4 More Excerpts from My Upcoming Book, New England in a Nutshell
These entries are excerpted from my latest book, New England in a Nutshell. The book/ebook is slated to published on July 2nd and you can pre-order now at Amazon or at the independent bookstore, Northshire, located in Manchester Center, Vermont and Saratoga, New York. The ebook includes all hyperlinks to listings. The paperback includes front and back cover illustrations from Manhattan-based artist, Sarah Schechter, and a small sampling of photos from Lisa Leavitt, who accompanied me on many of my assignments, resulting in published work for the Boston Globe.
6 Favorite Lobster/Clam Shacks, Including Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar, Eastham, Massachusetts
Grab a tray at almost any hour from late morning to closing time at Arnold’s and more than likely you’ll be standing in a line, waiting for lobster rolls and a mound of tender onion rings to bring to nearby Coast Guard Beach, or for a fried clams or lobster dinner devoured at the outdoor picnic tables under the pines. The owner, Nick Nickerson, equates his success with the unyielding desire to find the tastiest seafood around, and if he has to pay extra to the local fishermen, so be it. Scallops that have been collected by fishermen in Cape Cod Bay arrive by 10 am. He prefers to get his clams for steamers at the Town Cove on the Eastham/Orleans border. Clams for frying can come as far away as Rhode Island, but Nickerson prefers the ones that come from sand beds instead of mud flats, stating that the latter tastes like, well, mud. For lobster, he prefers the hard shelled version found on the back shore of the Cape, off Coast Guard and Nauset Beaches. Work off your meal by playing a round of miniature golf next door.
3 Favorite AMC Huts, Including Lakes of the Clouds, White Mountains, New Hampshire
Conditions need to be ideal to walk the historic Crawford Path through the Presidential Range. Once you venture beyond Mizpah Springs Hut to Mount Pierce, you’re above treeline on a ridge walk, entirely exposed to the weather since there’s really nowhere to hide. In decent weather, you’ll be treated to the views of the bald knob atop Mount Eisenhower while walking in a lunar-like landscape. Bordered by velvety green sedge and moss, you’ll find alpine wildflowers in bloom like bog laurel, white bunchberry, and purple fireweed. Then you spot the Lakes of the Clouds hut and its lofty perch atop a 5200-foot ridge with stunning vistas of Mount Washington Hotel below and the Cog Railroad ambling slowly up to the Mount Washington summit. Spend the twilight hours looking at the glorious view and then peering at the twinkling stars above (no light pollution here). The next morning, after a filling breakfast, climb on the hardscrabble rock the last 1.4 miles to the summit of Mount Washington, New England’s tallest peak.
6 Favorite Lodgings for Family Get-Togethers, Including Basin Harbor, Vergennes, Vermont
The kids are stand-up paddleboarding near the middle of the lake. My wife is sea kayaking with her siblings and their spouses closer to the shoreline. Steady wind blowing through my hair, I’m at the tiller of an 18-foot sailboat accompanied by Granny Franny and her longtime beau, Saul. To celebrate a special birthday for Fran, my wife’s extended family decided to book a week at the classic family retreat on the shores of Lake Champlain, Basin Harbor. One glance at the lake from the Adirondack chairs perched on a bluff just outside the main dining room and you understand the allure. On the opposite shores are the steep rock cliffs called the Palisades and beyond that, the spine of New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The Vermont side is not too shabby either, a bucolic blend of dairy farms, horse pastures, and their own requisite peaks, the Green Mountains. Come summer, this region is a warm embrace of emerald green fields and blue waters.
The beauty of this type of resort is that everyone, including the kids, has their independence. If Fran and my son Jake want to play a game of tennis, off they go. If Lisa’s brother, Jeff, wants to throw a Frisbee with his son, Micah, after a competitive game of shuffleboard, go for it. We see each other at breakfast, sporadically throughout the day and then meet up for dinner. Yet, most afternoons, we find each other at the small beach, swimming over to the dock, and lounging on chaise lounge chairs with a pint of Vermont’s Switchback Ale in one hand, book in the other. I can’t resist the chance to bike every day. Any avid road biker will tell you that Addison Valley, Vermont, where Basin Harbor Club is located, is easily one of the top five biking destinations in North America. The backcountry roads have very little car traffic, great uphill climbs and downhill runs, and around every bend is another dairy farm, massive red barn, white church steeple, and glorious vistas of mountains and lake.
8 Trustees of Reservations Sites Not To Be Overlooked, Including Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Formerly owned by the Choate Family of New York before it was bequeathed to The Trustees of Reservations in 1958, Naumkeag is a 44-room Berkshires “Cottage” from the Gilded Age, filled with arts, antiques, and collections around from around the world. But it’s the outdoor gardens that truly inspire, a masterpiece of 30 years of collaborative work by former owner, Mabel Choate, and her dear friend, Fletcher Steele, one of America’s first modern landscape architects. Described by the Library of American Landscape History as a “playground for the imagination,” The Trustees have just completed a 3-year, $3 million garden and landscape restoration project designed to rejuvenate the gardens and bring them back to Choate and Steele’s original vision. The transformation includes the renovation of Fletcher Steele’s iconic Blue Steps, one of the most photographed features in 20th-century American landscape design.