New England

Driving through the hills and mountains of Vermont we noticed that “New England” was mentioned often. Even though I had been with my nose in the map every day, this was not something I had noticed yet. New England is the name of the region of the North East, referring to pretty much everything east of NY state. We cut into Vermont at the far south to see the Green Mountain National Forrest.

We saw beautiful nature while crossing through NY state, but Vermont set the bar a bit higher. We set off to a small free camping site we found online. We drove an hour or so on normal roads before getting on a dirt track. 10 Km into this dirt track we ran into a combination of American, Colombian and German youth in their early 20’s also looking for this camp spot. We found the camp spot on the side of a calm river. We pulled up our van to a small fire pit and made our little camp to get comfortable. Lighting the fire was a must since the mosquitos and other weird flies were trying to eat us alive.

Next Moring was a cold and wet one, we have had several of these now but it made us appreciate the sun more than we did before. The multinational trio was packing up their stuff in the rain when I invited them for a coffee. Soon they came to sit in and by the van to get a bit warmer while the Colombian was trying to explain a Colombian saying about papaya’s that I didn’t really get and the German was making us compliments on the van. One compliment I will never forget since it was on the colour and the state of the paint. I am aware that this might be the first and the last compliment on the paint, so I am still cherishing this one!

After the trio were long gone the weather started to look up and we went on an exploration walk in the surrounding nature. Paco enjoyed the river and the woods while we saw new animals and plant life. The next day we did a run along the same track to make ourselves feel less lazy. We decided to make the most of this spot by staying one more night. The fire pit, the river, and actual toilets were too good to leave after one night only.

The next day after our morning ritual of Illy coffee and our oats we started to get ready to drive north. We couldn’t find a nice spot so we settled for a camping after all. We drove by that same camping 30 minutes ago but our “we will not pay for a spot ego” needed this 30 minutes to get a bit lower. The next morning we followed the advice of the young camping manager to go see the Quechee gorge about 30 minutes north. We overlooked the gorge while walking the bridge toward the trail that led us to the bottom of the gorge. Paco loved the river (regardless what kind of water, he always loves it!) and after some time we took a dive into the cold river at a spot that looked calm enough to swim in. Later that day we drove into New Hampshire, our fourth state.

We were going to the White Mountain National Forrest, and we ended up staying in and around it for 3 nights. The first night we drove up to a couple of “unmanned camping’s” where the sign said we had to pay about $20, so we drove up to a parking near a trailhead (a place where hikers park their car to go on hikes). The parking was close to a lake called Beaver Pond with unreal views and a clear star filled night sky.

Next day we were somewhat infected by the hiking bug, as we started walking up a trail that was clearly marked with a sign saying “extremely difficult, not for beginners, and please turn around and go back”. But hey, we all know this trail was a piece of cake for us right? It was 1.5 miles to a shelter, passing the shelter the trail gets less difficult going for 2.5 miles up to the summit.  Panting like Paco does when he is hot, worn out, and totally overwhelmed by the views and the beauty of the mountain we made it to the shelter. This 1.5 mile trail kicked our asses but it was totally worth it! While we were enjoying the view from the shelter and getting our breath back the reality sunk in that we had to hike down the same snow and sharp rock covered trail that sometimes collapsed into the white rushing river. Shaking legs that felt like they were made of rubber carried us all the way down the 1.5 miles of beauty much easier than they did the way up. We felt proud and half dead when we arrived back at the van. Paco demonstratively dropped down on the asphalt next to the van playing half dead while we proudly had lunch in the van. Soon we would drive to another spot in the forest.

Not realising it was Memorial day weekend we drove by all the legal camping spots along the 4 miles stretching dirt road.  The spots were spread out far, and were totally secluded. Some spots had lonely tiny tents abandoned for the day by their hiker owners, while other spots had generator powered huge RV’s while V8 pick-up trucks blocked the entrance to the spot. After asking about 4 people if we might join them for the night we ran into a couple, around their 30’s, looking open-minded while unloading their car. They were happy to let us join them for the night. We stayed up later that night than we usually did while sharing whiskey, rum, beers, cider, fire, and stories. It was so good to talk to nice people being inspired by their passion for hiking and taking their advice on going to Maine. While still fighting off mosquitoes we fell asleep a bit tipsy. We said goodbye the next morning, dropping of Micah and Kiana at the trail they were about to hike. Our goal for the day was to find a place where we could see Real Madrid win the Champions League, and where we could see Max Verstappen win the GP of Monaco.

Around midday I walked into an Applebee’s (an American fast food restaurant with an endless amount of tv’s showing sports) asking if they would show the final of the Champions League. It took about 5 minutes of browsing through the digital tv guide to find that they could indeed show the game, we agreed to come back in about 90 minutes. During the final, which Madrid won, the manager of the restaurant was interested in our story, and reacted in a kind and positive way to our plans that seem somewhat strange to others. This Applebee’s totally blew our minds, when the check came in after the final. The manager gave us the check and told us that she loved what we are doing and that the food was on them. Unreal, how supportive and kind this gesture was. We left with full bellies, the Champions League trophy, and overwhelmed by the kindness of this woman.

That night we slept on a Walmart parking to stream the F1 GP of Monaco the next day. Max did not win like Real did the day before,but we hope to see him do better in Canada in 2 weeks. We will actually be in Montreal that very race weekend. But first we will go to our most east destination of this trip, to Bar Harbor, Maine. In Maine we would do some beginner trails that Micah advised us to do, that had stunning views and were not as crazy as the trail we did before (thanks for the advice Micah and Kiana!).

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