Leaving Acadia National Park, we began our long slow westward trek toward our winter destination of Tucson. First stop – New Hampshire White Mountains.
The high point (literally) of the White Mountains is Mount Washington. There are three ways to ascend to the top — via train, road, or on foot (hiking). We lucked into a clear day and opted for the motor trail, a steep winding and narrow road to the peak. Signs posted at the fee station state “If you are afraid of heights, you may not enjoy this driving experience”! The lower section isn’t so bad, but the upper sections can be very narrow (especially for two-way traffic) and there are NO guardrails! I have to admit, there were sections that I hid my eyes, so it was a good thing that I wasn’t the driver!
The peak offers 360 degrees of spectacular views. Known for some of the most extreme weather on earth, we experienced it on a (relatively) warm and only slightly breezy day.
Also while in the area, we rented a Razor and went 4-wheeling (my first time). Although tooling around in the vehicle had its moments, and it was nice weather to be outdoors, it’s not a sport I could become passionate about. And at the end of the dusty day, we were absolutely filthy! I think we ended up throwing Jeff’s white technical shirt away after two washings couldn’t remove the dirt stains.
The White mountains offers abundant hiking, but I found hiking in the northeast to be uber steep, rocky, and generally Not Fun. Jeff took on an epic Franconia Ridge hike and declared it to be one of the most fabulous view hikes ever, but it was too strenuous for me to attempt at my current fitness level. Even he hobbled for three days afterward! Maybe one day, when I’m in better shape.
Moving on from the Whites, we headed into verdant Vermont farm country. A highlight there was a visit to a maple syrup farm. It was out of season to see the harvesting of course, but we could walk up to their sugar maple grove to view the network of tubing that is used (in conjunction with low vacuum) to extract the maximum maple sap with the minimum effort. Vermont requires maple syrup to be “graded” based upon color and taste: Golden, Amber, Dark and Very Dark. The sugar content is identical, but the color varies depending on the weather and time of year the sap is collected. We were able to sample and I found the taste was surprisingly different. The lightest (golden) only delicately tastes of maple, while the very dark tastes dense, almost vegetable-like. I like Amber and Dark the best for cooking and pancakes!
We rode the motorcycle around and over the Green Mountains and explored the local ski resort of Killington. Killington offered summertime downhill mountain biking which he took advantage of – twice!
After our short Vermont stay, we continued west and south into New York.