Monday, August 30, 2010

Celebrating the End of Summer by Sitting in the Car.

A few days ago, Kerri and I realized that summer is rapidly drawing to a close and we had not once heard the plaintive cries of "Are we there yet?" drifting up from the back seat of our car.

We chastised ourselves for our appalling lack of concern for our children and promptly packed them into the back seat for a long drive up to Mount Washington where we would celebrate the end of the long car ride by driving up the mountain.

Then driving back down the mountain.

Then driving home.

I have hiked up many mountains in the White Mountain region (see previous posts to read about all my exciting adventures with Julie of the Wild).  On those hikes with Julie of the Wild, I have had ample opportunity to view the splendor and beauty of the roiling miasma of clouds that perpetually enshroud the summit of Mount Washington.

Mount Washington is known for having some of the worst weather on the planet, so we prepared for our expedition the same way the original explorers did. By tossing some sweatshirts in the back of the car.

After a long ride northward, during which the kids had ample opportunity to whine about how long the ride was, we arrived at the base of the mountain and delighted the children by telling them that, not only did we have more driving to do, but the drive will be terrifying, as indicated by the helpful, reassuring sign posted at the bottom of the auto road.

The dark and threatening clouds crowding the horizon provided that added level of comfort that made the journey one that will long be carved into our collective memories.

We started up the road, listening to to the CD provided by the helpful folks who collect the small fortune you must fork over before risking your life on their road. The CD's narrator has a smooth, friendly voice that provides a brilliant distraction from the bladder-emptying terror of the drive up this winding, tortuous road.

Throughout the soothing CD, the narrator reminds you to stop frequently to cool your brakes and to reassure you that, despite having points along the drive with names like "Oh My God Curve", there have been surprisingly few fatalities along the Auto Road (There have been three. I checked.)

While my knuckles were welded to the steering wheel, Kerri was kind enough to take a few pictures so I could enjoy the scenery that I was missing by trying not to plummet off the crumbling edge of the road.

We did arrive safely at the top and were richly rewarded with 45 mph winds and 50 foot visibility.
And rain.
If you are interested in what the summit actually looks like, I can only suggest that you have a look for yourself because I have no idea. The dense fog made any long distance sight-seeing somewhat difficult.

I understand that there are alleged to be some buildings up there and I suspect that this may be them, but it still looks something like a scene out of Star Wars to me. We did manage to find the building that has been chained to the ground to prevent it from being blown away. (Absolutely true.)

Sadly, I was not chained to the ground and blew away just as this picture was snapped of my family at the summit.

At least, I think that's my family. It was a little hard to see up there.

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