Pike New Hampshire looks exactly how a place called Pike should look.
You have to turn off the highway. Down a winding, one-lane, unlit road. Past myriad tiny decrepit houses that probably had white picket fences at one point. The eternally snowcapped immensity of the White Mountains overlook the valley. Giant elemental titans plopped in a rural wasteland.
Anyway, back to the road. Follow it. Pass the broken down factory with its single, desolate smokestack. Pass the post office and general store that doesn’t carry a movie made after 2011. Pass the skeletal frame of the abandoned hotel. Roll down your windows, breathe in the woody northeastern air — you won’t find its equal anywhere.
There’s not much for the next mile. Just more houses, a smattering of school buildings, a handful of the most idyllic farms you can imagine. Then there’s the cemetery.
Surrounded by a low metal fence, the kind that border highways, the graves jut out of the unkempt grass like particularly stubborn weeds. If you’ve followed instructions and still have your windows open you’ll hear the twinkling music. One of the graves, the one in the front row, all the way on the right side, is adorned with dolls and lights and other childhood ephemera. At night it glows like the saddest little Christmas tree; I don’t know who was buried there. I don’t think I want to know.
A hundred yards beyond the singing grave there’s a farmhouse. It’s white. It’s old. There’s a dent in the stairway from the time I slammed my suitcase into the wall. But you don’t care about that.
Drive. Appreciate the angular yellow road signs that say “Frost Heaves.” — whatever that means. Wave at the school children. Listen to the radio; crank up the volume until the seats shake. Keep an eye out for moose, I never saw one, but you might get lucky.
I don’t remember much beyond that stretch of highway, I couldn’t tell you which road to take or where you’d end up. I lived in my bubble. My perfect, terrible, soothing, boring New Hampshire bubble.