New England ’07

Grave with a window in New Haven, VT

Yet another trip that wasn’t finalized until the last minute. This almost turned into a trip to Virginia, actually. We were up way too late, we hadn’t packed yet, we had work early in the morning, and on top of all that I had a book signing afterward. So we did the most logical thing – called out of work. I think they were mad. I didn’t care very much.
We decided we wouldn’t camp our first night since we’d be leaving late due to the signing. I decided to stay somewhere in upstate New York and then head into Vermont to find a few things. We ended up staying in Saratoga Springs, which was pretty crowded. The motel we were supposed to stay at was booked, so we had to find another. Turns out we came up during “College Week” – whatever that is. We managed to find a motel, and it was probably the second worst one I’ve stayed in. The heat was set on one temperature – hell. It was cold outside, but we still had to put the air conditioning on just to sleep. There were flies in the room, and it seemed for every one we killed, another replaced it. There were several dead flies already on the walls, showing we weren’t the only ones with this problem. The entire bathroom floor was sticky. Ew.
The only reason this wasn’t the worst motel I’ve stayed at is because it didn’t have a train running behind it or drunk guys stumbling out of the bushes calling me “sister” (you can read about that in my PA trip). I’m not going to name the motel solely because it was the only place in town with vacancies (and rightfully so), and I would’ve been sleeping in the car otherwise, although this may not have been a bad idea.
…actually, it wasn’t so bad because there was a Stewart’s Shop up the road. Stewart’s Shop’s chocolate milk is pretty much the best chocolate milk ever made. No, I’m not talking about Stewart’s Root Beer or Stewart’s Drive-Ins. Upstate NY has these kickass stores called Stewart’s Shops; seriously, get some chocolate milk if you go to one.

Oh right, this was supposed to be a New England trip. Anyway, we woke up and headed up near Fort Ticonderoga to cross over to Vermont. Our first stop was something I just had to see – a grave with a window. Some say the guy had fear of the dark. Others say he was afraid of being buried alive. At any rate, the grave does have a window in it.
No, you can’t see anything. Creeps.

A few miles north in Burlington, there was a monument I wanted to see – dedicated to a lake monster. That’s right, Champ, America’s Nessie, has a monument dedicated to him/her/it. Being very big into cryptozoology when I was younger, I had to see it. Plus I had never seen Lake Champlain before. We got there and I almost didn’t see the monument, since it’s tiny. It’s maybe 2 feet tall. Maybe. I just figured it would be bigger; I’d say it’s more of a plaque than a monument. I had no idea Champ had a scientific name.

Champ’s monument alongside Lake Champlain

Our final goal for the day was just a few miles south of us now – the Shelburne Museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect; I just knew they had a steamship you could walk around. I was amazed to discover that not only was there a steamship, but there were several random things – including a lighthouse, train station, and a train’s passenger car – in which you’re allowed to roam.

The steamship Ticonderoga at Shelburne Museum

We spent a decent amount of time there, as there’s a lot to see. Afterward we decided to spend the night at one of our favorite campgrounds – Lazy Lions. We came here a few years earlier and loved it. We found out ownership had recently changed hands, but the new ones were just as friendly as the last. I had never rented a cabin before, so I figured I’d try it. This turned out to be a good idea, since it rained overnight.

The next day we headed south to look for a few things in western Massachusetts. The first stop was something I’d always wanted to see – actual dinosaur footprints. A small park along the Connecticut River has several of them right along the riverbed.

Dino footprint in Holyoke, MA

Our next stop actually isn’t on the site yet, since there really isn’t much to say. We read about some sort of abandoned hospital behind a college so we went to check it out. A nature trail with signs warning to keep away from the hospital were as tempting as an apple in the Garden. We came across one building; there were some a good distance as well, but we didn’t know if they were part of the hospital or houses from the road. I took some photos of the building in front of me. There was an opening at the base of it, but there was about a 10 foot drop down and I had no way to get back out, so we just left. I’d like to know what the place was.

I knew nothing about our next destination (and still really don’t). All I knew was that it was a small, seldom visited cemetery, and it was a mile off a backroad off a backroad. It took us a good while to even find the right road, and when we did, we were greeted by the most perilous road we’ve ever driven. Huge rocks and hills forced to park about a third of a mile away from the graveyard (I’m impressed we got as far as we did) and walk. On the way we noticed rows of trees and stone walls – indicating a town or settlement of some sort had to have been here at one time. The cemetery was on our right, with a small stone wall surrounding much of it.

Small cemetery well off the road near Otis, MA

Because we had taken up a lot of time looking for the cemetery, we decided to call it a night and head to dinner. I loves me a Cracker Barrel. The owners of White Birch Campground were very nice to us and let us choose any tent site we wanted…..seeing as we were the only campers there.

The next day we headed to the Quabbin Reservoir to explore the ghost town of Dana. I had read it was a bit of a hike to get to the place, but once I got there I found out it was 1.5 miles. Good thing we got there somewhat early.

Ruins at Dana Common

Along the way we came across several foundations and stone walls. A small marker greets travelers in the center of Dana Common. Ruins can be found all around – houses, the hotel, the church, the fence posts of the cemetery…it was well worth the hike and one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited.

We had some vague directions to an abandoned amusement park somewhere in Rhode Island, but we were pretty beat and that would’ve taken us well out of our way. We decided to save that for a future trip. I thought 6 places was quite enough.
We headed home.

Author: Stu