The first thing that you need to know about travel long distances with Veronica is that she tends to forget to eat, and needs to be reminded of this. This is notable for two reasons, I get annoyed when I am hungry and she becomes more distracted than normal—something that is both impressive to see and dangerous whilst driving a car. The easy solution to this, of course, is to state things like, “hey, it is past 1 now. We should probably think about stopping to eat,” as this is normally met with a puzzled response like you are explaining to her what hunger is for the first time.
I am easy to please for lunch, as pretty much any small-town store that makes food can supply me a sub, which I am happy to get my standard of ham and America cheese. Veronica, on the other hand needs to take her time to weigh her options; is this going to be too heavy for later in the day? Does she want something else? Would another item go well with it? Etc. Then she almost always gets a turkey and Swiss cheese sub.
One of my favorite things to do when I travel with my wife is to remind her that we have been places before. It isn’t that she has a bad memory, but more that she has an entirely selective one that has a switch that asks, “is Daniel going to remember this?” and if the answer is yes, it promptly deletes it as it has been moved to the external husband storage drive. I bring this up because when we arrived in the town to climb mount Washington I had a mildly long conversation describing how we went through the same town on our honeymoon, stopped there and ate. She also did not believe me for several minutes until I pointed out, ahead of time, where a Pizza Hut we ate at used to be.
Oddly it never occurred to us to check to see if there was anything to do while we were here last time—I know this because we surely would have done this, as my wife loves mountains and mountain related things. Probably because ten years ago, around that time, there were other things happening right around then in regard to my life and family.
For over a month before the trip Veronica was looking forward to the climb up the mountain. Which I thought was interesting because most of the time my wife is kind of excited when things are happening, but not before they do. When she would come home she would point out little things, like other cars that had the “this car climbed mount Washington” stickers, or other little nuggets of fun like web cams from the mountain, or weather reports. This made the entire experience of pulling up to the booth to climb and receiving the guide packet of goodies kind of surreal as she knew exactly what was inside.
My favorite item was the CD, which explained all kinds of neat little factoids about the mountain, the history, and how the road was two lanes wide. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone planning on going later, but that was being generous enough to be called a lie. There were also tickets to the museum of weather, some things that were so memorable I am pretty sure we threw them away, and the bumper sticker that my wife had joked we could turn around instantly after getting.
On looking at the bumper sticker, up close, the only thing Veronica ever said about it was, “this is not going on my car.” In her defense it would have taken up half her bumper. And as we all know, that is valuable Adirondack sticker space.
The man on the CD was super informative, explaining the history of the road, races people have done on it, the vegetation (and repeatedly told us it was a felony to touch anything over a certain altitude because of rarity on this coast), and road etiquette. The two things that we were repeatedly given instructions about were NOT to touch anything alive, and that people coming down the road have the right of way. It is like going to a grandparent’s house that has gotten used to not having children and decided to have nice things again, so they feel the need to repeatedly instruct their grandchildren to never touch anything ever. That was Mount Washington with flora and fauna. Also I guess if cars coming down the hill were adults and children should get out of their way if I am straining this analogy.
There are several pull off on the way up, which we used from time to time; because I have issues with heights and having my wife would passingly remind me of it while we are driving up a one lane road with a car coming at us with questionable breaks; this turns out to not be the cure. I am pretty sure that I saw people –on more than one occasion—taking moss or other assorted things (I wasn’t really inspecting what exactly they were doing). Considering that I am pretty sure they just threw Jimmy Hoffa off one of these cliffs I wasn’t going to push my luck with strangers
I am told that the view from the top is the entire reason that you go there. I wouldn’t have known. When we started our trek, it was a sunny day, the same as when we ended it. In the middle the entire top of the mountain was encased in cloud cover so thick I thought they were shooting the ending to a depressing Stephen King movie. I never get lost when I adventure out with my wife, but it turns out that my sense of direction works very poorly with no landmarks to function off. They either need a light house or a poorly paid intern with a flashlight on a string and a whistle up there.
I would love to go into detail about the top of the mountain, but as stated before, I kind of didn’t see it. On top of that it sort of seemed like most of the people who work there didn’t come to work as the cafeteria appeared to be closed when we got there, and the closed cafeteria was the peak of the excitement. Honestly, that was fine because the one thing I remember most about that place was that I had to poop badly and only one stall was functional—and it was in use for about 40 minutes. So my entire visit basically consisted of walking from one closed or sad “would be cool if you could see” weather thing to another, while trying not to think about the aforementioned condition.
There was a museum and gift shop there, neither of which was very impressive. The museum was mainly about how crazy cold it gets at the top during the winter and was neat but I was distracted and there were tons of bubbly, tweeting teen girls there, and the gift shop had an impressive number of stuffed animals and a less impressive amount of post cards. There was also a post office, that seemed to have the same hours as a privately-owned bead shop. The postal office did allow you to put mail in with the correct amount of money to be sent out, when they did randomly open. So in that instance it was functional, so I guess it has that over the bead shop.
I have never in my life experience vertigo, but I now know what can trigger it. Standing with my back to a cliff and on a slanted hill seems to do it. I am sure the incline wasn’t that bad, but it at the moment that Veronica wanted to take the picture—with her phone directly in front of the sun (and then keep yelling at me that my eyes were closed)—it sure as hell felt like every dream where I was starting the fall to my death. You know, the one where you are falling and your hands can’t grasp onto anything as you are siding off something. That.
Did I mention that I drove down the hill too? Even though we were closer to the edge at almost all times I kind of came to terms with the fact that if I was going on die that day I wanted it to be my fault. I did grow up driving down Whiteface mountain so I am slightly more familiar with how not to burn the brakes of a car when going down an incline than the city girl I married.