Ausable Chasm, August 1, 2019

Ausable Chasm, August 1, 2019
Ausable Chasm, August 1, 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Distressing Defensive Driving Day - Thursday, August 15, 2019

When I planned this trip in March, I researched Volksmarches, activities, museums, capitals, and other points of interest. We decided that rather than move the RV every 1-2 days, we would set up "base camps" for a week and foray out (up to 1-1/2 hours away) to our bucket list items, take care of that part of our vacation, and move on to the next base camp.

The first reality check came when I tried to make reservations in February for June, July, and August in New York and New England. It was too late to get one week in most campgrounds, the weekends were booked. This led to splitting a one-week reservation in one campground, to making two reservations--3 nights in one campground, and 4 nights in another--in the same area.

Being unfamiliar with routes, grades, low underpasses, traffic, the narrowness of streets through old towns, etc., I did the best I could with our route. We use the Rand McNally Trucker's Atlas, 2019 version, and look at routes on Google Earth Street View if we're really unsure. We even drove one highway in advance to see if we should take it. None of that prepared us for today's journey from Lincoln, New Hampshire, to Rutland, Vermont.

Mt. Liberty, Mt. Flume, and Mt. Osseo (far right)
at Franconia Notch State Park, Lincoln, NH.
All was well at the beginning of the day. We decided not to take the route we had driven two days earlier, which was SR 112 from Lincoln, NH to Bath, NH. The road was narrow, curvy, had a 12% uphill climb and a 9% downhill. 

Instead, we headed up I-93 to Littleton, NH, and took U.S. 302 west toward Bath. I-91 was the route we took south. That in itself was very mountainous. 

I was driving and saw the exit for I-89 north, but didn't realize that was the highway we needed to take to get to U.S. 4 west to Rutland. I was distracted by traffic merging onto the interstate. 

We stopped at the Rest Area just south of I-89. Bob drove after our stop and I looked more closely at the map. I'm glad I did because I realized we were going the wrong way. With all the mountains and small roads, it would be a very long trip to go any other way than I-89 to U.S. 4 west. Bob turned us around at Hartland, VT, and shortly we were back to take I-89 north. Our exit for U.S. 4 west came up quickly and we exited.

This is where things started to get exciting. U.S. 4 is a mostly narrow, two-lane highway (one lane in each direction). It is the truck route through this area. That was both good and bad today. 

The speed limit on the highway varied from 25 (school zone) to 50. Bob was going the speed limit most of the time (except the really steep climb up toward Killington Ski Resort). 

Right from the start, a line of cars started to form behind us. Bob pulled over a couple of times when there was a big turn-out and it was safe to do so. We made it past the congested Quechee Gorge tourist area with no pedestrians darting across the road in front of us. 

Then we got to the mountains and things got interesting. Bob pulled over at a ski lift area to let more cars go by. 

At one point, there was a blind curve ahead of us where the oncoming traffic was on a downhill run. We were coming up on the curve when a semi-truck coming down and around the corner drifted two feet too wide into our lane. There was nowhere for us to go. We had a guard rail on the passenger side about one foot away. Bob and I were freaking out. Thank goodness, the driver of the semi got his truck under control just as he reached us. That was such a close call. 

Here's what else stressed us out:

  1. Construction zone with flagger and only one lane. This was the most minor stressor of the day.
  2. A pick-up truck coming toward us flashed his headlights at us. We were cautious and wondered what lay ahead. As we rounded a blind corner in a small town, there was a car stopped in the oncoming lane and a police cruiser with lights flashing behind them in that lane. We were just figuring out that the car and policeman were blocking the lane when the car behind the policeman decided to go around them and was coming at us head-on in our lane. Thankfully, we were going slower than the speed limit, because of the warning from the pick-up, and were able to slow down more so we wouldn't hit the oncoming red sedan.
  3. A wide load accompanied by a pilot car and two police cars was coming toward us. It was a straight stretch of road and we pulled over on the one foot of shoulder on our side and the wide load was able to do the same on the other side. We stopped and made the cars behind us stop too.
  4. Cars were turning left from the one highway lane headed west because there were very few left-hand-turn lanes. Some did not signal their intent very far in advance.
  5. Woodstock/South Woodstock, Vermont. A very charming New England town with NARROW streets, lots of summer tourist traffic, and traffic jams. Bob narrowly missed hitting one of the lime green "Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk" signs in the middle of the street with his rear-view mirror.
  6. By this time, Bob was asking rhetorically, "What else can this drive throw at me?" As soon as he said it, about six people came out from behind a tanker truck to cross at the crosswalk in front of us. One was in a wheelchair. Luckily, we saw them in plenty of time and slowed to a stop.
  7. When we got to Rutland, we found out the Vermont State Fair is going on and the main street was jammed with traffic trying to get to the fair parking. Sheesh.
We finally made it to our destination, set up camp, and then fell asleep in our recliners. It was supposed to be about a 2 hour and 45-minute trip. It took us 4-1/2 hours. 

In the next four days, we have to make the reverse trip on U.S. 4 to I-89 two more times with the pick-up truck, and then we have to traverse it again with the 5th wheel to head to Maine on Monday. Wish us luck.

I was too preoccupied to take photos today.

On the plus side, Iroquois Family Land Camping in Rutland is a very peaceful, bucolic campground. It will be our respite from U.S. 4! Have a great weekend everyone.



2 comments:

  1. We found that missing an exit in VT means a long drive before you can turn around. We are already planning next summer so we can get reservations.

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  2. That's for sure. Being from the West, we're used to more frequent exits from the interstate. It's good you're planning your campgrounds way in advance. We waited until February and we were unable to get a week in many of the places we wanted to stay. Instead, ended up staying 4 nights in one place and three nights in another campground in the same city to make a week there.

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