Thursday, July 10: I have met some of the nicest people through blogging. I first got acquainted with Ron through his son Spencer, a young man I worked with at the University of Nizwa. Ron isn’t a blogger, but because I wrote my blog, a nomad in the land of nizwa, providing an insight into what Spencer’s life in Oman might be like, he followed my blog, often leaving encouraging comments. At one point he mentioned he had a cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and said I should come up to visit this summer. At the end of June, he wrote: “The cottage is open and waiting for you.”
Needing a break from the stress of watching the decline of my mother-in-law, and knowing I wouldn’t have time later as I prepare to go to China, I responded by email to get the details about the cottage. We planned that I’d come up right after my class on Thursday, July 10 and would stay through Monday, July 14. As Mike and Adam were working and couldn’t take time off, Alex and I decided to take the long drive to New Hampshire on our own.
The MapQuest says it will be about a 10 hour drive. Alex and I leave immediately after my class at around noon. It’s a long and thankless drive all the way up I-95, through Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, then on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, then through New York (right around rush hour!). We cross the Tappan Zee Bridge, a cantilever bridge in New York crossing the Hudson River at one of its widest points.
We stop for a leisurely dinner in Danbury, Connecticut after being stuck on I-84 for nearly an hour in a traffic jam caused by a car accident. At this point, we are desperate just to get out of the car. As Alex and I are taking turns driving every two hours, I have a Corona at dinner along with some delicious chicken and dumplings.
Alex drives the next two hours through Massachusetts and into New Hampshire. Finally I drive the last two hours into New Hampshire, arriving in Gilford at midnight.
Ron has been patiently awaiting our arrival, taking a dip in the lake to pass the time. He comes to the road to greet us as he sees our headlights go past the cottage and turn around. We greet one another and he tells us he and his wife Betty will be by for lunch on the cottage porch the next day. Their house is two miles away, not directly on the lake, so they spend most of their summer days at the cottage, having lunch and dinner on the porch, working on the cottage, or swimming in the lake.
Friday, July 11: We haven’t brought any food with us, so the first order of business is to go out for breakfast at a local diner. At the diner, I greet a lone man walking in at the same time as me. “It’s a beautiful day!” He harrumphs, “I guess.” I say, “Compared to northern Virginia, it’s beautiful. It’s so humid at this time of year in Virginia.” He says, “It gets pretty humid here too.” I say, “Well, it’s beautiful today. I love New Hampshire.” He says, “I’ve been through Virginia often, and it’s beautiful there too.”
Ok, I can see I’m getting nowhere fast with this man. I part ways with him and join Alex at the table where he’s been seated. We enjoy a breakfast of pancakes, omelets, eggs, hash browns, and coffee. Then we head to Shaw’s grocery store where we load up on breakfast and lunch makings. At the cottage, we put all our groceries away and Alex heads out into the lake with the kayak.
I change into my walking clothes and head out for my 3 mile walk. As I walk out, I meet Betty, Ron’s wife, who has just parked her shiny red convertible. I introduce myself and tell her I’m going for a walk: “I’m always fighting my weight, so I need to try to walk every day.” She says that she and Ron changed their diet to a Mediterranean diet and lost 30-40 pounds in a couple of months. She says, “I used to be like you.” Ouch. I know I’ve gained weight, yes, and so I walk a little harder and faster after we part ways.
When I return to the cottage, we sit on the porch with Ron and Betty. They have finished their lunch. Alex and I make some sandwiches too. Ron tells us stories galore about his life when he was younger and the adventures he’s been on. He shows us some pictures from his past. I change into my bathing suit, and Alex and I take out the kayaks for a paddle on the lake. It’s a gorgeous day, with a cool breeze and no humidity. How I love New England!
Ron and Betty invite us to have dinner with them tonight on the porch. He says Friday nights they usually get fish dinners at Sawyer’s and eat them on the porch with a mixture of red and white wine.
After they leave, we have a little time to relax. I shower and read my book, The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, a novel that takes place in the courtesan houses of China in the early 1900s. At about 4:30, Ron and Betty come back to the cottage and sit on the dock, enjoying the lake. I sit on the porch and read, something I love to do on vacation.
Alex and Ron head out to Sawyer’s to pick up the fish dinners, and then we enjoy wine and baked haddock dinners on the porch. It’s a lovely evening. After dinner, Ron and Betty take us for a drive in the convertible to get the lay of the land and to indulge in some ice cream. I order a scoop of lemon meringue with hot fudge at a cute ice cream shop beside the lake.
It’s a lovely evening, but a little cold in the convertible. Not having brought any warm clothes, and wimps that we are, Alex and I ask if they would mind closing the convertible top. We’re freezing! Ron and Betty must be used to the cold night air, which is refreshing and would be fine if we had proper attire!
After our nice day on the lake today, Alex and I decide that we’ll drive up to the White Mountains tomorrow. We’ll travel on the Kancamagus Highway and go on some short hikes.