We left Boston on a cloudy Sunday morning, after a huge breakfast. We had been advised to use a small cafe down the street from the hotel, and their Eggs Benedict was superb.
The trip to the airport to pick up the hire car was entertaining. The courtesy bus, shared by three hotels in the area, was driven by a cheerful Jamaican man who was playing a Bob Marley cd. He drove along, occasionally bouncing the minibus off small obstacles like crash barriers and kerbs as he tried to drive, sing, chat to his passengers and answer his mobile phone all at the same time. He was most impressed that Mr WithaY and I had heard of Bob Marley. So much so that I can only assume that most of his guests come from remote islands in the South Pacific.
Delivered from the Jamaican rally drive champion 2010 we went to talk to the nice Alamo lady at Boston Airport. She looked us up on the computer, checked that we had ordered a car, then looked us up and down quizzically.
"How far are you driving?" she asked us.
"Oh, you know, up to Maine and back, then down to Cape Cod...around and about."
She shook her head sadly, and said "This car you ordered is no good...it's too small for you." I wondered if perhaps we'd inadvertently booked a clown car.
"You need something bigger." She looked at us again. "Much, much bigger. Tell you what, if you are willing to pay to upgrade one level, I'll upgrade you three." We nodded. She nodded. It was a done deal. Her colleague wandered over as we finalised the paperwork and she told him to take us outside and "pick them something nice" which I thought was very kind.
The car lot was packed with all kinds of huge cars, but the one that we both spotted immediately was a Jeep. So, we set off to New Hampshire in a Jeep Patriot, which was comfortable, economical, had fab aircon and a decent stereo. Kudos to the Alamo lady.
I thought it was quite a big car, till we came out of LL Bean later in the trip and saw what had parked either side of it.
Anyhoo, the drive up to New Hampshire was fun, once Mr WithaY remembered how to drive an automatic, and that they drive on the right, the RIGHT, darling, other side, over there.
The placenames in New England are eerily familiar. Amesbury! Salisbury! But in America! How thrilling.
We drove up to see our mates in New Hampshire, where over the next few days we went out for lobster and steamers, saw a chipmunk, went for a long hot walk along the Marginal Way, visited many, many shops, ate fab food with our friends, and went to a graduation party with hogroast. The man roasting the hog was using a giant steel machine, all rotating spits and charcoal which he'd designed and made himself. It was called the "Oinkmaster 8000" and he was justifiably proud of it. The roast hog was delicious.
Look, a chipmunk.
One day we went up into the White Mountains, and had a trip on the North Conway Scenic Railroad, on a huge train with a cowpusher on the front. Mr WithaY and I had seats in the Pullman coach, slobbing out in wicker chairs as we chugged sedately through the countryside. It's very green, with a lot of mountains, as you'd expect, including Mount Washington, famous for having the worst recorded weather in the USA.
In the Ladies at the North Conway Railroad Station is this sign:
I was rather hoping they'd have a T-shirt for sale in there that said "My girlfriend went to North Conway Scenic Railroad and all she bought me was a box of personal hygiene products" but I couldn't find one.
There's a museum in Conway all about the observatory up there, where they have a mock-up of the shack that you can stand in while the windspeed goes up and up and up.
The shack shakes, the floor moves, the snow flying past the windows blurs into white lines and the noise is extraordinary.
200 miles an hour, eh? Better get the washing in, I suppose. The museum had loads of interactive exhibits you could poke about. My favourite was the Vortex of Doom.
You could change the movement of the wind with your hand, man. With your hand. It was, like, awesome. I dicked about with it for ages.
The highlight of the trip into Maine was the visit to LL Bean, long planned and much anticpated. It's got everything, including a giant boot outside.
I liked these. A selection of things that make duck noises, and not just any old honker, but a MAGNUM honker for those situations when you need that extra magnitude of honkage.
They also had the DUCK COMMANDER for people who need to take command of ducks from time to time.
And this, which I just giggled at like an idiot while Mr WithaY stood a little distance away tutting and telling me to stop being childish.
When you go out for a lobster dinner, they mean what they say. You get lobster, butter, sweetcorn and that's pretty much it. Maybe some steamers as well, but it is usually all about the Lobster.
I decided not to get this one, as it would have cost about $200, and instead went for something a bit smaller.
They have some stunning sunsets over there. This one was going on as I champed and nommed my way through the lobster. I expect it made an uplifting background to a frankly unedifying and probably repellant sight, as shell fragments and butter flew in all directions.
On that note, I will end, as I have a bazillion photos and I daresay you're a bit tired of them for now.
Other news: My ankle is recovering slowly, although I still can't drive which is tiresome. We've got the loft insulation blokes coming tomorrow so I hope that we will be able to put all our stuff back in the loft soon. I think a car boot sale might be in the offing, as there's stuff in the loft we've not used since we moved into this house, over 8 years ago.
Oh, and we have started harvesting carrots from the garden, and very nice they are too.