As predicted as far back as last Sunday, there was rain when we woke up this morning. Ah well, it’s mid-October in New England – we’ve already had far better weather than we should have expected. We’d have been very lucky indeed not to have some rain at this time of year.
The plan today was to head for Portland, Maine, 150 miles eastwards on the Atlantic coast. The electronic suggestion was to take the interstates and make 250 miles out of it. Pah, we spit on your electronic brains (you wait, that’s gonna come back to haunt me). No, instead we will take the direct, scenic route over the White Mountains in New Hampshire along the Kancamagus Highway. I planned the route over the mountains in detail and then left it to the electronics to take us the last steady 60 miles across Maine to the hotel.
We left Burlington heading south on our old pal the I-89, but after 30 mins hooked a left towards Montpelier and Barre on the VT-302. Fairly standard fall scenery on this road for an hour or so until we crossed the border between Vermont and New Hampshire over the Connecticut River at Woodsville. It seemed a good time to stop for a drink, and would you know it but the first thing I see is a blessed quilt shop. A surprisingly short time later we were in Dunkin’ Donuts, having a drink with material buying done and dusted. Impressed.
From Woodsville it’s not far to the start of the Kancamagus Highway on NH-112. The way Americans talk about it is as if it’s some crazy switchback track over the mountains, but in fact it’s a nice, wide highway, albeit with the most kick-ass scenery you could imagine. Yes, the road does twist and turn a deal, but the speed limit is set at 45mph. I think back to similar mountain roads half the width in New Zealand with 100 km/h limits (and insane Kiwi drivers pushing that!). Sadly for us the very top sections of the highway were under the clouds, so the best views weren’t available. It was the same in the White Mountains last time I cam this way over a decade ago – I guess you have to drop lucky with the weather.
Eventually after o/d-ing on leaves, waterfalls and vistas, we’re down the other side of the mountains at the ski resort of Conway; time for a drink and to fire up the sat nav for a cruise to the coast. “Type in PIN number”, Sid tells us in his serious American accent. No worries, it’s on the rental agreement. Type it in. “PIN not accepted” Sid says. Try again. Same result. Hmmm, this is interesting – going to have to do things the old-fashioned way here. Lets try and figure out which of the four Conways we actually need to head for to get on the right road!
Well, we worked it out in the end, though the ME-302 seemed to go on forever and the rain has started up again for good measure. By the time we reached Portland the rush hour was in earnest, so there was a lot of wet commuters to contend with as well. Collapse into hotel and go for tea. Later WW called Budget Cars and they gave us a new PIN – seemed very surprised at the one we had on the agreement. Lets see if the dratted thing works tomorrow!