Ruth Stimson        
Vacation, Moped        
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Getting Around

picture Ruth's painting of Mount Chocorua, NH
94,867 - that's the recorded number of miles Ruth and her mother drove during their annual summer vacations from 1955 to 1977.

However for some trips, the mileage seems to have gotten misplaced, particularly starting in the mid-1970s. Ruth's mother, who kept their trip log, was getting older. Ruth notes that while "her handwriting was very good," her entries in the log were getting shorter.

So there should be little doubt that Ruth and her mother crossed the 100,000-mile mark as they traveled across the country 10 times and to Canada in their car.

For each vacation, the trip log details the places they visited and their evaluations of those places, their days on the road, and the amount of money they spent on gas, lodging and food. Here's some of what they recorded:

"In 1956 we went south as far as we could drive - to Key West, Florida. En route we took Skyline Drive and visited Virginia's Skyline Caverns, Monroe's home Ash Lawn, Monticello, Appomattox, Richmond and Williamsburg. We saw both North and South Carolina with cotton, melons, beans, tobacco and peanuts growing. I wished Crepe Myrtle bushes could survive in New England, but there was little hope I learned. Dr. Pepper was the favorite beverage, it seemed."

In 1960 they took their most ambitious journey. They spent 46 days traveling 10,378 miles on land and an additional 1,850 at sea, for a total of 12,228 miles. The trek took them to the mid-west, west coast, British Columbia, Alaska and then back to the west, mid-west and mid-Atlantic to New England. They used 377 gallons of gas. The trip cost each of them $700. "We were well satisfied," Ruth remarks.

Their 1972 tour, which Ruth and her mother named "Discovering New England," provides a typical accounting. The pair traveled 1,579 miles over 8 days, and spent $42.35 for gas, $3.45 on tolls, $47.96/person for lodging and $20 for food.

"We usually had a slide show during the holiday season to review our expeditions photographed during the year," says Ruth.

By contrast, the shortest ride Ruth probably took was in 1979, when she was 60 years old.

"There were gasoline shortages, high prices, and severe inflation during an energy crisis. I purchased a Puch Maxim II moped, but only rode it 17 miles. Mother was a nervous wreck thinking about the danger in traffic on Route 1 and 101. So I gave up riding it even on Mill Road in Hampton, and North Hampton, and parked in the carport, that I built."