Going on vacation used to mean packing up two large suitcases, a wheeled carry-on bag with a long handle and a backpack, waking up before dawn and riding two hours in a bus to the airport where I would board a plane that flew for 13 or 14 hours. Then I would spend a few hours in transit at some mid-western airport to board another plane to fly another 90 minutes to Boston, where I would then ride in a shuttle bus for another hour or so in the dark and finally arrive exhausted at the place I used to call home. I've simplified things since then.
Preparation and travel for my latest vacation has involved packing a weekend bag and a hiking pack, throwing those and my bike in the car and driving two hours through the verdant New Hampshire scenery to spend time away with my wonderful boyfriend in a place that is quiet, green, calm and not home.
I haven't perfected the vacation thing yet. I've had to cut this week into two mini-vacations to look after my girl on "my days". If things were normal and my ex not so rigid, I could have probably arranged it so I could have spent an uninterrupted week away. Oh well. Maybe some day.
Our vacation locale is Waterville Valley. I went skiing there once as a kid, but ski resorts always look so different in the summer. We used to have a place up near Gunstock and I used to prefer visiting in the spring and summer when we could go exploring in the woods, even though I did once get trapped in some quick-sandy muck when I was out bushwhacking around by myself. Waterville Valley is indeed a valley with only one road running in (or out, of course). There are a lot of condos and townhouse developments, but it's still a charming place that seems very sheltered from the rest of the world. Our room looks out over trees and has a stunning view of Mt. Tecumseh. It was extremely hot and humid this weekend with several thunderstorms that moved through, so I spent quite a bit of time on the couch looking out the window watching that mountain disappear and reappear with the storm clouds.
I usually have a pretty good tolerance for the heat, so I thought a hike over the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail on Saturday morning would be challenging but fun. It was fun because it ended and I survived it, but it would have probably been much more fun if 1) there had been a breeze and not just a hot, heavy haze that seemed to hold the bugs in suspension, 2) the thermometer had been reading in the 70s and not the high 80s and low 90s and 3) I were in much better shape than I am now. Even still, there were some beautiful views, the rare breezes that did blow felt like heaven and I felt accomplished and exhausted in a very satisfying way when we made it back down the Mt. Dickey side of the loop and back to the car. On our way back to the condo we stopped to dip our hot, tired feet into Mad River and I'll admit that when I saw the small hill we had to scramble down to reach the water my immediate reaction was-- but I'll have to climb back up it to get back to the car! What can I say? My legs were awfully tired by that point. The water was freezing cold but running fast and once I allowed my feet and calves to acclimate to it a little it was kind of like an arctic jacuzzi effect the way the water wove around the rocks and splashed against my pale white then shocking pink feet.
As I mentioned before, I had to come back down to Dover today, where the heat and humidity don't seem nearly as picturesque and conducive to inhaling novels and languid hours of couch meditation. The heat is supposed to break early in the week and the temperatures are rumored to be heading down into the 60s. As long as it's not too wet, I hope we'll be attempting another hike later in the week when I head back up north. I didn't do much hiking until I was in college, when I mostly just went up poking around in the hills overlooking Boulder, sometimes in the middle of the night just for the thrill of it. After I graduated and moved to Japan I started to hike on the weekends with friends from work. After those years it was something that I never seemed to find the time or companions for. I'm looking forward to exploring and enjoying it more right here close to home.