New Hampshire via Boston
• Mark Eschbach
This week I had the pleasure to travel to New Hampshire for a company all hands meeting. The meetings were in Conway New Hampshire. Although exploration was not on the list of things I had sufficient time for on this trip I hope to allot on a future trip. The best airport I found for cross country flights was Boston.
The inside of the airport had some decent amenities, including human sized places to work on my laptop with power outlets and USB charging ports. There were a very small handful of food and beverage shops serving in the early morning. Which might be accounted for by the current construction, which also made exiting very difficult.
In order to get to the rental car facilities you must take a shuttle. Many cars blocked shuttle stops along their route which might be the result of the stops not being visible. When I initially arrived at the airport I had to ask someone where the shuttle would pickup. The shuttles are articulated full sized buses with specialized racks for luggage. I imagine the shuttles might be packed or sparsely used, depending on the time of day, since I had both.
The architecture of the airport almost reminds me of the Brutalist government structures back home. Although there are many of the accents I would expect missing. Budgeting perhaps? When arriving they drop you underground with a large parking structure in the middle. Definitely not the most inviting departure scene.
Hertz Rental Checkout in Boston
Hertz was a bit confusing. As a result of not using a credit card they demanded detailed information. I was directed to Zone 2, however after wandering for a bit I stopped at their much nicer Gold center to ask for directions. The staff member looked at the paperwork in a very disgusted manner, informing me someone is messing up the system as all renters for the normal vehicles were to report to Zone 1. She was kind enough to direct me on how to find Zone 1. Which happened to be right next to Zone 2. Zone 2 held full sized cars and a decent number of them.
Zone 1 had only 4 cars. Two people who arrived with me quickly grabbed two of them. Leaving a Ford some unlabled SUV and a minivan. Initially I checked out the Ford, only to find damage on the passenger rear quarter panel. Since there were no staff I sat, fretting what to do for a bit. Then a Kia Sorento showed up, which I grabbed.
Decent vehicle overall and much more inline with the what I had envisioned when looking at their offerings. The vehicle easily fit my suit case and backpack just enough space to lay a jacket down. The back seat looked a little small but you might be able to move those around a bit. In the front there was more than enough space. Almost too much.
The front seat contained a decent amount of space. Drivers seat was easily movable into a position I liked. Over the five days I had used the vehicle I never found out how to move the side mirrors. In the mirrors and backup camera there are sensors which would chime if the vehicle believed an object to be in that space.
Drive up to Conway, New Hampshire
The sensor chime was helpful at night, as my best laid plan had me driving up in late evening. I was hoping to catch some of the beautiful views in the sunset light. My flight was delayed about two hours. This awry factor meant I was traveling in the dark.
Upon exiting the rental area you are dropped into something like a 5 lane one way street. The mapping system recommended I exit on the right hand side in less than 4 car lengths. The bus, taxi, and another vehicle had different plans. I thought the Airport road would loop back.
I was plunged into a tunnel. My hopes of a loopback road were dashed quickly when I was the tunnel was named, the lanes collapsed and there was no sign of the end. Luck for me there were a few cars I just kept up with in the tunnel.
There was no tutorial level in Boston. This was not point to point. This was a network of tunnels. With many connected nodes. A vehicle I had followed into the underground gave up trying to figure out which lane to be in for the closely divergent point, riding a line between the two lanes until finally forced to make a choice at the last minute. Eventually I popped out of tunnels onto a helical bridge. I did not count how many complete turns I had made, however it felt like descending into the underground of the Empire’s Capital World. Once at the bottom I followed a small four lane road with unrestricted entrances and exits. Overall a little stressful without a dedicated navigator. I was relieved once I finally found myself on a large highway.
The drive was fairly uneventful on the highway. Felt almost like I5 back home. Long, straight, not too much elevation change. The toll booths were a bit unfamiliar though. Some required slowing down to 25 MPH while others required maintaining the speed limit. Once the toll booths stopped the terrain quickly changed to what felt like a drive through the High Sierras but flat.
I think it was the forested areas with houses interspersed which continued the High Sierra type theme. Or perhaps the theme was really just forested area. Most of the service staff were friendly, people generally seemed cheerful in the region.
Small would definitely fit the region. From what I could gather most of the children in the region participated in activities together with maybe a single degree of separation between everyone. Many of the professional I met had moved away for some period of time, moving back with either young children or to care for aging parents. For what I got as an impression to be such a small metropolitan area they seemed to have a high density of technically knowledgeable.
I was taken to the the trial head of a popular hiking trail which goes up one of the local mountains along a cliff. It overlooked the valley with a great view. A lot green trees with a few rivers converging. A few fields. A definitely some population centers. Unfortunately I did not have time to walk the trail along the cliff but the hike looked great!
I left Conway around 7:30a to return to Boston. There were a reasonable number of vehicles on the road. Probably averaging the speed limit. I saw 6 people pulled over for what I assume to be speeding. The drivers were about on-par with what I would expect in terms of being aggressive and just going about their business.
If only I could do the trees justice. They were beautiful all the way back to the interstate highway. Definitely a drive I look forward to doing again during the day. Or better yet as a passenger. Totally understandable why people would chose to drive up there just for the trees.
Returning the car was a bit confusing since there were not staff around initially. They did show up eventually. The shuttle between the rental area and the terminal was crowded. I had to stand in the door area. Space was at a premium as people did not want to share the constrained resource. Check in and security were about what you would expect.
Overall this was an enjoyable trip. Even including the nearly three hour drive between Conway and Boston. The region was beautiful. Next time I would love to bring my family and spend some time exploring the area. Of course if I take them up there my extended family will rightfully demand we visit New Jersey too.