Fun in the Arizona Desert

In this post I wanted to update on where we have been this past week. After several months visiting in California we headed to Arizona, the 32nd state in our RV travels. As some of you may know, Mark and I have already seen quite a bit of Arizona, just not while staying in an RV. Mark grew up in Tucson and at one time we lived there for a few years during our early married life. In past years I have done road trips with Mark and other family members in different parts of Arizona. So after saying all of that it is good to be back. I love the desert and the sunny climate.

Tehachapi Pass Windmills

For our first stop in Arizona we decided to stay at an RV park in Ehrenberg, on the border of California and next to the Colorado River. Before coming we stayed a few days in Bakersfield at one of our favorite sites, Orange Grove RV park. From there we headed south with a little more than we came with (a few large bags of fresh oranges I picked) for the drive to Arizona. After all the cold, wet weather in California, the drive across the Tehachapi Pass and through the high desert region of California was filled with vistas of snowy mountains and in some places a little snow lingering on the ground.

Sunset on the Colorado River

We spent our first few days in Arizona exploring the Quartzite area, 20 minutes east of Ehrenberg. Quartzite is a small town that is popular in the winter with RVers and off road enthusiasts, but not so much in the summer when temperatures soar. It has miles and miles of open country with much of it managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that is open to the public. Dirt roads and tracks crisscross BLM land and so we couldn’t resist a drive to explore this desert country.

The desert outside of Quartzite

I still remember how thrilled I was to see saguaro cacti when Mark and I first drove together to Arizona from California. That was decades ago, but I can remember pronouncing their name wrong, by saying the “g” sound instead of a “w” (sa-wah-ro) sound which is the appropriate Spanish pronunciation. When we ended up moving to Tucson and landscaped our front yard with desert plants, I couldn’t resist buying one of these beauties. They are so heavy that it had to be trucked in from the nursery and placed in the selected hole with some equipment. This was not the kind of plant that we could purchase at the local nursery, put in our vehicle and drive home. It was only about 7 feet tall with no arms, which is rather short for some saguaros that normally reach heights of 40 feet. It takes years to gain this kind of height, as our saguaro was about 70 years old.

It was a treat to look up at the saguaros again, the largest cacti in the United States. They only grow in the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona. From a very young age, they are protected by a “nurse tree” such as the Palo Verde pictured in the photo below. The Palo Verde shelters the saguaro from the elements but as the saguaro gets larger it can eventually kill the Palo Verde by taking away nutrients and water from the soil around the tree. I could tell that this Palo Verde was not thriving as others in the area were. I imagined the branches of the tree looked like arms around the saguaro, a “loving embrace” to the cactus that was slowly doing it in.

Palo Verde with saguaro

The saguaro in photo below has definitely seen better days as most of it has crumbled to the ground, leaving only a shell of its former self.

Dead Saguaro

Southern Arizona has seen a lot of rain this winter so there was a nice carpet of yellow wildflowers all around the desert floor where I walked. Mark enjoyed making a few videos of the scenery with his camera and tripod.

Desert wildflowers in bloom
Mark behind the camera

Another one of my favorite desert plants is the cholla cactus with its fuzzy looking stems and joints. Although this cactus is a beauty it can be deadly. My sister who is a horse lover talked about how problematic it is to ride in desert areas because cholla cactus can cause severe injury to them. They are called “jumping cactus” because the ends break off in the wind and can attach to anything. I am glad there was no wind blowing the day we visited!

Cholla cactus

One early evening we took a bumpy ride through the desert on dirt roads and tracks going up and down gullies and small hills. I was out of practice on roads such as these and often asked Mark, can we make it, is this too rough? He would say it was no problem, that’s why we’ve got a truck, so on we went.

Driving desert backroads
Up the rocky hill we went

Along the way we found an abandoned shack. There was no clear indication as to why it was out there in the middle of nowhere, but we saw signs of old mines and mining claims as we drove, so perhaps it was a miner’s shack.

Abandoned shack

I hope you enjoyed this trek through the desert. In the next post, more exploring in the town of Quartzite.

Exploring Massachusetts: The Shot Heard Round the World

Old North Bridge, Concord Massachusetts

It was May 1977 and Mark and I were canoeing on the Concord River under the Old North Bridge. It was a beautiful, sunny day with temps close to 80 degrees. We had no idea that a freak snow storm would hit the next day. We were finishing up two weeks of army training at Fort Devens which included a rather unpleasant exercise where we had to try and escape the “enemy” while navigating a large wooded area at night. We were eventually captured and wound up in a mock prisoner of war camp. The canoe trip was the perfect break and a chance to connect with history.

Revolutionary War British Major near the Bridge

Forty-one years later we were back at the North Bridge although this time not in canoes but on foot. In late August 2018 we visited the historical sites of Concord and Lexington where the Revolutionary War first began. It was at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775 when Colonial Minutemen first fired at advancing British soldiers with the skirmish leaving two colonists and three redcoats dead. On one side of the bridge is the Minute Man statue dedicated on July 4, 1885 at the 100th anniversary of the battle. Inscribed is the opening stanza of a poem from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.”

Minute Man Statue at North Bridge

The National Park Service operates a visitor center in a former homestead near the Bridge. There are other sites of interest as well including the Battle Road Trail which is popular with walkers and bikers. The five mile trail begins in Concord and ends in Lexington, covering much of the original route where Colonial militia and the British skirmished during the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Along the way are spots of historical interest such as a monument to Paul Revere who was captured on this route during his midnight ride to warn the colonists.

Battle Road from Concord to Lexington

The Hartwell Tavern completed in 1733 is located along the trail and has been restored with much of the original building intact. This family home and tavern was a witness to the Revolutionary War events along the Battle Road.

Hartwell Tavern

National Park staff regularly give walking tours along the road explaining significant events. In the photo below, our guide points out a place on the road called “Bloody Angle” where the heaviest fighting took place on April 19, 1775. The British suffered heavy losses after an ambush was set up by the Colonialists at this bend in the road.

Battle Road Bloody Angle Site

We wandered the Green or historic town common at Lexington where opening shots fired by the British signaled the beginning of the War. The event started after British troops left Boston to search for weapons and ammunition supposedly stored at a Concord farm.

Marker on the Lexington Green

After being warned by Paul Revere that the British were advancing, Colonial Militia met at Buckman Tavern before facing British soldiers on Lexington Green. It was on the Green where they suffered their first losses before the British marched on to the North Bridge at Concord.

Buckman Tavern

I love seeing old churches and the Lexington First Parish Church located across from the Green is a beautiful historic building.

First Parish Church of Lexington

I took an interesting tour of an author’s home in Concord. If any of you have read “Little Women” or seen the movie you will know about Louisa May Alcott who based the book on her life. I loved reading this book in my youth. She lived in Orchard House with her parents and two sisters from 1858-1877. The tour included most rooms of the house including Louisa’s bedroom with the desk near the window where she wrote her famous novel. The house seems quite authentic since 80% of the furnishings originally belonged to the Alcotts. Even artwork sketched on the walls by Louisa’s artistic sister May can still be seen.

Louisa May Alcott Home

Thanks for checking in! Our next blog moves us across the country to the Arizona desert.

Exploring Vermont: A Visit to Two Farms

Pasture views at Billings Farm

Vermont seems to be one beautiful green pasture and hilly landscape after another. This was certainly true when we visited the Billings Farm and Museum near the lovely town of Woodstock. This is a fully operating historic farm that features over 70 Jersey cows, a herd of sheep, draft horses, pigs and chickens. The farm grows most of the animal food needed. This is a place you can spend a half a day or more visiting the animals, taking a tour of the vegetable gardens, seeing the exhibits in the farm museum and touring the 1890 house where the farm manager and his family lived.

Jersey cows at Billings Farm

The Belgian draft horses were a delight to see. They work around the farm pulling wagons, farm equipment and sleighs carrying visitors in the winter. How fun it would be to take a sleigh ride around the farm!

Mark says hello to one of the Belgian draft horses

Inside the dairy barn you can see where the cows are milked and visit the tiny calves. Using milk from the cows the farm makes cheddar cheese which is sold in the onsite farm and gift store (at a pretty price).

Dairy barn at Billings Farm

The museum exhibits were in four original barns and were interesting as well. We were able to see equipment and learn about the typical activities on a Vermont farm from 100 years ago. It was a fun day stepping back in time and seeing an old fashioned farm. Plus the ice cream they sell there was delicious!

Entrance to Sugarbush Farm

It is hard to come to Vermont and not visit a maple syrup farm. I love real maple syrup, one of the best things to come from a tree in my opinion – well at least the sap does. We visited the Sugarbush Farm which began in 1945 and reports producing syrup from 8000 maple trees. The farm is still in the same family and is located in a lovely foothill woodsy setting. They have a house that is a cheese and syrup tasting room as well as a gift shop. Although they don’t produce their own cheese, they buy cheese from another farm, dip it in a coating wax and finish the packaging. We headed for the samples first and were helped by a young man in a rather dismal and unkept looking room where the cheese packaging is also done. No packaging was being completed when we visited, but there were remains of red wax on the walls and floor. This was probably the least appealing maple syrup and cheese shop I have visited in our travels.

The tasting room and gift shop might have been a bit of a disappointment, but the walk in the woods to see the maple trees and learn how the sap is gathered was interesting and informative. They even kindly provide mosquito repellant at the edge of the woods – the first time I have seen a business do this. Mark hates mosquitos, or even the thought of them and did not venture far.

Entrance to the Maple Grove

Walking the trail through the maple forest there were signs periodically explaining the process of tapping the trees and how the lines are put in. Trees used to be tapped with buckets, but now plastic lines are a more efficient process. In the photo below, a hole is drilled into the tree, a blue plastic spout is hammered in and saplines connect several trees together. The sap runs through the lines into a large black pipe to a tank at the bottom of the hill. The spouts are removed at the end of each sugaring season so the hole heals over and next year a new hole is drilled. After seeing the sap lines here I was able to spot them at other places including Massachusetts where we drove past a number of maple groves.

Learning how maple trees are tapped

A maple tree has to be about 40 years old before it is tapped. The Farm reported this is usually judged by the diameter of the tree, an average of 12 inches. The tree can live to be at least a hundred years old with favorable conditions – that is a lot of years to produce sap! Conditions needed for good maple sap flow are cold nights of about 20-30 degrees and “warmer” days of 40-50 degrees. Sugarbush Farm collects the syrup in March and April.

Sap lines connect the maple trees

Betty, the second generation owner of this farm had a dream to have a chapel in the woods so her son built her one and she renewed her wedding vows celebrating 50 years in 2012. This tiny church is sometimes reserved for weddings and is a cute addition to the farm.

Chapel in the Woods

We also visited the maple syrup house to see exhibits, displays and the processing equipment that turns the sap into syrup. We learned that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup – or as the photo below shows, four and a half buckets to make one quart.

Visiting the Sugar House
Bucket Display

A paper we could take with us extolled the “health benefits” of maple syrup reporting since it is rich in zinc and manganese it helps the immune system and improves heart health. The syrup also reportedly contains inflammation reducing antioxidants to fight diseases such as arthritis, heart and inflammatory bowel disease. I would think the high sugar content would cancel out some of these benefits but this paper never pondered that. This reminded me of our trip to a sugar museum in Louisiana sugarcane country where we watched a film put out by the sugar industry. At the end of the film we learned about the many healthful benefits of consuming sugar.

Hanging petunia baskets in Montpelier

I will close with a photo of some large and colorful hanging baskets of petunias on a museum porch in Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. These were just a few as the long porch was lined with them. I can think of one of our readers who loves seeing these beauties while traveling!

Exploring Vermont: The Green Mountain State

Near the Green Mountains of Vermont, we found ourselves camping at Abel Mountain Campground. Before arriving I had high hopes for this spot which featured photos of a lovely green country setting. I was looking forward to the river flowing through the campground. It was advertised as a great place for swimming, rafting and tubing. I had visions of myself floating down the stream in an intertube. While checking in at the office, I asked about the river and whether intertubes could be rented or borrowed. I was told that unfortunately the river was not deep enough for swimming as the area had been suffering from drought for some weeks. I was quite surprised by this information. A drought in New England? It had been raining regularly throughout our travels. Although I was disappointed, I had been secretly hoping for a dry spell.

Abel Mountain Campground

The campsites backing up to the river were quite lovely and I was a little envious of them as we were camping on the other side of the property on a slight hill. But our campsite turned out to be rather advantageous, as we had no one camping next to us and enjoyed a nice open green space on the hill to ourselves. The weather though did not stay as dry as I hoped as we did get a few days of showers. We were into August and I was still hoping for one week without rain somewhere during 2018. That would not happen until we landed at a campsite in Massachusetts a few weeks later.

Our trailer at Abel Mountain Campground
Our trailer at Abel Mountain Campground

This secluded campground in a country setting turned out to be one of the best of our travels. Besides the great deal of space and lovely vistas there were trails to wander in the woods. It also came with another perk, our first camp pig roast and potluck. The campground owners provided two pigs and pavilion and we campers brought the side dishes. The pigs were roasted on site by the “Happy Pig Roasters,” a BBQ company that trailered in their own grill and supplies. The meat was deliciously cooked by the happy roaster pictured below.

After our meal we were entertained by a great country band who came all the way from the Boston area. The big city of Boston seemed so far away here nestled in the peaceful Green Mountains.

Mark and I had already visited Vermont on another non RV trip some years ago, so we decided to skip some of the touristy places we had visited before. One of the things I most enjoyed during our previous trip was the covered bridges. Vermont has over 100 of them and I believe we saw about 25 of those when we first explored here. Although Vermont does not have the most covered bridges in the U.S., it has the most covered bridges per square mile or the most covered bridge density. The state of Pennsylvania has the most with 213. On this trip I wanted to check out some of the bridges we had missed before. We visited the village of Northfield where there are five covered bridges, three of them on the same road.

Moseley Covered Bridge in Northfield, Vermont

Although covered bridges are picturesque, they are actually built to protect the structures supporting the bridges. Without this protection, the wood would rot due to inclement weather of the harsh Vermont winters.

Slaughterhouse Covered Bridge on the Dog River
Slaughter House Covered Bridge in Northfield, Vermont

Here in Northfield is the only place in Vermont where you can stand in one covered bridge and view another. I was standing in Northfield Falls Bridge when I took this picture of Lower Cox Bridge just down the road.

Northfield Falls Covered Bridge with a view of Lower Cox Bridge

We visited the village of Quechee which has a covered bridge as well as the famous Simon Pearce glassmaking facility and restaurant located in a restored brick mill. From the deck outside the restaurant is this beautiful view of the Quechee Covered Bridge, the Ottaquechee River Gorge and waterfall.

Ottaquechee River Gorge and Falls

I hope you enjoyed some of our exploring in Vermont! Stay tuned for more to come!

Visiting a Fiber Farm and Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Sadie, Larissa and Mia model their hats

During our full time RV travels, from time to time I have heard Mark tell people that he “traded his nice, complete wood shop for some knitting needles.” Yes, Mark is a knitter and he has spent much time on knitting projects as we have toured the country. There have been hats, scarves and coasters. He likes to have a nice coaster for his ever present drink and he can never throw away a scrap of yarn no matter how small. Traveling to so many different places has afforded us the opportunity to visit a number of different yarn shops and a few farms. My role as the knitter’s wife is to pick out attractive looking yarn combinations. After multiple frustrations, I gave up my own attempts at knitting when I was about 17 years old, vowing I would never touch knitting needles again which I haven’t. But I like to help pick out the yarn and enjoy watching him create. Plus wearing the hats and scarves that he makes are a real bonus too. Above is a photo of three of our great nieces at Christmas time last year wearing hats that Mark made.

Feeding one of the llamas

We have visited a number of yarn stores during our cross country travels. One of our favorite visits was while staying in New Hampshire. Our campground was not too many miles from Maine and Mark found out about a place called “Sunflower Farm of Bethel” located in Western Maine. We took off one day for a drive in the country to this farm and yarn shop. The owner has a variety of unique sheep including Icelandic, Cormo and ones that originated from Norway called Gotland. In addition there are llamas and alpacas all producing fibers that after processing are sold in her shop. She gave us a tour of the farm and introduced us to her animals. In the photo above I am feeding one of the llamas as we arrived at their lunch time. Below, Corinne feeds her hungry sheep.

Corinne feeding her sheep at Sunflower Farm

I think my favorite fiber is from Alpaca and they are also one of my favorite animals. I cannot resist their adorable faces like the one pictured below. Mark bought a variety of new yarns to try. Corinne uses natural dyes for her yarns and some yarns are left the original color of the sheep’s wool. We also left with some fresh and colorful eggs from her chickens.

Alpaca at Sunflower Farm
Buying yarn at Sunflower Farm

As we were leaving, Corinne gave us a good tip for some where else to visit in the nearby area – Grafton Notch. She said it was a beautiful state park with of course one of my favorite things – waterfalls. We saw two falls flowing in a narrow gorge with lots of water after recent rains. I am standing next to one in the photo below. It has a rather strange name,
“Screw Auger Falls” and is one of the more popular waterfall areas in Maine.

Grafton Notch State Park in Maine

Our drive in the vicinity of the state park brought us by a covered bridge that I couldn’t pass up stopping to visit. The historic Sunday River Bridge from 1872 is also known as the “Artist’s Covered Bridge” because of its reputation as being the most photographed and painted of the covered bridges in Maine. It also appeared to be a great wedding spot as it had been decorated and set up for a wedding to be held later that day. If I was a bride getting married, I would be more than happy to get married on a covered bridge. It seemed like the perfect setting. The signs at the bridge entrance announced a welcome to wedding guests and “Pick a Seat Not a Side, You are Welcome by the Groom and the Bride.”

Sunday River Bridge in Newry, Maine

While camping in New Hampshire I was happy to find out that the Appalachian Trail was less than two miles down the road from us. This portion was called the Rattle River Trail and conveniently featured a parking area and a 1-1/2 mile fairly easy trail to a shelter. It would be a great opportunity to walk part of the trail. In the photo below, Mark walks through the woods towards the shelter.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

The 2,190 mile long Appalachian Trail (AT) has 250 backcountry shelters which average about eight miles apart. Most of them like the one we visited consist of a roof, three walls and a wooden floor and are on a first come, first serve basis. They are usually located near a creek or spring which was the case with this one.

Standing in front of an Appalachian Trail shelter

The thing that fascinated me most about the shelter was the notebook located there. Inside were pages of entries written by hikers on their experiences and thoughts of being on the trail. Below is a photo of one of the pages. In one entry a hiker is sad to only have 300 miles of the trail left.

Page from the shelter notebook

As we were hanging out at the shelter a young couple came by. They started the AT separately at the beginning in Georgia and then met some where along the trail. They were finishing the hike together and were close to being done as the ending point was in Maine just one state away. We applauded their great achievement and they agreed to have their photo taken. The young lady explained that her mother was meeting her at the parking lot for a visit. When we got back to the lot later after our hike we saw that her mother was throwing a little birthday party for her out of her car.

Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail!

During our hike I really enjoyed seeing all the mushrooms in the woods along the trail. They were fluted and colorful ones I had not seen before in my travels. When I did some research later, I found out they are called
“Woolly Chanterelles” and although attractive looking, they cause stomach distress. Although I know wild mushroom gathering for eating is popular with some, I don’t think I would ever be comfortable collecting them, even if I was with those familiar with the edible varieties.

Woolly Chanterelles

I will close with a photo from the entrance to Timberland Campground, our stay in New Hampshire. This campground featured something rather different than the norm – its own fire engine. In the late afternoon, staff would take any interested kids for a ride on top around the grounds. A nice way to end the day!

Timberland Campground’s Fire Engine

The Scenic White Mountains of New Hampshire

After spending almost a week in the White Mountains of Northern New Hampshire I wished for another week. I loved the scenery and wanted to spend more time sightseeing. But alas, we had reservations in Vermont and it was time to move on. I have said this before, but one of the hardest things about our RV travel is leaving places that we still want to explore. Since we were trying to see all of the New England states in a certain time period, we needed to move on. Although our campsite in New Hampshire was not one of my favorites, I loved walking down to the river next to the campground. A walking trail went along the shore with views of the mountains and forest.

The White Mountains are New Hampshire’s playground. People love to vacation here and enjoy many outdoor activities. The rivers, creeks and waterfalls are popular places and I don’t think I have seen people having more fun in the water than here. Armed with a brochure called “Waterfalls and Covered Bridges of the White Mountains” we set out to explore including the Kancamagus Scenic Highway, one of the favorite drives in the state, especially in the fall when the leaves change. In the photo below, Mark relaxes next to Jackson Falls, a series of small waterfalls with a number of happy swimmers. While in Jackson, we also checked out the Jackson Covered Bridge.

Jackson Falls

My favorite waterfall on this trek was Sabbaday Falls which has several drops through a narrow gorge. A series of stairways and bridges offered us different views of the rushing water. It is a real beauty.

Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls

We stopped at Rocky Gorge, another favorite swimming area. Kids were jumping off the cliffs into the gorge below. As I watched the action from a nearby bridge, myself and another “mom” had some anxiety watching the kids plunging in, even though they weren’t our kids. It looked like they were having a great time. One young boy was even jumping in with his arm in a cast. In the photo below, one of them is jumping into the water.

Rocky Gorge

Along our drive down the scenic byway we were on the look out for covered bridges. After a wild goose chase off our route trying to find one listed on the brochure map we gave up but did eventually come upon the Albany Bridge pictured below. It was built in 1858 and renovated in 1970.

Albany Covered Bridge
Mark checking out the Albany Covered Bridge

We ended our drive on the Byway at an overlook of the scenic White Mountains.

View of the White Mountains along the Kancamagus Highway

We next stopped for a short walk to Lower Ammonoosuc Falls (that’s a hard word to pronounce) which was a raging torrent after all the rain the area had recently experienced. The falls are low angle cascades that flow down a series of ledges beside a rugged granite wall. I loved sitting next to the rushing water and experiencing its power. It is also a favorite swimming area when conditions are right.

Lower Ammonoosuc Falls
Lower Ammonoosuc Falls

Glen Ellis Falls is one of the most popular falls in the White Mountains. There were a few more steps to get down to this one, but definitely worth it. It plunges 65 feet to a beautiful pool below.

I hope you enjoyed our trek as we explored some beautiful areas of New Hampshire. I will close with a sunset view from the river at our campground.

Exploring New Hampshire: The Worst Tour Followed by a Great Tour

Sitting in a large van with a group of people, I tried to enjoy a four hour tour along country roads in the dark staring at the side of the road. As we drove, our driver and guide shined spotlights out the window into the woods hoping to catch a glimpse of our elusive target. We were on a moose hunt with hopes to catch several sightings during this nocturnal journey. As the evening wore on and my eyes blurred, the hope of a sighting faded. Eventually, a female moose was spotted by some (not me) for a few seconds before running into the trees. This was followed by a second sighting where we caught the back end of a male moose before it hit tree cover. The best view was our last stop where a female with her young stood for a few minutes allowing everyone to get a peek. Sound fun? Not really. It was long, boring and the moose hard to see in the dark, even with spotlights. Plus, one of the participants monopolized the guide with comments and questions, talking continually the entire trip.

The Gorham Moose Tour Company is one of the few that has permission from the state to use spotlights which are normally illegal. Moose are more active during the early evening making sightings more possible. As the sign above shows, moose on the road are a concern where collisions happen on a regular basis. We saw this sign frequently as we drove around the northern part of the state. Besides the threat of cars, something else is killing off moose in large numbers here – winter ticks. These ticks appear on moose in the fall and feed on them through the winter with calves the most likely to die as thousands of ticks can infest a single animal. It was sad information to learn.

View of Mount Washington from Visitor Center

A ride up Mount Washington was a must do for me while visiting the White Mountains. This is the highest mountain not only in New Hampshire but in all New England. It is famous for having some of the most extreme weather in the world. There are four ways to get up the 6,288 foot peak – by private car, tour van, cog railway or strenuous hike. Driving your own vehicle comes with some restrictions on the privately owned road as not all vehicles are allowed. I chose to take a tour which provided narration and a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery. The road climbs 4,600 feet in eight miles at an average grade of 12%. In the photo above, the peak is not the highest looking one but is the one to the left in back. The road to the peak can be seen in the righthand corner.

Historic U.S. Forest Sign

It was an enormous task to build the road which opened in 1861. The nearest source for supplies was eight miles away. Black powder was used as an explosive as dynamite was unknown at the time. Blasting holes had to be drilled by hand and tons of gravel and rock also had to removed by hand. Horse drawn carriage was the first to ascend, but in 1899 the first car made it up. This was a steam powered vehicle known as a “Locomobile” driven by F.O. Stanley and his wife Flora of Stanley Steamer fame. The trip took them two hours and ten minutes on a rutted, rocky road, much less than the six hours it took a horse drawn carriage or wagon. Below is a photo of the Locomobile.

Locomobile, first car up Mount Washington

In 1902 the first two gas powered cars reached the summit. In 2017, a record was made when a Subaru driver drove the road in five minutes and 44 seconds. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the top. Along the way we passed through four different ecological zones: 1) Hardwood forests, 2) Spruce and fir forests, 3) Balsam firs stunted by heavy winds and 4) Alpine with no trees and low growing plants.

Mount Washington Road

The road is narrow and winding with a one mile long section unpaved. With cars passing it became tight and with no shoulder or road barrier at times it seemed like accidents could be frequent here. But our guide told us that accidents are actually quite rare.

Mount Washington Summit Sign

Above is a photo of me at the summit sign with the visitor center and museum behind. Having good views from the mountain can be iffy due to frequent clouds and inclement weather. I kept track of the weather forecast on the mountain before choosing a good day and time to come. Located on the mountain is the observatory and weather station which is manned year around. It was here that the highest wind speed record at 231 miles per hour was recorded on April 12, 1934.

Mount Washington Weather Station

The summit is known as the “World’s Worst Weather” with hurricane force winds, lots of precipitation and very cold temps. An example of this is in 2004 when the temperature registered -43.6 degrees, winds at 87.5 mph with a wind chill factor of -102.59. The primary summit building is designed to withstand 300 mph winds and other structures are actually chained to the mountain.

Located on the mountain is the rock building that once housed the “Tip-Top House,” a former hotel. Built in 1853, it is the oldest surviving building in the summit area.

Tip-Top House

The Mount Washington Cog Railway has been running for 150 years beginning in 1869. It is the world’s first mountain climbing cog railway train. At one time more people came up the mountain on the train than they did by the road although that changed as automobiles became more popular. The train is accessed from the west side of the mountain, a different location than the beginning of the road. In the photo below the train can be seen in the distance inching up the mountain. If we had stayed longer, I would have liked to take the train up too on a different day. It would have been fun to experience it both ways.

Driving back down the mountain requires taking it easy on the brakes which the sign in the photo below emphasizes. This was a great tour to a fascinating historic location. I hope you enjoyed coming along!