Climbing Mt. Washington in a VW Bus


We were half way up and over 3 miles into Mt. Washington when it became overly evident that the Bus wasn’t interested in going the distance. My dad’s words ringing hot engine metal truth in my ears, I turned her around the first wide spot in the road I could find (and guaranteed the widest spots in the road are still very narrow with a high likelihood of cliffhanging or worse). 1.5 into a three point turn (and this is no power steering, testy clutch maneuvering we’re talking here) a gang of two’s worth of motorcycles come down the hill. Down, mind you, and the speed limit is 20mph. The first gentleman, tubbardly, wearing a massive white cop helmet and a reflective yellow vest, shakes his head as he slowly drives between the barely wide enough for a motorcycle space between my 1.5er and the mountainside. Dick move, for sure. I remembered the tire iron I have stored behind the driver’s seat and wonder what percentage of damage it would do to that giant white helmet.

The second biker, blue bandana, leather vest, sunburnt from his old black Sturgeous-type t-shirt up, squeezed through afterwards. I wondered if they were together, and if he would even mind if Mr. Safety Motorcycle found himself in an altercation. I don’t usually think like that, but something about a lack of courtesy in a possibly life threatening situation just kinda irks me.

We pumped the breaks to the next turnout down the mountain and paused for a much needed cigarette. A moment in time later the Bus was cooled down and ready to thank us that camp was only a few miles north, primarily downhill. We gathered stock, pulled into site number 80 and setup for the night. A lantern casting perfect lighting on a blue guitar leaned against our dingy-from-summer-travel Champaigne Edition Bus. The fire raging ready for searing Newman’s Own something or other flavored dressing marinade wrapped around a thin fillet of cod. Some local IPAs decorating the picnic table where the Baby stirred restless in his tent.

An enormous green moth, which upon closer inspection revealed itself to be a moon fairy, came dancing mindlessly at that Coleman lantern. The fire burned slowly as I worked through it’s various coals and added and reengineered the positioning of it’s logs. We took a stroll around the campground, the rocking a baby to sleep type of stroll that leads you past campers of all other sorts; old men sipping beers biding their time until fishing again, couples of young women readying their bikes and ultralight coffin tents for tomorrows ride, older than is families with a slew of nearly tweenage kids playing games of sticks and hide n’ seek and whatnot other pursuits truly wonderfully young children find themselves frolicking in.

As the last of the beers sipped out to a trickle and the fire exchanged places with nothing but coals I thought of the toll booth at the bottom of Mt. Washington, how I had trusted the tollkeeper who assured us the climb would be no threat, he assuming we had some type of Porsche engine (quite literally). I thought of how faithfully trusty our Ladybus has been to us over these Green and White Mountains. How spectacularly mundane it was that the night was equally considered simple and daily majestic. How in love I am still with my Lady. Life in a Bus is hard picnic tables and insect bites, and it’s non-stop romance and adventure too. It’s a pair of fashionable boots utterly covered in mud.