Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Following up on last week’s start on “What We Did on our Fall Vacation,” wrapping up the patriotic portion of the trip–Minuteman National Historic Park, Concord and Lexington, the spot where Paul Revere was captured and the bridge where someone fired “the shot heard ‘round the world”–we departed Bedford, in Boston’s busy airspace, winging our way to Lebanon, New Hampshire, the northern most point of our tour. The rolling terrain of the White Mountains lit up in fall color is beautiful when viewed at low altitude below a broken cloud deck. Initial decent point came in less than an hour; over a ridge the crossing runway came in to view before we spotted the one where we were cleared to land–behind yet another hill. Turning final around the hill the air was a bit bumpy as we settled onto the runway.
The FBO manager greeted us with smile, keys to a rental car, and a bottle of New Hampshire maple syrup, saying, “it’s better than that stuff you get in Vermont–over there they paint their leaves.” On a roadmap he pointed out the many things we shouldn’t miss along the way. “Don’t miss the longest usable covered bridge in America,” he said. We checked it out, crossing the Connecticut River to Vermont and back to New Hampshire in minutes. Although it was practical back in the day to cover those old wooden bridges to keep them from collapsing under heavy winter snows, today we adore the nostalgic remnants of a romantic Currier & Ives era.
Linda: Nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Connecticut River Valley, the Monadnock Region of southwest New Hampshire, sits a 100-acre organic farm with Bed & Breakfast, the Inn at Valley Farms. Innkeeper Jackie Caserta treated us to a gourmet breakfast that outdid Massachusetts’ famous Red Lion Inn, which we would later visit. She introduced us to “popovers”, using a recipe she has perfected, fed us the freshest, yellowiest eggs we’ve ever had, and a fancy concoction of pear with maple and some other tastiness. No wonder this inn was awarded 2010 Editor's Pick in Yankee Magazine's "Best of New England." Jackie insisted we visit the headquarters of the world-famous Burdick’s Chocolates, there in tiny, quaint Walpole. Dinner in Burdick’s dining room provided another gourmet experience: traditional French cuisine (Mike wouldn’t even consider trying the escargot), and a walk through the gift shop made it impossible to remain just a browser.
People in these small New England farming communities treat visitors nicely. The old and rare bookshop in the Green Mountains in Vermont was a cozy place to meander. New England pot pies, pumpkin ice cream, and maple-flavored everything were found in abundance in every town.
Ice cream is quite popular in the northeast. In Maine it seems there’s a locally owned ice cream store on every corner. We honeymooned there and I still laugh at the memory of the moment I remarked to Mike, “There sure are a lot of ice cream shops here.” Those words had barely passed my lips when we passed “Don’s Radiator Shop... and ice cream.”
For several months we researched and planned our Fall Foliage Tour. One of the places that piqued our interest was the town of Weston, Vermont, described by a travel resource as, “like a Norman Rockwell painting.” We’ll have that and more next week. Till then, blue skies.