Conway, NH, Mt. Washington Auto Road, Day 2

This morning we woke up with the alarm in order to get the trailer in for service by 8:30. We didn’t have much to do to get ready and the three of us were gone by 8:15. It was a short ride to Camping World where we would have the trailer brake system worked on.

When we got there, we unhooked the trailer since we were told that we could use the truck today while the trailer was being worked on. Bob wasn’t sure if they needed the truck to check the braking system, but they didn’t, so that worked out well. Since the weather was beautiful–clear skies, light winds, and temps in the 70’s, we decided it would be the perfect day to drive the Mt. Washington Auto Road. 

We would drive our own vehicle to the top of Mt. Washington, on “The Road to the Sky”—no problem. OMG!!! We should have gotten the idea of what we were getting ourselves into by the sign at the entrance.

It was about 10:00 so there we no one waiting in line at the toll house. Believe it or not, we had to pay to scare ourselves to death.

Glen Road was 8 tortuous miles of sheer terror to the top. It was a narrow road barely wide enough for two cars to pass, no guard rails along the cliffs, parts of the road was not paved, and it went straight up!! 

Unfortunately, I was the one on the outside. There were times when I had to lean so far in, that I was almost sitting on Bob’s lap. It’s now wonder one of the turns is called the OMG turn. I didn’t take too many pictures on the way up because I had my eyes closed most of the time. Believe me, it was scary!!

In the last few years, Bob has developed this fear of heights and that didn’t help any. I give him credit for doing the driving all the way to the top and down again. I don’t have a fear of heights, but this scared the cr– out of me. We both heaved a sigh of relief when we got to the top and parked the car. Auggie slept through the whole ordeal.

THEN…..the realization set in that we would have to go back down. A guy that we talked to said the ride down was worse than the ride up, but we couldn’t imagine how it could be! Our hearts were beating and our palms were sweating. We were so glad to be at the top.

I had a fleeting thought that I might be able to hire someone to drive us back down, but I didn’t have the nerve to ask anyone. We would just bite the bullet and do it. It took us about 30 minutes to make the drive to the top, maybe longer. We took our time looking around once we were on the top. I guess we were in no hurry to start back down. We spent about an hour at the summit and I have to admit….THE VIEWS WERE SPECTACULAR!!!!!!

(The road is the white line in the above picture. The Cog Railway track is the dark line.)

We walked around inside the Tip Top House which is a restaurant and hiker’s retreat.

This house was at the top of the mountain when the highest recorded winds blew here in 1934…at 231 mph. The house was chained to the ground when that occurred. Notice the chains holding it down.

There is a weather station at the top where scientists study all sorts of things. This is the observation deck at the top and the Cog Railroad tracks.

I had to have my picture taken at the very summit of Mt. Washington, elevation 6, 288 ft. It’s not as high as some peaks in the Rocky Mountains, but the road is something else!

As we stood at the top looking in every direction at the other mountain peaks in the Presidential Range and the hikers and cars below us, we marveled at the 360 degree expanse that we could see. It is called the Presidential Range because each of the mountain peaks is named after a president. Mt. Washington is the Northeast’s highest peak.

At the entrance below, the sign said that it would be 49 degrees at the top with 30 mph winds and 70%visibility today.

 Part of the entrance fee included a CD that described the history of the road and how it was built. We could listen to it as we drove up to the top and back. The weather at the top was nothing like what they said it would be. There was no wind to speak of. It was about 57 degrees and visibility was very good as far as I was concerned. The CD told us that 60% of the time the peak is shrouded in clouds and visibility is poor. I guess we picked the right day. We really enjoyed our time at the top! 

We knew that the Cog Railway was expected to arrive at the top of the mountain any minute, so we waited for it to arrrive. After about a 10 minute wait, it appeared at the crest of the hill.

It made its way slowly up the steep incline, followed by another one of the same.

We waited until they reached the summit and unloaded their passengers.

Others were waiting in line to make the trip down to the bottom. 

A friend suggested that we take the train, but we opted to do the drive ourselves instead. Now that we’ve done it, we can feel glad that we did. At the time, we had second thoughts….over and over again. 

(An interesting fact about the Cog Railway is that the engine is not attached to the train car. It just pushes it up the mountain.) Everyone who takes the drive receives a certificate that says that you completed the trip….and survived. We also got a bumper sticker that let everyone know of our success. 

Let me say that the ride down wasn’t half as terrifying as the ride up. It was really a piece of cake. I had my eyes open the whole time and took quite a few pictures. 

We had to drive down in first gear and to save the brakes, we had to stop and let the brakes cool off every now and then. We made about 4 stops of 15 minutes each and just took in the views while we waited for them to cool down. 

We had to laugh at the faces of the people who were on their way up. Some of them had terror in their eyes! A couple of times Bob yelled “it only gets worse” as they kept climbing higher. We could act “smart” now that we had the worse part of the drive over with.

This was us waiting for our brakes to cool down at one of the turnouts.

Why is it that the ride back from anywhere always seems shorter than the ride there?…. but it does! We seemed to get down in no time, even with the stops we made. As we approached the bottom, we could see that there was a line of cars waiting to get in. Amazing!

As we drove by, Bob yelled to a few of them to “turn around while you still can”, but no one did. At one point on the drive, we passed a car going in the other direction. The cars got so close that Bob and the other driver could shake hands. That’s how narrow the road was.

We were happy that we did the drive so early in the day. There was definitely less traffic. We both heaved a sigh of relief to be back at the beginning and our hearts finally slowed to their regular beat. Camper’s World called to say the trailer would be ready by the end of the day. That gave us time to make a few stops. On our way back, we stopped in North Conway to check out a couple of places that were recommended by our friends from NH. We stopped in Jeb’s Country Store to look around.

There were lots of things to look at….souvenirs, old fashioned candy, and other food products from Maine and New Hampshire. I bought a bottle of Jeb’s Old Fashioned Root Beer to drink as we walked along the street.

We left there and walked down the main street checking out the shops and eateries. 

We crossed the street to check out The Met….a coffee shop reminiscent of the one on the TV show, Friends.

We stopped at Horsefeathers Restaurant for a couple of beers and some nachos. They weren’t very good, but they hit the spot.

We also checked out the train station for the Conway Scenic Railway in town.

We got a call from Camping World about 2:30 that the trailer was ready, so we left there to go pick it up. On the way back, we just had to drive over the covered bridge that I spotted in the area. There are a lot of them around here, so this won’t be the last one that we see.

Everything went well at the shop, but….. they had to replace both magnets of the trailer braking system on one axel and replace and repack the bearings on the front axel of the trailer. They also replaced the emergency brake switch on the hitch. Now we were good to go. We looked around a little in the store at Camper’s World, bought some more flamingo lights, hooked up the trailer, and were off. We were back at the campsite by 4:00 and relaxing in our chairs. We were beat! I don’t know what from….but we were both wiped out! Auggie too!

We didn’t have to cook dinner because we were both full of nachos, so that was nice. More campers came in while we were gone today and more arrived as we sat and relaxed. We would do more sightseeing tomorrow on the Scenic Drive to Franconia Notch through the mountains. There is a lot of beautiful scenery in this area.

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