Don’t worry. This is not a review of Bruce Willis latest movie. Live free or die is actually the official motto of the state New Hampshire. I was surprised by the boldness of this motto, because official motto’s are usually not that outspoken. The ever useful Wikipedia provides the answer. This quote was made during a toast by New Hampshire General John Stark during the American Revolutionary War. Live free or die: death is not the worst of evils. New Hampshire adopted it as their motto to convey their independence and to make a nice contrast with other – more mellow – state motto. I say, right on!
New England in the fall certainly doesn’t disappoint so far. I see red, yellow and bright orange trees. Some look like they are on fire. Even when the rain is pouring outside and just driving on the Interstate, the views are spectacular. But life on the road can be unusual and keep me on point.
- My sister and I bring the average age down considerably in every place we enter. New England in the fall is a busy time, but mostly by traveling pensioners.
- New England has iconic street- and town names like East Sandwich (there is also a West Sandwich) and Sugarloaf Mountain
- Really cheap gasoline: 40 liters costs about €22 (I’ll wait a second for you to catch your breath…);
What we save on gasoline, we pay in toll. During this trip we’ve paid a substantial amount of toll, but we don’t really see our ‘toll dollars at work’ here. Sizable potholes and asphalt that doesn’t quite deal with lots of rainfall. I also haven’t figured out the perfect strategy on entering or exiting a toll plaza. Traffic coming from 4 lanes, set free to 8 toll booths and then groomed back into 4 lanes again. This turns out to be an invitation for some drivers to let their inner James Bond out and skid from the far right while aiming to land headfirst in the utmost left toll booth. Blinkers optional. Let’s just say, I become very good friends with my accelerator and I will honk at anybody pulling stunts in front of my bumper. Live free or die, right?
Ode to the road map
Using regular navigation is very effective when going from A to B. It will get you to B as fast as possible, but also keep you on the Interstate and see very little of the beautiful surroundings. Enter the ode to the good old roadmap. A bare necessity for any road trip if you ask me. Especially when road work forces you to take an unknown detour and the navigation seems to REALLY want me on that particular road. Or when the satellite goes a little wonky and the car seems to be flying over Times Square, when I’m actually driving in Maine. The road map helps plan and navigate the most beautiful scenic routes and detours.
Music on the road
You may love yourself a little folk punk, honky tonk or indie pop. No matter your taste, music is essential during any road trip. The power of car karaoke and a good designated car DJ can never be underestimated. Personally, I’m partial to the classics, so here are some tunes for your New England playlist:
- Paradise By The Dashboard Light – Meat Loaf
- Cake By The Ocean – DNCE
- This Girl – Kunks & Cookin’ On 3 Burners
- Liberté – Parla & Paroux
- Let The River In – Dotan
- Summer In The City – Joe Cocker
- Dust In the Wind – Kansas
- Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel
- Tears – Clean Bandit feat. Louisa Johnson
- Water Under The Bridge – Adele
During my stay in the US I got a front row seat to the up and coming elections. I’ve watched presidential debates and spoken to forlorn Americans at the news stand. Some of them turning away from their morning paper, because they didn’t want to buy something with Donald Trump on it. Good luck with that. You’ll almost forget that the battle on November 8th won’t just be between Clinton and Trump. This is also the day when Americans vote on various state laws, local representatives and government officials. In each town I encounter a colorful palette of bumper stickers, signs and campaign slogans. My personal favorite: “Vote for Gary, because he isn’t scary”
Wheel of fortune
So far you’ve got all the ingredients for a successful road trip, but the actual destinations are the chocolate sauce on top (who likes cherries?). After Cape Cod we move on to Boston. Home to the Red Sox, Harvard and, as the locals say, “Clam Chowdah”. I really like Boston. This is my second visit after 9 years and Boston Common, Beacon Hill and Newbury Street are still eye catchers. I skipped Faneuil Hall last time and make that up for this trip. It’s mostly a tourist spot with lots of street artists, but it also happens to be an open call audition to participate in the American Wheel of Fortune. People as far as the eye can see stand in line in the hope of a small claim to fame and perhaps a new refrigerator. After eating three cupcakes by the famous Georgetown Cupcakes on Newbury, it’s time to leave the city and enter rough country. Click the picture below to see a gallery.
Maine is the northern most state Northeast United States. Known for its lobster and pine trees. We drive through Acadia National Park where it’s virtually impossible to take a bad picture. I let out my inner mountain goat and have a personal windmachine-moment on the top of Cadillac Mountain where the wind almost blows me from the rocks and transforms my hair into coupe hurricane. But nothing can really knock this view.
I had great expectations of Vermont. It always looked so idyllic and beautiful in the winter. The real deal certainly doesn’t disappoint. The hotel might be a little funky, but Stowe offers a combination of my favorite things: a visit to the Ben & Jerry ice-cream factory, a bike ride past a real corn maze and lunch at the Von Trapp Family Lodge. Yes, the real Von Trapp Family, from the Sound of Music. I have to contain myself and not sing “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” looking out on the hills of Vermont.
After rustic Vermont our road trip comes to an end. I get to battle New York City traffic one more time on the way to the airport and return home. We end a journey going from New York to Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, while driving 3200 kilometers in our little tank.