Day 3 in New Hampshire: The Real Fearless Ones

Chief Kancamagus, “The Fearless One,” was the last leader of the Passaconaway Tribe whose home was New Hampshire’s White Mountains until the late 1600’s – when, probably not by coincidence, it was taken by white men.

Since then, the government has paved a 35 mile stretch of meandering highway through the range, connecting numerous waterfalls, building the cutest covered bridges, plunking down trailhead signs around every turn and providing tourists dramatic views of autumn setting the hillsides on fire.

This day, we chose to drive the entire 100-mile White Mountain Trail, explore the smallest of towns along the way and talk ourselves into leaving Chicago for a place with endless nature and virtually no chance of finding decent work in our current career fields.  


White Mountain Trail Scenic Drive Map

The White Mountain Trail is noted in red. The Kancamagus Highway section is noted by the thicker red line. The AT is noted by the dotted line.

The truly fearless ones.

We revered our country’s most dedicated hikers as we leisurely drove past daunting sections of the Appalachian Trail sipping artisan coffee and imagined the modern “Fearless Ones” – sweaty, starved, blistered and weather-beaten backpackers – crossing the road after five months on the trail with Mount Washington, the AT’s highest point, coming into view.


AT sign

Highlights of the White Mountain Trail.

  1. A nice old lady with a thick, undescribable accent selling moose-trinkets in a covered bridge.
  2. The excitement anticipation wishful thinking hopelessness of seeing a moose.
  3. New England Hush Puppies with maple dipping sauce at the Moat Mountain Brewery.
  4. Scenic overlook after scenic overlook after scenic overlook after scenic overlook.
  5. Realizing that we can ride a kitschy, old-school tourist train through the mountains.

Sadly, we left the train for another vacation as putting Quinn on a packed, 1920’s dining car for five hours would make for very angry table mates.
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Is nature a priority?

More importantly, today we considered the impossibility of having both Chicago and a real connection to natural beauty:

How much does nature weigh in the balance of Career vs. Lifestyle? Opportunity vs. Quiet? Diversity vs. Isolation? World-class food vs. Pretend Italian? Cold vs. Cold? 

Why can’t we find a single fucking Chicago friend with a boat? 

We’ll have much more insight on these questions tomorrow, courtesy of a day in Vermont and a wise, young expat from LA who knows exactly what we’re going through.
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Having traveled extensively in the past with an artist and educator schedule, I now spend my non-working hours calming a tired infant, searching for the best sazerac and getting the most out of our urban garden. As we inevitably write more about traveling with children, we'd love to read your comments about how you create the perfect comfort/adventure balancing act. Thanks for reading!

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