Falling at 65 MPH

September 27, 2015 — I love a day trip any time of year, but, man, the Autumn ones are something special. We did our first of the season yesterday here in the home state. Actually, probably the only one of the season. The rest of our time in the Samhain Zone will be experienced almost completely within the confines of Salem, Massachusetts. So this road trip was important, even if we were taking it before any of the famous White Mountain foliage had changed colors.

And, of course, I completely mis-planned it. Normally for our road trips, I plot out oddities and then more or less take the back roads to get to them, seeing what else we can see on the way. But for some reason, I didn’t plan this one well at all.

But it started out decently enough. A stop at the gas station to fill up ended with me buying a scratcher (the first time I’ve ever done that) just because it had an evil clown on it. We ended up winning the price of the ticket, which we then cashed during another pit stop for another evil clown, which again netted us the price of the ticket. I assume I’ll be doing that the rest of the season. I also learned that a great road trip tip is to give your kids a coin and some scratchers. You get some quiet out of the backseat and, if you’re lucky, they might earn you a retirement nest egg.

But things went relatively awry soon after that. For instance, we realized pretty early that we weren’t going to make it to what I assumed would have been the highlight of the trip, the remnants of a WWII German POW camp in northern New Hampshire. That was a bummer, but I will get there one day.

My next mis-plan was not doing enough research on Kimball Castle in Gilford, New Hampshire, a more-than-century-old medieval-looking residence that’s been abandoned for years and is currently on the market. I knew it was on private property, but was hoping for a nice vantage point on it from somewhere legal. We got within sight of its tessellated tops, but that’s it. I’m chalking it up to field research for a future jaunt.

We did successfully hit one oddity, the Great Wall of Sandwich, New Hampshire. A strange tale, that one. And, since I have no idea when I’ll get around to telling you my version, I’ll send you here instead.

Obviously we hit a graveyard. No Autumn road trip is worth its name without one. The one whose tombstones we found ourselves among was a completely random stop. I don’t even know its name. See, in New England, you don’t have to bother with actually planning to visit an old cemetery, you’ll just naturally pass a dozen of them. It’s one of the reasons I love this area.

Next, we hit the nearest New England covered bridge, just like a good tourist is supposed to do (and we did run into tourists from both New York and New Jersey while we were there). It was the 19th century Durgin Bridge in North Sandwich. We caught some frogs underneath, played some Headless Horseman inside of it, and wondered if our Photoshop skills could warm up the colors of all the green leaves surrounding it. So it was a great time, but I’m only now realizing as I write this piece that I had a chance to see this bridge instead, because it was nearby. The reason I missed it is because I hadn’t yet updated my OTIS Map of New England Oddities with that particular oddity. So another slight mis-plan.

Finally we hit a random corn maze at Moulton Farm in Meredith. Didn’t mean to. Just pulled into the farm stand to look at pumpkins and pet cows and peek into lobster tanks (New England, guys). But they had a four-acre maze out back. So we did it. And I had my annual lesson that I absolutely stink at them. So bad, in fact, that I had to settle for finding the entrance again and hoping nobody outside was looking at me as we nonchalantly walked out through the in-door like we meant it. They gave us a sheet with 20 questions on it, the answers to which were spread throughout the maze. We found about a third of them.

But I take heart knowing that I overheard a family a couple of rows away asking Siri for the answers to the trivia.

So it was a relatively uneventful trip, but this is what an uneventful trip looks like in New England in the Fall. It’s comforting to know that even if you mis-plan as badly as I did, Fall covers all ills.