Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The White Mountains of New Hampshire

The White Mountains region is a great year-round playground for outdoor enthusiasts providing an expansive array of activities. Bring your fishing pole in spring, your hiking shoes in summer, camera in fall, and skis in winter.  There is so much to do and you will not get bored!  Oh, and in case you are not an outdoor enthusiast, bring your credit cards because there is plenty of shopping.

Our time in the White Mountains was split between hiking and sightseeing. The U.S. Forest Service owns a big chunk of the area, in fact 800,000 acres. Add to that the wonderful state parks and you have accumulated a large amount of protected land. Highlights of our trip included hiking to waterfalls, admiring the spectrum of fall colors from mountain peaks, and satisfying my sweet tooth.

Our adventure started off with a trip to the Flume Gorge and tram ride to the top of Cannon Mountain, both located at Franconia Notch State Park. The “Flume” is a natural gorge of cascading water that forced its way through the hard granite rock by scouring out the softer basalt layers interwoven in the granite. This Flume is well visited and commercial so expect to see many tourists on your venture. The visitor center at the entrance has a great movie that explains the areas natural and cultural history.


After visiting the flume, we hopped over to Cannon Mountain (still in the state park). We elected to ride the aerial tramway up to the peak of this 4,200-foot mountain rather than taking the hiking trail. (Baxter State Park really did us in!) The views from the top of the mountain are spectacular and the tram ride was well worth the money (and your legs will thank you). There is an observation tower on top of the mountain which is just a short walk from the tram station and if you are there on a clear day you can see Cadillac Mountain in Maine and the Green Mountains of Vermont. At the base of the mountain lies the New England Ski Museum. We were entertained by a movie on the history of skiing and took a peek at Bodie Miller’s Olympic medals. Miller is from the area and Cannon Mountain is his “home” mountain where he learned to ski. By all accounts, my favorite exhibit was the evolution of women’s ski clothing. If that doesn’t dazzle you maybe the evolution of skis and bindings will.

The ride to the top of Cannon Mountain is well worth it.  Great views and
there is a bar at the top!
I'm smiling because (for a change) I did not have to walk up the mountain.
Nice digs ladies!  The picture on the upper right shows three ladies skiing - Ms. New Hampshire,
Ms. Vermont, and Ms. Florida.  Ms. Florida is in the middle wearing a bikini.  Bet she caused some
people fall off the chair lift.
Fascinating to see how skis have changed over the years.  The man on the left is "ski patrol" about
30 years ago.  He is very dapper but doesn't look like he could save your life.
After a tough day of hiking up Mt. Willard, we decided to rest our legs and drive the famed Kancamagus Highway. The Kancamagus HWY carries the designation of one of “Americas Scenic Byways” – a term given to a collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads that celebrate our country’s natural beauty, scenic vistas, and cultural heritage which lure millions of travelers to them every year. Historic Route 66, Seward Highway, The Great River Road, A1A, and Big Sur are just a few of these amazing byways that crisscross America. The 34 ½-mile Kancamagus HWY stretches across the White Mountains and bears the honor of being the nation’s first designated Scenic Byway in 1959. The road climbs to nearly 3,000 feet and offers exceptional mountain vistas, especially with the onset of fall. Maples, ash, and birch trees dazzle the eyes with their spectrum of reds, yellows, and orange. The Kancamagus HWY is not very long, but can be an all-day adventure if you stop to admire the sites along the way. There are trails, historic sites, and spectacular viewpoints. We took a short jaunt up to the Sabbaday Falls for a look at one of the many waterfalls in the region (there are approximately 100). The short hike provides a more peaceful experience than the crowded flume gorge.

There are many pull-offs along the highway.  Some have scenic views and others
historical points of interest.
Sabbaday Falls is a great stop along the highway.  The falls were named for
the "Sabbath Day" and over time became shortened to Sabbaday.  Workers building a road decided to
halt construction for the season due to winter rapidly approaching.  Before leaving on
Sunday morning, they hid their tools and planned on returning to the area they named "Sabbaday."
The name stuck but the road was never finished.
Once the leaves reach their full peak, thousands of people rush to the area to catch a glimpse.
Our trip to the area would not be complete without going to the nearby town of Littleton. We went to the town on a rainy day to find out just how good the food was at the much talked about Littleton Diner which has been around since 1930. The Littleton Diner has been made famous over the years because it is the spot that all politicians campaigning in New Hampshire stop in to shake hands and eat real American food. The diner provides the perfect photo opportunity for the campaigning scoundrel who needs to appeal to the blue-blooded, hardworking American voters. The diner is an old railroad car turned into restaurant. We decided to sit at the counter and read the local paper for an authentic feeling (and wait for a politician to come make empty promises). Betsy had the meatloaf special and I had the most delicious corned beef hash I have ever eaten. Despite being “stuffed” we had another food stop to make. We headed down the street to Chutter’s – a penny candy store that’s claim to fame is the longest candy counter. One hundred and twelve feet of sugar and sweet. I stocked up on candy cigarettes, Smarties®, Tootsie Rolls®, and Jordan almonds. Walking down the street with my hand in the white candy bag made me feel like a kid again. Unfortunately, the overdose of sugar that I felt soon after eating too much candy made me feel like an irresponsible adult. Oh well!
The yummy diner that just looks like politician heaven.
As verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest candy counter at Chutter's.
Who knew candy necklaces were first introduced in 1951?  
We did not know so much candy existed!
View of the old mill in Littleton (taken from a covered bridge).
More pictures follow.......

This stream overflowed it's banks during Hurricane Irene and caused
road and trail closures.
A heart carved long ago stayed as a scar on the tree.
Peaceful walk up to Sabbaday Falls.
We decided to hike up Mt. Willard, elevation 2,815 feet.  Luckily we did not start off at 0 elevation.
The train station at Crawford's Notch.  Still used by the scenic railroad tours.

The Appalachian Trail Club's Highland Center which is a lodge, restaurant, and visitor
information center.
All this land and not a single moose.


  1. Those pictures are just beautiful. We are looking forward to visiting New Hampshire.

    Thanks for sharing

  2. We are heading there tomorrow ... thanks for the review!


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