Our Grand Adventure, as excited as we were, started off on a sad note rather than a happy one. The night before we were planning to leave, we received news that my aunt was not doing well. Hazel was my mother’s last surviving sibling, and I shared a special bond with her as both niece and goddaughter. Her health had been slowly declining in the last year or so, and we had actually changed our plans the week before to take a southward detour and go visit her in Maine before we headed west.
As the evening wore on, the prognosis got worse and worse, until finally I got word that she had slipped into a coma and was not expected to live through the night. Mike offered to leave Lonestar for the time being, throw a bag in the truck and start off on the 10 hour drive immediately, but something told me that we wouldn’t make it in time.
Turns out I was right. Early the next morning, we got the dreaded call that she was gone. Even if we had left the minute Mike offered, she had never regained consciousness, and we still would not have made it there in time. She had requested no funeral services, but we decided to make the trip anyway to help my cousin, her only child, with the chores associated with a death in the family.
We had packed late into the previous evening, so we finished up the few remaining chores, said our goodbyes to family, and pulled out around lunchtime, still heading for Maine. However, the rush of excitement was gone. All the way down I kept thinking how different it was from what I was expecting. No energy, no anticipation, just sadness and loss. My aunt and I had always been close, but in the years since my own mother had passed, she had become almost a surrogate mom to me. It’s so hard letting go.
So we spent the week cleaning out her belongings, bagging clothes for donation and running errands. It feels so weird going through someone else’s personal things, but we did the best we could to help out. Finally, we had gone about as far as we could, and at last felt like it was time we should leave.
A Second Chance To Make a First Impression
So, as of Thursday morning, we have at last ‘officially’ started our Grand Adventure. Leaving my aunt’s house in Maine, we headed west into New Hampshire. We didn’t pick a specific destination, just a westerly direction, with the intention of crossing back into Canada in a couple of days.
The drive into New Hampshire was gorgeous. The road twisted and wound along lakes, through forests and small charming towns. It’s the kind of road that makes you want to park the truck and get the bike out so you can experience every sight, sound and smell. We tend to skip the highways and freeways because of roads like this.
To Go Where the Wind Blows
Outside of Conway, we stopped at a little gift shop. I’ve started collecting magnets for our fridge of each state and province that we visit, and I needed one for New Hampshire. Aside from that, the store featured some of the most beautiful copper weathervanes and cupolas I’ve seen.
The gentleman behind the counter (I’m so sorry, I didn’t catch your name) had spotted Lonestar when we pulled up, and was asking about it, and where we were from. We told him our story, and where the GPS was leading us. It was so funny, he lowered his voice, gave us a sly look and said quietly “If I were you, I’d ignore that machine.” He then proceeded to haul out a map and give us directions ‘that we’d be much happier with.’
It turns out, we were so lucky to have run into him. His excellent map led us across the Kancamangus Highway and some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen.
The higher we went across the White Mountain National Park, the brighter the fall colors popped, and the more enchanted we became. There were moments where I literally lost my breath.
The photos truly don’t do it justice. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed.
Still following his map, we continued on, crossing into Vermont (a first for both of us) and finally coming to rest in Williston at the local Wal-Mart for the night. We had the best day, and all because a stranger was kind enough to offer a suggestion.
So with our second ‘first day’ under our belts, our mood has improved greatly and it’s starting to feel more like we thought it would. We’re heading back toward Canada, since we don’t want to use up too much more of our allowed 180 days south until the cold weather makes it necessary. And a great big shout out to our new friend in Conway who gives great directions and really knows how to show off his home state. Give his website a visit at coppertopsofnh.com and tell him we sent you.