So our last stop on this little road trip adventure is Lake Willoughby, Vermont. Back in the ice ages an iceberg pushed its way through a mountain here creating a 300 foot deep lake. It famously resembles a Norwegian gorge. The glacial lake boasts bountiful fishing and many important/rare species of birds can be seen whilst hiking through the mountains. However intriguing we did not go there for this. We went because it was in the middle of nowhere in a state we had little experience in. Lake Willoughby is a place where people from nearby rural towns go for vacation. It is not a place where the common Manhattanite goes to “get away from it all”.
As we left Bar Harbor, I felt sad. Not only was I going to miss the lovely vistas and scenic adventures but the Bed and Breakfast served free Goldfish crackers at all times. We did little research when planning our last destination and however sad I was about leaving Bar Harbor I was excited to discover an unknown land. I zoned out most of the car ride and voyeuristically gazed out the window at the passing farms, forests, homes, and towns. We stopped to investigate a few and discovered local coffee shops and dive bars and family restaurants and delicious ice cream shops stuffed in the back of gas stations on semi dirt roads.
We stayed at The Willoughvale Inn & Restaurant which included luxurious amenities like sweeping views of the lake, a working fireplace (we used it damn it. I don’t care how hot it was outside), a little outside space to enjoy the views, coffee, tea, and a bathtub in the bedroom (vs. the traditional route of putting it in the bathroom…).
Since we only had one full day we decided to take advantage of our natural surroundings (vs. driving to a “large” nearby town and going outlet shopping). We enjoyed a lovely American style breakfast buffet at the hotel then headed out to see the lake's bountiful offering of activities.
Out of all our options we decided to go for a lovely canoe ride on the lake; as if I had not stepped out of my comfort zone enough on this vacation. It was not my first time canoeing but it isn't my first choice in water sports (boating with a driver would be number one). We paddled out to the middle and sat there for quite some time absorbing the panoramic views of the mountains. My concerns about the depth of the lake and the sorts of monsters that could be waiting for our canoe to tip over was overcome by the peace and serenity of the view. Truly that moment was worth the long drive into the middle of nowhere.
After our canoe ride we felt very relaxed and decided to try a highly recommended restaurant in East Burke, River Garden Cafe, for lunch/brunch. The food, atmosphere, and people were surprisingly sophisticated. Our lunch was comparable to many we had in NYC. We overlooked a lovely garden and in the near distance children were tubing down a stream. We grabbed some chips and salsa from the convenience store next door (the only two commercial shops to be found) and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on our porch. The next morning we hopped in the car and headed home. Ending the trip with a low key, peaceful day on the lake was just what the doctor ordered. We arrived in Manhattan relaxed, refreshed, and ready to start our new journey as husband and wife.