Back to the U.S.A.

Trip Start Oct 02, 2004
Trip End Oct 10, 2004

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Flag of United States  , New Hampshire
Saturday, August 11, 2007

Friday 8th.
We return back to the U.S.A. by way of the southern townships. With names like Sherbooke, Bromptonville and Waterloo , you'd think this would be an English-speaking part of Quebec . Not at all. We stop in Magog for a rest, enjoying our last French café au lait, and finding almost no one speaking English.
Again, the crossing from Canada back into the U.S. is a breeze. On the other side we rejoin the Federal highway system continuing south on I 91, and at St. Johnsbury, we turn off onto side roads. The country since Montreal has been relatively flat, but now we can see the White Mountains ahead of us.
We had discussed visiting Mt. Washington , either driving to the top or taking the historic rack railway, but in the end, we just couldn't squeeze in the time. Instead we decide to spend more time in Franconia National Park .
We stop off at Littleton for refreshments. Littleton is famous (for me) as it is the headquarters of Littleton Coin and Stamp Co. This was one of the most respected stamp dealers in the U.S. Regrettably they no longer deal in stamps, only coins. Nevertheless the town is most attractive, and a lunch break in the autumn sunshine beside the river at Littleton Mill is pure bliss.  
The road now penetrates the mountains towards Franconia Notch, a narrow cleft in the White Mountains . This pass is so tight that the I 91 and State Road 3 joint together to form a single lane expressway, the only one I know of in the United States. We stop at the viewpoint for the famous Old Man of the Mountain, state symbol for New Hampshire , but no sadly no more. The rock formation that looked so like the face of an old man had been held up for years by ropes, wires and metal struts, but had finally succumbed to nature and gravity during the night of the 3rd. May, 2003.   None the less, the surrounding area is glorious, with a calm lake reflecting the autumn colours.

The absurdly narrow expressway winds up through the green mountains through the confined Franconia Notch pass and widens out on the other side where we reach the turn-off for The Flume.
The Flume is an amazingly narrow cleft in the mountain carved by a small brook through the millennia. The temperature drops considerably as you traverse this humid crevice and the sound of falling water is deafening. It's a magnificent sight, and coupled with the lovely circular nature walk through the vermillion forest, by a picturesque covered bridge and over a wooden suspension bridge above a deep canyon, made this visit one of the highlights of our tour.
Because we were at the beginning of the Columbus Day holiday weekend, one of those wonderful holidays that only government employees and banks enjoy. It is also considered as the peak of fall foliage, so we had found it extremely difficult to obtain accommodation in this prime tourist spot. Our only luck had been the Autumn Breezes Motor Lodge in North Woodstock , which had a vacancy only for this night. The Autumn Breezes is a pretty ordinary characterless motel right beside the main road, quite overpriced because of the season and the holiday weekend. Nevertheless the motel is spotless with updated bathrooms, and on the whole, very comfortable.
North Woodstock is an ideal spot, as it is the start of the Kancamagus Trail, our last scenic drive of the holiday.  The motel is within walking distance of the shops and restaurants of this pretty little village. We elect a Greek restaurant this evening, and are not disappointed.     
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