the hills are on fire

i grew up in southern california where fall was the season of fires.  the santa ana winds would come up out of the desert and whip through the area turning a tiny stray spark into a raging inferno.  we lived at the base of the foothills and many a fall was spent watching the fires spill over the peaks and down the hillsides, lighting up the night.

this year, c and i saw hillsides on fire in quite a different way: new england in the fall.  the vacation a lot of people within driving distance talk about taking but maybe don’t ever get around to.  if you’ve thought about it, do yourself a favor and get around to it.

it’s been a long time since c and i took a driving vacation with just the two of us, so that was a treat in and of itself.  there’s a kind of relaxation that comes with having your own car and moving at your own pace.  after 32 years together, we’ve got a very easy way of traveling together with just the right combination of planning and serendipity.

here are just a few thoughts on our new england vacation.

new england seems a lot like england.  duh!  but still…rolling hills, lots of cows. which begged the question, how did all the cows get up in those there hills?  they walked there.  no kidding.  the first white settlers brought their cows with them, then walked them from plymouth colony to new hampshire and vermont.

even simple food in agricultural areas is delicious.  or, the advent of television cooking shows has upped the ante on food.  no fast food, no chains, just good, creative, fresh food.

polka is still on tv on saturday nights. with live music from big name bands and dancing.

forget the motels and hotels.  new england is filled with small inns and bed and breakfasts that are not only great to stay in, but usually great places to eat and meet other travelers.

inns have steep stairways.  if you packed a large suitcase for the week, bring a smaller bag for just your overnight things and leave the big suitcase in the car.

life is better with a fireplace in your bedroom.

fireplaces and bedrooms are always enhanced with a bottle of wine.  or two.

cheese is a magical food.  with crackers and a bottle of wine it makes an entire meal.

fresh vermont butter is transformative, especially after spending a decade not eating butter.  alas, it’s back to not eating butter but the memories will linger.

when new hampshire marks a hiking trail, it’s harder than they say it is.  there are some hearty folk in new hampshire and while there are spectacular views to be had from the trails, you will earn them.

there is a lot of granite in maine, most of which you’ll end up climbing on.

cruise ships are a scourge.

giant busloads of tourists make it tough for us little tourists to see or do anything.

there are a lot of southerners out traveling.  southerners like to talk about the fact that they are southerners (as if you couldn’t tell from the accent). southerners don’t like it up north.  southerners think philadelphia is the same as boston so they’d rather go see the hershey chocolate factory.  southerners have a lot of loud opinions and criticize anything that’s not down south.  i have a suggestion for southerners.

octoberfest in newport, ri with a band that played metallica as oompah music is hilarious.

this is a beautiful country.  any time you’re getting sick of election nonsense, remember that this country is a beautiful, bountiful and good.  maybe we should make sure the washingtonians get out of their bubble and see the real country. no resort stays allowed.

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