The Alexander Home Page presents
Alexander's New England Odyssey
The White Mountains

The White Mountains Alexander and his father endure the strong winds just below the summit of Mt. Washington
New Hampshire, arch rival of Vermont (really!) is probably best known as the place where Presidential dreams are made or broken. Every four years, senators, governors, and other political types converge on The Granite State to shake hands, kiss babies, and flash a lot of phony smiles. Fortunately, Alex and his parents visited New Hampshire a full 17 months before the 2000 primary, so there was little danger of accidentally running into Steve Forbes or Pat Buchanan, although there were reported sightings of Lamar Alexander.

The Alexander Home Page firmly denies that Alex's visit to New Hampshire has anything to do with a potential run for the presidency in 2000. The purpose of his visit was purely recreational. While Alexander has not ruled out a future run for the nation's highest office, it should be noted that the Constitution prohibits him from running until 2032.

Alex's time in New Hampshire was spent in the White Mountains. While there, he saw a trained bear show at Clark's Trading Post, went to the top of a windy mountain, hiked through Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch, and saw the Old Man of the Mountains, a jagged outcropping of rock that somewhat resembles a human profile. So stick around, read a few paragraphs, and find out all about Alexander's time in New Hampshire.

The Mount Washington Auto Road

You've probably seen them. White bumper stickers with red lettering, proclaiming "This car climbed Mt. Washington." Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. It soars 6,288 feet above sea level, and can prove to be quite a challenge to some cars. That bumper sticker is a badge of honor that any car should be proud to display.

Before setting out on the eight-mile-long Mt. Washington Auto Road, drivers are warned to be extremely careful. Drivers are instructed to keep the car in low gear both on the way up and down. The road features sheer cliffs, and no guard rails. The traffic is two-way, which means that you might be faced with an oncoming mini-van while making a sharp turn, with loose gravel under your wheels, and nothing but open sky to your right. While driving the Auto Road is not a daredevil feat, it is
Summit of Mt. Washington Mt. Washington, a moment later The weather changes quickly atop Mt. Washington. The two pictures above were taken only moments apart.
also not for the especially faint-hearted. In clear weather, it is said, visitors to the summit can see Maine, Vermont, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean. When Alex and his family pulled up to the entrance booth, however, a sign advised that the visibility at the summit was a mere twenty feet.

They decided to drive to the summit anyway, and did not regret their decision. While they were unable to see the spectacular panoramic view, they did see some extreme weather. In April 1934, Mt. Washington was the site of the highest wind velocity ever recorded, 231 miles per hour. On the day of Alex's visit, the wind was blowing at a force of 75 miles per hour. While nowhere near the record high, the winds were fierce enough to ruin an outdoor picnic, if anybody had been foolish enough to attempt one.

The sky might be sunny for a moment or two, but, suddenly, a vertical wall of clouds would come scudding over the top of the mountain like a squadron of fighter pilots. Instantly, the sun would be obscured, and the fog would be as thick as clam chowder. (The pea soup analogy is overused, and, after all, this is New England weather we're talking about!)

Alex didn't hate the wind as much as might be expected. His first observation was "It's windy!" And then, "It's cold!" While he didn't seem upset by the violent weather, he did stay huddled close to whichever parent was desperately clutching him. While the view on a clear day might be impressive, it is probably not as memorable as seeing Mother Nature's fury.

Flume Gorge

Big steps at Flume Gorge Big steps!
Alex and his mother at Flume Gorge Alex with his mother at Flume Gorge
While in the White Mountains, Alex stopped in Franconia Notch to hike through Flume Gorge. The Flume is, basically, a big chasm between steep granite walls. A two-mile scenic trail takes visitors through the gorge.

When on an outdoor vacation with an infant or toddler, there is one question that parents frequently must ask. "Is the trail stroller-friendly?" In the Flume's visitor center, Alexander's father posed this question to the woman behind the information desk.

The woman said, "Oh, there are a few steps, but it's mostly a smooth trail." Having received this nugget of misinformation, Alex's parents confidently brought the stroller along on the trail. Those "few steps" turned out to be two miles of steps. Alex hiked most of the trail on foot (which is the best way to hike) which allowed his father to carry the stroller up and down two miles of stairs. Any visitors to Flume Gorge should know to beware the sadistic woman behind the information desk. She was also overheard advising visitors to feel free to handle poisonous snakes and rabid squirrels.

Alex enjoyed his visit to Flume Gorge. There were plenty of "big steps" as noted above. While steps may not be all that appealing to his stroller-carrying father, Alex always enjoys steps wherever he finds them. The rugged scenery could not compete with the "big steps" for his attention. He did take a moment, however, to urge the running water to keep flowing. "Water, come on!" he would shout. And, amazingly, the water obeyed Alexander's commands, as if he were a modern-day Moses.

Flume Gorge Clearly, the path was not stroller-friendly!