Vermont and New Hampshire Adventure, Day 6 | September 11, 2016 | Driving from the White Mountains of NH to White River Junction, VT; visiting Saint Gaudens National Historic Site and other attractions along the way
Throughout the night on Sunday, the wind picked up and howled through the night. When I lay awake in the tent, I listened to it blow over us, through the trees. It was almost like hearing wave after wave roll in while at a beach. Thankfully, it was only higher up in the trees, and we didn’t feel cold and the tent wasn’t rocked by the strong breeze. It started raining periodically — of course, it always has to rain right before we need to pack up the tent!
When we got up in the morning, the rain had subsided and we made breakfast and packed up our site. I was feeling both proud that I not only made it through 4 nights in a row of camping, but also enjoyed it and was able to sleep really well! However, I was really getting excited for a shower and a bed.
We said goodbye to our awesome campsite, and started thinking about the chances that we could possibly return. The White Mountains were truly a great experience for us and we’d love a chance to come back and bag some more peaks, and now that we know about these free campsites, there’s a better chance that we’ll make that happen. We began our 2 day trip back home, first heading South on I-93 through Franconia Notch.
We had looked into different hikes here and there and letterboxes we could get, however once we started heading toward the interstate, it started to downpour! Some days it really pays to get up and on the road early! We were disappointed that we didn’t get to see Franconia very well though — all the more reason to come back I guess. We drove straight through, exited the interstate and made our way to Laconia. But first, we stopped at a McDonald’s to take advantage of free wifi…no shame, we’d gone what felt like an eternity living off the grid and needed to know if we were missing out on anything in the world. 😉
The reason for our stop in Laconia was — any guesses? — to see a Whispering Giant! We got our pictures, looked for a missing letterbox, then got back on the road. This made our 16th giant. We really enjoy looking for them as they are always a short stop but almost always get us off of the main routes to some out of the way places.
It finally stopped raining, so we were able to stop and see several other attractions. At the hotel in VT, I had picked up a road map for both VT and NH, and they both had icons pointing out where all the covered bridges in these states are (and there are MANY) So we stopped briefly near Andover, NH to enjoy a couple (and letterbox of course, Curtis wanted to find at least one while in NH).
As we continued on driving down the highway roads and admiring the towns as we passed through, we just got the urge to get out and walk around, so we stopped again in New London, NH . The buildings had that Colonial/historic feel, and the leaves were just starting to turn, giving it the perfect “fall in New England” look. I’ve only barely experienced a fall in New England, when visiting Rhode Island and Massachusetts last fall for Curtis’ OCS Graduation, and I’m sure the memories we made on that trip will forever be what comes to mind whenever I think of New England in the fall. 🙂
Oh, and coincidentally there happened to be a letterbox in New London that was planted to bring you to a local ice cream shop, so we went along with it and had some ice cream for lunch. It seemed only appropriate.
We eventually reached the Connecticut River and then started to head North from there to where we were staying that night in White River Junction, VT, but first made one last stop in New Hampshire — Saint Gaudens National Historic Site. We’ve seen a lot of National Park Administered sites this year, most of which are historic sites, and most of those have been battlefields or forts. Up until now, we’ve pretty much always had a good understanding of what the park was honoring and Curtis has always been able to piece together all the battles and wars into detailed summaries, as you probably know if you’ve read this blog for very long!
Before coming here, however, we honestly had no idea what to expect and what there was to see. But honestly, since we have a National Parks pass and the visit is free, we know we have nothing to lose by stopping, and if nothing else, just more knowledge about the area to gain. The NPS has never disappointed us — the only cons we’ve really ever experienced with the NPS are the occasional extremely crowded parks, but we know they are crowded for a reason!
Anyway, we arrived and I walked Charlotte around outside while Curtis went to the visitor’s center to get our stamps and figure out what we could do. We learned that this site was the home and studio of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, an American sculptor who lived from 1848-1907. Saint-Gaudens first used this land as a summer home starting in 1885, and moved here full time in 1900. He is known for creating and sculpting designs from coins to great memorial statues. Once of his most well-known works of art is the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston (see cover picture for this post). Avid followers will recall that Col. Shaw and the 54th Mass. were the regiment that lead the charge against Battery Wagner during the Civil War. A site which we had the pleasure of visiting while in Charleston.
At the park, you can take guided tours of his house, but we opted to not do that today since we had Charlotte. Instead, we enjoyed walking through the gardens and the small galleries where many pieces and replicas of Saint-Gaudens’ work is displayed. There’s also a couple trails in the woods behind the museums that we wandered through a bit. We really enjoyed seeing all this and appreciating people like Saint-Gaudens that create beautiful memorials like these that we enjoy seeing whenever we tour other historic sites.
After that, we drove the rest of the way to our hotel in White River Junction. Once we were showered and all cleaned up (finally), Curtis and I went out for BBQ and a little walk around the downtown area. We had only one day left for this trip, and were very happy with how everything had gone so far. We had accomplished both hikes we really wanted to do, as well as several other hikes, and we had loved every area that we’d driven through.