I know this blog is mainly about the Litchfield Hills, and for the most part, it is. Every now and then, I try to sneak in what I like to call a little taste of my life outside of these hills, just to let you all know that I’m not trapped in here like some monkey at a zoo. Honest, I really do have a life outside of Litchfield County! I know, hard to believe.

In my previous column, I elaborated briefly on how I have been spending a tremendous amount of time in northern New England, and this weekend was no different by any means. I again ventured up to New Hampshire and Vermont for a little R&R. It’s nice to get away. When you’re in retail management, getting away from it all is a dream, as well as a stress reliever!

My first stop was to see my friends who had been honeymooning in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. They drove up from Torrington about a week ago and have been enjoying this scenic part of New England all week long. I was invited up by them earlier in the week, and since I love that region so much, I couldn’t resist. I just had to take the drive up to see them. Once I arrived, I was in heaven. The scenery of the Mount Washington Valley is unlike anything else in our region. While the foliage was minimal on this rather dreary day, it was no where’s far from stunning.

We stopped off at a Hillbilly restaurant for lunch. Down home food you just couldn’t resist. I had a blue cheese cheeseburger that had the blue cheese baked right inside of the burger. Amazing? Heck yeah! It was mouth watering good. Over lunch, we got to talking about all the things we enjoyed about the White Mountains, as I recalled some memories of coming to this area growing up. They seem so distant now, but the memories I will cherish forever. Some of the best ones exists skiing at Attitash Resort in Bartlett or sliding down the rocks at the falls on the Kangamangus Highway.

After lunch, we decided to take a day trip and wander about the towns. We started things off with a nice train ride through scenic North Conway then made our way to the little stores on Main Street, including an old world country store called Zebs and an old Five and Dime. Later, it was time to get my car in gear as we headed north towards Crawford Notch and on up into Bretton Woods. We stopped off at a duck pond and played with a few ducks who, after feeding, wouldn’t leave us alone. Lesson learned! Don’t feed the wildlife. Check.

As we continued our journey north we made our way past little villages I remember spending time at as a kid. The memories hurt. Sometimes, when you’re growing up, you don’t realize how good you have it, and when you do grow up, you want it all back! I’m comfortable knowing, however, that I am now making new memories with great people. It’s part of life, right?

We finished the day off with a brisk hike at a place called The Basin in Franconia Notch by Loon Mountain. The Basin is a fascinating place where the rocks literally look like jacuzzis! Unlike something many people have ever seen before, at least naturally anyways. It’s amazing what’s on this earth, and you could see it all just by taking a drive, and we certainly saw it all on our next drive; The Kangamangus Highway. It was the only way back to the North Conway area. It’s tricky travel climbing and descending mountains as you travel through different weather conditions along the way. The views from the peaks are stunning, but unfortunately for us, today was not a day for views as a cold, hard rain fell upon us at the top elevations. There’s always next time!

After spending a great day in New Hampshire with my friends, it was time for us to part ways until they returned home to Connecticut. I couldn’t help but to figure out where I should go next. I had a whole weekend still in front of me. Where oh where could Mike end up? Why, Vermont of course!

Vermont is home to me as I had previously mentioned. It’s where I feel most at home, and over the past few weeks, I have been looking to make a move up, though I know it will come over time. I traveled up scenic Route 9 that travels through the southern part of the Green Mountain National Forest up in through Brattleboro and down into Bennington. It’s a nice ride, and if you enjoy roller coasters, this route calls your name. I stopped off at a favorite destination of mine called Hogback Mountain. The winds really know how to whip you around up here. This is where plenty of people stop off to get a load of the 100 mile view, which obviously gives you a panoramic 100 mile view of the Green Mountains and the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It’s complete with a little store where you could get all your favorite Vermont gifts like Maple Syrup and Green Mountain Coffee, just to name a few.

After I had taken half a dozen pictures of the place, it was time to continue my journey north as I was desperately making my way to the stunning Queechee Gorge, another favorite Vermont destination of mine located right by Killington Resort, and when I arrived, I immediately hopped out of my car and ran running with my iPhone ready to snap away with the camera. I’m a photo bug! I can’t resist. I took a hike down the gorge but due to this summers rain, I was only able to half way as the rest of the land was washed away. Hard for my Vermont heart to see, but I enjoyed the scenery none the less. It’s majestic and the force of the water rushing through the gorge really sets the tone. I could imagine pitching a tent and sleeping here, though I am also deathly afraid of bears so let’s scratch that idea!

Making my way back up the gorge and into my car I couldn’t help feeling so at ease. It was a marvelous weekend. A marvelous journey to places I have come to know so well. So see, I’m not always trapped in Litchfield County, and when I do get out of town, I venture pretty far out. Hey, life is too short to sit around and look at four walls, or in my case, the same hills.