Category: Road trip 2018

Road trip 2018

Day 27 – New Hampshire

We were on the road early to drive from Old Orchard Beach to northern New Hampshire, to the base of Mt. Washington, another 96 miles. I grew up in the mountains of this part of the state from the ages of 8 to 16 and being back in the mountains reminded me how beautiful this part of the country is. The mountains in Vermont are beautiful and I lived among them for over 20 years, but they truly don’t have anything on the mountains of northern New Hampshire. There’s something so rugged and intense about them.

The GPS directions first sent us to the wrong side of the mountain, where the auto road goes up. We had to put in new directions and drive almost an hour to get to the other side of the mountain where the train station was. In spite of it being an inconvenience, we took the opportunity to enjoy the scenery and now we can say we saw both sides. Then the GPS sent us over Jefferson Notch, which is a dirt road that doesn’t seem like it’s going to lead anywhere but what you’ve seen on a DateLine special. It’s almost 9 miles with no cell service of first and second gear if you’re driving a stick shift, and there’s really not enough room for two cars to pass each other. It takes you to an elevation of 3009 feet above sea level, to a sign that states that it’s the highest elevation reached by a public highway in New Hampshire. I’m not sure about anyone else, but this certainly didn’t seem like a public highway. Eventually, it got us to the base station road that took us to the cog railway. 

Going up Mount Washington on the Cog Railway was the biggest financial splurge of our trip. I had put money aside specifically for this as it was something I really wanted to experience with Zach and it turned out to be even more of an amazing experience than I had originally envisioned. Zach had been up the mountain before by train, but he was only 6 months old at the time, so obviously he doesn’t remember it. He wasn’t too sure about it at first because it was just one car and one engine on each train, but once we got on, the awe started!

The Cog Railway at Mt. Washington (the highest peak in the northeast) was the first of its kind and the first ride up the 6,288 foot mountain happened 149 years ago, on July 3, 1869. It’s a really incredible invention. A cog wheel underneath the center of the train climbs the mountain to the top. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit, and the views on the way up are incredible, especially if you luck out like we did and have a day where the mountain isn’t covered in clouds. We were able to see all around us and it was breathtaking!

At the summit is an observation deck, a museum, restrooms, and cafeteria. The Tip Top House also sits at the summit and was on the top of the mountain long before the railway was created. This former hotel was built in 1853 and is the oldest surviving building in the summit area. Looking at the base and walls of the outside of this structure, knowing that Mount Washington has some of the world’s worth weather patterns and winds (the highest recorded wind speed on top of the mountain was 231 miles per hour back in in 1934), I can see why it was built with stones completely piled around the base and walls. There’s no way this hotel was going to be blown off the mountain. With Zach’s fascination of all things old and vintage, he was most intrigued by the fact that everything was cooked on a wood stove, the house was heated by stove, and everything in it looked OLD. At the time this house was built, the railroad didn’t exist so everything that came up the mountain to construct it was brought by hand and foot. Even the people that came to spend their summers here. 

Out of all of our moments on our trip, I think that the one I caught at the top of the mountain on video is by far my favorite. Zach was really disappointed when we got to the top of the mountain that he could see clouds off in the distance but they weren’t covering the summit. I told him that it was amazing that they weren’t because usually, the summit is covered. We had a rare opportunity to be able to see amazingly far into the distance on all sides of the summit. The view was incredible. But he still wanted cloud cover. Eventually, he got his wish. The cloud cover moved in and fully engulfed the summit and he was ecstatic! He was running all over the top, exclaiming, “I’m in a cloud!” to anyone that would listen to him. The joy and awe on his face melted my heart. It made both our day! I got to see the view and he got his cloud cover!

Road trip 2018

Day 26 – Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Our plans got altered slightly at this at the Eastport and Old Orchard Beach portion of our trip. Originally, when I was working out the itinerary for this trip back in March, the plan was to take the ferry from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Bar Harbor, Maine. I didn’t realize until the beginning of June that the ferry stopped running from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, and now goes from Yarmouth to Portland, Maine. That is a much longer trip and would have cost us about $300. I decided that we would instead drive back up through Nova Scotia and then down through New Brunswick and Maine….the same way we came up. But this also meant figuring out where to stay and how to chop up the driving since it’s quite a few hours and miles and I’m the only driver. We were going to spend a couple days in Bar Harbor, but then didn’t want to be somewhere that was crawling with tourists and we had seen everything we wanted to see in Nova Scotia, so we left a day early, did two days of relaxation in Eastport, and then drove to Old Orchard Beach to stay with some dear friends and their son. 

We put in another 270 miles driving to Old Orchard Beach and after arriving at our friends’ house, Sam and Juni took us for a drive down to the beach while Dallen stayed behind to make the most amazing lo mein dinner that Zach had two helpings of. We watched as Juni swam like the fish he is and let the waves lap at our feet. It was very relaxing and peaceful and nothing beats having friends to share some time with. 

After dinner we all took a walk to the corner market, where Zach had plans to get a bag of his favorite Doritios. When we walked in the door, I was greeted with one of the most glorious sights I’ve ever seen in Maine, The Land of Whoopie Pies. It was like the angels were singing as I gazed upon the display of whoopie pies! These are something I can’t find in the south. In fact, hardly anyone in the south even knows what you’re talking about when you say whoopie pie. And to make it even better, the whoopie pies at the store were from Steve’s Snack Bakery. I used to be able to buy these at the little store in Vermont down the road from where I lived and they are the best of the best! I miss these something fierce now that I live in Georgia. I bought 6 of them and some made it home to Georgia, where I put them in the freezer, but in the week that I’ve been back, they are now gone and in my belly!

The only downside to staying with friends is having to say goodbye. Dallen and Sam are some of the coolest people I know….and their son, Juniper, is just as amazing as they are. They were so awesome with Zach and didn’t mind all his questions and connected so well with him. So thankful for all the amazing people we were able to share our adventure with along the way.

Road trip 2018

Day 24 & 25 – Eastport, Maine

We woke up fairly early to pack up and start the next portion of our trip, which brought us back into the US. Another 252 miles from Amherst Shore, Nova Scotia to Eastport, Maine, which is a little island off the coast of Maine and right across the border from New Brunswick. It is the most eastern town in the US.

Before we left the campground, though, Zach wandered around exploring while I packed up the tent and our belongings. He came back to the car with a handful of cicada shells from cicadas that had molted. I’m not sure what he plans to do with them, but he was quite proud of his find and put them into a container and we took them all the way home with us. When we reached the US customs booth on the border of New Brunswick and Maine, Zach was very concerned that he was following the rules and asked the customs officer if it was okay to bring cicada shells into the country from Canada. He was assured that as long as there were no live insects in the car, the shells were just fine. 

We arrived in Eastport in the early afternoon and Zach picked out his bedroom first. A dear friend offered us the use of her little house on the island for as long as we needed it. Zach and I were both feeling the effects of living out of our car and tent for the past three weeks and really needed a place of rest, and this was the perfect spot for us. Real beds, real showers, a real kitchen and stove to cook on and a refrigerator and freezer so we could empty out the cooler for a little while.

Zach scoped out the two bedrooms upstairs and when I walked up to see what he was doing, he was already curled under the blankets and made himself at home. He also made the couch his home for the weekend, as well. He loves to relax and having a couch and a strong wifi connection to watch his train and lightning videos was all he needed to feel at home. That, and the rainbow flag on the porch. When we pulled up, he saw it and said, “Look, it’s a rainbow flag! Just like home!” 

It was nice to take it easy, sleep in a little, and not have to feel like we needed to rush around to see area attractions, but rather just relax and do nothing if that’s truly what we wanted to do. One of the neighbors stopped by a couple times with fresh lettuce from his garden and then with raspberries from his bushes, still warm from the sun. He also brought over a field guide to insects when he found out that insects are one of Zach’s most favorite things in the world. 

We didn’t do anything earth shattering during our time in Eastport. I knew there were things we could do in the area, but honestly, we both just needed to have some down time so that’s exactly what we did. We slept in later, we lounged around the house, we played on our laptops, we ate good food, we took it easy. I did take out some of the art supplies that I was told were in the drawer next to the couch and stitched for a few hours to create something special for my friend as a thank you for the amazing opportunity for rest and relaxation. It felt so good to do some hand stitching and get creative with felt, beads, floss, wire and a corkscrew. We took a drive to the dollar store in town and Zach got himself some containers for bugs and spent quite some time with a push pin, putting air holes in them, so we both got our creative time in.

We looked up the time for low tide, as my friend had told me about a special little cove that had a ton of sea glass and other treasures after the tide washed out. We went down to the cove in the evening and spent about an hour collecting treasures. When I told Zach what we would be doing, I think he thought I meant that we’d be finding pirate’s treasure, like gold and silver. He was a little disappointed that we didn’t find anything that would end up making us rich, but it was still a beautiful evening and relaxing. I brought home a full bag of little things I found on the beach and have grand plans to create something amazing with them. 

We left Eastport with renewed energy and clean laundry and a couple nights of good sleep on comfy beds and then continued on. It was just what we needed for the final push of our trip home. 

Road trip 2018

Day 23 – Nova Scotia (Part 6) Halifax again…our last full day in Nova Scotia

Today was our last full day in Nova Scotia. I had planned to do one more day, but realized we needed some down time from going non stop for 3 weeks so we cut Nova Scotia back by a day and made plans to retreat to Maine for a few days. After packing up our campsite, we headed back into Halifax for the day to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. First of all, we LOVED the museum. So much to see and do. However, parking is horrendous in Halifax. If you visit here, be prepared to park far away and be prepared to walk hills as the museum is on the waterfront, and this part of the city is on a steep hill. Also be prepared to pay at least almost $20 for a parking garage if you plan to make a day of it. Parking starts at around $2 per half hour. Some garages cap the cost, but others don’t. That said, the museum is definitely worth seeing.

My original plan was to go to the Discovery Center, which is a hands on science museum and it looked amazing from their website, but a friend told us about this museum and one of the main reasons we came here was to see the Titanic exhibit. The museum is self guided, but you can also do a half hour guided tour free of charge if you happen to get in at the right time. I’m not sure what those times are, but we lucked out by paying the admission right as a guided tour was starting. The young woman who led the tour was amazing! She had a great way of storytelling and really made you feel like you could see both the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion happening. Most tours that I’ve been on have been incredible in that they share history and facts, but having a storyteller lead you from one exhibit to the next and really draw you in is an added bonus.

Zach was intrigued by the models of the ships placed throughout the museum. Some of the cruise ship models were HUGE! He was especially fascinated by the cross section of one of the models so that he could see what was inside of it.

Because Halifax was the closest major port to the sinking of the Titanic, recovered bodies and some artifacts were brought to the port. Some of these artifacts were on display at the museum. These included parts of items recovered from the water, a chest, shoes from the small child’s body that was recovered, and items that sailors made out of the wood that was taken from the water (called “Wreckwood”). Sailors would collect wooden pieces off of shipwrecks and then create practical or decorative items from them. The pieces in the museum consisted of picture frames, rolling pins, cutting boards and more. 

Tucked into a corner, off to the side of the iconic picture of the balustrade of the Titanic, was the last known picture of Captain Smith. Father Francis Browne took the picture as the ship unloaded freight and passengers at a stop in Queenstown and then disembarked himself. The ship left shortly after and we all know the fate of the Titanic. Francis Browne’s photo has become legendary, though most people don’t know about it. 

While at the museum, Zach got to see a lighthouse lamp and bulb (they are MASSIVE), we saw full size ships, and looked at artifacts in the sail room, including ships in a bottle and a sailor’s Valentine, which is made entirely out of shells. 

There were also a couple of 360 degree movies in a dome that were part of the admission price of the museum. We watched the movie about the whales and Zach had never been in a dome theater before. I was surprised that he was willing to put head phones on as he usually doesn’t like anything on his ears, but he did really well and enjoyed the story. When the movie first came on and the screen was lit up all around the dome, he said, “WHHHHHOOOOOAAAA!” 

We also spent some time looking over the dock and into the water (something he enjoys doing at every dock because he likes to imagine how deep it is and what’s lurking under the water), and then headed off to go back over the bridge and make our way to Amherst Shore, which was another 125 miles. Along the way, we found a nice park to have a picnic lunch in and I’ve decided that when I get home, I’m going to be doing more of these because I’ve come to really enjoy them. 

Road trip 2018

Day 22 – Nova Scotia (Part 5) Halifax

We drove 158 miles this day as we traveled from Linwood Harbor to Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. This was the most metropolitan area we had been in since we left the Philadelphia area earlier in the month.

When I started researching Halifax and the interesting things that we could see there, one of the things that kept popping up was the Titanic grave site at Fairview Lawn Cemetery. I knew that this would be something that would interest both Zach and I as I have always had a deep fascination with anything about the Titanic and one of Zach’s favorite movies is the 1997 version of Titanic. He watched it over and over so many time on VHS that he wore out the tape and now he has it on DVD. He knew the second half of the movie by heart. He’s also done a lot of research on his own about the ship and the sinking.

 

The cemetery was very easy to find and the grave site was well marked. It was also probably the busiest part of the cemetery. The White Star Line had offices in Halifax and it was also the closest major port to where the ship sank, so it was only reasonable that the recovered bodies were brought to Halifax. It was very sobering to see so many gravestones all marked with the same date of death. There are roughly about 150 headstones in the Titanic section of the graveyard. Some of them don’t have names because there wasn’t really anything on the deceased that could identify them. Over the recent years, technology and DNA testing have confirmed some of the bodies and their names have been added to the front of the headstones.

 

The number on each of the stones is the order in which bodies were recovered from the ocean. Some of the more wealthy families were able to pay to have their loved ones sent back to Europe or in the US where they were bound to be buried there, many bodies were given burial at sea because the recovery mission was so large and there were so many bodies, but about 150 of the 300+ bodies that were brought to Halifax were buried here in this cemetery.

The White Star Line decided on the simple black granite headstones with the name and date of death as the default for all of the bodies buried here, though there are some graves with more elaborate monuments that were paid for by family. One monument was paid for by J. Bruce Ismay, who you might recall was a chairman and managing director of the White Star Line and took a place on one of the lifeboats to safety. This stone in honor of Ernest Edward Samuel Freeman was assumed to be placed here by Ismay as result of his guilt. Freeman went down with the ship but remained faithful to his post until the end.

One of the stones was erected by a group of men on the recovery boats to commemorate the unnamed child that they found as boy #4 in their mission, and also the first child they recovered from the water. This child was later believed to be the son of Alma Paulson, who perished along with her 4 children on their journey to the US to reunite with her husband. Alma’s body was recovered, but her four children were not. It was later discovered through DNA testing that the child was actually Sidney Leslie Goodwin and a stone was added to the monument along with a photo.

The graves were designed to fit into the slope of the graveyard and I thought they gave an eerie resemblance to the smokestacks on top of the Titanic with the way they were grouped by threes.

 

We headed to our campsite and set up the tent and just as I was getting ready to start cooking dinner for the night, a light drizzle started up, followed by some strong winds, so Zach and I made the decision to find a local pizza joint and eat there. It was nice to have someone else cook for us and pizza, burgers, and onion rings are always a good choice.