We drove to Waltham in one day… about 11 hours on the road, going to church after driving past our old house, and arriving shortly before the picnic began. Enjoyed getting to talk and visit with folks. Becky found to her distress that her memories of five years ago were somewhat inaccurate. In addition to the expected, “Everything looks so small,” Becky found the dense, urban nature of the area a very unpleasant shock.
Spent the day visiting favorite places and old friends, primarily in Belmont, Waltham, and Cambridge. We walked several of our favorite old trails, including Waltham Woods, next to the Paine Estate where Doug and I had our wedding reception. We also drove by our old house, and spent a little time talking to the folks who bought it – the kids were disappointed not to be invited in to see it – and a lot of time talking with our former next-door neighbors.
Of course, we went to church and it was amazing how little some things change. The building has been markedly improved, though. They’ve been doing renovations, and have done a TERRIFIC job. Alex has been leading the occasional ‘faith field trip’ this summer, and so a large group drove to Newburyport after lunch in the fellowship hall. We went to a church started by George Whitefield, and learned about his part in the Awakening of the 1740s. We were allowed to go up into the open steeple of the church and see the bell, which was actually made by Paul Revere. VERY COOL.
Thus begins the camping… we drove to Truro, Mass., out near the end of Cape Cod and camped for three nights. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the greatest, so we didn’t end up spending a whole lot of time on the beach. We got there early enough in the afternoon that Doug and the kids went to the beach closest to our campground for a while that afternoon. I think the weather was okay. The next day was pretty cloudy, and a little cool, so we spent much of the time going on ranger hikes. One I enjoyed a lot was across a tidal flat with nets and buckets at low tide. I found a live, closed razor clam, which even the ranger thought was pretty cool. Rained a little that night.
Another hike looking at plants in the highland dune areas before all three of us went to another Truro beach for a while. The water was too cold for any of us, but some folks went in. The waves were pretty high, so I snickered at some impressive wipeouts. We also visited some interesting historical sites. Rained a little that night.
Another ranger hike – this time examining tracks and scat in a wooded area near Provincetown. It was very interesting to see the different things they measure – not just the size of the track, but also the length and width of the distance between tracks. Since we were at Provincetown, we spent much of the afternoon at the beach there. Poured that night, with lightning and thunder. Only one strike close enough to make us all jump.
Clear and sunny and beautiful the next morning, so we went to the beach for a while giving the tent, canopy, etc. some time to dry off. I thought it was another one of our typical Cape Cod (or most others, too) camping trips, where the weather’s fairly rotten until the day we leave. However, on the way out, the weather turned seriously nasty, and though it wasn’t fun to drive through, we were glad not to be in tent. As we drove through Boston on our way to our long-time favorite campground in New Hampshire, we heard on the radio that the storm was widespread and had hit New Hampshire pretty badly. Reports were coming in about a possible tornado in Epsom. I was driving, so Doug pulled out the atlas… “Oh, great,” he said. “That’s only about 20 miles from our campground.” We expected to see some wind damage as we drove in, but there didn’t seem to be any. There were puddles everywhere and it was still raining, so we sat in the car for an hour hoping it would stop. Eventually, it slowed down a lot, so we went ahead and set up the tent. Eventually, the rain stopped completely, so even though everything was wet, it was our first night with no rain overnight. Doug managed to get a roaring fire going, even though all the kindling was wet. (Cape Cod doesn’t allow campfires, which definitely takes some of the fun out of camping.)
A fun day and warm and sunny! One of the things we loved about this campground was the blueberries all around the pond, so we took our old favorite walk, and found lots of ripe blueberries along the way. We hung out at the swimming area of the pond for the afternoon, and had another campfire that night. Another rainless night!
I, at least, was looking forward to a hotel after five nights in the tent. We drove to Bar Harbor, Maine. Bar Harbor is on Mount Desert Island, most of which is taken up by Acadia National Park. We did laundry and went out for pizza that night.
The weather was beautiful again. We took a morning puffin/whale watch trip, which didn’t turn out to be as fun as hoped. We went to an island with puffins, but they’re fairly small birds, so although some flew near us, we couldn’t see them well without binoculars. We only saw one small whale, but I would have just enjoyed the boat ride except that it was cold, and Becky got motion sickness. So, after a while, I just sat with her and made up a long, fairly plotless story about our cats to keep her mind of it. It worked pretty well, fortunately. In the afternoon, we took a long drive exploring Acadia National Park, which I think all of us enjoyed. Acadia was not actually a ‘nostalgia’ part of the trip, as we’d not spent time there together, but Doug had visited and wanted to return.
Back to camping… We drove past Unity College, which Becky found on the internet looking for colleges that are small, rural, and strong in Biology. Unfortunately, the biological sciences being what they are these days, it’s also very big on environmentalism and presumably, evolution. But it wasn’t far out of our way, and since she starts high school this year, anything to strengthen her motivation is a benefit. We drove on back roads all the way through rural Maine and into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It took a while, but was very scenic and interesting. We stayed at a campground in Crawford’s Notch. It was on the same river as another campground we had stayed at before, but when we got there we decided it wasn’t the same place. No rain.
Nostalgia day… We took the kids on the same hike where 18 years, 1 month and 13 days earlier Doug had proposed to me. It’s a trail that goes along a very rocky, fairly steep streambed up to a very pretty waterfall. Partway up, Doug and I had had lunch on a huge boulder in the streambed, and he had popped the question. We actually found the same rock, and Becky took our picture sitting on it. The stream was much higher though. It took some fancy rock jumping to get across the water to the boulder. Afterward, we took off our shoes and socks and did some wading, just like 18 years ago. The water was just as cold though. The rest of the day, we drove the Kancamagus highway and stopped at all the scenic overlooks. The weather was perfect. No rain.
Short, but somewhat steep hike in the morning… up to Ripley Falls. It was only about half a mile each way. We should have realized it was steep when the information said it takes 20 minutes! But it was a nice hike, and Becky had fun climbing all over the rocks at the bottom of the falls, and partway up, also. We had lunch at a nice stream by the road, then tackled our major hike for the day. We took the Davis Path trail up to the top of Mt. Crawford. It was about 2.5 miles each way, with a vertical climb of more than 2000 feet. We didn’t figure out the vertical climb until afterward, but we would probably have done it anyway. It was similar to a hike we did at Ouray, Colorado two years ago. The difference is that this one had a long level beginning, so once it started up, it was relentless. I was breathing so hard in places that Becky kept trying to urge me to go back. Tim wanted to stay behind me – to make sure I made it, I guess – but the pressure of him behind me was making me go too fast, so I finally ordered him to pass me. Doug was in better shape than I, but had to take enough rests that I didn’t end up too far behind them. He tells me he stopped for his own rest, not to wait for me.
It was beautiful on top, but then of course, comes the trip downward. After a while, I could tell they were waiting for me and asked them not to. I won’t say much about the trip downward… the word misery should suffice. Doug waited about 30 minutes after they got down and was just thinking about coming to look for me when I came limping across the bridge. He’d very thoughtfully moved the car near the foot of the bridge, so I didn’t have to walk across the parking lot. He’d had a lot of pain going down, too, so he knew what kind of shape I’d be in.
I don’t remember much of that evening. Fortunately, it was the night we were eating out instead of cooking at the campsite, since neither of us were up to much cooking. After dinner, we made a campfire and, as we’d been doing most evenings, read outloud around the campfire and in the tent. We’ve been reading David’s story in the Bible, and a book called The Giver, and example of what is called ‘dystopian’ literature, like Orwell’s 1984. At about 3:30 that morning, the rain came, and pretty much stayed for the rest of our time in the White Mountains.
Sore, sore, sore. I was limping around like a 90 year-old lady! My plan had been to stay at the camp by myself while Doug and the kids went on a hike, but the rain prevented that, so we had an unexpectedly nice few hours at a Laundromat. It was reasonably clean, dry, warm, and had comfortable chairs, outlets to plug in various electronics to charge, and even WiFi! We had an uplanned meal out – lunch at a really nice and reasonably priced place in Jackson, then found a waterfall we could park near, and Doug and the kids got out of the car – it was one of the ‘offs’ of the off and on rain all day – and walked around it for a bit. I still wasn’t doing much walking. After that we drove around for a bit, then went back to the campsite early, since I wanted to get started with some of the packing up. While I did that, Doug and kids went to the river beside our campground. With the almost constant, sometimes heavy, rainfall, the river was up considerably from our first day, when we’d gone walking and wading there. Or so they said. I was still avoiding walking.
Up early, packed the rest, and out of our campsite by 8:45 a.m. It stopped raining sometime during the night, but everything was soaked. We put the tent, canopy and chairs and laundry in the car top carrier, and just hope it won’t get mildewy in two days of driving. Of course, it was a beautiful day as we drove away. We took back roads across the top of NH to Rt. 89 and drove south through Vermont to Route 90, which takes us most of the way home. We spent the night in a Best Western in Syracuse. After 4 nights camping, we were eager for beds and a bathroom. Doug and the kids watched Discovery Channel shows about sharks while I checked email and started typing this.
Last day. Up and out early, eager to get home and reassure our cats that they aren’t forgotten and abaondoned.