A Drive Through New England's Green Mountains
A drive through New England’s scenic Green Mountains typically means one of two things: You’re visiting universities or looking for fall foliage. Why not save on gas—and do both at once?
I break for a late-night snack of international tapas at ¡Duino! (Duende), whose name is a mashup of Rilke and Lorca book titles (10 N. Winooski Ave., duinoduende.com, small plates from $6). All the dishes "are from places we've been to or want to visit," says my waitress, Kat Wright (the owner's wife). When the folks at the next table hear where I'm staying—cross chat is encouraged here—they give my choice a thumbs-up. In a land of $200-a-night B&Bs, I consider the $59-a-night G.G.T. Tibet Inn a triumph in more ways than one (1860 Shelburne Rd., ggttibetinn.com, doubles from $59). Opened 18 years ago by Kalsang G.G.T.-a Tibetan Buddhist refugee who hiked across the Himalayas to escape his occupied homeland-the inn has an uplifting quality that belies its standard-issue motel decor, starting with a photo in the lobby of a beaming Kalsang kneeling before the Dalai Lama. When he checks me in, Kalsang is wearing a "Peace on Earth" T-shirt.
Day 2: Burlington, Vt. to Claremont, N.H. (113 Miles)
With less museum ground to cover today, there's time for impulsive detours, so I exit Vermont's I-89 to pop into the Simon Pearce glassblowing studio, which is situated next to a waterfall in Quechee, Vt (1760 Quechee Main St., simonpearce.com, glass vases from $65). Unfortunately, the studio and pottery workshop from this well-known provider of bowls, glasses and art objects is temporary closed, due to flooding from Hurricane Irene. The retail store and restaurant remain open.
From there, it's an easy jaunt across the state line to Dartmouth's Hood Museum in Hanover, N.H., where I park alongside a quad filled with preppy students in sweaters tossing around a football (hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu, free). Inside Hood, a narrow vestibule has been turned into a pop-up gallery curated by students, drawing from the museum's 65,000-piece permanent collection. The exhibit—Representations of the Glove as Fetish Object—has a weirdness that might have been squelched by a professional curator, but I love the idea of students pushing the envelope just around the corner from a Perugino Virgin and Child.
The joyful surprise of that stop casts a glow on the last half hour of my drive, past wholesome New England colonials with Halloween ghosts dotting their lawns. Then I reach my home away from home, the two-year-old Common Man Inn in Claremont, a riverside mill that's been converted into a hotel and restaurant (21 Water St., thecmaninn.com, doubles from $99). The exposed stone walls and roaring fires manage to be both cozy and chic, and the library-like lobby is unimprovably charming, from the scattered mystery novels and chess sets to the resident black Labrador retriever swinging his tail back and forth like a happy metronome. I flop into a leather sofa at the bar, order a martini, and lift up a red gingham cloth to help myself to the complimentary hors d'oeuvres: crackers and an enormous block of Vermont cheddar—itself a perfectly unstudied New England still life.
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