Saturday, July 28, 2007

Travel Day Six, Friday, July 27, 2007

I start the morning with a birthday call to my daughter. When she was a young girl, we would often find ourselves on vacation when her birthday arrived. She did not like being on the road on her birthday. She wanted to celebrate with her friends. So here I am again, on vacation, wishing her happy birthday. She’s a big girl now, but I still remember those days when she would spend her birthday pissed at being away from home. I make short work of it and disconnect.
We head to the base of Mount Washington, and that takes only a few minutes from Gorham. When we arrive, the place seems quiet. Last year in our failed attempt to climb the mountain, the place had been hoping. We pull up to pay our fee, and the attendant indicates that it’s a good day for a ride. Last year the wind had picked up to 60 miles an hour, and bikes had been turned away.
As we begin the climb, I play a few games with my mind. I have a mantra that I repeat whenever there is something I must do or achieve that seems, at first, insurmountable. I break it into pieces and only look at what is right in front of me. It makes any task more manageable. So the mantra begins, “I can do this in this moment.” Each turn is taken as the only turn and it makes the progress easy. Then we find the unpaved stretches of road. OK, I was unaware there were unpaved sections of roadway. I can do this in this moment. That only works so long, and I have a few moments where the leg begins to jump. My adrenaline is running and this always sets my right leg to jumping. Never the left, I don’t know why that is. I take a few deep breaths and force my diaphragm down and that, for some reason, helps the right leg to settle down. I can do this in this moment. After a bit, I don’t need the mantra anymore. I’m too busy with the new sights and sounds to be bothered with the mantra. Soon we are at the summit! Victory!
The train is coming up the mountain and I can see the big black puffs of smoke. I stand on the observation platform and take a few photos. A few hikers are reaching the top and come puffing over the ridge. The train arrives and is packed with people. I believe the price of a single ticket is $49.00! I watch whole families get off the train. I want whatever job they have that allows you to splurge that kind of dough on a train ride up the side of a mountain.
Its 11:00 and we haven’t had breakfast. The snack bar has just opened and I smell pizza. Andy seems confused why I would want pizza for breakfast. But we each buy a slice of pizza and a one egg salad sandwich. The egg part is so Andy feels like its breakfast. We are going to share the sandwich. I start on the pizza and he starts on the sandwich and forgets we are to share. He takes a man size bite out of my half.
We spend another hour roaming around, reading the information on the walls and listening to the park rangers tell tales. I wander into the gift shop. I want that shirt and an ornament. I haven’t purchased any souvenirs on this vacation and I feel climbing the mountain on Jade is worth commemorating.
A black cloud starts billowing up over the ridge and I tell Andy I’d like to descend while I can still see the road. We depart at noon and make our way down. Somehow, going down seems so much easier than going up. Just as we are about to reach the base, the skies open up and we are pelted with rain. I assume that Andy will pull over so we can put on the rain gear. He doesn’t. We ride for several minutes until we are very wet, and then we put on the gear. I’m exasperated. How can that be confusing? We start off again with the gear on, and as we reach Conway, the sun is out and we are broiling in the rain gear. We pull over again, and peal it off.
On our ride through Conway, a sign at a bank indicates that it is 95 degrees. We make our way to the Kancamangus. Soon the Lower Falls is in sight and we pull off to join the tourists. With swim suits handy we make a quick change and join the others in the plunge. The water is surprisingly comfortable! We linger until we notice its 3:00 and make our way back to change and be on our way.
In Lincoln we stop for ice cream and check the map. We don’t want to head home on the slabs and I suggest a section of 118 that has some nice twisties. We head that way. A black cloud blocks the sun as we approach the intersection. We get pelted with a few drops but they are soon over and we are back into the sun. The roadway ahead though, has really been hit with rain and the steam is rising so thickly that I feel I have driven straight up to Mount Kilauea in Hawaii. I have never seen steam this thick on the roadway before. We continue to the end and at the stop sign Andy remarks that he has never seen a road on fire before.
From 118 we connect with 25 and drop onto 3A. Andy never seems to like 3A and just south of Newfound Lake he takes a right on 104 west. I think he is trying to make sure we cover ever road in the state this summer. We suddenly find ourselves behind two logging trucks followed by three vehicles. When the opportunity presents itself, we open the throttle and get around all but the first truck. Finally, we get ahead of this guy too. What a relief.
From 104 we pick up route 4 and take this to Concord. We do get on 93 but only as long as it takes to for us to make our way to route 13. In Dunbarton we stop and have a sub. Its 7:00 and my pizza, partial egg salad sandwich and small ice cream are long gone and my stomach is rumbling. We enjoy a steak and cheese and I have orange soda with mine. I tell Andy that Jade is only five miles from turning 30,000. When we have polished off the subs, we hit the road. Andy watches his odometer and I see him checking the mirror for me. I hold up my fingers for the 10th of a mile I have left to go, and when Jade rolls over, we start honking in celebration. Yes, it’s silly, but why should silly be reserved for the young? We arrive home at 8:15, tired but satisfied. The total miles under our belts on this trip are 1,273. I call my daughter and let her tell me about her special day.

1 comment:

Tim Somero said...

What a great vacation and thanks for taking us with you the whole way.

I especially like your line about 'why should silly be reserved for the young?'