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Northern New England includes the states of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Water and forests were always important elements in New England. In the 18th century, the busy ports of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts grew fabulously rich exporting goods around the world, and Middletown, Connecticut cut the pristine forests in order to build the ships and the tall masts for these adventures. There are still 130-year- old schooners being lovingly rebuilt to sail the waters up and down the New England coast. Originally, they might have served as fishing, cargo or pilot ships. Today these graceful ships carry guests who prefer to leave motorized boats in the wake and capture the tug and dip of the wind in the sails pulling them over the ocean. While on a sail, these landlubbers can count on at least one member of the crew in possession of a guitar or banjo to lead them in a raucous shanty or two passed down through the years by the old salts that sailed the world hundreds of years ago. Further inland, the love of water sports picks up in spring when the melting snows of May bring whitewater rafters out to challenge the class IV rapids of Kennebec River.

The hills and valleys of a winter landscape with their deep glistening snows once were a struggle for men and animals who had to carry out their backbreaking chores. Now they are the picturesque playgrounds for skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Maine alone has 14,500 miles of interconnecting well-marked trails. As you explore the vast expanses of frozen lakes and ponds, through forests of balsam, fragrant spruce and pine, you might catch the scent of aromatic wood chimney smoke hanging in the air. It may waft out from the stone chimney of a rustic log cabin situated where moose, bear and other wild creatures still thrive as they did in a time of rugged mountain men. For a more ordered style of Nordic skiing, turbo tubing, ice skating and accommodations, there is Sugar loaf/USA with an average snowfall of 200 inches. U.S. skiing medalist Bodie Miller practices here.

The New England coast abounds with off shore islands. Monhegan Island in Penobscot Bay is a popular one for artists. Easels dot the landscape as artists try to capture the sharp bluffs, gardens, lighthouse and passing ships. Famous painters like Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, and three generations of Wyeths stayed months at a time to paint the tranquil scenery. When it is time to set the lobster traps it is traditional to give the fishermen a festive send off and wish them good luck.

By many accounts, the most charming of New England coastal villages is Camden, Maine. The Penobscot Abenaki Indians called it Megunticook, meaning "real swells of the ocean". The village seems as if it has been caught in time warp on the canvas of one of its well-known painters. The small harbor, full of boats of all sizes, dominates the view. Walking is easy with shops and restaurants, and you might even overhear a Maine "down east" accent which is still noticeable. While down east, the response to an uncertain request for directions might be, "You can't get theah from heah."

New England probably has more Bed and Breakfast accommodations than all of the rest of the country put together, and Camden is known as the B& B capitol of New England. Many old, handsome homes have been converted into B &B's, and most overlook the harbor. You can't have much more atmosphere than that.


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