Clearly, somebody wants my blog to die. Of the three computers I could use, one doesn't allow me to get into the site far enough to write anything new, one crashes about a minute after I get logged in, and the third obnoxiously covers half of the writing space with advertisements that I can't get rid of as long as I stay on the writing page. This third one is the one I am writing on now. I will give this situation a couple weeks to correct itself. If it doesn't I guess I will have to find somewhere else to carry on. Obviously I need to feel like I am in the game somehow, in whatever paltry degree. As I tap this out I am eating Utz potato chips and Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA--8.3% alcohol content--out of Frederick, Maryland, where F Scott Fitzgerald is buried. Such is the degree of anxiety these hindrances on my ability to write my blog are causing me.
I had a leftover block of days off at the end of the summer and as we had not gone on any big trip this year everybody was up for going away overnight for a couple more days. I looked into going back to Maine to one of the beaches, but we had been to Maine a lot by that point, so I decided to go up to North Conway in the White Mountains. This area is only about two hours from where we live and we usually go up 2 or 3 times a year on day trips, but this was the first time we had ever stayed overnight. Our hotel was around 3/4ths empty, which I thought was unusual considering that it was the middle of August. But now that so many schools and colleges start around August 20th, the season really begins to die by the middle of the month. This is ridiculous, of course, everybody says so, but I have only noticed the acceleration of this trend over the past 4-5 years.
1. Outdoor Model Railroad at an Attraction That We Visited. This place was kind of a scam but the children liked it, and it is decidedly homemade, old-fashioned and non-corporate, and I appreciate that the proprietors only have so many days in the year to generate income. Still, when I think of things I did not see when I was in Europe as a younger person because I couldn't bear to part with $10, and compare it with the amounts I throw away to try to give my children a few happy memories of their childhoods now, it is astounding.
2. This Picture Pretty Much Says It All. The deal with this train ride was the shadiest bit of business in the whole package. They weren't able to sell tickets for the ride on this toy train, because that would qualify this establishment legally as an amusement park, and they would have to get permits or pay more taxes, or something. So they have a table set up in their gift shop full of overpriced junk souvenirs, and if you buy a kid a souvenir, they are entitled to a ride on the train which does not affect the legal status of the museum. I don't understand it. Anyway, I am holding one of the souvenirs that enabled us to go for this ride. Despite all of these shenanigans, I have happy memories of this day. The owners were from Switzerland, the German part, quite old, who had been all over the world and decided about twenty-five years ago that of all the places they'd seen they wanted to retire to North Conway, New Hampshire and collect train memorabilia. All of the little buildings and animal silhouettes on the train route here were made by the guy. Any artistic value they might have would have to be considered under the 'folk' category.
3. The Station, Along With Most of the Other Outdoor Buildings, Has Seen Better Days. It just makes it seem that much more authentic.
4-6. Pictures From the Indoor Model Train Museum. I stayed outside with my two smaller children and didn't go into this part. My nine year old got the camera and took about forty pictures of all the displays.
Passenger trains in New Hampshire have been pretty much extinct for 50 years now. They revived the Boston to Portland line in the late 90s and that train makes a couple of stops at school towns (Exeter and Durham), and the New York to Montreal train goes along the Connecticut River stopping at Brattleboro and White River Junction, Vt, which are right across from New Hampshire, and sometimes it slips across the river at one point and stops at Charlestown, NH. But that is about it.
7. It Couldn't Be All Light Amusements. We Did Some Hiking Too. This was an easy trail though, and was outside the National Forest, the higher mountains of which can be seen in the background. This place was called Black Cap Mountain. This summer was not an ambitious one for hiking because of the alignment of the children's ages. We had a four year old who was hiking fully on his own for the first time, as well as a two year old who still had to be carried all the way and who was a lot heavier than she was as a one year old. We also have a six year old who doesn't like hiking at all and is very vocal about the fact, though he is a very robust hiker.
8. View Looking Southeast. Those mountains in the distance are probably in Maine.
9. Another View of the Scene On Top of the Mountain. This is about the most vanilla hike you can do in that area, but it is still pretty beautiful when you get to the top.
10. Near Zeb's Nostalgic General Store, In the Town of North Conway. There are two nostalgic general stores on the same block. On one of them, there is a sign on the door that says: "You are now entering the past. Please turn off your cell phones, etc". This was cute and the store itself did invoke a sense of the past, despite being overcrowded. I noticed that they still had security cameras though.
11. Lunch Counter at Zeb's. The White Mountains area is a National Forest, not a National Park like Acadia or Smoky Mountains are, which distinction seems to be important to a lot of people, though to me they all seem to function pretty much the same. North Conway is the commercial and traffic clogged center on the edge of the park akin to Bar Harbor and Gatlinburg, and falls between the two on the class scale. North Conway attracts a fair share of affluent people, but it also has quite a bit of kitsch, and a lot of vulgar family oriented attractions like water parks, miniature golf, rides, rope climbing facilities, etc (all of which we of course have indulged in from time to time) that Bar Harbor largely does not have. Needless to say it does not have all of the Jesus and guns and you-mess-with-me-you-mess-with-the-whole-trailer park humor kind of stuff that they have in Gatlinburg. I suspect North Conway would be pretty gay-friendly, though Bar Harbor appeared to have a prominent and well-defined gay scene, or community, or whatever you want to call it, from what I could make out. I think the traffic is actually worse in North Conway than in Gatlinburg.
12. Watching the TV in Our Little Suite. This room was actually kind of nice. I was a little paranoid about the hotel at first because everybody else who was staying there seemed to be fat and covered with tattoos and I thought that must reflect badly on us (no stylish gays would deign to stay at a place like this). But it was perfectly fine.
Now that school is back in session and everybody is busy again and the cooler weather is imminent (though it was 92 degrees yesterday) I am sentimental about our little summer trip. That said, autumn was always my favorite season, only at this time of my life I'm usually too busy to appreciate it much, unfortunately. It will go by in a flash and if I'm lucky I'll have a couple of days where I am able to feel something of the emotions this season used to arouse in me when I was younger.