We had arrived in Lebanon, New Hampshire for a quick overnight stay at the Elks before moving on closer to Boston. But before we took off we had two things on our list to see. First, we drove through Hanover, home to Dartmouth College. I just love a cute college town, and this one did not disappoint!
Second, we headed for the King Arthur Flour flagship campus in nearby Norwich, VT. This beautiful campus houses a café, bakery, store and baking school. Honestly, if I had been at all forward-thinking, I would have registered us for a class or two, but I wasn't. Next time for sure! We spent most of our time moseying through the store but, shockingly, we walked out without a single purchase!
We said goodbye to New Hampshire and made our way to the Elks Lodge in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, northwest of Boston. Again, we were only there for an overnight. We had reservations at Normandy Farms in Foxborough but they only do weekly stays from Sunday through Saturday. That left us with one night before our arrival, so Elks Lodge it was!
I did not realize that by staying at Normandy Farms we were smack dab in enemy territory. The New England Patriots Gillette Stadium was just four miles away. Yuck. I hate the Patriots. We put Toadie's Seattle Seahawks flags on her window and drove right by the stadium, just because we could. :)
Normandy Farms is the second most expensive campground we've ever stayed at (the most expensive being Liberty Harbor in Jersey City) and I can't say we'd ever return. There is nothing wrong with it, per se, it's just everything we don't like about a campground. It's gigantic, maybe the largest we've stayed in, with hundreds of sites. The roads are dirt, so it gets pretty dusty and at any given time there are at least 1,000 kids riding their bikes in the middle of said dusty roads. There is a big activity center and multiple pools, lots and lots of never-ending family activities. We don't partake in any of those activities, but we pay for them anyway.
In spite of being activity central, believe it or not, on the day of the eclipse? Nada. Even though we could only see a partial eclipse, it was impressive enough that you'd think there would have been some kind of gathering. But you'd be wrong. We ended up having a great view right from our site, and not another person around us was looking up. We offered to let our neighbor take a look through our glasses and he was eager to do so. When we had seen enough we gave our glasses to a father with two young girls camping on the other side of us and he was so happy! He had rushed back from the pool to try and make something so his girls could see it, and we saved him some time. We asked that they pass them around so others could see as well, and the girls delighted in sharing with their neighbors. That was fun!.
One thing we've noticed about New England campers is that when it comes to camping, they go big or go home. Even if they are only staying for a weekend, they bring so much extra stuff it just boggles the mind. They have grills, smokers, bundles of wood for the fire pit, bikes for their 16 kids, extra tents to set up next to their travel trailer, swimming gear, awning lights, tablecloths, tons of chairs, outdoor televisions, musical instruments and the list goes on and on. It looked like a shanty town with multiple families in each site. In fact, campers are allowed up to 10 people in their sites and it looked like a lot of them pushed that limit. All this at just under $75 per night, and that's the weekly rate!
All that said, we weren't unhappy at Normandy Farms. In retrospect, I would describe our week there as "forgettable". About the only touristy thing we did there was take a day trip to Hyannis Port on Cape Cod. We did enjoy the small but interesting JFK museum, but the rest of the place is the worst kind of tourist trap.
There is one big thing we scratched off our To-Do list. You may recall that Steven's parents, Paddy and Elizabeth, are arriving in Boston on September 20th to travel with us north up the coast of Maine. The last time they camped with us we took them to Yellowstone in our pop-up camper, Alfred Hitchpop. At the time I had a pair of orange Crocs that Elizabeth adopted because, of course, Crocs make for great campsite shoes. Easy on, easy off, right? So we had been wracking our brains about where we might find a pair of orange crocs for her. We did a Google search and guess what? There was a Crocs OUTLET STORE about 10 minutes from us!! I didn't know Crocs Outlet store was even a thing!!!! So off we went. I didn't find orange, but a cute red pair was on sale, so the purchase was made. I wanted to get Paddy Camo Crocs, but Steven said no. He can be such a killjoy :) So anyway, scratch Crocs off our list!
It is kind of funny that some places that we think are going to be great end up being a big nothing burger while others we're not necessarily excited about turn out to be fantastic. That's exactly what happened with Normandy Farms and our next stop, Rhode Island.
NEXT UP: Beautiful, surprising Rhode Island