State #18 Live Free or Die in New Hampshire

Yep, Live Free or Die is New Hampshire’s State Motto. Love it. New Hampshire has a more rugged outdoor vibe to it than Vermont does. We drove through White Mountain National Forest. Even though there was some rain, the drive was beautiful.

We were ready to get back to hiking but there were a few housekeeping items to tend to first.

On a side note, Trev has been using the app GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas. This has proven very helpful. In Michigan, for example, gas prices went up $0.40/gallon in day! We used the GasBuddy app to find one of the last remaining gas stations that was still priced before the $0.40 increase. It saved us big that day! When you’re on the road like we are and driving a big SUV like we are that adds up fast.

We stayed in New Hampshire a little longer than planned because we needed to stay in one spot long enough to get our windshield replaced. Fortunately, they were able to get out there the first full day we were at the hotel so we made that our chill day. We had a four hour window and then we had to wait for the repair to be completed. They replaced the windshield right there in the parking lot (we pulled around to the side of the building to get out of the way of other guests and in case glass broke, we didn’t want that in the hotel parking lot. It all went really smooth.

The plan was to get some school done while we waited around. All was going well. If we were at home the boys would have started school that day. Go Knights! NGCA moved into an awesome new building this year. Then it happened. My friend, Alicia, sent me a picture of her sweet daughter and good friend, Emma, showing that her desk at school was beside Tuck’s good buddy, Jackson. He smiled when I showed him the picture but his whole attitude changed after that. There was no school work getting done that morning. Though he didn’t say it, I could tell he was upset/sad. He missed his friends, he missed getting to go to the new school; he was homesick. I get it. I miss home too. But it’s harder for him. He’s a social critter. He loves our adventure and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but he didn’t want to think about school and the friends he was missing. I wish, in the moment, I had been more compassionate instead of being upset that we were missing a great opportunity to get school done. His heart is way more important than schoolwork. Another missed opportunity to model self control and kindness. It’s easy to look back on events with a different perspective; it’s harder to face them head on when you haven’t had the luxury of time to pause and reflect on how best to proceed. But we should. Parenting is hard. He and I had a hard day. Mason continued to work on school and Tuck went outside with Trevor and watched the windshield being replaced.

After that was done, we didn’t feel like getting out. The hotel we stayed out had a creek so the boys played around in it. Then they created a game I’m going to call “creekball.” Basically, it’s baseball in the creek played with a tennis ball, you use your hand as the bat, and if you hit it and make it to the “pitching mound” before you’re tagged then that’s a base hit. The final score was Trev-6, Mason-4, and Tuck-2. When they bored of that, they took a dip in the pool.

The next day was quite interesting. We had been told the thing to do in New Hampshire was to go to the top of Mount Washington. Mount Washington is the tallest mountain in the Northeast at an elevation of 6,288 feet. The catch is, it’s a private road to the top. Trev and I wrestled with should we pay to go to the top of a mountain with a view, that on a clear day, you could see several states and even the ocean; seeing up to 130 miles away. We’ve been to lots of mountain tops and seen great long distance views and not had to pay like this. But it was THE thing to do and I’m glad we decided to go for it. It was unlike anything else we had done. So there’s four ways to get there. For our family of four, we could drive ourselves ($54), take a 2 hour guided tour in a 12 passenger van ($94), ride the Cog Railway ($240), or hike (free). We were no where near ready for a hike of this magnitude. We are recreational short distance day hikers and although, it’s only about 4.2 miles to the top, it takes an average hiker about 5 hours one way, due to the rough climb and rise of about 4,300 vertical feet. That kind of steepness and altitude change is too much for our crew. We just took a very long train ride in Canada so the boys we’re super excited to ride a train again and it was by far the most expensive. The website was full of warnings about driving yourself but people do it all day long and we live in the moutains so we decided to save the money and skip the guided tour and drive ourselves. As luck would have it, our hotel had a $9 coupon so it only cost us $45 and the driving tour came with an audio CD with all kinds of interesting facts and stories, kind of like having our own personal tour guide, and it allowed us entrance into the Mount Washington Extreme Museum at the summit. So that worked out great!

The weather was a little cloudy but nice and when we got there at 9am the temperature was a very pleasant 62 degrees.

It was a nice drive up. As we started climbing up the mountain the big trees gave way to smaller trees, to shurbs, to a VERY WINDY, very chilly 44 degrees at the top. We’re in shorts, mind you, as the high temperature for the day at the base of the mountain was 80 degrees.

Within the last mile of the ascent, the clouds were so thick you could barely see in front of you, and I mean barely. Everything just disappeared into a white nothingness. There was no view to be seen today. There was no view of anything but white clouds and blurry outlines of the building in front of you. It was amazing. It is cloudy 60% of the time at the summit and the wind if fierce. The weather observatory has recorded 231 mile an hour winds at the top before. Today the wind was, obviously, no where near that kind of speed but it was enough for you to feel it pushing you. In the video, you can see Mason and Tucker struggling to maintain their balance because the wind is so strong. When we got out of the car it was cold and wet. No rain just wet in the air. My straightened hair was wet from the dampness. We are in shorts but we have our jackets on, as we were advised to bring one by locals due to the temperature change and wind. Do you remember, I HATE to be cold? I grabbed my Snuggie I keep in the car and wrapped it around me. Mason was so embarrassed but I didn’t care; it was cold.

We made it shivering into the Tip Top House, a historical site, which used to be a hotel in the mid-1800s. Pretty neat but, more importantly for me, it was a place to warm up before we had to get back out in the weather to go to the Visitor Center.

Inside the state park’s visitor center is a post office, cafe, gift shop, and the museum. We headed to the museum.

We bought and mailed our postcards to the great grandparents and back out into the cold and wind for a picture by the train and then back to the car for our descent.

We stopped a few times to check out the weather and flora changes. Once we made it closer to the base, where it was warmer and visibility was better, we hiked a little ways out a couple of trails before having a picnic at the base of the mountain taking in the wonderful weather. It was so crazy! As much as I hate being cold, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It’s insane and worth the money. The drive wasn’t bad at all; so glad we didn’t spend the extra money on the tour. I would only pay the extra for the tour if you’re a terrible driver or your vehicle has pre-existing mechanical issues. We loved being able to pull off and hike a little and enjoy the outdoors.

After lunch, as we journeyed to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to take a couple mini hikes. Tuck got a kick out of a sign with Jackson and his name on it. Trevor spotted a black bear up the bank off the side of the road. He has amazing eagle eyes when it comes to spotting animals.

Next we headed over to North Conway for dinner and stopped by a city park for some playground time and some good old fashion hide-and-seek.

The next morning we headed back to Pinkham Notch and the boys completed the Junior Naturalist program and earned their patches. Good thing we had went the day before because it was crazy busy at the Visitor Center on the weekend. The parking lot was full and cars were parked all along the side of the road.

Now that we’ve got some hikes in, it’s time to travel to our next state to see the sunrise and eat some lobster?!

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