Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back to the grind...

Last week was my annual October vacation week. Since we are assigned vacation requests in seniority order, the first year I worked for the railroad, I was assigned the first full week in October for vacation. Because I love the weather this time of year, I have taken, by choice, this week every year since.

This year we chose to head north to the far reaches of New Hampshire for a couple days. We stayed at a lodge that overlooks First Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg. While the weather wasn't the greatest, the leaves were right at their peak in that area.

We did a little letterboxing on the way up while going through Franconia Notch. By the time we got to Pittsburg, it was already getting dark, which made it a little late for moose-watching. (They're still out after dark, but they're much harder to spot... and much easier to hit with a car: not a good thing for ALL involved.) So after checking in at the lodge, we headed north on US3 to an area known as Moose Alley, between First and Second Connecticut Lakes.

Before long, we saw the first sign we were in a high-moose-activity area: two pair of long, black skid marks at the top of a rise in the road. Only a trucker standing on the brakes after suddenly finding a moose in the road can make that mark. Sure enough, right after that, we saw the next sign: a car headed in the opposite direction stopped in the middle of the road (even though there are signs stating "No stopping on pavement" every couple hundred feet) with the high-beams on. Now the first rule of moose-watching is that when you see this, you slow WAY down or even stop, until you find out where the moose they are looking at is. I stopped, and after my eyes adjusted to the ultra-high-intensity high beams the nimnul heading south refused to dim, I realized it was the right thing to do. Not 20 feet in front of the car were the silhouettes of both bull and cow moose in our lane, just standing there people watching. I occasionally saw a flash of light from the other car, so I imagine they got some good photographs of my headlights. We were not able to get any photos, but here is one of a young bull we took a few hundred yards north of this same spot three summers ago.
After those two moose headed off into the woods, we drove on a couple miles, turned around and headed back into town for supper.

Next morning, we were a little slow getting started, but then again, that's what vacations are for, right? We went to breakfast at the Happy Corner Cozy Cafe. When we walked in, the first thing we saw was the specials board, which listed Pumpkin Waffles. Now, if you know Patty, you know she likes anything pumpkin, so this was going to make for a very short read of the menu for her. So after the waitress poured our coffee, conversation quickly turned to the specials. But the waitress couldn't remember if she had written Pumpkin Waffles or Pumpkin Pancakes on the blackboard. As she walked away to check, I jokingly made the comment that it wouldn't really matter as Patty would have eaten the pumpkin if it was just smeared on the plate plain. The waitress returned saying it was indeed Pumplkin Waffles on the menu. Patty said that made it all the better, so that's what she wanted. I could see it coming and sure enough, the waitress responded, "Oh, that's too bad. We're all out." Just as Patty's jaw dropped, the waitress said, "Gotcha!" They were huge and they were delicious. As for me, I had a handful of cholesterol: a corned beef hash, egg and cheese sandwich on toasted home-made whole wheat bread. That made us both good until suppertime.

Just down the road is the original family house of the family that runs the general store, Cozy Cafe and the cabins across the road. Behind that house is a lovely covered bridge over Perry Stream, which feeds into the Connecticut River just out of view.

We then just prowled around Pittsburg and Dixville and a couple other little towns in northern Coos County. Of course, there were some letterboxes to look for, including two of a series about the 45th parallel. Half-way to see Santa!

In Dixville, just east of the notch, we pulled off into a nature viewing area just after a rain shower. The mist coming up out of the woods was really neat.
Just up the road from there, we found a little waterfall called the Baby Flume.

From there, we headed west into Colebrook, where there is another waterfall, Beaver Brook Falls

and we stopped in a gift shop for a little while. Mostly shirts, but run by a very nice woman who just moved up there from Marblehead, MA. After that, just some more touring around through Island Pond, VT and then back up to Norton, where met our friends, Kathy and Dick, for dinner. On the way, we saw a huge flock of turkeys in the middle of a field, but they're not ones for staying around for pictures very long.

Norton, VT is where the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railway crosses the US/Canada border and just as we met Kathy and Dick, the southbound was arriving at the border. Of course, our patient wives let us go watch.

That large angled wand on a pole on the far side of the train in this photo is actually some sort of high-powered scanner that they use while the train pulls slowly by. This, of course, is after the customs agents check the papers for the train and the crew.

After a very nice dinner, we headed off back to Pittsburg for the evening, but saw no more moose.

The third day, we checked out of the lodge, talked with several other guests (and their dogs) as they were all getting ready to go out hunting. It turns out that grouse (which northerners call partridge) and woodcock season had opened the day before. We went into the center of Pittsburg and had breakfast at the general store there. Where else? Of course, that meant a lot of browsing after, but we had no set schedule.

Eventually we headed south, stopping at Franconia Notch again for some more letterboxes we had passed up on the way north.

From there we drove part the way across the Kancamagus Highway from Lincoln, NH looking both at the leaves and for letterboxes. Naturally, the sun started coming out just before we had to start heading home.

All in all, a nice few days away. The rest of the week was just little things, both relaxing and chore-like around the house. Then, yesterday, the cruelest part of all: back to work.

Oh, well. Next vacation is only 3 weeks away.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome photos Dave. Looks and sounds like you have a great vacation. Funny thing though - you I go on vacation to see trains. You go on vacation to get away from them. :-)