Sometimes it’s good to change up your routine. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, the universe aligns to make something truly special possible. My husband and I recently received an opportunity such as this, when our lease expired, he quit his job, and I was granted a sabbatical. With no kids, no mortgage and an insatiable wanderlust, it was time to hit the road: one month from Boston to Portland, OR, and one month to return. It was the All American Road Trip, a bucket list item for both of us.

We plotted out the route in advance. Our schedule was aggressive – we wanted to hit as many national parks as possible and stay on smaller roads when we could. Our first stop was Saratoga Springs, NY, a charming upstate town where we happen to have a couple of friends who had agreed to put us up for our first night. We’d been to Saratoga before, but had always taken I-90 (aka the Mass Pike) to get there. It’s the most direct route, but it’s prone to frustrating traffic jams and is certainly not the most scenic. On this trip, we wanted to get off main roads as much as possible, so we chose Route 2, or the Mohawk Trail, instead. This route runs more or less parallel to I-90, but to the North. It’s a longer drive to the New York border, but a much more enjoyable one, with beautiful winding roads that pass through quaint New England towns and speed limit topping out at around 55mph. A highlight for us was the Bridge of Flowers, an old trolley bridge spanning the Deerfield River between Buckland and Shelburne. It had been decommissioned and turned into a “garden bridge” over the river – a pedestrian bridge lined with an array of gorgeous flowers. It offers a lovely stop and an excuse to stretch your legs and wander over the bridge, from one town to another. Shelburne has an attractive main street boasting an array of little shops and eateries. We had less time to explore Buckland, but it looked a bit more limited from what I saw.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne and Buckland, MA

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne and Buckland, MA

Bridge of Flowers, another view

Bridge of Flowers, another view

From there it was on to Saratoga Springs. We were lucky to have friends to stay with, but in the past we’ve had a good experience at the Hampton Inn downtown and our friends liked Saratoga Arms. Saratoga Springs has a lively main drag with a number of shops, bars and restaurants to choose from. You won’t find any mind-blowing food options, but the fare is certainly decent enough.

Day two of our trip started with a downpour in Saratoga Springs – better that it happened while we were in a solid structure, versus camping! Thankfully the storm lessened and eventually disappeared as we headed west on Route 20. The drive is a gorgeous one, even in the rain. There’s nothing but rolling farmland and barns – some gorgeously pristine and others in varying and intriguing states of decay. We stopped in Skaneateles, a lakeside town with a cute little downtown area overlooking Skaneateles Lake. We didn’t stay long, but it was a good excuse to get out and walk around for a bit – lovely little town!

Our ultimate destination that night was Four Mile Creek State Park, a New York State campground right on the banks of Lake Ontario. The sites and facilities are clean, and while not overly crowded, there were enough occupants to help ensure safety. As I lie in my tent, getting ready to call it a night, I can hear the waters of Lake Ontario crashing against the shore and the crickets chirping in the trees.

Categories: U.S. Travel

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