Lodging, Transportation and Food –
All four of us flew into Boston, and we were able to arrive within 3 hours of each other. Lois and I were able to get RT tickets for $160, thus removing any doubt that it was the least expensive time/money vs. driving up route.
From the online research we had done, lodging should be made in advance. So we had to come up with a fairly specific route. We chose to spend several nights at the same place in Maine and do day trips out of there. Same with Stowe, VT. We had to come back to Boston twice to drop Beat and Carol off at the airport so we did some Priceline deals. We didn’t make the final arrangements for lodging until about 10 days before we left. We thought it would be fun to do a B&B toward the end of the trip but it fell on a holiday weekend, which is NE’s busiest tourism weekend of the year, since it falls over peak foliage.
By then there weren’t very many B&B rooms left in the area we were planning to be. Plus we had a hard time with paying twice as much per night as a Priceline deal would be, especially since we planned to keep moving during the day. One old inn advertised that there was no room in the house where a marble would stay where you put it on the floor. It would roll in one direction or another.
We wanted to do some camping somewhere along the line, since Carol is a camping expert, having worked at Fairplay Wilderness Girls’ Camp for 10+ years, and the rest of us love it as well. But in order to go camping we def needed sleeping bags and we even planned to take a tent since most of the rustic cabins were pretty pricey and it didn’t make sense to pay for extra luggage to take sleeping bags. We decided Stowe was the place to go camping since 1. we would be staying for 3 nights and staying pretty local 2. lodging in Stowe was fairly expensive. We found a state park that had rustic cabins for $48 a night so we scrapped the tent idea at the last minute. Plus we really didn’t have room to take a tent along.
We had also reserved a full-sized car and felt we had a really good price, $345 including taxes for 2 weeks. That was down from the $750 we had seen earlier that we thought wasn’t too bad. When we arrived at the car rental, the helpful gentleman took us through the paperwork. It was gonna cost another $5 a day to add a second driver. Some car rental companies (maybe just Hertz) will waive the fee if you are a AAA members, which we are. But this rental didn’t. Well, $5 a day is not a big fee so there was no question about it. Then we went out to the lot to pick out the vehicle we wanted. He showed us what we had rented, then showed us other available vehicles and told us what the the upcharge would be. We went over to look at a Dodge Journey and decided that the extra $5 a day was worth it. As the salesaman was showing us the vehicle, after we had agreed to take it, he said, “This vehicle hasn’t been cleaned. I’ll waive the extra charge.”
We didn’t fuss at that. The vehicle wasn’t extremely dirty but it had undoubtedly not been cleaned. Even had a ring on the windshield from the last person’s GPS. We were so thankful for the vehicle even though the 4 cylinder didn’t cut it very well in mountainous areas, but it made up for it by getting good gas mileage. We put 3,000 miles on in 2 weeks, all within the 6 NE states. Yep, that’s alot of driving. And when we came flying back into the car return (more to come on that later) I grabbed the receipt and we took off for the terminal. Our total cost including a 3/4 tank of gas we had prepaid (at a reasonable amount) our total bill came to $370ish. Apparantly he waived the $5 extra driver fee as well. Or he forgot to add it. We have no idea which. We just felt very blessed to have such a good deal. 3,000 miles and 2 weeks? We’ll take it!
So the first place we stayed was at a campground in Maine. We arrived after dark and our first impression of the place was not very good. They had a shop by the house that we had to drive past and the man’s maintenance/hobby projects were lying about. The house the owners live in has huge windows with no curtains so you can see right into their living room. Interesting. The cottage we had was a small 1-bedroom trailer with 2 pullout couches in the living room. It supposedly sleeps 6 but we all agreed that having 6 people staying in there would be tight quarters. We took advantage of the furnished kitchen and cooked several meals there.
We kept our eating out to about 1 meal per day throughout the trip. On the brighter side, the campground was right on the ocean, which is whey we chose it. It also was mostly empty, which was nice too. There was a lighthouse about 5 miles out and since it was rainy/foggy the first two days we were there, we enjoyed hearing the faint fog horn blasts in the distance. The last morning we were there it was bright and sunny and we finally got to get a good view of the cove we were in. It really was pretty area! And the owners were very chatty and helpful. I would recommend that they clean the place up a little, though. 🙂
For our Priceline deals, we got a Doubletree (very nice! Got warm cookies at check-in) for about $80/night. Later we stayed at an Aloft (a funky, modern branch of the W hotels; Westin, etc.) that was cool except for the shower issue I had. The shower head was one of those monstrous, feels-like-rain kind. And the only way to turn it on was too stand under the shower head and who wants cold water hitting them right off the bat. And then the shower door was floor-to-ceiling glass. Let’s just say, I was the first one to shower that night and the floor got very wet for the first and last time. We learned to turn the shower head away so the next person in wouldn’t suffer the same consequences. When we left the Aloft motel, we noticed several very foreign sports cars. Like $$$,$$$ cars. Two were parked there and other one passed us coming in. Apparantly Boston’s Italian sports car fanatics were having a get-together there. The last place we Pricelined was in CT near New Haven. A Courtyard this time. The down-side of getting too nice a motel is that you don’t get breakfast with it. But, I will say that the motel in Plymouth where we stayed took free breakfast down to a whole new level.
We stayed at Governer Bradford’s Inn. It is the only motel along the waterfront and it had a beautiful view of the harbor. But and I do mean but, their customer service was pretty poor, the place fairly dinghy, although I think they may be renovating some rooms), and the free continental breakfast was the poorest I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s because there weren’t many guests staying there that week, who knows? But I felt sorry for the European tourists who were staying there as well. When you travel in Europe, and your lodging is advertised as having breakfast included, you do not receive bought sliced sandwich bread, a little bit of fruit, and coffee and a hot chocolate machine that wasn’t working. I told the lady working at the desk that it wasn’t working right and she acknowled that she already knew it. But there was no out-of-order sign so each person coming along kept dispensing tepid water and then tried to figure out where to discard it. So, I’m sorry, Governer Bradford’s Inn, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone as it is right now. Spruce it up and improve your customer service and you’d have a great thing going! Honestly, it has a beautiful harbor view and so much potential.
We had no way of knowing what the “rustic cabins” at Little River State Park
in VT were going to look like. They now have pics on their website. 🙂 If you could see the “rustic cabins” at the state park where our church goes camping, you can understand our trepidation at just what we might find. The weather was 40s and rainy so we were very, very glad we had scrapped the tent idea. To our utter DELIGHT, the cabins are cute, 1-room pine structures, with a small porch.
And much tighter than the “rustic cabins” we are used to. Which is a good thing because misty 40-50* weather is cold enough. And there was no heat in the building. In fact, the whole campground closes down for the winter, and we were there the last weekend it was open. The shower house only had 1 shower in it and we had to pay $.25 per 2 minutes of showertime but the hot water was so welcome! The campground itself was really pretty with lots of trees. Each site was surrounded by trees. There weren’t many people there since camping weather was pretty much gone. There were several van loads of fit senior citizens who came to do some hiking for the day. There is a hiking trail near the park that goes to what remains of an abandoned village. We didn’t have time nor want to brave cold, wet weather to hike, unfortunately.
Our only disappointment with these arrangements was that we were not able to do much cooking there. We had visions of campfire and cooking yummy food over it. It rained off and on most of the time we were there (3 nights) and their was no dry wood to be had. Even the stuff that the park had was just being cut to stack and dry for the following year. We learned that you can cook veggies in a coffee maker, though. And we managed to eak out about 2 meals over the reluctant fire.
Let me back up a little, on our first day in NE we stopped at a second-hand store to by a few survival things such as a skillet, saucepan and can opener. I even found a very warm Old Navy hoodie for $3 that came in very handy. A week later on our way to Stowe, we were driving along and all of a sudden Carol said, “There was some free stuff in that driveway.” So we turned around and sure enough, out in the country someone has placed several items in their driveway with a FREE sign on them. So we picked up a 12-cup coffee maker and a spatula. We used the coffee maker to make coffee, water for cappucino, ramen noodles and mixed veggies, all at different times though.
We also had picked up $5 pillows at Family Dollar, since we didn’t want to pay any more for check-in luggage than we had to. Did you know a t-shirt makes a great pillowcase? That tidbit is free.
Like I said we only ate out about once a day. Made Chicken Enchilada Soup at the cottage in Maine, and we ate lots of wraps, granola bars, yogurt and other easy-to-travel things. I was tired of cold wraps by the time we left. I think the last couple of days we exceeded the 1-a-day. We didn’t want to keep buying more food and at that point it was easier just to eat out.
Our biggest splurge was some seafood in Maine.
The waitress showing Beat how to get to the meat.
The clam chowder here was unbelievably good! Lois got a bisque but it was disappointingly sweet. The rest of the food, though, oooh la la!
The lobster roll is cold (usually) lobster on a hot-dog-type bun. In our opinions, it is not to be compared to the steamed lobster, or any of the fried or broiled seafood!
The morning of our flight back home, we were in Plymouth. We had about an hour-drive back to the airport but we thought we had plenty of time. However, we had been talking about finding a place to give away our items (pillows, coffee maker, etc.) that we had picked up along the way. Well, they are into recycling up there and there were NO dumpsters that we could find to throw the stuff away, after various attempts to find a donation drop-off place for our “goodies”. Finally someone told us of a place where we could donate that was open already. So we finally got that taken care of and headed out for Boston, only to have serious traffic (on a mid-Wednesday morning??). For about a half hour we didn’t drive over 30 mph. We finally got there (remember the non-existent traffic signs) and returned our vehicle, and scurried to the airport where we missed our flight, but got scheduled on another one, and going through customs sister had a paring knife confiscated, but we still got into JAX at the original scheduled time. Whew! I get tired just thinking of that frustrating morning!! 🙂
And so ends the journal of a 2-week trip. Now I’m working on a book for my coffee table, using a great deal I got on Groupon for Picaboo.