Monday, September 6, 2010

Unexpected Weekend in the Whites

It’s Saturday morning and the throat still hurts after two weeks. The walk-in care doctor writes me a prescription for yet another ear/throat issue. Then with groceries shopped for and a short visit from Lee we sit and look at each other wondering what the rest of the long weekend will look like.

“I wonder if my old buddy Ron is at his camp up north?” Andy says to me.
“Hell, if I’m going to go north, I’d rather visit my sister and check out the camp.” I say

With that, I start texting my sister. She and John are at the Lancaster Fair with her son and his fiancé who are visiting for the weekend. I relay this to Andy and there is a slight pause. With Jonathan and Shannon there, we know there is “no more room at the inn” so to speak. However, I’m sitting in front of my PC and propped there since last May is a gift certificate for two free nights at the Birch Bend Motolodge in Shelburne New Hampshire Andy won at the Whitehorse Press open house. I pop open MapSource and take a look. Heck! Shelburne isn’t that far from Jefferson! Unfortunately, the certificate says “two week’s notice and no holidays.”

“Should I call anyway?” I ask Andy.
“What can it hurt?” he asks in reply.

I dial the number and ask if there are any available rooms. They answer in the affirmative. It’s then that I launch into my spiel, apologetically letting them know I am violating the terms of the gift certificate etc. The voice at the other end asks if I’m coming by bike. When I say “yes” he tells me that reply just cinched it, and come on up! Our bags are packed and we are on the road in less than 30 minutes. The blustery ride up due to what I believe are the remnants of a hurricane off shore, has us tired from keeping the bikes to the road. At 7:00 PM, (three and a half hours later) we are pulling into the Birch Bend Motolodge.

Mike and Rebecca we discover are the new proprietors of the Birch Bend and this is their one year anniversary weekend. They are motorcyclists themselves, and promote their establishment as a motorcycle friendly destination. Our room has a very comfortable king size bed and the place is immaculate. There are two things that strike you the most when you stay at the Birch Bend; the beautiful birches outside your door, and how quiet it is during the night. Instead of a downtown location on a busy street, the Birch Bend is tucked five miles outside of Gorham on Route 2. The night is still, with only the sound of wind rustling the birch leaves, and in the morning a few geese honking at the farm across the way.

Sunday morning we make our way to Jefferson. The wind gusts are still with us, and the temperature is hovering in the low 60’s. My sister, in giving us directions, mistakes us coming in from the other end of the road so we pass the campground at first. We stop realizing our mistake and head back the way we came. My sister is flagging us down and Andy stops first to speak with her. I’m not paying much attention to what’s being said as looking at her with her current hair cut, all I can think is how much she looks like our cousin Claudette! Holy Cow! We could plop her right in the middle of that big clan and she’d easily be accepted as a Lacroix for sure.

Fran and John are hospitable. We have coffee to warm us up, take a tour of the campground and meet all their friends. Their “neighbor’s” parents have stopped by before heading home after their cross country trip. Only their car and camper are far from typical of today’s equipment. In fact, for Andy, it’s a blast from the past. When he just a young boy, his parents packed the station wagon and camper and drove cross country themselves. With a passel of kids and a camper just like the one he’s now looking at, into and around the memories are washing over him and showing on his face. Lester and Millie let us look all around, and Lester, who restores old cars, lets Andy pop the hood and examine what’s beneath.

As evening approaches, we head back to Shelburne. It’s still pretty cold, and I’m feeling a bit funny. Maybe I’ve got more going on than just the ear/throat deal. I’m not usually bothered by a little cold, but as we rise and dip through the elevations I’m happy to be back at the Birch Bend, where I find the heat’s been adjusted and the room is very comfortable. We have a quiet evening with me reading and Andy watching TV and in the morning it seems Andy is in no hurry to leave. He’s feeling very comfortable and at home.

Mike has given us a few pointers; one for a photo op, and another for getting around Conway traffic. Andy takes a right instead of a left. All we do is loop around and end up from whence we came. No matter, we head on homeward. Andy pulls into the Mt Washington Auto Road parking lot. We chat with bikers who have just come down. Its 35 degrees at the top they tell us. It’s clear though and Andy suggests we go on up. I can’t seem to warm up so after a short debate, he backs down. I pull more clothing out of my bag and we are back on the road. I’m in the lead this time to find the next tip to get us around Conway, but I do no better than Andy and we end up in the traffic. Then up and over the Kanc we go, with Andy telling me shortly into the ride that he is on reserve!

Our ride over the Kanc is civilized as Andy doesn’t want to stress the last reserves of fuel, and thankfully, we pull into Lincoln and a gas station where Andy fills the tank with only fumes to spare. Good old Blaze could have easily done the Kanc again and back. She’s a great motorcycle my Blaze! We have lunch in Lincoln and it’s the last stop we do for the day. While our desire is to hightail it back; there is no way anyone is going anywhere fast. A good portion of route 93 is traveled between 25 and 35 miles an hour due to the crush of people heading back home from their own long weekend adventures. Eventually, we pull into the drive, tired but satisfied with our unexpected weekend in the Whites.


Richard said...

Thank again Pat. I didn't get to ride at all this weekend even though I had a rare two days off in a row. Sharon and I celebrated our 31st anniversary by going out to dinner Saturday. Two of the three boys came home Sunday to go to my brother in law's house in Ma. for a clamboil and we stayed with friends Sunday night and celebrated Labor day with a BBQ at their house yesterday. But no riding on a beautiful weekend. So thanks again for taking me along. Sorry you're no feeling well.

Debra said...

The term is Serendipity. You had the thought, and the solution made itself manifest-seemingly coming from nowhere.
The photos are great, and really put the reader in the story.
Glad you and Andy had a great time!

davidheadley said...

Nice framing with the moose antlers centered over your sister's head in the photo... Hmmm, wonder if that was intentional :-)