Southern Vermont - full ok Kodak moments
Loop round southern Vermont, and you drive though one pretty village after another, all vying for that Kodak moment.
Start with Newfane, with its pompous county courthouse, guarded by four grand Greek Revival columns.
Also overlooking the huge village green are a church, town hall and two of New England's grandest inns,
where rural bliss includes city comforts and food that really can be described as 'gourmet'.
Drive into Grafton and you drive back in time. Thanks to a zillion-dollar restoration project,
you can quaff ale at the Old Tavern, picnic by the covered bridge, and watch cheddar cheese-making.
It's almost too perfect. The same goes for Weston, with a bandstand on the green, and the folksy Vermont
Country Store, another reminder of yesteryear, with bottles of nostalgia next to barrels of sentiment - woollen underwear and herbal remedies,
oil lamps and rag rugs. It's back to the future in Eisenhower's America.
Vermont is a great place to get lost.
Turn off Route 100 to Route 11, then dip off again to the hamlet of Peru (that's Pee-roo) - little more than a church
and the general store that featured in the 1987 film Baby Boom, where Diane Keaton and a baby relocate
from Manhattan to Vermont. After September 11, thousands of urban Americans did the same,
heading to the country for emotional repairs, to hike deep in the Green Mountain National Forest and cycle the winding back roads.
At the end of the day, they sat on porches in rocking chairs and by real log fires.
Not that Vermont is all folksy. Manchester Center is New England's capital of designer outlet shopping,
where bargain hunters trawl the mock village for Escada, Versace and Armani.
Next door, Manchester Village is dominated by the Equinox, a grand Victorian resort hotel, with 21st-century mod cons,
and a classy golf course, with distracting views of Mount Equinox. Back in the olden days,
carriages made the trip up to the 3,816-ft summit; today, after paying a toll, you can drive up.
Five miles later, you are rewarded with panoramas stretching as far as Canada.
On the way down, heed the signposted advice and stop periodically - the smoke you smell could be your brake pads!
Just down the road is Hildene, a summer retreat for Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the President.
Tour the 100-year-old mansion to see father Abe's famous stove pipe hat, then saunter round the grounds,
where you can watch polo in summer, or try cross-country skiing in winter. Vermonters are keen on the outdoor life.
They hike, bike and paddle - and so can you, thanks to well-marked trails and canoe rentals right on the riverbank.
As for trout fishing, fly-fishermen the world over know the name Orvis and the Batten Kill River.
Founded in Manchester in 1856, the company still make rods and flies for modern-day Izaak Waltons.