We only visited these beautiful states for a day, but we were lucky enough to experience it at the start of their fall colors.
Where We Stayed
From New York, we entered Vermont on the Northern side, at suppertime. We drove to Rutland and found the Wal-Mart to call home for the night. We did our grocery shopping, parked next to two other RV’s and got cozy in our trailer. The Wal-Mart parking lot is shared with the local Amtrak train parking lot. We weren’t sure how late the trains ran, and considering the parking lot was empty; we assumed it might be done for the evening. We were wrong. It was Friday night, and many people pulled into the parking lot to catch late trains. We were listening to the sound of the train horn, engine, and peoples conversations till about 1:00 AM. I was wiped out from such a long day, that I slept through most of it, but Steve out of desperation put on his noise canceling headphones and managed to salvage a night’s sleep.
What We Did
After our Wal-Mart adventurous night, we left the next morning with two sights in mind before heading to Maine. First stop was Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, located in Woodstock, Vermont. This historic has several hiking trails, a farm, and the mansion of the Billings family – containing an extensive art collection, including the famous “Cathedral Rock, Yosemite” by Albert Bierstadt.
How did this park come to be? After the American Revolution, settlers came to Vermont, and by the mid 1800’s most of Vermont’s forests had been cut down. George Marsh and his family lived on the farm in Woodstock, and was a member of the US Congress. He pushed ideals for conservation. He also was an American diplomat who traveled the Mediterranean and saw first hand how the actions of humans has “brought the earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the moon”. He wrote the book, Man and Nature, in 1864. In 1869, the Billings family bought the farm, and continued the efforts in conversation. Frederick Billings developed one of the nation’s first programs of scientific forest management. After Frederick’s death, three generations of significant women continued his vision, including his Granddaughter Mary French. Mary French married Lawrence Rockefeller. The Rockefeller family was wealthy, and loved contributing money to our national parks, they had contributed money to enhance over 20 national parks. Mary & Lawrence contributed the money to establish Vermont’s first (and only) national historic park.
Steve, Sparky and I enjoyed walking around the farm and the carriage trails. I enjoyed also saying hi to the cows! Sparky didn’t care for the cows. During our visit there, they were doing their annual Forest Days Festival. The Ranger warned us that they would be having logging demonstrations as well as horse drawn carriages, so there would be chainsaws and horses everywhere. Knowing Sparky would not be to into this, we made our stop here brief.
After our trip to Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller, we started our 30-minute drive to our second destination, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, in New Hampshire. Our travels there ended up being close to an hour. We made a few stops to enjoy the scenery, and the colors of fall. Also, the roads in Vermont are small, and often only one car can go at a time. Also, there are a lot of covered bridges. We made it through one covered bridge with less than a foot to clear. Our second bridge, in New Hampshire, we weren’t as lucky. There were no signs indicating a low clearance bridge until we were less than 50 feet from the bridge. We ended up having to back out of a small road, with me directing traffic. We were debating if our second stop was worth it, and to be honest, I didn’t really think it would be a great stop, so I was okay with forging ahead to Maine. Steve found a slightly longer alternative route to the site, and within 20 minutes we found the parking lot to Saint-Gaudens. I wasn’t sure if I would care for this site, but I am so glad we went.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was born in 1848 in Dublin, Ireland. His family emigrated to NYC when he was 6 months old. His interest in art led him to Paris at 19 to study classical art and architecture. His first commission was in 1876 for Civil War Adm. David Glasgow Farragut, unveiled in New York in 1881 – it was a success. His fame and popularity grew as he was given more commissions. His most famous public monuments include the Sherman Monument in New York’s Central Park and “Standing Lincoln” in Chicago. He forged the integration of architecture, landscaping design, and monumental sculpture.
His home is everything you imagine a brilliant artists’ would be – breathtaking, inspiring, and romantic. Now his home serves as a memorial to his work, and is decorated everywhere in magnificent masterpieces. Steve and I strolled through the gardens, the atriums, the burial grounds, and the studio. On the day we were there, they also had exhibits from local artists in tents, which we also enjoyed viewing. We stayed about 75 minutes, and we could’ve stayed longer. We missed the morning tour of the home, Aspet, and because of the lawn exhibits, they didn’t have another one planned for the day. Regardless, we still feel like we got a feel for the man and artist Saint-Gaudens was. I am happy we didn’t end up skipping it.
What Would We Do Next Time
Next time we are in Vermont or New Hampshire for a longer time, we would enjoy some local apple picking (which people said was a must). I would also try to enjoy some local hiking.
On to Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park.