I am a data gatherer

To celebrate our third babymoon, we drove more than 1,000 miles through New England during the peak of fall.

One of the highlights of our trip was driving up Mount Washington. The summit stands at 6,288 feet and on clear days four states can be seen from this site. When we arrived all tours to the summit were booked, so we made the decision to drive up ourselves. I had read the drive was intimidating but there were more than 20 cars lined up at the entrance, so how hard could it really be?

The first 10 minutes of the drive were beautiful; the two-way road seemed really narrow but our eyes were distracted by the colorful trees around us. As we gained elevation beauty turned to stress as the open vistas revealed specatular drop-offs on the edge of the barrierless road. I was the driver on the way up and I learned that I handle stress very differently than my beloved husband. 

I stayed focused on the road, barely spoke a word, and looked for cues in the faces of the drivers maneuvering their way down the mountain. I became hyperfocused on the goal of reaching the summit, and the tension in my arms was so high my nails dug deep into my hands. 

We finally reached the top, grabbed a parking spot, and went off to explore the summit. It was a perfectly clear day, the air was crisp, and the views were striking. Garrett and Ava quickly disappeared into the crowd. Elliott and I walked around and took a few pictures. I spent the next hour surveying people about their experience driving down and what alternatives were available if one were to chicken-out. 

I am a data gatherer. I learned that there had been only three fatalities on the road since its opening, although the mountain had claimed the lives of more than 130 hikers over the years. I learned there was a train to the summit but tickets were sold at the foot of the mountain. I learned that drivers can be hired to take cars back down if that kind of help is needed. Frankly, I did not enjoy the summit because I was too busy fact finding and mentally preparing for the descent.

Meanwhile, Garrett was taking it all in and making new friends. He later told me he had not given the drive up or down any thought since we had parked the car. He was the designated driver for the way down after a short debate. I argued the drive up was harder because it involved facing the unknown; he argued the drive down was harder because it required more control of the vehicle and most of it would be done on the outside lane. Both drives were hard, that’s the truth. 

Garrett got behind the wheel and off we went. Without the pressure of keeping us alive, I was able to enjoy the insane views and add side commentary to Garrett’s sound effects and funny comments. He waved at EVERY SINGLE driver we came across! He was chatty and funny. He kept track of mileage and stopped in a couple of road-shoulders to breathe, err, to let the brakes cool off. I could not understand why he would not just do the drive in one shot to get it over with. I am glad he stopped in a few places because his humor was on point! 

Our approach to a stressful situation was clearly different. He coped by being funny and taking breaks to reassess our status. I got quiet and zoomed in on the goal. The kids were oddly quiet throughout the ordeal, which is a lot to ask from a one-year-old and a three-year-old. 

The moral of the story is that being 7 months pregnant did not stop us from embarking on a new adventure and despite the differences in our approach we successfully completed both legs of the drive. 

With the right partner ain’t no mountain high enough 🙂

Karol

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