potato chunks anyone?
After some very busy days, day 25 needed a slow start. Our final day in Massachusetts was spent washing and packing before we squeezed in one last game of disc golf over in Franklin. This allowed Nick to drive through Foxborough and past Gillette Stadium, home to his beloved Patriots that so far, have never played at home during any of his 4 visits to Boston.
One day though…