We had a pretty good day yesterday, which includes nine hours in the car, because we love to explore, and boy we made a discovery! But the day started with a two hour walk in Portland, in the rain with my beloved. We found an island devoted to the education of the deaf - I'm not kidding - and included in the package they have trails open to the public. So we walked them for eight minutes until herself got bored. I was shivering in 59 degrees anyway and ready to go elsewhere but the two Maine hikers I met brought home to me I am NOT cut out to live in Maine. They were smiling, brisk and armed with backpacks and stout shoes and ready to enjoy a cold wet Saturday in the mud.
Ten bucks to wander the museum and ride the train. A deal.
Then we stopped for some last minute Dry Cidah at the Urban Farm Fermentory, where they sell growlers, eleven bucks for cider and seven for kombucha, so my wife took one of each for the road. Delicious stuff. But it meant we didn't get to leave town before twelve thirty...our time of arrival in Burlington, Vermont looked like possibly ten pm.
We got out of town and before too long, an hour later we were ready for lunch at Daddy O's in Oxford, Maine.
Eight dollar lobster rolls with sweet potato fries and onion rings. We've tried these lobster tolls everywhere now and I guess they are okay. Cold lobster meat and mayo in a sweet bun. We talked about it and decided honestly that a decent pressed Cuban sandwich in Key West is a better sandwich to be known for. Case closed and an hour later we were in New Hampshire, living free or dying. What a stupid state motto - it kind of squeezes you into a corner of bad decision making. For instance they have neither a seatbelt law nor a helmet law. It's a bit like Key West's "official motto" that we are all members of one human family. Which, like living free or dying is great oratory, but you need some education and a sense of responsibility to back it up. And as far as New Hampshire goes living free or dying requires a sense of community involvement far beyond anything I see on the ground in a nation far too ready to give up freedom for imagined security. But speed limits are as stupidly slow as anywhere else in New England so in New Hampshire on the roads at least it's situation normal all fouled up.
New Hampshire is a small state packed with huge razor back mountains everywhere. The views are tremendous as are the potholes in the roads. Driving distracted is not a recipe for success. And let me add this: I now deeply appreciate, more than before, the ability of drivers on the Overseas Highway to pull over and enjoy Keys views almost anywhere along the drive. Vista points of any kind are an unknown delight in New England. Finding a safe place to pull over and get out of the car is a total crap shoot. Living free or dying taken to an extreme I think. I was completely unable to capture the immense, desolate physical beauty of New Hampshire. It is stunning.
Amongst them all Mt Washington stands out as the windiest place on earth, a bald pimple 6300 feet tall girdled by a nasty awkward steep road. Well, there's a challenge I never expected to face as I never expected to fulfill my desire to see these places. Mount Washington was well worth a visit even though the summit was closed - temperatures down to freezing and winds to 90 mph, this is a gnarly part of the world I'm telling you!
It's a private road thus not cheap but they cut the toll from $36 to $28 as the road was closed halfway up. They make out like its a tough place yo drive and I thing they scare people into taking the train or the bus tour.
It's difficult to describe just how nasty this road actually is. It's narrow, there are no guard rails or barriers, and you are a long way up a very very steep road. Half way was plenty. I took this picture hurriedly in a wide passing space.
Cheyenne got out in 55 degrees and plenty of wind.
The views were amazing four miles up. I adequately represented here. My teeth were chattering-no joke!
The rest of New Hampshire should have been a driving letdown after the road up the mountain. But the state is exceptionally pretty even as the roads were chewed up and awful, and there seemed to be a lot of poverty and consequently not so much freedom I think, but under the weak northern sun it was a great drive. No rain!
I had a cunning plan. Luckily my wife agreed to it and we set out to find the very place where the first results in the presidential election results are announced every four years. In 2010 twelve voters were counted in the census as eligible to cast ballots. Dixville Notch, New Hampshire is supposed to be a small community of voters but guess what? I found out it doesn't exist! The resort called The Balsam exists, a big white building by the lake sat the head of the valley like an alpine resort in the distance:
We drove back and forth, wasting time, checking the side roads but each one was closed. The resort supposedly open in summer for golf and in winter for skiing was completely closed. The access roads were all closed. I think this is the east coast's version of Area 51, some secret government facility where they pretend to cast votes predicting the outcome of the presidential election. But Dixville Notch doesn't exist. Check it out:
So if the resort is closed and is just a facade where do they cast votes? Who casts them? Dixville Notch is a conspiracy to prove the presidential election is rigged. Watch the next time the "vote" comes round in November 2016. Dixville Notch doesn't exist no matter what they say on television. I have been there.
Moving on. I made it finally to my spiritual home, the socialist republic of Vermont. Home to US Senator Bernie Saunders, Socialist-Independent. Vermont is trying to start its own single payer health plan. Too bad it's freezing cold in winter because I belong here! I expect they are probably too uptight to appreciate pink Crocs. Every paradise has its serpent but I was looking forward to seeing the Green Mountain state, said to be as pretty as New Hampshire.
It took three hours to cross the state to the shores of Lake Champlain. This place is like Switzerland. It's clean, tidy and has a helmet law. We saw a couple with their dog sitting in the gloaming on the porch of their own Tumbleweed Tiny House . They had a garden, a patch of earth all their own and they looked like stereotypes of hippy Vermonters. I wanted to be them, but I am not. I am modern man in a car with a job working for The Man. And enjoying it greatly, but we can all dream. Can't we? Growing turnips in Vermont in my next life. Erk.
We drove past the capital, Montpelier, a tiny town three blocks long and two blocks wide it seemed, set along a river. It was a toy town capital for a Legoland state. They put their mini Capitol at one end of the town as though slightly ashamed of the crassness of politics, necessary in a state capital but lacking in tastefulness and thus banished to the edge of civilized living. The sun was setting, it was time to find the hotel.
Cheyenne was snoring on the back seat. It had been a good day on the road.