Sunday, May 15, 2011

New England Day 1

I’ve never experienced the long northern days before so I was surprised to find it pretty light outside at 4:30am our first morning. We decided to get acquainted with the surrounding area our first day and go in search of maple syrup, so following are a few shots from our travels. We went east into Maine, then north and west back into NH, then south and East to complete the loop.

We began our trip by driving down to North Conway and one of the first things I noticed was the tree leafs and flowers were where we were 6-8 weeks ago, with the trees just leafing out and the daffodills and tulips in bloom.

We then drove over into South Eastern, ME around Bridgeton, found lots of lakes, and tried to find the house for a webcam on Wunderground that I look at regularly - we failed.

Then it was north to Norway, ME where we stopped at a gas station and got a great reference for the little restaurant next door, so we tried it. I had lobster pie with sweet potato fries and marinated mushrooms and Bev had baked Haddock.  All were pretty darn good and I love to just wander into a place and see what happens.

This part of ME didn’t look to prosperous but I now see why they grow potatoes here – very sandy soil, and that combined with the pines often made us feel like we were in the South Carolina low country or the Lake Tahoe area.  I assume that over the eons, the soft sandstone in our area has been gound down by wind and rain into the smaller clay particles, while the harder granite/marble is only ground down to sand.

From there it was back west into NH where we stopped at Bisson Sugar House in Berlin for a personal sugarhouse tour and a couple gallons of delicious syrup.  I had done some on-line research of the local sugar houses and this was our first stop - he's the third generation in his family to do this.  But since it was so good and the right price, we ended our syrup hunting right there.  We paid $55/gallon for his and we later found other brands were $43/ half gallon in North Conway.  This operation had 3000 tree taps (which now go into pipes rather than buckets), harvested 43000 gallons of sap and made 1040 gallons of syrup - 43 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup.

I always thought that, like cooking sugar cane, the different grades came off at different stages in the cooking procees, but not so.  All of the sap is cooked exactly the same but as the weather warms and the trees get closer to budding, the sap changes.  The Grade A Light Amber comes in first followed by Medium Amber, Dark Amber, and Grade B.  The difference is the color and the strength of the flavor which both become greater later.  So we bought some of the last 3 grades and we thought the Grade A Light is too mild.

We also bought some maple butter and maple taffy which are the same product, but cooked at higher temps to remove more water and make them thicker - nothing else is added - the last product is maple sugar candy.  So ends the maple syrup lesson and he ships anywhere.  Here's a few shots along our trip.

Then we headed back south to Bretton Woods where they have a ski resort and the Mount Washington Hotel built in 1902 for New England rich – pretty nice place don’t you think? - Mt Washington in the background.
After that it was thru Crawford’s Notch – a gap in the mountain to us southerners, down the valley and back to the resort for a very nice 8 hour day and a dinner of our lunch leftovers and a glass of wine.  A couple of waterfalls down the canyon for Betsy.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  South Of The Border Breakfast



  1. This is bringing back honeymoon memories! We went up Mt. Washington, did you?

  2. Love all the photos. Ahhh yes, we went to Alaska one spring, it does take a bit of getting used to. hmmm... does Idaho have sandy soil? I remember growing great potatoes in Kansas, growing up just a few miles from the Arkansas River. Sandy soil.

  3. Oh My.... Thanks for posting the waterfalls... LOVE them... We need to make that trip sometime. We both have been there --but that was before we met.

    I have a blog friend in Mass--and she talked about spring being LATE this year... They really are several weeks behind us, aren't they????

    I also have a blog friend in Wisconsin ---who makes their own syrup..Quite a process they go through.... I'm sure you enjoyed see the process and getting some of their syrup.

    COLD up here this morning on the plateau.... GADS!

  4. Very nice Larry! I enjoyed the trip - thanks for sharing.

  5. Love the photo journey. Thanks for taking us along with you and Bev.

    Enjour time-it's pretty country up in the new england states.


  6. Isn't the Mt. Washington to die for! Can't wait to hear about your other stops!

  7. Being so close to the Canadian border, we have those crazy long summer days, too. It's great for getting a lot done after work. ;) The photos are wonderful!

  8. Wow! You were just North of us! Glad you liked the darker grade of syrup! We think it's better too ... and cheaper! Wink! Your photos of the trip are terrific ... loved the fox staring at you and the camera!


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