So, the Nick Tahoe’s experience didn’t quite live up to our high hopes. I think the recipe changes after midnight and it can only be noticed in a completely sober state (an extra scoop of grease to keep the volume up and the cost down)! It didn’t matter. This was my first night home on a week long stretch with my brothers. The company couldn’t have been any better!
While all three of us brothers moved away to attend Universities up and down the East Coast, I am the only one that hasn’t found a way back home. This has been difficult for me over the past 9 months. I have been fortunate to be able to meet Bret on the road several times and also to make it home when adventures were more local, but I would rather spend every minute there.
This trip was planned at the very last minute as Bret and I talked back and forth about where and when to meet. Would I fly to the West and meet for a Yellowstone adventure? Well, after trying to make a grand adventure work out, we decided that a little lower key and closer to home sounded pretty good! I was flying in and out of Rochester and we would travel in the Northeast.
After slowly waking up, still tasting the Garbage Plate, we got packed up and hit the road. As Bret wasn’t feeling very well, we made a couple attempts to get going, but eventually started making good time heading east. The first day, we made it to Old Forge, NY in the Adirondack Mountains. We decided to spend the night in the Volvo in a campground. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Volvo is great for two, but maybe not for three to sleep! It got really warm, so we had to open the windows and sunroof. Then the combat trained mosquitoes launched an all out assault. We ended up throwing blankets over the windows to keep the bugs out and get a little air flow. More effective on the bug screening than the air flow!
After a few hours of broken sleep, we were on the road again heading toward Vermont. Soon after driving out of Old Forge, we noticed a sign on the side of a barn advertising Sea-Plane Rides. How could we not turn around and inquire? We decided to go up for a 15 minute ride and then decide whether we would extend to 30 minutes.
What an amazing feeling taking off from a calm mountain lake with beautiful early summer views all around us! Then the turbulence started. I can handle the bumps on big commercial jets, but the rising pockets of warm air were throwing us back and forth in this small Cesna fitted with pontoons. It didn’t take long for Bret and I to look at each other and decide that 15 minutes would be more than enough! Even while clinging to the seats with white knuckles, what an amazing experience!
After landing safely back on the water, we were back on the road. We continued northeast where we were going to catch the ferry across Lake Champlain into Burlington, Vermont. This ended up being a bigger challenge than we had expected. The first two ferry docks were under water due to recent heavy rains. Fortunately, the last and most northerly was open and running. We made it safely into Burlington where we decided that a Marriott would probably help us get a better night of sleep! Before calling it a night, how could we come through the home of Ben & Jerry’s and not grab a pint or two?
On the third day, our destination was Mount Washington in New Hampshire. After crossing out of Vermont into New Hampshire, it was time to find some lunch. At this point most of our driving was in public State Park lands, so restaurants had been hard to come by. Then, in a small distance between parks, we passed through the small town of Conway. We noticed a Boar’s Head sign in front of a small café so we decided to stop.
Once we entered the front door, we saw that there were several people standing in an attached dining room. When we inquired about what was going on, the woman behind the counter informed us that Newt Gingrich was giving a campaign speech. While none of us are Gingrich supporters, we couldn’t resist the chance to see him so close and personal. After several pictures, an autograph and a hand shake, I might just have to vote for him! Okay, that might be pushing it, but still an amazing coincidence that we happened to stop at such a random spot and have this experience.
By early afternoon we were at the base of Mount Washington, the highest point in the Northeastern United States. Mount Washington is most renowned for two things; being the earliest and most noteworthy drivable mountain peak and having the highest recorded wind speeds on the surface of the earth. As we pulled through the entrance gate, the attendant informed us that visibility was poor, but we didn’t come all this way to not make it to the top!
At about mile 1, we pulled around a curve in the road to find a black bear in the road. It quickly entered into the edge of the woods as we approached. We were excited to get a good photo, so Bret was going to jump out of the car and chase the bear to get closer. Being the protective type, Shannon replied “No Bret, Aaron will do it!” Thanks Shannon! Now I know where we stand!
After a hairy ride up the mountain with narrow cliff-hanging roads, switch backs and steep inclines, we made it to the top. Sure enough, you couldn’t see more than about 8 feet in front of you. It was chilly, very windy and extremely foggy! After a quick walk around, we headed back down about a hundred feet to get below the thick clouds. We stayed there a while and enjoyed the amazing view!
The following morning, we were on the road and making great time on the highways heading back to Bret and Shannon’s house. During the drive, we started making plans with Mom, Dad and Ryan to have a family adventure in the Rochester area the following day.
In the morning, we all met in the bay area where we took a shuttle ride to a kayak launch. We each jumped in a kayak and paddled down the river for a few hours. It was a great experience on a mild early summer afternoon. What a great way to spend my last day in Rochester with the family!
More on the kayaking adventure in our next blog…