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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—Sea Kayaking the Bay of Fundy

We started the day at low tide at the iconic Hopewall Rocks, sunlight splintering through the sea stacks or flowerpots rocks as the locals call them (many of the formations have trees sprouting out of the top, thus resembling flowerpots). Walking along the beach snapping photo after photo at the picturesque blend of towering rocks, cliffs, and sea, we walked on the rocky beach and clay-like mud that lined the Bay of Fundy floor. Soon we heard squawking of birds only to peer up at one of the rocks and see a majestic peregrine falcon perched high above. We continued south on Route 114 to reach Cape Enrage at the height of high tide, water and wind whipping around us atop a cliff and lighthouse that juts out onto the sea vulnerable to the elements. 

After lunch of fresh pan-fried haddock cakes and a tangy tomato soup, we were energized and ready to go sea kayaking with Fresh Air Adventure on the outskirts of Fundy National Park. Owner Gina was excited to have us try out her new toys, surf skis, slender and speedy 17-foot ocean Epic V7 kayaks that she uses to race in Hong Kong, where she spends half the year. We got acclimated to the kayaks as we made our way down the Upper Salmon River, an estuary, slicing through the water with a paddle so light the stroke felt almost effortless. Then we turned around and went past the handful of fishing boats before making our way out to the Bay of Fundy. We had to paddle against the winds on the way out to open water, looking at Nova Scotia across the bay. The tide was still coming in with a moderate chop as waves spilled into the kayak. I peered at the tall spruce and firs that stood tall atop the craggy rock of the Fundy National Park bluffs before a larger wave swept me up and I found myself swimming in the salty drink. Gina guided me back into the kayak and we turned around to feel the ebb and flow of the highest tides in the world. I quickly understood why they call these kayaks surf skis. You paddle hard atop the crest of the wave and you feel the sudden rush of water surge you forward, like surfing. It was an exciting way to end an exhilarating day. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/28/17 at 04:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—Biking to Kellys Beach

Every town we pass in New Brunswick seems to be getting ready for the big 150th birthday party of Canada on July 1st, Canada Day, including the park across the street from we’re I’m currently staying in Moncton. Parks Canada is also getting in on the celebration, offering free admission to all national parks in 2017. I took full advantage of this offer to drive an hour north of Moncton today to Kouchibouguac National Park. Not nearly as well known as Fundy National Park, Kouchibouguac (pronounced Koo-she-boo-gwac) is always a highlight on my trips to New Brunswick. We rented fat-tire bikes at Ryan’s and headed out on some of the 60 km of hard-packed gravel trails, not unlike the carriage path trails in Maine’s Acadia National Park. This includes a sweet 6 km singletrack mountain biking route along Major Kollock Creek. We biked in the Acadian forest of birches, pines, and spruce trees, soon reaching the most exquisite beach in the entire province, Kellys, a six-kilometer stretch of white sand that dips down into the Gulf of St. Lawrence waters. Even on this perfect summer day, there were not more than 30 people on the entire beach! You can walk for miles on the firm sand, therapeutic to the bare foot touch, and be on the lookout for the remains of crabs chomped on by seagulls. Leaving the park and heading north to the French-speaking villages of the Acadian coast for a lunch of lobster rolls in Baie-Sainte-Anne, we were stunned to spot a porcupine ambling across the road. We stopped and waved the car behind us around as we stared at this prehistoric looking critter. That was the icing on the cake. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/27/17 at 04:00 AM
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—Hiking to Barnaby Head

Almost equidistant between Saint John and Saint Andrews, New River Beach is best known as one of the finest stretches of sand on the Bay of Fundy. Yet, just a wee bit to the east of the crescent-shaped beach is one New Brunswick’s most glorious hikes, the nature trail to Barnaby Head. Walk on a boardwalk lined with long planks through a bog that a moose could love. Soon the vistas of the Bay of Fundy open up as you arrive at Chittick’s Beach. The rocky shores are sandwiched between jagged bluffs and boulders carpeted by seaweed. Out to sea, you could never tell that the Bay of Fundy experiences one of the greatest tidal shifts on earth, often more than 30 feet difference between high and low tide. The water looked as flat as an ice skating rink and there were no signs of boat life on this overcast day. There were also no other hikers as we made our way on a narrow, root-littered trail that hugs the shoreline. What a treat! You enter an emerald forest where both rocks and trees are smothered in moss and the soft path feels springy. The sweet smell of pine only enhances the experience. We enter another lonely beach, Deep Cove, where we hear the distinct yodeling call of the loon and see the white tops of eider ducks. Soon we’re at the tip of the peninsula, Barnaby Head, hearing the clanging of a buoy bell on the water. The crisp sea air is therapeutic, washing away any worries. It’s good to be back in New Brunswick. 

 
Photo by Jeff Katz

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/26/17 at 05:00 AM
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Friday, June 23, 2017

Boston Pizza Festival Headed to City Hall Plaza July 8th and 9th

If you’re headed to Boston for the 4th of July to see the fireworks and listen to Hamilton alum Leslie Odom sing with the Boston Pops, you might want to stick around town. On July 8th and 9th from noon to 10 pm, the inaugural Boston Pizza Festival will be held at City Hall Plaza. 30 handcrafted pizza ovens will spread across the Plaza as Boston’s best pizza makers, including Regina, Antico Forno, Mast, and Oath, will give you a taste of their wares. Also expect live music, beer, wine, and pizza demos. The Mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris, will be here along with Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh to kick off the festivities. Tickets are priced at $15 and kids under 5 are free. Limited-availability VIP tickets ($50) include 1-hour early admission (11am), access to the VIP lounge with private bar, free sample for the first hour, and a VIP gift bag. Tickets can be purchased here

 
In order to dine on as much pizza as I'd like, I'm going to keep active next week biking, hiking, and sea kayaking along the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Please follow along! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/23/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

NFL Great Randy Moss to Lead Fitness Classes at BodyHoliday

When Lisa and I were at St. Lucia’s BodyHoliday this past November, British Olympic Silver Medalist Keri-anne Payne led swimmers on a mile race. That was in addition to the biking, hiking, and sea kayaking jaunts we did. The resort is known for taking advantage of its glorious beachfront setting to keep folks active. Your reward? A daily massage is included in the cost of the all-inclusive price. In the summer months, BodyHoliday caters to families who want to stay fit at low-season Caribbean costs. NFL legend Randy Moss will lead the way July 16-22. He’ll be joined this summer by British Olympic sprinter Marlon Devonish (July 2-16) and Olympic swimmer Michael Jamieson (August 6-20). The party continues at night with dancing to live music at the outdoor bar. At BodyHoliday, they want to make sure you sweat to the wee hours of the morning. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/22/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

See the Stars at Natural Bridges National Monument

If you want to extend the longest day of the year into night, consider heading to Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah. People who venture here can’t wait for the sun to finally set. Designated the world’s first International Dark Sky Park, the night skies above the park are considered the darkest in the country due to lack of light pollution. Under the guidance of an astronomy ranger, you’ll see a gazillion stars light up the Milky Way and find constellations you never knew existed. The bright night sky shines an ethereal light on the canyon walls and rock bridges to create a magical lunar-like landscape. The perfect way to start the summer! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/21/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Self-Guided Inn-to-Inn Bike Trips in New England

For riders looking for a little inn-to-inn action this summer, it’s never been cheaper to bike in New England. Two outfitters, Bike the Whites in New Hampshire, and Country Inns Along the Trail in Vermont, are offering three days of riding for as low as $379 per person. What does that money get you? Detailed maps depending on you ability, from 20 to 80 miles a day, emergency roadside assistance, two nights lodging, two dinners, two breakfasts, and transport of your luggage from one inn to the next. Country Inns has rides in several of my favorite spots in Vermont, including Addison along Lake Champlain, where you spend the night at the Barsen House Inn. See the story I wrote on biking with Country Inns Along the Trail for The Boston Globe

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/20/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Getting in Shape for that Summer Biking Trip

On a bike tour with Bike Vermont years ago, my brother and I watched as a guy, distracted by cows, flipped his bike over and broke his tooth. He said he hadn’t been on a bike in five years. Don’t make the same mistake. With many bikers heading out on summer and fall biking trips, now’s the time to get ready. Even if it’s a “No Experience Necessary” excursion, you should try the sport beforehand and be in somewhat decent shape. Don’t wait until the last minute to condition. If you plan on taking a week-long biking or walking outing, begin aerobic activity four to six weeks in advance, two to three times a week. And make sure you’re on the right trip by asking what level of fitness is required? Is this hike an obstacle course better suited for Marines, a stroll in the park, or somewhere in between? How many hours a day are we on the bike? You want to find an adventure that ideally suits your ability and prior experience in the sport. Websites are not always accurate so it’s imperative to speak to a human being.  

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/19/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, June 16, 2017

One Visit to the Wilburton Inn and You’ll Be Back

My family loves to tease me about the many ways I describe Vermont’s rural beauty in my stories. Phrases such as “so darn fertile you want to plunge your hands into the soil like Johnny Appleseed,” “green as billiard felt,” “a bucolic slice of pie,” and “like a Currier and Ives painting” have all made it into print. That’s in addition to the slew of adjectives that best sum up the rolling mix of farmland found in this state—sylvan, verdant, pastoral, and fecund come to mind. But as I gaze out the window from my room at the Wilburton Inn, I wanted to add that being nestled in this countryside was like being wrapped in a cozy blanket of serenity. 

Much has been written about the unparalleled hospitality of the Levis family (and all of it is true), including a recent front page story in the travel section of the Boston Globe. It was 30 years ago this summer when Dr. Albert Levis brought his wife, Georgette, to dinner at this circa-1902 estate adjacent to Hildene, the former home of Robert Todd Lincoln on the outskirts of Manchester, Vermont. The good doctor, a psychologist with an expertise in the history of human conflict, convinced his wife, a Wasserstein and the inspiration behind the Madeline Kahn character, Gorgeous Teitelbaum, in sister Wendy’s play, “The Sisters Rosensweig,” to purchase the inn. They would raise their four children in this sublime setting and all four still play a significant role in running the inn. 
 
I wish the sisters Wasserstein were still with us today because the Levis family deserves their own quintessentially Vermont tale. The loving dad, who as a young boy in Greece watched his family ripped apart by the Holocaust, only to devote his life to studying conflict and adversity in all relationships and discussing the steps needed for resolution in his many published writings. His wife, who I unfortunately never had the chance to meet, but obviously a buoyant personality if Madeline Kahn is playing her on Broadway. And the immensely talented children, all entrepreneurs that could only emerge from a childhood in Vermont. Melissa, a children’s songwriter with an infectious personality, ready to break out her guitar at any moment for a sing-along. Her sister, Tajlei, a playwright who helps run the 25-room Wilburton estate in addition to the handful of homes they own in the area, ideally suited for multi-generation getaways. Young brother Max, a Harvard-educated psychologist who will continue to advance his father’s research. And older brother, Oliver, who runs a breadmaking company, Earth Sky Time Farm, in the actual house the family grew up in.  
 
To celebrate their 30th anniversary this summer, the Levis are offering a midweek Farm-to-Table Package. Every Wednesday, you’re invited to Oliver’s homestead for a dinner party, replete with organic food picked fresh from the fields, live music, dancing and dining al fresco. Thursday morning, enjoy a tour of their farm, fields, greenhouses and bakery. You’ll also be introduced to artisans and farmers at the Manchester Farmers Market. Better yet, come celebrate Dr. Albert Levis’ 80th birthday July 12-14, when they’ll be a musical tribute to this wonderful man including Greek dancing. Just go and spend some time with the Levis. You’ll be treated like their extended family, the reason why folks return year after year. 
 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/16/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Gurney’s Newport Already Starting to Shine

I escaped the heatwave of Boston on Sunday by heading down to Newport for the night and getting an early look at the renovations going on at the new Gurney’s Newport. The acclaimed Montauk hotelier purchased this former Hyatt property on Goat Island over the winter and has already begun to make much needed changes to the tired resort. Some rooms have already been renovated and a new three-tiered outdoor deck is under construction. Once finished it will offer that same glorious vista of the Newport harbor and Pell Bridge that you can get now see by grabbing a drink at the al fresco Pineapple Club or finding a seat around the outdoor pool (which has great waiter service). Nearby, two goats can be found in their pen, their version of the Marble House, a salute to the Gatsbyesque era of the town. 

The highlight, however, was dining at Gurney’s new restaurant, Scarpetta. With expansive windows over the water, you want to arrive before the sun sets. All pastas are homemade include a lobster tagliatelle with a slightly tangy and spicy sauce so sublime I could have licked the plate. Thankfully, there was warm focaccia to clean the dish. You could cut my son’s sirloin with a butter knife it was so tender, as was the sablefish my wife enjoyed. Scarpetta is a great addition to the Newport dining scene. So good, I’d happily stroll over to Goat Island, whether I’m staying at Gurney’s or not.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/15/17 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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