Skyline Drive, Round 1

Back in May, I had the chance to traverse Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Unfortunately, as you’ll see from the pictures, the weather wasn’t conducive to sightseeing. Nonetheless, the views I could capture were beautiful. In the near future, I do plan another attempt in fairer weather, so keep an eye out for Skyline Drive, Round 2.

As its name implies, Skyline Drive follows a mountain ridge through Shenandoah National Park. At 35 mph, the 105-mile drive takes roughly four hours, without factoring in the regular stops for deer. As I discovered, deer are everywhere on the Drive, so when I came across “deer crossing” signs, I knew I’d better slow down. In all, I spent about five hours on Skyline Drive between the speed limit, deer sightings, and stopping at its 75 overlooks.

Check out the photos at

Celebrating 50 Years of Beauty on the Kancamagus

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of what is now known as the Kancamagus Highway, New England’s first National Scenic Byway. When the road, then known as Forest Highway No. 8, first opened in 1959, it was unpaved, not maintained for winter travel, and only open during daylight hours. This last restriction was on account of the treacherous nature of the road and its lack of artificial lighting (a welcome state for anyone who has driven the “Kanc.”). Now, the Kancamagus is paved and maintained year-round, much to the delight of visitors to the area. The highway is particularly popular in the fall, when the New England foliage turns beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. It is also a popular way to see the snow-capped beauty of the White Mountains and Mount Washington while traveling across New Hampshire’s North Country. Whatever the motivation may be, if you ever find yourself in Lincoln or Conway, New Hampshire, you should gas up the car and take the time to drive State Route 112, the Kancamagus Highway.

Anniversary celebrations are planned at various points along the Kanc on August 14, 2009, with an official commemoration at 2pm at the Russell Colbath House. For more information on the festivities, check out the Union Leader article “Marking a half century of riding the ‘Kanc’.”

If you are interested in driving the Kancamagus Highway, provides some valuable resources. An overview of the road, including some history, pictures, and directions to get to the Kanc are available here. A map of the route can be also be found here at

To give some idea of the route’s beauty, here are a few shots from my personal collection, taken Memorial Day Weekend 2008:

Mount Washington from the Kancamagus
Mount Washington from the Kancamagus
From the Kancamagus Highway looking down towards Lincoln, NH
From the Kancamagus Highway looking down towards Lincoln, NH

On Being Unemployed

Last month (technically, June 26), I was laid off, completely unexpectedly.

When I tell people this, most respond with some sort of condolence, but I’m not saddened by this. In fact, I’m happier than I’ve been in years. To top it off, the lease on my apartment expired at the same time, so now I’m homeless, in a way. Still, I couldn’t be happier.

In all honesty, my mood has much to do with the situation in which our country finds itself. Normally, joblessness and homelessness would be conditions of much concern. But, with three million other Americans out of work, how can I really complain. After all, I received a severance and I live in a state with a high cost of living, so my earnings from unemployment won’t be that bad. Plus, without an apartment, I’m saving on all those overhead costs.

Further improving my mood, I hadn’t been happy at my job for a while. Frankly, I was bored. I wanted to travel, to do anything other than sit in a cubicle, roaming the internet for hours. I never thought I’d reach a point where the internet bored me, but I found it, about a month before I was laid off. Having recently taken a 4,300 mile road trip, I was ready for more travel, not more endless days spent at my desk without a project to complete. I’ve never seen the West Coast, and I want to drive Skyline Drive. Losing my job couldn’t have come at a better time.

With the economy in its current state, I don’t expect to find a job soon, even though I have a recruiter working diligently on my behalf. Normally, that should bother me, but, again, I’m among millions of other US residents who find themselves taking money from the state. As previously mentioned, I also find myself in the odd predicament of having no housing. My lease nearing expiration, I was in the process of finding a new apartment when I was laid off. Upon losing my job, the apartment hunt ceased, since no landlord will rent to someone without a steady income. At first, I was concerned, to say the least; then, I considered the opportunities these twin “tragedies” brought me.

To clarify, I’m an accountant but not a CPA. I’d planned on studying for the exam this summer, after finding a new apartment. In both losing my job and ceasing my search for new housing, an immense amount of free time has suddenly presented itself. Unlike the past two summers, I finally have time sufficient to study for the CPA exam. I can’t make excuses that work is too busy, that I’m too consumed with moving, or that as experience is concerned I’m insufficiently prepared for the exam. Suddenly, I have nothing to do but study for the exam. And travel.

The upside to an exam like the CPA certification is that scheduling is done months in advance and the test is standardized. As a result, I can plan months exam dates months in advance and spend endless time studying for a particular section of the test. Knowing when I have to be at a specific testing center allows me to plan the road trips I’ve only dreamed of.

I now find myself presented with the opportunity to travel the country while reviewing for the exam that will let me continue my career, all because I lost my job. In between sightseeing, I can study for the exam. I can even listen to review guides as audiobooks, all while visiting the vast parts of the United States I’m unfamiliar with. Given today’s technology, I can do most anything I need to from anywhere across our continent, and I intend to do so. Before I chain myself to a desk once again, I want to see the United States of America.