We’ve wanted to experience a New England autumn for years, but other trips always took precedence. This year we found a great airfare deal to Manchester, NH, so we booked a week-long trip. With patience we even found a good rental car deal and were all set to explore New Hampshire and Maine.
Unfortunately, nine hours before we were scheduled to fly, Southwest canceled our flights – with the standard unbelievable claim of weather (of course). That lead to a mad scramble, as we checked for alternate options – flying earlier, through another city – but the best we could do was fly up two days later. Of course, we couldn’t change our rental car, and arriving two days later would also mess up our lodging. #&!@$
So! To save our trip, we ended up driving from NC to New England, which took about 14 hours each way. Our frantic decision making on the day of departure meant we didn’t have time to plan any extras for the drive up, but we were able to make a few plans for the return.
- 2300 miles driven
- 11 states (VA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, CT, MA, VT, NH, ME, PA)
- quite a few gas stations!
On the way up we stopped for lunch in Vermont at the Putney General Store, “Vermont’s oldest general store,” in Putney VT. They were doing a brisk business in lunch takeout, and our sandwiches were great – Eric got a grilled ham and cheese, and Leandra the BLT.
On the way back home we were able to plan some fun stops, including Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in Paterson, NJ. The town was rather rough, but the quick stop for photos of the falls was worth it.
From there we continued on to Pennsylvania, where we spent the night with some old friends, and then visited the famous Longwood Gardens.
Where we stayed
Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia – Mt. Laurel
We made this our stopping point for drive north, as it was about halfway and we could get to it before 10p. Check-in was easy, and the room was quite spacious. Perfectly fine for the night.
Pine Valley Cabins, Thornton, NH
The cabins were definitely a bit quirky, but ultimately comfortable for our four night stay. Ours was a 1 bedroom cabin, which meant we had a large king-size bed, and a second room with a futon that served as the living room.
Having a small kitchen was quite nice, as we had a refrigerator, two burners, and plates, utensils, etc. That gave us the option to reheat leftovers and chill some local beer.
The bathroom was a little small, especially the shower, but manageable. Another issue: bath towels were not provided (thankfully we brought some, but had we flown as intended our plan was to buy some at Walmart). Hopefully that ‘covid’ policy changes soon.
Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port, Portland ME
In a reasonable downtown location for us, and available with two free night certificates we had accumulated. Parking was $25/night at an under construction local garage behind the hotel and the free breakfast included hot egg biscuit sandwiches and few other items.
We were assigned a corner room which meant we had a unique half-circular wall that looked out over an intersection. It made for great people watching in the morning over breakfast. The rest of the room was quite modern and pleasant as well.