Yes, I know – another Friday Funnies featuring one of our cats. What can I say? We’ve been on the road so much from Georgia to South Carolina and back that I have plenty of pictures from the pet sitter to choose from. This is either Bob, one of the two cats I “inherited” when my Daddy died, or Bear. Neither of them have any concept of personal space.
We left New Hampshire and headed to Vermont. While I had been looking forward to the trip as a whole, Vermont was to be one of the highlights for me. Kenn kept asking me what I wanted to see in Vermont and my answer was always “I just want to see Vermont.” What’s not to love? Rolling, tree-covered mountains reflecting the changing of the seasons. Perfection, right? Alas, not so much.
While I enjoyed the scenery, our stay in Vermont got off to a rough start. Our arrival at the campground we selected was a comedy of errors. The directions provided by the manager left a lot to be desired and her gruffness rubbed me the wrong way. I also wasn’t thrilled with our campsite but we were only going to be there two nights so it wasn’t the end of the world.
It was an overcast day but we headed out to get the lay of the land. While Vermont was every bit as gorgeous as I expected it to be, I just wasn’t feeling it – not even when the sun came out and the clouds started breaking up.
Of course, we had to stop and take pictures of covered bridges.
Our campground was only a few miles from Stowe, Vermont. A lot of the “iconic” Vermont photos that I have seen were taken in Stowe. We did a drive-through of the town in preparation to spending time there the next day. Once again, I wasn’t feeling it. After two trips to Bar Harbor, I did not have another trip to another touristy town in me. Later that evening back at the camper, Kenn went out to put the satellite dish on the roof and came back in wearing his “I’m injured” expression. (I have become well acquainted with this expression over the years.) When he was coming down the ladder, his wedding ring got caught on a screw; he was lucky he didn’t deglove or lose the finger. It took some work and some of the oil I put on my dry hair but we managed to get his ring off and put it on the necklace he always wears. (It was a couple of months before the swelling in his finger went down enough for him to get his ring back on.)
Later that evening I had to admit that I was done. I was ready to go home. At that point we had been on the road for three weeks and even if we drove non-stop it would still take us another week or so to get home. During the course of our trip our then pregnant daughter-in-law was admitted to the hospital with gall bladder issues, my oldest sister had a stroke, and our youngest son’s girlfriend’s mom died from COVID after several months in ICU. I needed to see and touch my people and know that they were okay. Kenn admitted that he was ready to head home as well so we cancelled the second night of our stay and hit the road home the next day. (In spite of my first impression, the campground manager was nice. She sent us on our way with some extra sharp cheddar cheese and maple syrup, both products of Vermont. We even got a Christmas card from her.)
Next up, New York state. Until then, happy trails!
Last Friday I told you how the pet sitter always sends pictures of the cats when she visits. However, not all of the photos turn out as well as that one of Marvin. We get our fair share of pictures like this.😂 Honestly, I’m not even sure which of the cats this is. Cricket? Nyx? Someone else?🤷♀️ (The “assuming control” caption is for any Mass Effect fans out there. If you know, you know.😉)
Since we were in New Hampshire, the Mount Washington Auto Road was pretty much a must. Kenn has had a fascination with Mount Washington for many years; he frequently checks the conditions at the observatory at the top of the mountain. (Mount Washington held the record for the “fastest wind gust ever recorded on the surface of the Earth”, 231 mph, for almost 62 years. The record was broken in 1996 at Barrow Island, Australia during Typhoon Olivia.) As you might have guessed based on some of my earlier posts, the Appalachian Trail crosses Mount Washington.
Our initial plan was to ride the Cog Railway to the top of the mountain. However, since we didn’t make reservations in advance, there were no seats available. We looked into riding one of the non-cog trains but I wasn’t interested in spending almost $200 for the experience. So, it was time to decide if we could handle the drive. Now, driving up a mountain generally isn’t that big of a deal but the Auto Road isn’t just any road. As much as I love the mountains, windy/twisty roads with steep drop-offs and no guard rails are not my idea of fun – and that is pretty much a description of the Auto Road. I went online and watched a few videos of the drive and was comfortable that it was doable. So, it was time for one of those heart-to-heart discussions that are occasionally necessary in all relationships. I assured Kenn that I could handle the drive with no panic attacks and that if (when) I freaked out, I would grit my teeth and keep it internal so that I didn’t distract him while he was driving. He, on the other hand, had to swear that he would keep his eyes on the road. Now, this may seem like a simple request but it is a common issue for us; the whole time Kenn is driving it’s “look at this” and “did you see that?” with my answer being “No, because one of us needs to watch the road!” Kenn promised to focus on the road and not the scenery and we were set. We planned our drive for our first day in New Hampshire but it was closed due to the rain so, of course, we went the second day.
When you arrive at the entrance to the Auto Road, you pay your fee and get a bumper sticker that says “This vehicle climbed Mount Washington”. (When we stopped at the gift shop after our drive I bought a smaller magnet that says “This truck climbed Mount Washington”.) You also pass a sign stating “If you have a fear of heights, you may not appreciate this driving experience.”😬 The drive starts off pretty much like any mountain road: windy, narrow, two lane, trees on both sides. The higher you climb, the fewer the trees. Once you get above the tree line, the road becomes more “exciting” eventually becoming two-way traffic on what is basically a one lane road. The Auto Road is paved – except for the steepest stretch, which is dirt. (I haven’t been able to find any explanation for the unpaved section. I’ve decided it’s because it is so steep and that vehicle tires may get better traction on the dirt rather than pavement.🤷♀️ If you know the answer, please enlighten me!)
The closest I came to not keeping my freak out internalized happened not too far from the top of the mountain. There were a couple of vehicles coming toward us so Kenn and Ruby were hugging the right side of the road. The only problems with this were the hillside that was right outside the passenger door and the narrow drainage trench at the side of the road. I was terrified that we were going to get a wheel caught in the trench or break off a mirror on the hillside. When we met up with the truck coming toward us, both Kenn and the driver of the other truck rolled down their windows and folded their mirrors in to prevent a collision. Yes, the road is that narrow. Once we reached the parking lot, I was tempted to be overly dramatic and kiss the ground, but I refrained.😂
The area above the treeline is an alpine region where vegetation is scarce and fragile. The landscape is stark and beautiful.
The rocky areas had a “lunar” feel to me.
We spent an hour or more roaming around the top of the mountain before heading back down. I knew the “down” part of the drive was going to be the worst part for me since the passenger side of the truck would be on the side of the road featuring the drop-off and no guard rail. I told Kenn that I was just going to keep my eyes closed until we got below the treeline, at which point nature would provide a guardrail of sorts. I kept my promise except for when Kenn said “Oh no!” or something of the nature that you don’t want to hear when dealing with a two-way-traffice-on-a-one-lane-road situation. Remember the drainage trench I mentioned and how I was afraid we were going to get a wheel stuck in it? Well, some unfortunate driver headed up the road had done just that. Poor guy was stuck. So now, we had the addition of the traffic behind him having to pull all the way to the left side of the road to continue their trek which made the traffic flow even more thrilling. When we reached the base of the mountain, we passed the tow truck headed up to the rescue. I’m glad I wasn’t there to witness that scenario; my freak outs probably would not have remained internalized at that point.
So, yes, it is possible to survive the Mount Washington Auto Road even when you have a fear of heights and anxiety issues. And, I’m glad we did it. Oh, if you’re curious, the Auto Road is 7.6 miles long and the drive up the takes around 30 minutes; the drive down takes 30-45 depending on how often you stop to cool your breaks. The grade averages around 12%.
During our travels, whenever we ate out we tried things we had never had before. After we finished the Auto Road, we decided to eat a late lunch/early supper (what we call “lupper”) at The Public House Eatery in Gorham, NH. Best. Decision. Ever. Everything we had was delicious. Their signature pizza was seriously the best pizza we’ve ever had. Who knew teriyaki-glazed steak tips and mashed potatoes on a pizza could be so good?
Next week, Vermont and New York state. Until then, take care and happy trails!
One of the many blessings in our life is our amazing pet sitter, Furbabies Caregiver LLC. I’m extra thankful these days when we’re away from home so often as we travel back and forth to help out with the twins. When the pet sitter comes to the house she sends pictures of each of the cats. This one just cracks me up. This is Marvin, one of our outdoor kitties. This expression is very much that of a disapproving parent. I can almost hear him saying “It’s about time you got here, young lady. Do you have any idea what time it is?” (On another note, after a lifetime of cat ownership, I am convinced that brown tabbies have the best purr-sonalities of the feline world.)
We finished our stay in Millinocket, Maine and journeyed to New Hampshire. Due to his interest in the Appalachian Trail, Kenn has read many books by through-hikers and the White Mountains were on his bucket list. Now, I love the mountains – any mountains; the mountains are where my soul feels most at peace. However, I knew nothing about the White Mountains and wasn’t sure what all of the fuss was about. Y’all. Holy cow. The White Mountains are… breathtaking. Sadly, none of my photos did them justice.
We planned to spend two days in the area and made reservations at the Lincoln/Woodstock KOA Holiday, which was a fortunate choice; this was hands-down the best campground we stayed at the entire trip. You can read my review HERE. We planned to use the first day to drive the Mount Washington Auto Road, but it rained which meant the road was closed. However, the rain was a good thing in that it forced us to take a down day. We spent the morning doing laundry at the campground. (I was impressed by the laundry facilities; the equipment was commercial-grade and there was a working change machine.😮) Once the rain let up a bit we ventured into Lincoln for food and souvenir shopping. We ate at the Gypsy Cafe, a charming restaurant where both the decor and menu are eclectic. If I lived in the area, I’d eat there at least once a week.
By the time we ate and completed our souvenir/Christmas shopping, the rain finally let up and the clouds began to clear so we did a little exploring on our way back to the campground. This is when I was able to take my favorite photos from the area. I even made Kenn drop me off on a bridge so I could get a shot that I wanted.😂
There’s a lot of this beautiful country that we have yet to see, but I would return to the White Mountains in a heartbeat.
Next week, the Mount Washington Auto Road. Until then, take care and happy trails!