features, food, hotels, life, travel

Birthday Road Trip

The Diamond Lounge at Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino was hopping for happy hour, but the bartender quickly served me the 2-for-1 special of the peach moscato that always lures me in.  My companion and I had substantial FreePlay, and blew through some at Horseshoe’s not-as-ample-as-it-used-to-be-but-still-good video poker before heading to happy hour, part two, at Binion’s, one of our favorite local steakhouses, where we love to sit at the large square bar and enjoy the drink and appetizer specials that are also not as generous as they once were but still draw us in every month or so.

For me, it was the eye of the hurricane.  I’d just completed the first and often worst part of the drive from my apartment in Alexandria to my parents’ house in Massachusetts and would finish up the drive the next day.

The other worst part of the drive is the lead-up to New York, but fortunately, in a way, traffic was so bad that my silver sedan Mercey’s GPS rerouted me along the Palisades Parkway, a surprisingly pretty route with a few scenic overlooks.  The foliage wasn’t near peak yet, but the views were still intriguing.

And my stopping to admire them was only a minor factor to the drive taking nearly nine hours, about two hours more than on a good day.

The next morning, I woke up and realized that the foliage was late; our trees that are usually near peak by this time were just turning.

But I was meeting up with relatives to drive into New Hampshire for some quality leaf-peeping.

It was a leisurely trip with plenty of photo stops up to North Conway, where I’d last been during stick season for the 19th Annual Inn-to-Inn Holiday Cookie and Candy Tour.  This time, the views were more colorful.  I love October.

After spending the weekend working on the house, I loaded up Mercey on Monday morning and drove to Providence Airport–so much easier than Logan!–to pick up my travel companion for our long-way drive back to Baltimore.

First we doubled back into Massachusetts and onto the Mohawk Trail, an old Native American trading route and now one of the prettiest drives in New England, especially in October, the prettiest month of the year.

I’d had some difficulty choosing a place to spend the two days we’d planned to enjoy the Berkshires.  I usually go for Hiltons or Intercontinentals, where I have frequent-traveller status, but those were sparse.  Fortunately, the Hotel On North in Pittsfield was offerring a leaf-peeping special.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  The HON is a 19th-century men’s haberdashery converted into a quirky lodging place with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and velvet chairs and affiliated with the Stash frequent-travel program.  When we checked in at the large spare lobby, the young receptionist noted that we were there for my birthday on Wednesday and maneuvered to upgrade us.  But the boutique hotel’s best suite was still being serviced, so we had a couple of glasses of wine at the bar and then sat in the lobby looking over hiking literature.

It was well worth the wait.  I’ve stayed in a few sweet suites, but none like the Library Suite.  Spanning 644 square feet, the corner suite features an ample sitting room, a kitchenette, a dressing room, and a spacious bathroom.

But it takes its name from the 125 lighted bookshelves covering two walls of the main room.  There’s even a rolling ladder to help guests negotiate the curated collection of books, games, and objets d’art.

Jeans:  Calvin Klein.  Top: Banana Republic.  Ring: Shreve, Crump, & Low

Books are a natural match for hotels, because both hold out the promise of hidden pleasures, deep, rich pleasures–melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate for the imagination.  And the HON’s stellar execution gives life to Francis Ford Coppola’s observation:  “Films and hotels have many aspects that are the same.  For example, there is always a big vision, an idea.”

My one regret is that I didn’t have a copy of Slaying Leviathan to leave behind.

After luxuriating in our amazing suite, we walked a half-mile or so to Cim’s Tavern for dinner.  The place is known for its wings, which were good, but my favorite was the fried clam bellies.  I’m not usually one for fried seafood, but there’s something about fried clams done right, crispy and soft at the same time, tangy with tartar sauce, a decadent signal that I’m home in New England.

The pre-birthday surprises continued when we returned to the Library Suite.

 

The chocolate torte was so rich that over two days we couldn’t eat the whole thing.  The prosecco, on the other hand, we had no trouble finishing.

Once you become an adult, most of the joy of holidays comes from giving to others, cooking and baking for them, finding the right gifts, welcoming them into your home.  Your birthday becomes the only day all year that’s yours.  It’s nice when someone makes it warm.

We spent Tuesday hiking Mount Greylock State Reservation, the commonwealth’s first wilderness park, spanning 12,500 acres across six towns.  From the list of suggestions the Hotel gave us, we chose the 5.5-mile “Views and Falls” route.  We didn’t see any waterfalls, but we did see the promise of Fall.

The one downer of my actual birthday was having to leave the Hotel On North and the wonderful warmth its staff gives an industrial building.  But I was looking forward to the night at Mohegan Sun Pocono.  Once again, I’d had trouble deciding where to stay, but settled on MSP for its iPrefer affiliation and the promised perks of a room upgrade and late check-out.  A few years ago, I’d had a wonderful stay at its sister property, the Boston Park Plaza, and I was hoping to continue the good luck of the HON as we checked in.

After a few minutes in our small room, we went to get our player’s cards, complete with $20 FreePlay, and then stopped into Ruth’s Chris for a quick glass of Kim Crawford Sauvingnon Blanc, one of my favorites, before walking a few steps to Rustic Kitchen.

Dinner was wonderful.  We were given a round, slightly private booth in the Tuscan-themed dining room for my birthday.  The complimentary foccacia came with a Tuscan white bean dip.  The arancini we ordered for an appetizer were the highlight of the meal for me–rich and light at the same time.  The salmon I had was quite good, and my companion’s grilled hangar steak was excellent–moist and tender.  For dessert, they brought me warm chocolate cake with vanilla gelato, worth the $9 for a special occasion.

After dinner, we blew through our FreePlay, and then some.

In the morning, check-out was easy, as we’d been given a postcard-sized form, emblazoned with an all-caps warning to be out by 11:00 or be charged extra, to fill out and drop off.

The mountain foliage was varied as we drove toward Baltimore.  Still not peak, but the promise of October shone in the yellows, golds, and reds woven through the green.  All together, driving time for the Boston-to-Baltimore road trip was about nine hours, the same as a bad day via I-95, but so much more pleasant that I’m going to make the long way through Pennsylvania one of my regular optional routes, even when it’s not October.

 

Sign up for our monthly newsletter with travel tips, home ideas, new recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox!

* indicates required

48 thoughts on “Birthday Road Trip

  1. This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  2. I intended to post you the little remark just to thank you so much once again about the lovely tips you’ve provided at this time. It has been certainly tremendously generous of you in giving without restraint all a few individuals could possibly have sold as an ebook in making some money for themselves, principally given that you might well have tried it in case you wanted. These secrets likewise worked like a great way to realize that most people have the same keenness just like my own to see lots more with regards to this problem. I believe there are millions of more fun moments ahead for individuals that check out your blog post.

  3. I cling on to listening to the newscast lecture about receiving free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i get some?

  4. MichaelJemery.com is a site with many hypnosis downloads. Whether you are looking for free hypnosis downloads, self hypnosis download for mp3, video and any audio files, Michael Jemery has the downloads for you. You can download hypnosis from apps, audio, mp3 and even youtube !

  5. I really desire to notify you that I am new to online blogging and very much valued your review. Probably I am likely to store your blog post . You seriously have memorable article material. Get Pleasure From it for discussing with us your current web report

  6. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite sure I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  7. IMSCSEO is a singapore SEO Service Provider developed by Mike Koosher. The intent of IMSCSEO.com is to present SEO services and help SG firms with their Search Engine Optimization to aid them climb the ranks of the search engines. Continue here at imscsseo.com

  8. I merely intend to reveal to you that I am new to online blogging and pretty much enjoyed your post. Most likely I am prone to remember your blog post . You really have outstanding article material. Be Grateful For it for share-out with us all of your web information

  9. MichaelJemery.com is a site with many hypnosis downloads. Whether you are looking for free hypnosis downloads, self hypnosis download for mp3, video and any audio files, Michael Jemery has the downloads for you. You can download hypnosis from apps, audio, mp3 and even youtube !

  10. I was more than happy to uncover this site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff on your blog.

  11. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site thus i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  12. Faytech North America is a touch screen Manufacturer of both monitors and pcs. They specialize in the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of Capacitive touch screen, Resistive touch screen, Industrial touch screen, IP65 touch screen, touchscreen monitors and integrated touchscreen PCs. Contact them at http://www.faytech.us, 121 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013, +1 646 205 3214

  13. MetroClick specializes in building completely interactive products like Photo Booth for rental or sale, Touch Screen Kiosks and Digital Signage, and experiences. With our own hardware production facility and in-house software development teams, we are able to achieve the highest level of customization and versatility for Photo Booths, Touch Screen Kiosks and Digital Signage. MetroClick, 121 Varick St, New York, NY 10013, +1 646-843-0888

  14. Emeryeps is a SEO(Search Engine optimzation) and Internet Marketing company. They help businesses to get traffic from various search engine and online community. They have seo experts and consultants with many years of SEO Experiences. No matter where your business is located, EmeryEPS.com can help your business to secure your highly convertible leads online.

  15. A lot of thanks for your own effort on this web site. My daughter loves conducting research and it’s obvious why. Almost all hear all about the dynamic way you render very helpful things by means of the web blog and as well encourage response from the others on the concept and our favorite simple princess is without a doubt becoming educated a whole lot. Enjoy the remaining portion of the year. You are doing a wonderful job.

  16. Faytech North America is a touch screen Manufacturer of both monitors and pcs. They specialize in the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of Capacitive touch screen, Resistive touch screen, Industrial touch screen, IP65 touch screen, touchscreen monitors and integrated touchscreen PCs. Contact them at http://www.faytech.us, 121 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013, +1 646 205 3214

  17. MetroClick specializes in building completely interactive products like Photo Booth for rental or sale, Touch Screen Kiosks and Digital Signage, and experiences. With our own hardware production facility and in-house software development teams, we are able to achieve the highest level of customization and versatility for Photo Booths, Touch Screen Kiosks and Digital Signage. MetroClick, 121 Varick St, New York, NY 10013, +1 646-843-0888

  18. Emeryeps is a SEO(Search Engine optimzation) and Internet Marketing company. They help businesses to get traffic from various search engine and online community. They have seo experts and consultants with many years of SEO Experiences. No matter where your business is located, EmeryEPS.com can help your business to secure your highly convertible leads online.

  19. Faytech North America is a touch screen Manufacturer of both monitors and pcs. They specialize in the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of Capacitive touch screen, Resistive touch screen, Industrial touch screen, IP65 touch screen, touchscreen monitors and integrated touchscreen PCs. Contact them at http://www.faytech.us, 121 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013, +1 646 205 3214

  20. I just want to tell you that I’m beginner to blogs and certainly enjoyed you’re web blog. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your site . You amazingly have awesome articles. Thanks a bunch for sharing your blog site.

  21. You’re definitely correct, I would really enjoy to find out more information on this topic! I am as well fascinated by omega xl features since I believe it’s quite cool now. Thanks!

  22. I actually arrived over here from another web page about medical malpractice lawsuit and considered I may as well check this out. I adore what I see so I am just following you. Looking forward to looking over the site back again.

  23. I’m definitely loving the design of your information site. Do you face any web browser compatibility situations? Some of the blog readers have lamented concerning my garageband online blog not working the right way in Internet Explorer yet appears very good in Firefox. Are there any kind of solutions to assist repair this problem?

  24. I’m actually loving the theme/design of your website. Do you ever encounter any browser interface troubles? A number of my own website readers have lamented regarding my teer common number blog not operating correctly in Explorer yet looks great in Safari. Are there any kind of recommendations to help correct the issue?

  25. You are absolutely correct. I liked reviewing this info and I will certainly get back for more as quick as possible. My site is on the subject of kik on pc, you could take a glance if you’re still interested in that.

  26. Hi! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one? Thanks a lot!

  27. […] Yankee magazine this week published its list of Places to Visit in New England in Fall.  If you guessed “Anywhere!”, that’d be hard to argue with.  But if you’re looking for more specific ideas, the magazine has some good suggestions, like Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts, surrounded by a beautiful state park.  And if you want to be treated like royalty, check in to nearby Pittsfield’s fabulous Hotel on North. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.