Thursday, August 15, 2013

The White Mountains of New Hampshire: Mount Washington Auto Tour

Hello!  Today I have the first of many posts of my week's vacation in New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York State.  I know my blog is primarily visited by paper crafter's, so I will try to post paper crafting posts in between my travel posts for those not interested in vacation stories.

My daughter Ashley is an opera singer who participated in the young artists program 'Opera North' which is held in Lebanon, New Hampshire.  We wanted to see her perform the role of Beth in 'Little Women' so  we planned one of our vacations around her performance.  If it wasn't for Ashley,  we probably never would have been to New Hampshire in our lives, so we have a lot to thank her for because this was one beautiful state and we had a wonderful vacation!

New Hampshire is about a twenty four hour drive from our home in Wisconsin.  We broke up the trip into three days by driving first to Chicago Friday night after work and spending the night there, then the next day driving about nine hours to Buffalo, New York  and stopping overnight in that city, and finally on the third day, after another eight hour drive, arrived in New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon.  We drove through seven states total, before reaching our destination. It was quite the adventure.

After a brief dinner with our daughter who was in between rehearsals, we headed to our hotel room to unpack for the week, and relax from a long three days of travel.

Monday morning was a beautiful, sunny day.  I woke up with the sunrise beaming through my window because we forgot to shut the drapes the night before, not realizing that it's light out at 5:00 a.m. in New Hampshire but dark out in Wisconsin at 5:00 a.m. because of the different time zone.  So we woke up a little earlier than planned, had a delicious breakfast, and then loaded back up into our car for another two hour car drive to the The White Mountains.  We didn't mind this drive too much, because these were the kind of views we saw:  

 We kept seeing a lot of these moose warning signs everywhere we drove and found them quite silly. Does the highway department really think that anyone would NOT brake for a moose?  What do they think people right into them?  I live in a highly populated deer area, and I've had many cars damaged if not totaled from hitting a deer,  I can only imagine what hitting a moose would do! I guess I can see Moose Warning Signs, but 'Brake for Moose'?  That's kind of a goofy statement if you ask me.
 My husband read about The Mount Washington Auto Road and was really excited about driving up to the summit so that was the first thing we did when we entered the White Mountain National Forest.  The Auto Road takes you up to the Summit of Mount Washington which is the highest peak in New Hampshire of 6288 feet.  Below is a picture of a warning sign that greets you as you enter the gate to the road.  Although I took this warning seriously, I wish I would have heeded it's advice and stayed at the base of the mountain looking up.
Although the park is free (except for parking) it costs about $26.00 per car and $8.00 per occupant to drive the auto road since it's a private road.  Here is the ticket house where you pay and receive instructions on how to drive what is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the world.  They have the days temperature and the visibility listed on a sign before you spend money to drive up.  On the day that we were there, it was in the mid seventies at the base of the mountain, but only thirty eight degrees up at the summit, and only 70% visibility due to some cloud cover.
 As we began our eight mile drive up the mountain, we were able to pull over occasionally to take some scenic shots.  Below is a picture of my daughter Ashley with a mountain view behind her.
 The higher we ascended the more spectacular the views became.
 The scenic views were truly jaw dropping and so inspiring, yet, so terrifying at the same time.  Although I was awestruck by God's beautiful creation, the road was so narrow and winding, and many times we were only inches away from an end of a cliff and I was so scared that if my husband made one wrong move, we would end up plummeting 6000 feet to our deaths.  I was never so terrified in my life!
 Here are some examples of what the view looked like from inside our car and what the road conditions were like.  And I'm really only showing you the 'better' parts of the road, because during the real scary parts I was too petrified to take pictures.

 The closer we got to the Summit the more fog we encountered because we were literally IN the clouds.  It became harder to drive because visibility was so poor:  yet another reason to be terrified!
 When we finally reached the Summit I breathed a slight sigh of relief, but then I started to have anxiety about driving back down.  We stayed up there for a couple of hours and I tried to calm my nerves by looking inside all the buildings and reading about the history of the mountain,  but it seemed the longer we waited, the more nervous I became.  I really started to have a panic attack about driving back down and tried to think of every possible other alternative I could get down the mountain without driving back down, but there was none.  I finally determined that the only way down was the same way I came up, so I had to get back in that car.  But this time, I CLOSED MY EYES!  My husband told me when I could open my eyes....only the spots I felt safe....but when we reached a treacherous spot, I would quickly close my eyes again and pray.

Slightly below the summit, Ashley and her husband Jason got out of the car to take pictures.  The wind was so strong it was hard to even stand up.  And it was so bitter, bitter cold, it made the views difficult to enjoy except from inside the car.
 When we finally reached solid ground I thanked God and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  This is me at the base of the mountain road.  So happy to be alive.  Would I do it again?  Never.  Out of the five of us, my husband and daughter loved the experience, but my son, son-in-law, and myself were very uncomfortable and on edge the whole time.  Lesson learned....the sign is correct.  If you are afraid of heights, you WILL NOT enjoy this driving experience.  However, the views were SPECTACULAR!
Have a great day! Amy


  1. Fabulous photos! What a gorgeous view this must have all been! :) TFS!

  2. I have been on several such roads and never could be the driver. I stopped on the first such road and made my husband drive. I then became terrified because I wasn't in control and white knuckled it all the way down!

  3. We once drove up to "Grossglockner" ( mountain in Austria), and I completely understand how scared you were. I felt the same way and think I was saying prayers in my head the whole way up and down. But I do think the road we were on was a little wider and not quite as close to the edge as this road. Glad you made it down safely, and I am sure in the end the great photos were so worth it. Can't wait to hear more about your vacation! It looks like a beautiful area.


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