Well I just decided to write a final review of what we did in case it helps anyone and I managed to lose it all just as I was about to post. I have lost the momentum to try and put it all down again but in a nutshell here it is and feel free to email me if you want further information.
Day 1 - early train from NYC to Washington. Arrived at Union Station (worth a look) and did a night tour that evening.
Day 2 - Wahsington - Arlington & Smithsonian (air & space)
Day 3 - Early flight to Boston - completed most of the walking tail
Day 4 - Boston - walked Boston Common, around Back Bay area, through Chinatown and over to Liberty Wharf and back through downtown again
Day 5 - Collected rental car and drove to Bar Harbor stopping along the way. A few lighthouses etc but not many (eg not Salem)
Day 6 - Bar Harbor - Around Acadia NP. Beautiful area but a shame the region is not geared for tourists outside peak season (although they want your money). A lot is closed despite being good weather no boat operators are ready to run a limited schedule subject to weather etc. Not helped by the sequestration delaying the opening of the NP. Felt sorry for the local business that trade through and don't just open their doors to cream the peak season tourist market. A lot of other international travellers from Europe, Asia and a few other Australians were there at the same time - some not staying in the area as long as originally planned as a result. To be honest I think I would hate to be along the coastline from Boston to Bar Harbor in Peak season. The number of accommodation properties closed for the season would mean the region would be bursting at the seems if they were all open and half full.
Day 7 - Acadia NP - walked the summit along the road given it was closed due to sequestration.
Day 8 - Left Bar Harbor headed for Ashland in the White Mountains. We knew we had a decent drive ahead and a forecast snow storm would get us somewhere after passing through Portland. We did make time to stop at the home of LL Bean which we enjoyed their main store set-up and would like to have poked around for longer. Arrived in Ashland later than planned (our GPS kept trying to take the shortest path and use back roads but by that time the snowstorm had hit so we opted to take a longer route and managed to tuck ourselves in behind a snow plough!!)
Day 9 - So glad we chose Ashland as it was a great base for the area. After a great breakfast headed out to drive the Kancamagus Hwy. The day was glorious but picture postcard given the snow from the previous day. We even managed to eventually find the pathway for the Sabbaday Falls and walk out. Only a few other die-hards (idiots!) out along the path as well so it was just beautiful, peaceful and fun. Did the little train ride in Conway as we arrived there just before it was leaving. I wouldn't set out to do it but we had a laugh and a relax and ate something after driving all morning. It didn't take too long. Drove back via the Crawford Notch NP enjoying the countryside.
Day 10 - Pottered around the area - Drove around Squam Lake etc
Day 11 - Left Ashland after 3 nights and headed to Cape Cod skirting Boston. Stopped along the way not far out of Ashland heading towards Boston at one of the big shopping outlet centres. Did some damage in the space of 45minutes and then pushed on. Arrived in Chatham in the afternoon (a few other stops along the way but not many)
Day 12 - Glad we chose Chatham - nice town - not super congested or with large shopping centres and chain stores. Glad we did not chose Hyannis just wish we had chosen a different place to stay in Chatham. Spent the day driving up to Provincetown. Not an inspriring place in our books (seemed a little dirty to be honest) but we did enjoy finally seeing some of the coastline just nearby that we have seen over the years in movies and tv show.
Day 13 - a bit lazy just staying reasonably close to Chatham
Day 14 - Left Chatham early and headed for Providence to drop off the hire car and take the train back to NYC.
We were really happy with our use of trains, plane and rental car. Covered a lot of distance but we never felt like it was far too much and we got to see the key points we wanted. My partner had never been to Washington or Boston so I am really glad we did not decide to leave those because I had been. The trip gave us a lovely balance of the 2 cities versus the coastal and mountain region scenery.