Leaf Peeping in the White Mountains

Fall in New Hampshire is magical. While it’s a sign that winter is coming (BOO), the grace and beauty of this season makes me almost grateful for winter.  Fall days are wonderful. Indian Summer often springs days in the high 70’s, while the evenings are crisp.

When I first visited New England, Tom took me on a trip up to the Kancamagus Highway to see the fall foliage. Ever since then, this drive, spanning from Lincoln, NH to Conway, NH, has been my very favorite byway in New Hampshire. The road, NH Route 112, is a 56.39-mile-long east–west state highway in northern New Hampshire. This scenic byway skirts the Southern end of the White Mountain National Forest and reaches a peak elevation of around 2900 feet.

The day started out a bit grey, but it didn’t matter. The colors (while not quite at peak) were vibrant and lovely and the day was mild.

Kancamagus Highway Lincoln NH

The beginning of the Kancamagus Highway

There were a surprising number of visitors on the highway and in the parking areas for a weekday. However, we got in a groove and didn’t see much traffic.

Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Highway – Alive with color

Kancamagus Highway

Today’s open road

Even though the vista points were mobbed, we had to stop for the lovely views. Surprisingly, some of the area had already peaked, and many of the trees were bare. Others hadn’t peaked yet and were still green. Still, there was vibrant color everywhere, and the day really was a bit of food for the soul.

Kancamagus Highway

Panoramic Vista (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

After coming to the end of the highway, we continued meandering across New Hampshire, pointing the front of the car somewhat towards home. All in all, we drove over 250 miles over the course of six hours. A lovely way to spend the day.

Fall leaf

Souvenir from our drive

And yes, Jasmine and Juliet enjoyed the ride too.

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The Adventure Continues: Birthday Extravaganza (Part I)

Even though the official ‘Lost in America’ trip is now over, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t stopped wandering. We love to discover new places and just wander through small towns across backroads. It’s no wonder that we’ve driven most of the major backroads in Southern New Hampshire since our move here, and we have continued that passion since our return from the ‘big’ trip. I have decided to continue blogging our travels, if only to give John Howell more trips to follow for his flight simulator!

One such adventure started on my birthday. Tom surprised me with a trip out of town. The whole day was a big surprise. I had no idea where we were going or what we were doing. We got on the highway and headed East towards the Seacoast. However, when we didn’t take the exit for the expressway North, I thought we were going to Hampton Beach. Nope. We drove up through Hampton, but drove on. It was an absolutely crisp and lovely day, and we were driving along the shore. Lovely!

We approached Porstmouth, NH (that was my other guess as to our destination), but we just drove through and across the river to Maine. Hm. We drove around Kittery, did some shopping and then headed back down to Portsmouth. It did turn out that my guess was right, but sneaky Mr. Tom…he tried to hide it from me! We checked into our hotel and then headed out to walk around town with the dogs.

I love Portsmouth. It’s downtown area is filled with great restaurants, shops and galleries. The buildings are old andfunky, and I think the food is the best in New Hampshire. We ended up eating dinner at Mombo, an absolutely stellar casual fine dining restaurant (more props to Tom for picking this place!). The food was fabulous and the night was warm enough to dine on their patio.

Mombo Watermelon Feta Salad

Mombo – Watermelon and Whipped Feta Salad w/Balsamic Glaze and Pop Rocks!

Mombo Charcuterie

Mombo – Charcuterie Plate

 

Mombo Steak

Mombo – Wagu Kobe Hanger Steak

Given the number of drinks we both had, we staggered back to the hotel. It was a fine way to celebrate my birthday!

The next morning, we had a great breakfast at a local cafe and then headed up the coast. Once again, we just wanted to wander and decided to drive as far as we wanted. The drive up coastal Maine is spectacular. The houses are incredible, and the bright sunny day made the drive even more pleasant. We stopped at my very favorite lighthouse–the Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick. This picturesque lighthouse is the epitome of Maine lighthouses…quaint and beautiful.

Nubble Lighthouse

Nubble Lighthouse – Cape Neddick Maine

We continued up the coast and finally stopped for lunch at a wonderful little seafood shack.

After a few more hours, we turned back for home. It was a great couple of days, and just the beginning of a week and a half of travel! Stay tuned for Part II! (P.S. Will add pics here soon! Check back!)

Home Again, Home Again

Day 52: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Start: Duncannon, PA
End: Amherst, NH
Miles Driven Today: 450
Total Miles: 9,378

It’s over. I’m sitting here in my easy chair, getting used to home again. There’s a huge pile of mail to sort through. Bags to unpack. Laundry to be done. But that’s for tomorrow.

We had another lovely visit with Bob and Sharon yesterday. Sitting around the kitchen table, we caught up on the trip and the happenings in the almost two months since we last saw them. It was a nice respite before the final sprint home, and visiting with good friends was a fit way to start and end this grand adventure.

Of course, Jasmine felt right at home and climbed up onto the kitchen table. Perhaps she wanted to get in on the conversation. Or perhaps, she was just a little thirsty!

Singha! Jasmine's favorite brand!

Singha! Jasmine’s favorite brand!

Juliet spent the evening searching for food. She sniffed (and snarfed) every inch of the house, looking for tidbits of food that the resident dog, Lily, had dropped on the floor, under furniture, etc. She was driving us nuts! I think we’ve created a monster… 🙂

Buddies

Buddies

We have marveled at how much both dogs have changed throughout this journey. Jasmine is much quicker to acclimate to a new situation. She co-existed with Lily after a few minutes. Perhaps it’s because she had met Lily on the way out. But climbing on the table, accepting treats from everyone, and running around the house without her tail between her legs…such progress. Juliet is so much more curious, confident and STUBBORN. True Dachshund traits are coming out. But what’s really great is to see the two dogs finally bonding.

Our final leg of open road

Our final leg of open road

We’ve had a great run. NOTHING bad happened to us. No flat tires. No pickpockets. No items stolen from our room. No car trouble. Rarely any crowds. No tornadoes. No forest fires. We’ve had an incredible experience and the trip of a lifetime. I’ll summarize it all this weekend, after a bit of sleep and settling in!

Today’s travels were long, but relatively easy. There had been an accident on the bridge through Harrisburg a few weeks ago, so we decided to skip going through Harrisburg and went some backroads to reach the Interstate. So, once again, we had some picturesque travels across open roads.

But we were soon motoring our way back to New Hampshire. We flowed through New York, retracing some of our route on the Turnpike to the East of the Catskills and then through Mass and up home to New Hampshire. We hit very little heavy traffic except for areas with road work. Even then, we made it home in around 8 hours.

Back to New York

Back to New York

Massachusetts - We skipped it on the way out

Massachusetts – We skipped it on the way out

Close to home

Close to home

Waiting for us when we got home was a huge pile of mail, some packages we sent home, and Tom’s prized piece of Acoma pottery that we purchased in Albuquerque. It was a great welcome home, along with an in-tact house (thanks Sam!).

Acoma Pottery by Michael & Robin Romero

Acoma Pottery by Michael & Robin Romero

All is well. We’re a bit sad that the trip is over. But there’s really no place like home. As we were driving the last few minutes until we reached our house, I looked at the lush landscape that we call home. We’ve seen a lot of beautiful places and driven some wonderful open road. But seeing our town…the road home rivals any of the picturesque and quaint backroads we took.

It’s good to be back.