The first day of summer started for us about 1 AM as we loudly creaked our way up the stairs of the Sugar Hill Inn in Franconia, NH. We were so lucky to have stumbled upon this great inn! It was so old that the floors slanted downhill and the doorways were too short for Rex to have fit through. We were in the Blue Room, which as you may have astutely deduced was decorated in shades of blue. The bathrooms in this old inn have been remodeled and renewed, so we were treated to wonderful showers. We got to sleep in a little bit (until 7:15) since breakfast was not served until 8. We got there about 8:10 and found that Joey, Kathy, Jean, and Keith were already there and Jean and Keith did go for their morning run! We were impressed with their diligence and discipline, especially since we kept them up partying until way after their bedtimes! Not only that, we were jealous, because they saw a moose on their run. We still have not seen a real live one yet.
However, we did have a little excitement at breakfast. We had finished our meal of fresh strawberries and blueberries, a blueberry muffin, eggs scrambled with cheddar cheese, bacon, and home fries when Alan called out, “There’s a bear!” We all looked to see where he was pointing, and it was at the house across the street. And when I say at the house, I mean the bear was up on the front porch looking like it was ringing the doorbell! It was a good sized black bear, and when no one came to the door, it went around the house and came out on the other side and headed across the yard to the woods. Not an everyday occurrence for us! We said our goodbyes to everyone and pointed the car in the direction of Mt. Washington and the famous Cog Railway. As usual, we had intended to be there when the first train ran at 9 AM, but since we didn’t leave until about 9:30, that wasn’t happening. In addition, we foolishly left the directions to Jill, who told us we were there when we were still miles away…
As you know, though, we are resourceful and able to read maps (perhaps better than the people who program GPS systems) so we pulled in the parking lot about 10:30, in plenty of time to catch the 11:00 train. The ride takes about 3 hours in all, which includes a twenty minute stop at the top of Mt. Washington, home to some of the worst weather in the world. In fact, the highest wind speeds ever recorded were there – 231 mph!! Mt. Washington is in the Presidential Range, and it’s the second highest mountain east of the Mississippi (NC’s Mt. Mitchell is the highest). The Appalachian Trail runs along the ridge to the summit, so it was funny to see hikers taking pictures of us on the train as we took pictures of them. We each probably thought the other was crazy. What was really crazy was that there was a road race going on that morning, too, which was just ending as we approached the peak. Believe it or not, LOTS of people actually ran up the road from the bottom to the top of Mt. Washington! They are the really insane ones! There they were in their shorts and sleeveless tanks while everyone on the train was putting on their fleeces and jackets. And no telling how long they’d been running! The Cog Railway is really quite something. It goes up the opposite side of Mt. Washington as the road, and the train is powered by coal. On the way up, a locomotive pushes the train and it runs on a cog system. On the way down, gravity takes over and the brakeman earns his keep. You’ll have to check out all the details at http://www.cog-railway.com/. So it was after two when we left Mt. Washington, headed for Maine. Not being quick learners, we again let Jill do her thing. Big mistake. An hour later, we might have gone 15 or 20 miles, but at least we were on the right track.
We didn’t have much of an agenda for the rest of the day – we wanted to see the famous Lynchville, Maine, signpost and we wanted to get where we were going by about 7 PM. Could we make it??? When we were just stopping for lunch at 3 o’clock (and finding almost everything closed) and we were STILL in New Hampshire, it was beginning to look like we would not make it all the way across Maine to the coast. For heaven’s sake, we couldn’t even get out of New Hampshire and we were maybe 50 miles from the border at most to begin with! We were in Gorham, and thankfully found a small café that was still serving. SALT was in the basement/bottom floor of a building that used to be a bank, and it was really cool. The nicest young man served us, and Kim had a chicken sandwich with roasted tomatoes and lettuce on delicious looking bread, and I had a chorizo meatloaf with pepper jack cheese sandwich, also on very tasty homemade bread. For dessert we split a whoopie pie, which was two cakey chocolate cookies (big ones) with buttercream frosting in between them and homemade toffee bits on the edges of the frosting that were showing. YUM!! The toffee was so good we got a piece to go!
Soon after we got back on the road, we crossed the border into Maine. One thing we have noticed on this trip, as well as our other road trips, is that we can almost tell when we’ve passed from one state to another even without ‘Welcome to….” signs. It’s like they each have a very distinct personality and geography. The road we were on (Route 2) was extremely bumpy and clearly suffered from many harsh winters. We were a bit leery about getting off of this ‘good’ road onto a smaller one, but that’s how we had to go to see what we wanted to see. As it turned out, the smaller road was just fine and in much better shape. Before long, we passed a yard with lots of interesting yard art and a man out working in it. We were reminded of John (on Route 66 last year) and we thought about stopping to chat with him, but we didn’t. Until we noticed the signpost in the corner of his yard - STOP!!! We found a place to park not too far down the road and came back for some photo ops. We found out that the owner of the property was from London, and even though he’s been in country for 16 years, he still sounded like an East Ender. We asked him how that happened, and he laughed and said he didn’t want to sound like an American!
Back on the highway, we were on a mission to get to Round Pond. We bypassed ice cream and only stopped to take a picture of Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, and by some minor miracle, we pulled into Denise and David’s driveway (which is a mile long!) just a little after seven. Friends from Durham who have recently built a dream vacation home in Maine, Denise and David were so kind to offer us a place to stay for a couple of days. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful and well thought out their palatial home (aka, cottage) right on the rocky coast is! Besides being huge and wonderfully planned, it is decorated perfectly. Not one detail was overlooked that I could see, and our room was looking so comfortable and inviting it was all I could do to not crawl into bed and snuggle under. Except for one thing – dinner and music!
We took off for Schooner Landing where some friends of David and Denise’s were playing in a trio there that night. The Horseshoe Crabs were great and the food was mighty good, too! I had fresh fried oysters, just pulled out of the water out back of the restaurant that day, a baked potato, and cole slaw. Kim had broiled haddock, a salad, and garlic chive mashed potatoes. Worth driving all day for! We listened to the music for a while longer, and then made our way back to the house. I spent a while downloading and backing up photos, and then it was bedtime. Let me just say right now that Denise wins the prize for best bed, best shower, and best house right now. Kim and I give her a five or ten star rating! And she was worried about being one of our curiosities! We told her the only thing curious about her was that she invited us to stay with her, but we are so glad and grateful that she did.