Backroads of New England
Words and Photos by Jenn Bakos
Growing up in New England, I’ve stumbled upon many back roads and lesser-known routes where you’re able to leave cars behind for miles. These were mainly found in the towns that I knew well, but discovering new paths and hidden roads when time allows has become of growing interest to me as my roots widen here in New England.
Autumn is especially perfect for exploring since it’s a time of change and reflection, and offers a slowing down after the busy summer months. And, of course, it’s prime leaf-peeping season. The explosion of color highlights some of the most beautiful New England vistas. But, the beauty doesn’t stop in autumn. As the season transitions into winter, and the temperatures begin to drop and perhaps a fresh snowfall dusts the landscape, there is still so much continued beauty to document on our roads.
On days where adventure sneaks into the schedule, I’ll take the opportunity to go for a back-roads drive. One where I’ll roll down the windows a bit to capture some of that fresh air, listen to that perfect road trip playlist and get lost in the beauty of our region.
Some days, the itch to keep turning the corner to see what’s around the bend just doesn’t stop. I’ll spend hours on my journey to nowhere. Some roads seem to cut deep through the woods, shrouded by trees and a sort of darkness. It offers a quiet solitude from the hurry of our day-to-day lives. Some roads leave behind homes for what seems like miles and miles. The only marker and indication of people are the old crumbling stonewalls to guide the way. And other times, these roadways, have led me to a hidden home that the owners want to keep away from the spoil of the masses.
Our winding back roads are reminiscent of Robert Frost’s poem, and the way our region looked when it was primarily farmland and dotted by livestock. A crumbling stonewall would eventually reveal a sagging barn surrounded by trees and being consumed by the forest. I roll by slowly, dirt and fallen leaves crunching under tire; as if not to disturb the scene and also to breathe-in this little plot of regional history.
A few times, I’d never see another car, so stopping to photograph the sights, take in my surroundings and just listen to the leaves rustle in the breeze was a common occurrence. Sometimes I’d be joined by the occasional herd of cows or person on horseback, but usually the old back roads are lightly traveled. And other times, the car-scraping bumps and narrow turns proved to be too much for my nerves.
After a while, the network of roads tends to lead back to some main drag and I’d meet the pavement again. That always proves to be a solemn moment. But I know, there’s still so much of New England to discover, so many more back roads to explore and many more ‘just another bend…’ afternoons to be had again soon.