One of my favorite things about this job is my ability to go see new things. I always encourage people to not forget about the wonderful places to visit that are in their back yard. I know that most people who think about vacation want to plan it somewhere different than where they live and while that is a great thing to do, I find that people (myself included) miss so much close by. Many people have said to me, “I’ve lived here my whole life and you have seen more than me.” I find that to be true everywhere. My response has always been that I have a finite amount of time at each assignment and I really want to make the most of it. The small places I visit are generally not what vacation plans are made of. For example, someone might plan a vacation to Wyoming to see Devil’s Tower, but maybe not the Battle Site of Little Bighorn. I was lucky to see both. My point is that I have recently been thinking about all the places in New England that I have never been despite growing up here. I have never been to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, really explored the Freedom Trail in Boston, Salem and until recently, Mt. Washington. These are places I have taken for granted that I will always have time for because they will always be there. However, just like anything else, unless I make the effort and build time in, I won’t ever see them. So, just like diving into the ocean, I took the starting plunge of exploring the parts of New England that I haven’t seen starting the with the big girl….Mt. Washington. My perfect excuse for this trip was the see a friend of mine who is thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. I told her I had never been, had always wanted to and thought it would be really cool to see it with her. As planned, I drove there and somehow made it up the slightly scary auto road with my poor car chugging along sounding like the engine would explode at any minutes and at the summit, I was treated to gorgeous views of….a thick swirling fog. It wasn’t cold, but I was cursing myself for wearing my glasses and not my contacts as I kept having to wipe thick mist off them in order to see where I was walking. However, it was wonderful to see my friend and meet some of her hiking friends. Also, to send some postcards from the summit post office! On the way back down, now loaded down with 4 hikers and their packs in my little Ford Focus, the skies decided to take pity on us and give us the amazing views I had so hoped to see. It turned out to be such a beautiful day and I was so happy to be in the company of thru hikers again. We went into Gorham, NH and got them checked into their motel while also seeing another 4 hikers in town. Of course I knew they were headed to the Chinese buffet- the best thing for hiker hunger is a buffet! I was quite amazed and startled at the amount of food that was consumed, but it was such a wonderful gathering of great people. Thru hiking season is winding down and I am faced with a sadness that I won’t be seeing many of them until next year. But hey, having Red Sox baseball and hiking season to look forward to is always a nice thing to think about.