New England roadtrip part 2 (Saint John, Canada-Augusta-Montpelier-Woodstock-Boston-New York)

It’s been three months since Bertrand and I went on our roadtrip and I think it’s high time for some more details on all of the things we did after Canada.

After just one day in Canada it was time to cross the US border once more. Seeing it took us only a couple of minutes to cross into Canada, I thought this would be a piece of cake. Obviously I was wrong. We were stopped at the American border and there we had to show our documents, declare what we were carrying in our cooler, get out of the car and wait inside. You might’ve forgotten that neither Bertrand nor I had a credit card to rent the car, so my friend Kenna had been nice enough to lend us hers. The border patrol agents did a double take when I explained she’d rented the car for us, especially because I was stupid enough to tell them I’d only known her for two months. Bertrand’s passport was also slightly worrying to them because he had quite a lot of stamps from all of his travelling and that coupled with the fact that we only spent one day in Canada, it was all suspicious to say the least. For a while I kept thinking to myself I would have to call Kenna so she could explain the whole thing, but after about 45 minutes they let us go and we were on our way to Augusta, Maine (Thursday 5th of November). Bertrand was obviously happy to be back in America and bought a dozen donuts to celebrate. I just had a burger king milkshake 🙂
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Bertrand and I had found a French-Canadian/American family in Gardiner where we could stay with and that was an experience on it’s own. We picked apples in the yard, played with the kids (two boys of three and five), Bertrand tried to do some slacklining (which looked difficult) and we drank some home-made cider. They try to live as eco-friendly as possible, which is why they have a self-composting toilet. (spoiler alert: what follows is better not read when eating). This is a bucket underneath a toilet seat in which you do your business and when you’re finished instead of flushing, you put a scoop of sawdust on top it and you’re done. The bucket is obviously emptied in time. They also had a selfmade sauna of which Bertrand and I took advantage and later we watched Aladdin with the kids. I also ate tofu for the first time and even though I’m not really  big on tofu, with some sauce and vegetables it’s not too bad.
That morning our hosts recommended we go to the A1 diner for breakfast, pretty much the only thing you can do there. They don’t have a website, but here is the link from Tripadvisor.
Here are some pictures of a sleepy little town on the way:


After breakfast we said goodbye to our hosts and around noon we were on our way to Montpelier, Vermont. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any couchsurfers so we went hunting for a cheap but still decent motel, which we found in Barre. There’s nothing to do in Barre but because our motel was such a good deal, we decided to go out for a nice dinner in Montpelier. Pretty fast I found a restaurant that looked worth a visit: NECI on Main. The restaurant is run by students of the New England Culinary Institute and they didn’t dissappoint. Bertrand and I consequently decided to donate $20 to support them.

The next day (Saturday 7th of November) we were on our way to Woodstock, Vermont but not without stopping in Green Mountain & Finger Lakes National Forest. It was supposed to be a moderate walk of maybe two hours, but because there were hardly any indicators and we didn’t have a map, it turned into a walk of nearly four hours. Luckily we made it back to our car before dark. Despite the fact we got lost and had to double back for a long part of the walk, it was very nice. Take a look yourself:


Before we left on our roadtrip I’d seen that the Ben&Jerry’s factory was in Vermont, but I’d completely forgotten it until we suddenly saw a sign pointing us in the direction of the factory. That was of course an opportunity we couldn’t miss. We turned our car, bought a ticket ($3), sent a message to our host we were going to be late and five minutes later we were learning all about Ben&Jerry’s. It was really fun and I learned a lot. Even though they’re a huge company now, they started out small and still support small businesses. The founders (Ben and Jerry) are well in their eighties by now but they still come and visit once in a while to see how everything’s going. The best part of the tour were obviously the free samples! And you can’t leave the factory without some ice cream for the road…


After that we arrived at Jake and his friends’ house in Woodstock and it was a pretty fun evening. We played Exploding Kittens, sat by a campfire and made some music. The only sad part was that everyone was drinking, but Bertrand and I didn’t bring any alcohol and no one offererd, so while everyone was getting more and more drunk, I was just getting more and more tired. However, Bertrand and I were one of the last ones to leave and after a quick shower to wash the smell of campfire smoke out of our hair, we went to bed.

On Sunday the 8th of November we were headed back to Boston, but not without a quick stop in Salem to go see the exhibition of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests. I had never heard of it before but Bertrand his enthousiasm was catching and I really enjoyed our visit. It’s very interesting to see how the artist/inventor takes cheap plastic tubes and turns them into big constructions that make my head spin. Here are a couple of pictures of Bertrand walking with one, but to see them in their “natural environment”, click here.


After the exhibition we went to Burlington shopping mall and checked out what was so special about the Cheesecake Factory. After two pieces (one per person) of American proportions we had eaten for the rest of the day and were on our way to Boston city. That evening we arrived in our airBnB and emptied the car because we had to return it the next day. It took us a couple of times walking up and down the stairs but we eventually managed to clean everything out.

On Monday (November 9th) we brought back the car and visited the Harvard campus and the Isabella Stewart Garnder Museum. Personally I thought the museum was too expensive but worth the visit if you enjoy Italian art. They also have a very nice indoor garden where it always looks like summer.

 

Because we were too late to climb the steps of Bunker Hill Monument the first time, we did it the second time around. I had hoped for a slightly prettier view up top, but it was nice to stand up there huffin’ and puffin’ with some other people who had also just climbed the 294 steps.

In the evening we invited Sally and Kenna for dinner in our very limited airBnB but unfortunately Bertrand had misjudged the spicyness of the peppers we used… That night I learned that I could probably live in Thailand without any food problems and even Bertrand was quite surprised at the (apparent) ease with which I (almost) finished my plate.


On Tuesday November 10th we were on our way for a couple of days in NY. I had found a nice airBnB and after regrouping we were ready to discover the city. We visited the World Trade Center Memorial Museum and without realizing it we had a chance to get free entrance tickets that are handed out every Tuesday between six and eight. It was a long wait but eventually we had our tickets and were able to go inside. The first time I went I had apparently missed quite a large part of the museum (without realizing it of course) so I was happily surprised. It’s not a very happy museum but I knew that from my first visit and I learned a lot, so I was happy by the time we left the museum.
On Wednesday we went to the Guggenheim, where there was an exhibition of Alberto Burri and I thought it was particularly interesting. The works of art weren’t always to my liking and Bertrand and I rarely agreed on what we liked, but that’s art. Why don’t you be the judge of it:

After the Guggenheim we went to the American Museum of Natural History because I only saw the exhibition on strange animals and the dinosaurs, and I had a feeling there was so much more to the museum. When I saw there was an “exhibition” with real butterflies, I was sold. I mean, who can say no to walking around in a cage with living butterflies?

We also went to the hall of mammals where they exhibit taxidermied mammals in their natural environment, pretty impressive and especially educational. The hall is quite extensive and I could’ve spend the rest of the day in that museum but Bertrand wanted to catch some fresh air so after we went to go see the dinosaurs we took a walk in Central Park. After that it was back to the appartment so Bertrand could pick up his stuff and an hour later I said goodbye to him at the airport. Saying goodbye wasn’t easy after spending two weeks in his company, but luckily I had Taylor Swift and Omi to keep me company on the Greyhound back to Boston.

That was our roadtrip, I know it’s quite a lot but I solemnly promise I will write more in 2016. There are quite a few updates coming up, so keep a close eye on my blog/Facebook.

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