The first stadium on the docket was in Hartford and with the game not starting until 7:00, we had plenty of time in the State Capitol. After getting through 45 minutes of annoying traffic in New York (made better by listening to Men in Blazers), our drive through Connecticut ended up being the most scenic as I-84 featured blazing hills in full peak with changing leaves. Really a beautiful drive. The first stop in Hartford was the Mark Twain House & Museum. While the house tour was pretty good, it was the museum that really intrigued me as it did a good job of showing Twain as an astonishing and fascinating man. After driving through and seeing some of those insurance companies that define the city, we got to downtown and parked at the garage across from the XL Center and found a couple streets (Allyn and cobble-stoned Pratt) that had a nice set of bars and restaurants. We walked the Old State House and toured the former home of Connecticut’s government before heading downstairs to a cool Hartford history section. Dinner was at Vaughn’s Public House before taking the short walk to the arena for a Wolfpack game.
Being inside the old Civic Center, I can’t help but think about the Whalers and there are so many in the state that miss that team. But for now it is the Wolfpack that play here, a team nickname that is back after the odd switching to the Connecticut Whale moniker for a few years. I really like this arena as the inside has terrific sightlines thanks to steeply deigned seating. The design is abnormal on the ends, along with the location of the suites and this is an interior I enjoyed. Unfortunately, the game was sparsely attended and it was dead inside for most of the game. With the home side down 3-1 to Manchester, things looked bleak. However, with five minutes left in the game, two quick goals (of the nifty variety) tied the game up and the crowd became lively. It went to OT, where the Monarchs missed a penalty shot, then Hartford won it in a shootout. Though the building is nearly 40 years old (and it shows), I liked it here. Just one suggestion, bring back Brass Bonanza!!! Of course, a full, detailed review of the XL Center is coming soon.
Saturday was a beautiful October morning and we made the 2.5 hour drive up I-91 to Hanover, NH. The town is quintessential, New England complete with surrounding hills and changed leaves. Dartmouth University and Hanover mesh wonderfully. We parked in town and walked sections of campus including The Green and Baker Library before heading down charming Main Street, where everybody was out and about walking or biking. Early lunch was at Molly’s before driving to a lot that provided a free shuttle to the football game. One problem, the shuttle didn’t show up! We got there at 12:30 and by 12:55 it still wasn’t there. Thankfully, it was a short walk and we went 15 minutes by foot to Memorial Field (the shuttle did eventually make it and made the rounds after the game, not sure what happened).
The walk was nice on a pleasant day and getting to the historic stadium, it was awesome to see the brick and stone structure covered in Ivy with leaves on the ground. Very picturesque. The concourse showed it’s age, though in a pleasant way (except the bathrooms) and inside was a nice football stadium made better by its surroundings. Athletic buildings provide the backdrop from the main West stands, while beyond that are the aforementioned hills in fall colors. While the stadium is no more than four sides of bleacher seating, the look and comfort is better than expected. The 2-2 Big Green took on Bucknell and brought a 7-0 lead into halftime. In the 2nd half, the offense just fell apart and the D couldn’t quite hang on as a turning point was when Dartmouth accepted a holding penalty on a failed 3rd and Goal. Bucknell jumped ahead 10-7 on the next play. The Bison had a 17-7 lead and though Dartmouth got a TD with the help of a blocked punt very late, they would fall by 3.
After the game, we drove along US-4 through some amazing scenery and beautiful towns before settling in Rutland for the night. It’s incredible how passionate all of New England is for the Boston Red Sox as the whole town was inside on a Saturday Night. We realized it was Game 6 and then saw the local Paramount Theatre was half full as people came to watch the game on a big screen…which was very cool.
Sunday and Monday were spent all around the Green Mountain State to sightsee. After a stop in Pittsford for the New England Maple Museum and that wonderful Pure Vermont Maple Syrup, we made a scenic drive on Rt 73 and Rt 100 to work our way up to Waterbury. I was off a week or two for peek leaf peeping as many of the leaves were gone or falling, but the views were still great with the added bonus of a waterfall and covered bridge (where apparently there are local rules since I got bullied to back out in reverse). Waterbury brought us to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, then it was off to Burlington. I love that place and Church Street has to be one of the best streets in America. We watched the sunset over Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks as you could feel the winter chill coming. Monday, after visiting the Vermont Teddy Bear Company (at the wife’s urging), we stopped on our way back in Bennington for lunch and the historic memorial structure in town. Vermont has become my favorite state as it is just remarkably beautiful wherever you go. I’ll try to milk both visits back to Burlington for stadium trips in the coming years. Anyway, great trip and both Stadium Reviews for Hartford hockey and Dartmouth football will be up in a week or two, along with a pair of Stadium Journey summaries.