Day 78 – 25th September (North Conway)

After breakfast, as it was a lovely day, we decided to walk the 40 minutes up Highway 302 to the station for our scenic railway trip.

Lots of noisy traffic, and it wasn’t a pretty walk at all, but we were able to check out a couple of possible eateries for the evening.

Got to the station in plenty of time.

Originally built in 1874

After picking up our tickets, pre-booked electronically yesterday, we wandered around the small exhibition inside the station and found this little piece of history:

Time came to board the train. We were in First Class on a 1920s built carriage named Dorthea Mae. No idea why.

We were not up in the observation dome, unfortunately. That was for Premium customers. We were merely First Class
One could recline the seats, airline-style

Off we set. There was a commentary, but one could barely hear it over the squeaks of the carriage as it rocked from side to side and the noise made by some very excitable kids. Additionally, taking pictures was hampered by rather grubby carriage windows and – the bloody trees kept getting in the way.

I did my best.

The rivers were either the Sasco or the Sawyer – don’t know which is which.

After a pleasant enough journey of about an hour mainly through avenues of trees, we stopped, God knows where. We waited 15 minutes or so whilst the engine was decoupled, reversed and sent back up the other track to haul us all the way back again on exactly the same journey. There was a snack bar on the train, so we bought some very indifferent grub to sustain us on the return.

And that was it. Not particularly scenic and not particularly interesting either.

To add insult to injury, the weather had turned colder and there was a bit of rain in the air. We took a couple of pictures of North Conway from the green outside the station before setting off on our long walk back to the hotel.

Jean had chatted to some other passengers on the train, and this had confirmed my original idea to drive up Mount Washington, over 6,000 feet high and a 45-minute drive away. So once back at the hotel, we got in the car and started to do just that.

What I didn’t realise was that there was a toll payable at the bottom of the drive up there. And no ordinary toll. $53!! No discount for seniors, nor a reduction for the fact that the top was covered in cloud and visibility was zero, although there were some views on the way up. There were also some dire warnings about how steep and narrow the drive was, with no guardrails or other barriers to stop you going over the edge.

You only live once, so we paid up and started the 8 mile drive. It was OK at the beginning, but as we ascended, the road got really quite hairy, not helped at times by reverse road camber seemingly tipping you towards the edge. There was also a mysterious smell of burning rubber…..

We took a few pictures, but they would have looked so much nicer in this morning’s sunshine. Better if it wasn’t so cloudy…..

You can see the trees starting to turn now

We got to just over 5,000 feet and pulled over for the last pictures above. As we got out of the car, the wind was howling around us and it was FREEZING.

We spoke briefly to a couple who had just descended to this point from the top. They said it was indeed zero visibility and there was genuinely little point in going any further if views were your main motivation. I was also concerned about the smell from the car – I can only assume it was the torque converter on the transmission having to work so hard slipping between first and second gear all the way up. So it was with a combination of relief and disappointment at not having made the summit that we turned round and headed back down the mountain.

Jean took this picture on the way down.

More evidence of turning trees

There were plenty of warnings to stay in a low gear and pull-over areas to allow your brakes to cool. It was also raining quite hard now.

We’d identified an Italian restaurant in North Conway for dinner tonight, which was reputed to be popular, and we couldn’t reserve a table online as there appeared to be no availability. However, we decided to give it a go as it was before 6 o’clock. Just.

Turned up to find it very busy, even at that time. All we were offered was the possibility of a couple of seats at the bar in about 15 minutes if we were lucky. We decided to stick around, and very glad we did.

A full menu was offered at the bar, and we had a superb meal. Jean had room for a tiramisu afterwards, but really wasn’t prepared for what arrived.

It was enormous. Jean couldn’t finish it.

And that was it, pretty much. A day of contrasts.

Back to the hotel to pack and prepare for our next destination – Lake Placid in New York State. You will, of course, remember that the 1980 Winter Olympics took place here….. So we should be guaranteed some mountain views.

To my surprise, it’s a 5-hour car journey westwards. It’s not that far in mileage terms, but it looks very, very twiddly. Could hopefully be a scenic drive, so might have some nice pictures to show tomorrow if you’ll check in.

2 responses to “Day 78 – 25th September (North Conway)”

  1. sounds a very hairy drive especially in a crap car i bet you wish you had your volvo with you
    that tiramsu looks amazing mmm

    1. Yes, all-wheel drive would have made me feel a lot safer.

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