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What do "wieners", hot air balloons and kayaks have in common?

ANSWER? Nothing really, other than we "met" them all during the last leg of the Discover Small Town America Tour 2.0. Keep reading...

Our next destination was the historic village of Collinsville (population 3,746). Collinsville was named one of the "Ten Coolest Towns in America" by Budget Travel magazine. We don't always agree with various "best small towns in America" rankings made by travel organizations and publications; however, Collinsville is definitely a Top 10 small town destination. Its magic is everywhere. The Farmington River runs through the town, and is a popular spot for kayakers.

And sweethearts...

Collinsville is a multi-dimensional, historic say the least. The LaSalle Market on Main Street is a popular local hangout for walkers, kayakers and cyclers. It's where folks go to recharge their "batteries" before and after enjoying the many recreational options the area offers.

Before heading out on a more serious walk, we strolled around Collinsville to admire the architecture and history that abound. The imposing Greek-Revival style Collinsville Congregational Church was built in 1858.

INTERESTING FACTOID: According to Wikipedia, the village was built around the Collins Company Axe Factory, a major manufacturer of axes, machetes, picks and knives. Collins machetes were the brand of choice in South America. The property is empty, but discussions about converting it into apartments with retail are taking place.

Next up was the Collinsville Bank, incorporated in 1853. It is built in the Romanesque Revival style.

It was hard to stop admiring all of the historic architecture Collinsville offers, was time to hit the walking trails.

This is the former rail line that was converted to a walking bridge. It crosses the majestic Farmington River and takes you to the trails.

Now, having walked a few miles along the trail, it was time to head back to our "bivouac" (Fairfield Inn & Suites) in the town of Plainville. This hotel is one of the most unique Fairfield Inn & Suites ( we've ever experienced. We don't often post reviews of the places we stay on the road, but we need to give this property and its staff a special shout out for many reasons. First, thanks to the property's wonderful director of sales Anna Leonard, we scored a huge suite, which was perfect for doing our work (think bedroom/Iiving room/office). The front desk, breakfast crew and maintenance staff were always warm and welcoming (they made us almost feel like family).

Plus, how cool was it that Oscar's "Wienermobile" was parked on the grounds of the hotel! We had a chance to talk to the two college students who were "piloting" the hot dog. They had driven all the way from Virginia Beach, VA to the hotel. Can you imagine driving nearly 500 miles in this "tube steak" as my father used to call them? As an aside, during a previous small town America "investigation", we discovered Oscar hanging out with Mr. Pez at the national Pez Museum in Orange (not kidding - that's really the town's name), CT - population 14,280.

Now, for the scoop on our "host community". There's nothing PLAIN about the town of Plainville. In many ways this town of 17,525 people is a classic, middle class small community. Bart used to represent the town at the state capital when he was the CEO of the Council of Small Towns. Like many smaller towns, Plainville is proudly served by a volunteer fire department. We were lucky to be there for the department's Annual Balloon Festival fundraiser - one of the largest such festivals in the Northeast. The turnout of residents and visitors was amazing. Town Manager Michael Paulhus aptly described the balloon launch as "SPECTACULAR". Take a look.

After a few weeks traveling through the Northeast, our nearly 10,000 mile Discover Small Town America Tour 2.0 was over. Though we don't have any immediate plans for our next adventure, it's not too early to begin mapping one out, right?. STAYED TUNED...

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