Friday, August 26, 2011

New Hampshire

Our next destination and goal was to go to the top of Mt. Washington. We found a Passport America park in Bethlehem, NH, called Apple Hill Campground. True to its name there were apple trees everytwhere. The owner let me pick enough to make a large apple struedel. The group ate half and the other half is still in my freezer.

The day we arrived we noticed a lot of different looking people wandering around town. They were Hasidic Jews. According to the campground owner, a large contingent of Hasidic Jews from New York have been vacationing in Bethelehem for over 30 years. We saw lots of them over the course of the week. It looked like most of the hotels and Bed and Breakfasts were full.

The fire tower at Weeks State Park.

The lodge at Weeks State Park. We heard there was a dance and star gazing so we came to check it out.

The musicians played older, traditional Americana music. There was a lady teaching us all how to dance some of the more traditional partner dances which would have been danced at barn dances. It was a combination of line dancing, contra dancing and square dancing. Lots of fun.

The park was named at John Weeks, who built the lodge as his summer home in the early 1900s. John Weeks was a U.S. Senator from MA, who is best known for establishing the Applachian-White Mountain Forest Preserve. The 'Weeks Law', allowing the government to buy land to be held as national forest land, is considered to be the basis for the establishment of the all the eastern forest preserves.

The day we headed towards Mt. Washington, the highest peak on the East Coast, we stopped at this trail head on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail, which runs over 2000 miles from Maine to SC, runs right through the White Mountains and over the top of Mt. Washington. We visited with some of the hikers coming off the trail. They looked cold and wet, not my idea of a good time.

You can get to the top of Mt. Washington two ways, cog railroad, or drive. We chose to drive. It is an 8 mile twisty, windy road to the top.

Notice the elevation at the base of the mountain.

They want to make sure you understand what the road is like before heading up.

There was a bike race going on over the weekend and people were starting to arrive for it. The bikers race for 24 hours straight over a set path through the mountains. The goal is to see how many times they can complete the path in 24 hours.

We were hoping for a better day weather wise, but it wasn't our luck.

Most of the time our view was like this, lots of clouds hanging over the mountains and not much of a view.

But occasionally the clouds would part and we would get a great view. This is a view of the ski slopes across the valley.

But our drive up the mountain most of the time looked like this.

But we made it. Mt. Washington is known for being the windiest place in the world. It also has some pretty cold tempuratures too.

The cog railroad getting ready to head back down the mountain.

Notice the summit is only 6288 feet. But remember we started at just over 1500 feet. Colorado has mountains over 14,000 feet, but they start at over 7000 feet or higher. But at 6000 feet, they just seem like they should be hills, not mountains.

On the way back to camp we came across Silver Cascade (yes there really is a little water there)

And Flume Cascade. I was expecting so much more, but they say it is really dry and water is low this year.

A view through the notch. Out here they are notches, not valleys.

The Mount Washington Resort was completed in 1902 and in 1996 was designated as a historic landmark. Today it is part of the Omni Hotel system.

A life size chess set on the lawn.

It is very opulent inside. I checked online later and their cheapest rooms start at around $300 a night for the off season. Some of their rooms cost close of $1000 a night during peak season.

But we stopped and had a drink on the veranda and enjoyed the view.

The view of the back of the hotel. We had been sitting on the upper veranda about midway.

Back in Littleton, NH, a town about 10 miles away from our campground, was Thayer's White Mountain Hotel, built in 1850. It still operates as a hotel today.

An old grist mill and covered bridge in Littleton. They hold their farmers market in front of the grist mill weekly during the summer.

And Littleton, NH, was the birthplace of Eleanor H. Porter, author of Pollyanna.

I had always heard about the Kangamagus Highway and what a pretty road trip it was. We did about half, as we also visited Franconia State Park too. Mostly it was just a beautiful drive, but we did stop and hike to Sabbaday Falls. Someday I hope to return and camp in the forest campgrounds and spend several weeks just hiking the area. But too much to do and too little time this year.

The falls make a 90 degree turn and has worn away the rock into a flume. Lots of people were jumping into the flume and swimming down at the bottom.

And finally, a great ending to a great stay in New Hampshire. We celebrated my birthday by grilling steaks and Nancy even made me a Cherry Cheesecake complete with candles. What great friends!

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