When I was in college I fell in love with many things. No, Beer was not one of them. There is a saying…”Half the fun is getting there”. It should be amended to “Sometimes getting there is as much fun”. It takes nothing away from there. It also depends on where one is going of course.
Driving home was about 3.5 hrs with no weather delays. It was 210 miles. Those first few miles were by familiar places, the places I grew up with. Next, getting to Interstate 495 northbound until hitting Interstate 93 for a fairly straight line starting from the northern suburbs of Boston, into the well developed exurbs of southeastern New Hampshire. The ride in New Hampshire was the transformation of mind. I always preferred going back to school as opposed to home. I always knew that if I could escape the Boston Metropolitan area of over 4 million people with congested highways, people driving like they are in Mad Max, and the general anxiety that is a busy area…….I would be fine.
As I would pass the far flung fingers that the Boston area hand touched into New Hampshire…I could see the road for its beauty and my blood pressure would drop. Traffic thins considerably and the journey is only half over as hardwood and conifer trees claim back their justified space.
Interstate 93 goes through Franconia Notch in the White Mountains. The area itself is a micro climate. I have always thought of it as a gate into the north country of New England. This magnificient masterpiece of glaciation some 15,000 years ago……. a calm washed over me like a gentle wave kissing the sand on your favorite beach.
I broke down in New Hampshire in the middle of a Nor’easter about 10 miles south of Franconia Notch on a very cold Sunday night in January 2001. This is dedicated to that instance….
Upon a straight line carved by mans order
I traveled North. Connecting , breaking nature…..
Immense stone cuts miles in the deep wood of wind and snow
I am at your fate, mechanical beast
I stood as a ghost surrounded snowflakes
Fingers felt not the touch of winter’s bite on my skin
In this post glaciation land of four seasons
I can find only many reasons
Why I am at one with the spectacle which is nature.
At peace with the unknown…….
I did break down that very windy and cold night in 2001 with a heavy snow blowing. I decided to walk it, however I realized it was dark and my flashlight was dead. Nobody could see me until they would be on top of me and not in a good way if I were to traverse Interstate 93 with 1/4 visibility or less. I had a car full of warm clothes, and I was almost always fully prepared for breaking down. This was an almost always one of those nights.
The first few cars I owned were the kind you held your breath a little over the slightest sign that your car was about to say “I just do not feel like going any further”. I had plenty of warm clothes which was great for the weather, but a source of light was needed. Nobody had passed me in over an hour. Perhaps I should not have driven in this. Sympathy for me? Probably not much deserved.
I watched a lot of MacGyver. I always liked how Richard Dean Anderson never needed a gun to beat the enemy. That was not a political statement, just the truth. So I looked around and found my duct tape. I am one of those that uses duct tape like it is going out of style. Call me “Red Green ” if you know the reference. I stated that I love music in my first blog. I had many cds on the ride as usual. I took about a two dozen cds and duct taped them all together. They were a giant reflector as I had taped the non playing side. I started walking.
There had been one vehicle in 1.5 hrs that passed me and it was a semi barreling into the blanket of falling winter. Not encouraging.
I trudged in a foot of snow for about 2 miles walking in what was the right hand side of the right lane as the breakdown lane was under about 3 feet of formally plowed snow. Not a car had passed me. I knew I had about 7 miles to go but this was dangerous, reflector or no reflector. Suddenly I saw a glow behind me. I turned around to reflect the light. It was a black ford sedan. The person pulled to the side and said “I am a Woodstock, NH police officer, what are you doing out here? I said, “show me some ID” as in my mind I thought “So am I going to have to fight this guy if he is lying?”….He smiled and showed me his credentials as he was in plain clothes. After a few minutes of talking I accepted his ride to Woodstock so I could make some phone calls and get my vehicle towed to Vermont. I was still holding my mass of duct taped cd madness. Aerosmith connected to Liz Phair connect to The Beatles ans so forth. He asked me “What the hell is that thing?”. I told him it was the only I way I could show I was on the road as I had no working flashlight. He laughed and said “If it were not for that thing I would not have seen you”. The visibilty at this time was down to about 30 feet or so. We are talking very heavy snow. I made it up to Vermont by 3am that next morning.
I made it back. To the only place I could ever call a second home as for some reason nature calls to me up there. The howling voice of winter of the crystallized land yielded to a sunny Monday of blue skies and promise. The place where people not only called to me, but the land itself, no matter the season.
Below is a picture of Lake Willoughby in Westmore VT, about 20 miles north of where I went to school and not more than 15 miles from Quebec.
Thank you for reading.