New England: All Downhill From Here

For Michelle Reyes, left, and Darian Burwell, a trip highlight was learning to ski at the Camden Snow Bowl in Maine.
For Michelle Reyes, left, and Darian Burwell, a trip highlight was learning to ski at the Camden Snow Bowl in Maine. (From Darian Burwell)
  Enlarge Photo    
Sunday, January 27, 2008

Darian Burwell of District Heights and Brooklynite Michelle Reyes , a graduate student at Gallaudet University, are the latest contributors to our "Your Vacation in Lights" feature, in which we invite Travel section readers to share the dish about their recent trips. It's a big, confusing travel world out there, and you can help your fellow travelers navigate it. Your hot tip could be the next guy's day-maker; your rip-off restaurant, the next family's near miss. To file your own trip report -- and become eligible to win a digital camera -- see the fine print below.

WHO: Two best friends -- Darian, 34, and Michelle, 30 -- and a laptop.

THE TRIP: Ten-day drive through New England and Canada -- specifically, New Hampshire, Vermont, Montreal, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.

WHEN: Just over a year ago, in late December/early January.

WHY: We decided on a whim to travel north to brave the cold and learn to ski.

PLANNING: We flew to Manchester, N.H., because Southwest was offering cheap fares. From there, we rented a Hyundai with four-wheel drive. We studied the different states and their hottest attractions, and bought a book about New England, which led to our decision to take the back route to Maine and stop in Belfast. We booked hotels with free wireless Internet, because we were going to blog about our vacation (see

COST: About $850 each, which included ski passes, diners, gas, hotels, a New Year's Eve bash in Boston, the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, a lobster roll and more.

HIGHLIGHTS: Learning how to ski at the Camden Snow Bowl in Maine, a small family resort perfect for newbies. We both come from families who are not into the outdoors. We struggled putting on our skis, falling down over and over. I (Darian) was determined to use the ski poles for support, but the instructor said no one uses them these days. Well, I wanted them! Driving through a winter storm in Vermont was also a challenge, but it was one of the most beautiful drives of the trip.

DISAPPOINTMENTS: Montreal was a let-down; we went to the Notre-Dame Basilica, but that was the only main attraction for us. We also wished that we had tasted a lobster roll in Maine, not Massachusetts. In Maine, we kept seeing signs for lobster rolls for $5.99. By the time we reached Massachusetts, we decided to see what all of the hype was about. We bought one in Cape Cod, and it cost $13.99.

COOLEST ATTRACTIONS: Maine's lighthouses and the history behind each one, as well as the famous culinary institute in Montpelier, Vt. We also discovered the town of Medford, Mass., which inspired the lyrics to "Jingle Bells."

WHAT WE'D DO DIFFERENTLY: Visit every lighthouse "overlooked" in the guidebooks.

MOST DIFFICULT ADJUSTMENT: Montreal. When we went to get gas, we couldn't understand a word of French and just let the gas pump continue until it stopped.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company