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What I did on my summer vacation
Me and Sophia at the top of Wheeler Mountain in Vermont

OK, I'M back from a nice, long summer vacation and ready to amp this thing up. Next week we’re going to feature our College issue, with a big Fall Arts preview issue soon after that.

I always write an account in the paper of my travels, for two reasons: 1) I really enjoy travel writing; and 2) I’ve noticed with alarm that not a lot of people take real vacations anymore, so I want to do my part to change that trend.

This trip my family and I traveled up to New England, spending time in Boston, visiting friends in New Hampshire, camping for a week in Vermont, and finishing up at the Travers Cup race in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (yes, going back on my previous assurance in this space that I would never have anything to do with horse racing again. Sue me!)

There’s a lot more about the trip and a lot of pics on my Editor’s Blog. Until then, in no particular order, here’s my quick and dirty list of observations about New England and modern travel in general:

• Vermont totally lives up to the hype – it is an amazingly beautiful place.

• Boston’s awesome. It has the cultural attractions of New York City without the Big Apple’s manic, adrenaline-crazed edge.

• Driving in Boston is not awesome.

• When they say “square” up north, they really mean “an oddly-shaped, useless patch of concrete at a busy intersection.”

• In historic Mt. Auburn cemetery outside Cambridge we saw the grave of John Nolen, the guy who designed our own Daffin Park.

• Don’t use Travelocity. Book through the airline. Then if a stupid mistake is made in issuing your tickets – which you discover five minutes before getting on the plane – you can get on the phone directly with the airline’s outsourced Asian customer service representatives with fake American names instead of Travelocity’s outsourced Asian customer service representatives with fake American names.

• The only sure bet at the track is that the person who least needs the money will win.

• I’m not really sure what a Christian Scientist is. But the “mother church” of Christian Science in Boston is so big and beautiful it kind of makes me want to be one.

• New Yorkers love the f-word almost as much as they love littering.

• Pay a little extra and stay at a Hampton Inn.

• If you’re in Vermont, don’t miss the Bread and Puppet Theater near Glover. It’s a barn/commune that documents the group’s creative political protests over the last 40 years. You walk in, turn on the lights, view their amazing puppets, and if you want to buy something in the gift shop you just leave money in a box.

• The U.S.S. Constitution in Charlestown, Mass., has a stirring story with a Georgia connection — the St. Simons Island live oak of her hull is how she got the name “Old Ironsides.”

• They’re really into classic rock up north.

• TSA agents have actually gotten a little more tolerable. A little.

• Bostonians are a lot nicer than I imagined they’d be. And yes, most of them really do have that silly accent like the Car Talk guys on NPR.

• You know how up north when you order a coffee to go, they spoon the cream and sugar in for you? I love that.

• They definitely know how to make beer in Vermont. Long Trail is the best. Haven’t seen it here, has anyone else?

• If you’re in Boston, take a Duck Tour despite the laughing and eye-rolling you’ll get when you say you took a Duck Tour.

• In New England you can cross two states in the time it takes to drive to Macon. Not that you ever want to drive to Macon.

• Berry-picking at a farm is cheap and healthy fun for the whole family.

• They really know what they’re doing at Boston’s Logan Airport.

• Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson – not so much.

• If you think I-90 across Massachusetts will be less busy on Sunday, you’ll be very wrong.

• As a percentage of the population, there are as many rednecks up north as down here. And since there are so many more people up there, that technically means they have a lot more rednecks than we do. Think about it.