Sunday, October 4, 2009

Live Free or Die

We are parked at the L.L. Cote Outdoor Superstore and Irving Oil gas station in Errol, New Hampshire (map), a tiny town with no side streets and where this is one of but four businesses, including a different Irving Oil dealer immediately across the street.

We are here because we have officially run out of other overnight options. Louise spent a good deal of otherwise prime leaf-peeping time yesterday pawing through various directories, getting increasingly anxious as the day progressed. At one point, I called ahead to Rangeley State Park in Maine, another hour further along, but they are already closed for the season, as are all Maine state parks. There are absolutely no Wal-Marts along our route until we are southbound along the eastern seaboard, and no Elk lodges with parking. Neither New Hampshire nor Maine permits overnight stays in waysides, and there is no federal land this far north (nor almost any at all in the entire state of Maine).

While desperately searching the guides, we came across a paragraph in our Escapees Day's End directory from a couple that claimed good luck staying at Irving Oil stations throughout New England, many of which are mini truck stops. We thought it would be worth asking.

We needed to stop here anyway, as fuel will only get more expensive from here on -- New Hampshire has the cheapest diesel in New England. At $2.519, the 'net informs me this station is among the lowest in the state, not that we had a choice -- these two stations (the one across the street was a penny more) are the last fuel opportunities in the state, and the first we have passed in many miles.

So even though this was a bit early to stop -- we did just 75 miles yesterday -- I went in to ask about spending the night after I fueled up. They directed us to a parking lot on the side, and we backed in to a muddy dirt lot (it's been raining here for days), thankful for a legal place to spend the night.

After we got settled in, we went inside to browse. Wow. Cabella's and Bass Pro have nothing on this place -- the store seemed to go on forever, with a rabbit warren of different rooms. They carry ATV's, snowmobiles, boats, tackle, guns, bows, clothing, gifts, camping gear -- the list goes on. That's the sporting goods side; adjoining the sporting goods store is a convenience store with longer hours where one pays for fuel but which also carries typical c-store items including beer and wine, and includes a Subway sandwich shop. Across the c-store from the sporting goods is a full service hardware store; we are parked more or less in the lumber yard and outdoor supplies area.

Of course, we did not actually need anything, so we settled for just buying a New Hampshire pin, appropriately featuring a fall leaves theme, for our collection. After our extensive tour of L.L. Cote, we wandered across the street to the lone sit-down restaurant in town, Northern Exposure. The moose theme is everpresent here -- we passed several signs on the highway warning us to brake for moose and touting the number of collisions yearly, and Cote's has an enormous stuffed specimen in the lobby. The restaurant's logo is a moose in a trench coat, umm, flashing. We had low expectations, and they were exceeded, though we did stick to a simple pair of burgers. Below the restaurant is a full bar, but we did not peek inside.

Yesterday's drive brought us across Vermont on VT-105 and across the Connecticut river, where US-3, AKA the Connecticut River Scenic Byway, took us north to the village of Colebrook, NH where we met NH-26 for the eastward trek across the skinny end of the state. The fall color along this route is quite spectacular, and the drive itself was scenic; we were taken a bit by surprise to pass an enormous grand old hotel at Dixville Notch, The Balsams. Today we will continue into Maine where ME-16 will take us halfway across the state.

1 comment:

  1. There's a joke that Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be available at a convenience store, not the name of a government agency. I'm always tickled when I hear about an operation that puts this into practice.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!