Despite having spent my whole life in New England, the fall foliage still blows my mind every year. Ayla and I decided to join the other leaf peeping tourists this weekend and head to the White Mountains to stretch our legs on some trails and take in the rusty hues.
We threw a bunch of camping gear and some snacks in the car and left at 6am driving up into Franconia Notch. Our first stop was the Flume which is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. The granite walls rise to a height of 70 to 90 feet and are 12 to 20 feet apart and there is a boardwalk built onto the side of the rock wall the goes over the water running thru the bottom of the gorge. There is also a tiny cave that we crawled thru. No other adults dared it. Just us and the kids. I was just barely able to squeeze myself thru a tiny hole at the end of it by like doing a belly-flop-face-plant type maneuver with my legs up in the air behind me while I dragged myself toward the light. We dusted ourselves off and continued across a little covered bridge overlooking a massive deep natural pool and some other viewpoints.
After a short water and snack break at the car, we were able to walk to another a trailhead that goes up Pemigewasset Mountain which is a little mountain that opens up to some bald rock ledges overlooking some breath taking foliage. The summit was hopping. Not only was it a lovely Saturday of Columbus Day Weekend but it was also a Canadian Holiday and Franconia Notch was packed. Fortunately we did our hiking adventure early and were leaving the area before the place was totally blown out. I expected hikers to be out and about but I was shocked when I discovered LaFayette Campground was full. We stopped in Franconia Village to pick up some supplies before venturing to a more remote area of the White Mountains where we could find a quieter place to camp in the National Park called Wildwood Campground where there was plenty of spots. I put up the tent and Ayla started a fire. I chopped up an onion, a seitan sausage that Tracy had made and some mushrooms and tossed them in the tiny dutch oven with some olive oil and let it simmer in the fire. After that was done we poured in some leftover butternut squash soup we brought from home which heated up quickly in the hot cast iron dutch oven and we poured it over our mushroomy mixture. We toasted some sour dough rolls we had made at home and walla! Campfire Dinner! Later we boiled some water for fancy hot chocolate and just sat talking and watching the embers warm our feet until it was dark enough to get in our sleeping bags at 7PM. We were just dozing off by 8 when the rain gently began hitting the tent. Perfect timing.
Woke up around 6 and waited for the rain to slow down before exiting the tent. It always sounds more rainy in a tent then it actually is outside and once I was up and out, it was barely raining. We threw everything in the car and meandered down the lovely Daniel Webster Scenic Highway which was very scenic indeed. So many mountains and the leaves were just miraculous. We stopped at a diner for coffee and pancakes and then continued on this little highway that weaves in and out of 93 going thru lots of quaint little New England villages. We stopped at almost every little Country Store and ate olde timey candy and admired the local crafts. We found a farm stand and bought lots of squash from a nice fellow. I got a blue hubbard. My favorite. We also bought a spagetti squash, a buttercup, a curry and a cute little pumpkin for Tracy. We took a short detour into Weirs Beach where we played some pinball and other classic arcade games before finally giving in to getting on the main highway and driving home. I so needed this little adventure with Ayla who I call “The Cherub” since there really isn’t a word for “my partners daughter”. I’ve known Ayla since she was 11. She is now 20. I am not her step parent but I’m not just her friend. We are family. I’m her Tam. And she’s my Ayla aka “The Cherub”. And we have fun hanging out together and it was so nice to get away and just be spontaneous and see stuff and talk about life and all that.