Highway to Heaven

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New Hampshire is known for its beautiful lakes, forest, and mountains. Freshman year, I made a promise to myself that I would experience the breathtaking foliage of the Kangamangus Highway before I left New England College.

Now, almost four years, later the promise became a reality.

My roommate Aubrey and I decided, as the leaves were changing, it would be our last opportunity to experience the Kangamangus in its prime state. When researching places to stop along the way, we stumbled upon Rocky Gorge. With its beautiful scenic trails and a gorgeous waterfall, there’s a bridge placed almost perfectly over the running water.

We hit the road at nine on Saturday morning, early enough that we weren’t miserable but not late enough to get caught in bumper to bumper traffic. When we reached the beginning of the highway, we were already two hours in. Approaching the first White Mountain campground parking, the traffic was unreal. The lots were packed and extra cars spilled out onto the side of the road.

Rachel Senechal: Kangamangus 2020

After we got through on and off traffic, we drove past a mountain view where the crowds were forming. On our drive up, Aubrey and I shared a conversation about how the clouds in New Hampshire always look like paintings. I made a commented about how I thought Bob Ross was up there, “painting all of these happy little clouds just for us.” To our surprise, as we cautiously drove by the view we noticed two men painting.

Immediately, we made an aggressive U-turn and found a parking spot a few cars down from them. It brought tears to my eyes seeing the rawness of these paintings. I couldn’t resist and had to make conversation. The men, maybe in their early fifties, explained that they had been working for an hour and half.

It was amazing to talk to these individuals and see their views on canvas. Both had the same exact landscape on their easels but the color choices contrasted one another.

Rachel Senechal: Kangamangus 2020

About twenty more miles, just about reaching the three hour mark, we both got the same feeling. Almost perfectly on time, turning our heads to one another we both said, “I have to pee.”

We clearly did not plan accordingly and didn’t consider that the viewing locations wouldn’t have porta-potties. We realized that because of the pandemic, they wouldn’t offer and places to stop for a bathroom break.

We also underestimated our tiny bladders.

It was impossible to pull over at any spot and relieve ourselves. There were cars constantly coming from both ends of the road. We were doomed. Taking a chance, we ignored the GPS and bailed on Rocky George.

As we proceeded on our journey to find a bathroom, we couldn’t help but stop at all the mountain views. We made about four stops and with each one, I grabbed my camera and waddled my way to take pictures. I don’t remember how long we were searching for a town but we stopped at the first store we saw. We ran up to the front doors and, boom. Locked.  We made a sad, uncomfortable walk back to the car.

Eventually we came across a gas station and finally relieved ourselves.

We weren’t sure what to do after this. Our bladders rerouted our original plans and we were in a place we had never been before. Remembering that we passed a cute gift shop, we made our way there. Walking towards the door, we passed about fifty different flags they had displayed across the whole bridge. Some were baseball teams, football, and others just interesting designs. The store was compact and made it hard to maintain our six feet, but we managed. Instantly, I fell in love with a green/teal mug that almost matched my shirt.

It felt good to stretch out and escape from the car for some time.

Rachel Senechal: Kangamangus 2020

Going home was dreadful. We made a few extra stops along the way but the farther we got, the more normal everything started to be. No more mountains and colors painted across the landscape. The drive felt like an eternity and we were both drained. Even though we never got to experience Rocky George, we came to a mutual agreement that with our plans changing let us encounter so much more. Our eyes were opened to the world around us and we even took a step back to think about how small we are on the planet.

There is so much we haven’t seen or done and we are grateful we got to check this off of our bucket lists.

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