Train, bridges and chowder

Trip Start Oct 08, 2013
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13
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Trip End Nov 18, 2013


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Flag of United States  , Maine
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We woke up and it was a bit grey and a bit gloomy. We were going on a cog railway up the highest mountain in New England-Mt Washington. Its part of the Appalachian Mountains that runs right through the US, up through Canada.

We suspected it would be cold up there and put on all of our clothes, just in case....Only kidding but not by much!

As we have been heading north, the temperature has been dropping and it has been getting noticeably darker, sooner. When we checked out, the manager mentioned that he had heard that it had snowed overnight at the top. Guess who was excited! I just cursed not having a beanie or gloves! We would be on the first train up so we got on our way.

I won't bother with the details about how a cog train works (how unusual right?!!) but it was an interesting ride up the mountain. Train pictures are not on the ipad so...if you want to see one, let me know and I'll get them off the real camera.

Suffice to say, the cog is different from the normal train and the railway line goes upwards which a normal train would not be able to climb. At one point the incline is 37% and it is kind of weird trying to stand up 'straight'. Somehow, it was very easy doing push ups though...!

As we got higher, it got darker and colder and we seemed to be going into fog or something. Actually, we were up in the clouds and there was snow all around and wind...Actually...it was a bit of a white out. Normally, at the top, you get off the train and you can have a wander aorund looking at the weather station and observatory, take a walk around the picnic area, enjoy the surrounding views and generally, just enjoy the landscape as you look out over the presidentials (each summit in the White Mountains is named after an american president.. Washington, Eisenhower, Adams, Jefferson and so on).

Of course when we get there, its snowing horizontally and only the gift shop and cafe is open. No one would walk 5 metres away from the building...because you woudn't be seen again! It was blowing a blizzard and you couldn't see a thing. Everyone trooped into the cafe and spent the next hour browsing through the gift shop or having food or coffee at the cafe. I think the workers were very happy with the captive audience.

Whilst we are all hunkered indoors, a hiker arrives....nutter! He said it was the worst conditions he had experienced in years. I think we were all impressed with his keeness ...or craziness ...whatever. He looked the part and was obviously well prepared. However, he wanted a ride back down the mountain...good idea.

When the next train arrived, it was more crowded then ours. Even though the passengers all piled out...I think a few came back on again once they saw that the weather was atrocious. The weather cleared as we headed back down the mountain. However, it was drizzling and continued to be overcast throughout the day.

We then drove towards North Conway and continued to be on the lookout for covered bridges. The scenery was lovely, even though we were probably about a week or two too late as the colours were mostly browns, oranges and yellows...and not as much of the bright reds and bright oranges or purples. Many trees were already bare. A few of the trees had only just got the memo and were only just turning. Thank goodness for variety!

Gabe suggested that we take a slight detour into the state of Maine which was less then 20km away from where we were. It was a good idea...even if we just crossed over to the town of Fryeburg for a quick squiz! We pop into the Visitors' Centre to see whether there was anything to see. The lady suggested we drive to Portland as there was nothing else close by. We looked at each other....and Gabe said why not? So we decided to do the one hour drive, have a walk around the Old Port area, have dinner, and head back to North Conway. It just meant a bigger driving day the next day to keep to our schedule. I'm happy as it meant I've been to a couple of Portlands in the US- Maine and Oregon.

So, we head off to Portland. We arrived around 4.45pm and its not terribly bright. We took a stroll through the Old Port and it started to drizzle. Had dinner at Gilberts Chowder House based on locals recommendations for the best seafood chowder in town. They weren't wrong. I also ordered a Maine Whoopie tPie for dessert. Remember this as I'll be trying another whoopie pie from Pennsylvania....forgot to try the one from New Hampshire..Why am I bothering? Each state has claimed to have the original and the best and I just wanted to make my own mind up..so far....chocolate cake and cream...no idea what the fuss is about to be honest...but I'll do it in the interests of research.

We head back across the border and are in a motel by 9.30pm in Nth Conway again. Was the seafood chowder worth it? I'd say yes....as well as adding another state ot our list! It will be the last we see of the ocean for a while.

Did you know that we will be doing all six states that make up New England? I didn't....seriously...No wonder Gabe was so keen on driving into Maine.
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