This is the “I had a case of the home-stretch lazies and didn’t write posts” post. So, here’s the truncated version of the last leg of our Big Trip. The gear review post will be coming soon, so stay updated if you’re interested in how things like our stove, tent and shoes worked out.
Day 43 and 44:
We popped into a family friend’s house in the ‘burbs of Toronto after I accidentally turned on the car alarm in the middle of the Canadian highway (you can’t win them all). From that base point, we took the train into the city for a day to catch the Hockey Hall of Fame and traipse around the lake shore. On our last evening in the ‘burbs, we got crafty and painted commemorative mugs (see below for the exclusive designs).
Days 45 and 46:
Leaving Toronto, we headed for Ottawa with a stop at 1,000 Islands National Park. Once in Ottawa, I tried to find Trudeau, but all I found was this beaver in some Irish pub.
We stayed in Parc National de Plaisance in Quebec that evening before starting in on a long day. We had a few troubles paying for the camp spot that night because my French is less than optimal at the moment especially since I’m easily embarrassed to talk in another language (I’m too afraid I’ll butcher it). Some grumbles and a receipt later, we hit up Old Montreal for lunch then Old Quebec for dinner.
(Note: Please eat at Tournebroche in Quebec City because it was amazing. They grow their own food on the roof as well as make their own beers and honey—we ate some honey straight from a fresh comb.)
That evening, after waddling away from the restaurant, we crossed the border into Maine and drove to Baxter State Park in hopes of pitching our tent at the base of Katahdin. Well, plans foiled. Mid drive, we poked a hole in our tire. We pulled off and slept in our car so we could head out to the closest town to get it fixed in the morning.
We patched the tire (I was salty since I had just gotten new tires in December) and headed out to Acadia National Park. Our plans to summit Katahdin were crushed since there would be thunderstorms for the foreseeable future, but I’ll be back to conquer that mountain next year on my Appalachian Trail trek. At Acadia, we went up Cadillac Mountain and Otter Cliffs before checking out Bah Habah. The outdoor stores were too tempting, so we had to force ourselves into the car and away from the stores.
Cook’s Camp in Rome, Maine was the most relaxing part of the whole trip. We meandered through Long Lake in kayaks, swam around, took a hike and played with some adorable dogs. Our family friend welcomed us with open arms, but probably a closed nose considering our level of ripeness at the time. Being an old hutsman and general outdoor enthusiast, our friend gave us great tips and routes for our next stop: Mount Washington.
Days 51 and 52:
Evan and I drove down to grab a camp site before our friends met up with us amid a road trip of their own. Being a pre-mountain climb night, we passed out pretty early in preparation for the long day. We woke up and started on the trail at 7 a.m. It was a beautiful bluebird day until we reached the hut at Lake of the Clouds. There were wind gusts up to 80 m.p.h. and a wind chill of 25 degrees. Keep in mind that this summit was done on the Fourth of July. For once in this whole trip, other people botched a pee while I was able to nestle myself between some rocks to avoid back-splash from the blustery day. The wind and cold did not stop us from reaching the summit or from getting the leg shakes on the descent of the mountain. We brushed off the exhaustion with an evening of fireworks and tequila.
(Almost at the finish line, I took a butt dive into a mud puddle)
With legs still sore, we drove to the Adirondack Mountains. We pitched our tent on a friend’s porch for some quality sleep in a dry tent. We took a hike up Jay Mountain, ate at a restaurant too fancy for our grubby selves and became professional bobsledders. The Olympic training center in Placid is amazing; it’s scary to look down from the top of the ski jump and realize people are actually crazy enough to ski off the 120 meter jump. Evan and I did, however, muster the courage to do the Olympic bobsled run. It was a fast, head-bobbing 40 seconds on the track. (This had us so stoked on the Winter Olympics that we watched Cool Runnings and Eddie the Eagle once we got home. A little bit of inspiration from the 1988 Calgary Olympics.)
Straight off the track, we headed to Rhode Island and Connecticut to visit some family before making the official final drive back to Pittsburgh (mom made a welcome home sign).
Now, you can either be happy or sad you won’t be hearing about our National Park road trip anymore. Look for upcoming tips for visiting certain areas, a gear review and maybe the long-awaited spring skiing article.