How New England Are You?
8. Have Another Doughnut! Or Two, or Three
At Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, Vermont, the cider is pressed year-round. But the real reason to go there is the cider doughnuts. The recipe: a secret mix of fresh cider, whole wheat, cinnamon, and cloves. The machine: a near-round-the-clock contraption that drops rings of dough into vegetable shortening, lets them fry for a minute, then transfers them to a conveyor belt that lifts the cakes out of the fat and onto trays. The result: a crisp shell, a soft, slightly dry inside, and a tangy aftertaste.
9. Watch the Revolution Begin, Again
In truth, no one knows who fired first, and the Lexington production doesn’t seek to answer the question. But every April 19, before the sun has cracked the morning sky, the American Revolution begins anew. The British charge with bayonets leveled. It’s a mélée; there’s shouting and smoke, and in the gray dawn, it really seems dark and frightening. It’s over in a flash; moments after that first shot, the women of Lexington are on the green tending to the dead–there are eight–and wounded. The British are marching out of town, on their way to Concord.
10. Get Your Kodak Moment With the Big Indian
Since it opened in 1914, the heart of the Mohawk Trail–a 38-mile neck-craning stretch of road between the Western Massachusetts towns of Greenfield and North Adams–has forced drivers to take their time. All those hairpin turns … all those vistas … all those totem poles. And one Big Indian. It’s this 28-foot-tall icon standing in front of its namesake shop in Charlemont that has for the last 38 years reminded travelers that it’s not just about the destination–it’s also about the beaded belts, headdresses, and rubber hatchets you collect along the way. Say “Cheese.”
11. Know Where the Chowder Turns Red
The chowder line is that geographic boundary demarcating the place where creamy-style New England chowder asserts itself as top choice over tomato-based Manhattan chowder and clear-broth Rhode Island chowder. In the 1930s, one Maine publication went so far as to claim that the addition of tomato to clam chowder was “the work of the Reds,” who sought to undermine “our most hallowed tradition,” and suggested that housewives and chefs adding tomatoes be forced “to dig a barrel of clams at high tide as penalty.”
12. Weave Around a Real New England Frost Heave
Frost heaves, like the Lord, work in mysterious ways, casting down some parts of the road and exalting others. We memorize the smoothest routes, until they become automatic. We become Mississippi riverboat pilots, meandering down the road, subconsciously aware of every hidden snag and mudbank.
13. Make a Fool of Yourself Playing Candlepin
With an all-time high score of 245 (out of a possible 300), candlepin is a game that refuses to be mastered. Some say the small balls and tiny pins make for a game of grace and precision; others claim they’re punishment from God to humble smug ten-pin bowlers. Either way, the first time you strike the two center pins–and nothing else–you should learn to laugh at yourself, because everyone else at the alley already is.
14. Take a Whirl Down Maine’s Snow Bowl
The toboggan run at the Camden Snow Bowl is not your neighborhood sledding hill. The piercing squeals, the throaty primal whelps, are an involuntary (and universal) response to New England’s longest toboggan chute, a 440-foot straightaway that’s 30-mph fast. It’s over before you know it; with your heart still in your throat, you may just want to come back for seconds.
15. Save Your Pennies
Since its founding in 1946, the original Vermont Country Store in Weston has been serving up the expected (maple syrup and wheels of cheddar) and the unexpected (pants stretchers, anyone?). But it’s at the shop’s sprawling penny-candy counter where nostalgia is sold by the scoop. From Mary Janes to Bit-O-Honeys to Root Beer Barrels, there are hundreds of options. It’s all self-serve–open a paper bag and get to work.
16. Find Yourself on Sugar Hill in June
Acres of purple, pink, and blue lupine blossoms … the Presidential Range all around … and the inns of this old New Hampshire resort open for teas and tours. What possible reason could there be not to see this at least once?
17. Drink Your Coffee Milk
Hey, it’s Rhode Island’s official state drink. You don’t think a million people could be wrong, do you?