Friday, February 18, 2011

Home of the World's Worst Weather

September 2009 - State # 29 - New Hampshire

The title of this post is not our is on the Tee Shirt!  When I began to plan our visit to State # 29, Guy informed me that we HAD to visit Mt. Washington(You should know that Guy rarely directs our travels.)  I mentioned in the New Mexico post that my husband never met a dirt road he did not like, so you can imagine what comes next.  The Mt. Washington Auto Road, celebrating 150 years in 2011, proved to be the highlight of our trip!

On 9/11/2009, we flew Delta into Portland, Maine (State # 19 and my favorite thus far) and rented an SUV to drive the 67 miles into Jackson, New Hampshire.
Sounds like an hour drive, right?  This took 3 1/2 hours!  Apparently when these New Hampshireans say "Live Free" they mean free of road signs and freedom from giving directions clearly!  Plus the speed limit is 40 mph along most of this route winding across one town line then another.

We finally arrived at The Inn of Thorn Hill after winding our way through Maine and New Hampshire.  (Ask Guy about the RUN-ON houses!)  And checked into the Presidential Suite which has a view of the Presidential Mountain Range.  Our accommodations, as we travel, vary greatly depending on our surroundings.  A small boutique hotel in NYC, an adobe "cliff dwelling" in Santa Fe and a grand Victorian inn on Cape May...none of these were "a room with a view."  New Hampshire will be long remembered for one of the finest hotel rooms, with a view, that we have ever had the pleasure of staying in.

Not only was our room beautiful but the grounds were spectacular! 
And did I mention the view?

Seriously, this is the way to see New Hampshire.  You don't even have to leave the inn!  Breakfast and dinner are included and there is a SPA.


I would like to share two things with you regarding Bed and Breakfast inns.  First, in our experience, inns that are built to accommodate guests are usually  more comfortable than old homes that are converted to inns.  And secondly, inns that are "full board," meaning meals are included, are not the best idea when they are located near cities or towns.  You see, at the Inn at Thorn Hill, you will eat food served from the same kitchen and the same chef morning and night.  Our only chance to experience other local cuisine was lunch.  And food in national and state parks is a whole other sad story.

The next morning our breakfast was served by Harry, Ron and Hermione!  Actually, several members of the staff were interns from the London School of Hospitality (Hogwarts).  They were all extremely lovely while bringing us "bangers & mash" from the kitchen.

After breakfast, we drove to the town of North Conway to catch a train. 

We had tickets for the Conway Scenic Railroad, specifically the Crawford Notch Dome Train.  This was a 5 hour excursion through the Green Mountains to see the autumn colors.  Unfortunately, the colors did not actually show up until 2 weeks later; but it was still a great train ride through the back country.  No photos of train tracks this time because we were riding in a car with a glass dome!

A boxed lunch was included and at the halfway point we stopped at a lodge for hikers.  I mean serious athletes hiking the Appalachian Trail.  (Sadly, we saw posters for a young man missing for 8 weeks somewhere along the trail.) 

Although the fall colors were nowhere to be seen, it was still a great day to ride a train (which is any day for my husband.)  When we returned to North Conway, we enjoyed the parade for the Annual Mud Bowl.  And the hometown team, THE MUDDAS, was victorious.  Really, the town football field is flooded and teams come from all over New England to vie for the title. 

NOTE:  If you are in town during Mud Bowl weekend do NOT go into the pubs...players are welcomed without showers.  YIKES!

We shopped for maple syrup and other fun things in the quaint shops including the COVEN SHOPPE.

The Head Wicken said no photos and I listened to her!

Scott - I hope that iron jack-o-lantern we brought you is not causing trouble!

The next day was Guy's dream come true...driving the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

And as promised, it was the WORLD'S WORST WEATHER!  If you have the time, check out this link to the Mt. Washington Observatory and see live video from the mountain top.

Upon paying a fee of $31 for our car and receiving a CD audio tour, we began the 7.6 mile trek up to the top of Mt. Washington.  On this day it was a balmy 65 degrees at the bottom of the mountain.  Beautiful vistas lay before us and you could see the ski trails on the mountains.  About 20 minutes into our journey the music on the CD turns ominous (that's always a bad sign) and the road becomes alarmingly treacherous.  The temperature dropped to 45 degrees and we were in Mt. Washington's very own weather system.

The 7.6-mile-long Mt. Washington Auto Road is one of the ultimate challenges for driver and automobile, the serpentine tarmac and gravel road is lined with trees and dangerous drop-offs above the mountain’s tree line as it winds its way to the 6,288 foot summit of the Northeast’s tallest peak. The road, which features more than 100 turns, is mostly paved but features a technical dirt section that is approximately one mile long. The road climbs 4,618 feet from an altitude of 1,527 feet with an average gradient of 11.6%.

This is what it looked like at the summit!  And yes, those chains are keeping that building (and me) on top of the mountain.  In fact, the highest-recorded wind speed in the United States – an incredible 231 miles per hour – was on Mt. Washington in 1934. 

The temperature had dropped to 36 degrees with sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts to 47 mph.  After touring the observatory and talking with hikers (changing into warm clothes) we started the return trip back down the mountain.  Did you read about the 11.6% gradient on this road?  Do you know how steep that is?  This STEEP...

This is so important when descending this can smell the burning brakes.  And occasionally you have to share this road with other cars.  (MOTHER OF PEARL!) 

I was very happy to return to the bottom of the mountain and receive our prize...the famous bumper sticker...

We returned to Jackson...I was so happy to see this covered bridge.  And while shopping in a quaint gallery, Guy overheard a local nurse talking about the nearby hospital.  He had injured his wrist loading luggage into our rental at the Portland Jetport and it had become worse over the last 48 hours.  So with her directions we made our way to North Conway and Memorial Hospital.

There is an amusing point to this story.  We sat in the waiting room for 20 minutes with Guy's RIGHT wrist throbbing with pain and then we were called back to Triage.  The nurse walked in and asked Guy about his injury..."my LEFT wrist has been hurting for days."  I am sitting across the room with a puzzled look on my face and Nurse Tricia is writing down his complaint.  When Guy finally looks my way, I point at both wrists and shrug...he blushes and tells the DROP DEAD GORGEOUS nurse, "I am so sorry it's my right wrist."  My husband was gob-smacked and she sighed, tore up the paperwork and left the room to start a new file!

The next morning we drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  We wanted to see the coastal part of State # 29 and have lunch before heading back to Portland, Maine for our flight home.  Did you know New Hampshire has only 18 miles of coastline?

In true New Hampshire style, the road signs were MIA and we got a parking ticket while having lunch at Pesce Blue

We headed back to the safety of Maine driving the 52 miles to Portland in a reasonable one hour.  You will have to come back for the reviews of State # 19...for Maine was the most surprising Dining Destination we have encountered.  Just let me say two words to you...
Duck Fat!

(You may have noticed the lack of restaurant reviews for NH...I want to remain positive in my I will just say this, it was a beautiful state to see, end of story!)

With Gratitude

As usual there are some special people we would like to thank for making our travels possible -

  • Scott - Thanks for the sunrise coiffure!
  • Anita & Stephen - Thank you for keeping a watchful eye on our home.
  • Sara - Thanks for passing along your brother's thoughts on NH.
  • Thompson's Framing - Thank you for your next day framing service.

On another note, all of these photos of New Hampshire were taken with our camera!

Coming soon...

Whatever happens in Vegas
will be right here on this Blog!

State # 28 - Nevada

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