Now that we’re two cities in to this adventure, I figure I should explain how the whole thing came about. It all started with New Hampshire.

My parents and their family friends decided to rent this old farmhouse in the White Mountains: (excuse the photo from the rental site please!)

Now, normally the prospect of staying in an “old farmhouse” with no air conditioning doesn’t send me running, but I love my family, I love their family friends, and I’ve always wanted to explore New England. Add to that Scott’s slight obsession with the White Mountains, and a trip was born.

Naturally, the first thing we did was climb Mount Jefferson. In Vibram five fingers. Not something I’d recommend. (Can you spot the pack of hikers on the upper left part of the photo below? They’re the ones that look like ants. Just to give you some perspective.)

When reading the trail guide to decide on a hike, Scott and I wisely opted against the nine-hour Mount Washington hike (given that we hadn’t brought boots or any other hiking gear) and decided to do the five-hour Mount Jefferson hike instead. We’re used to a fast climbing pace, and so despite the mountain’s “difficult to very difficult” rating, we figured we’d get done in three hours tops. We were wrong.

The hike included climbing rock walls like this puppy, which was fun on the way up, but terrifying on the way down.

We persevered, and the view from the top was gorgeous.

All in all the hike took us a little less than five hours, or exactly what the trail map said. Sorry, trail map, for not trusting you.

After the hike I was briefly worried that I had injured my ankle during an unfortunate (and yet not uncharacteristic) slip about halfway down the mountain. But I woke up the next morning feeling fine and we set off on the most hilarious kayaking/white water rafting trip of my life. Mostly because my 68-year-old father and his childhood best friend went rafting. And that is one sentence that I never thought I would hear myself say.

They looked damn good doing it. Am I right or am I right?

My parents rafted, while Katie, Scott and I paddled along in the kayaks. It looks pretty calm here, but there were definitely some rapids along the way. I’d like to think I handled them with courage, but I’m pretty sure I squealed like a baby pig. It’s cool.

As if the rapids weren’t tough enough, I got attacked by a series of water cannons that the guides bestowed on the absolute worst people who you could ever give any type of water weapon to: my sister and my Dad. Here’s my sister reloading. I’m pretty sure I was rushing to paddle away while screaming “DON’T SHOOT! MY CAMERA’S OUT! I CALL CAMERA!!”

But it was all worth it because there was a rope swing. Need I say more?

Surrounded by scenery like this you can’t help but stop to smell the roses. We only stayed in New Hampshire for a few days but the surroundings were breathtaking and the people were about as down-to-earth as they come. That guide in the first photo? He works in Antarctica half the year trucking oil across the continent to McMurdo base. Pretty cool, right? Scott was of course smitten by him and commented on how awesome his Antarctica Nalgene bottle was. The guide smiled, handed it to him and said “it’s yours.”

How can you not love a beautiful town filled with people like that?