Saturday, July 27, 2013

Back to Reality

Last week was the week of our much-anticipated camping trip to New Hampshire. I had a vague idea what to expect, but never having been to New Hampshire I was eager to see it for myself. We had reservations at Terrace Pines, in the Lakes District of New Hampshire. I would recommend the campground, with reservations. It is on two lovely large ponds, with kayak and canoe rental available. The campground has electricity and water at each site, with sewer hookups for RV campers. As a tent camper, I would have liked our site to be a little bigger, secluded, and more wooded. Still, the campground is spotlessly maintained and in spite of the large number of children around during the day it quiets down early and is very restful at night. It is not one of those campgrounds that attracts a large number of loud party people. Our campsite was at a little remove from the neighbors on one side, with the site on the other side empty until the night before we left, so we were able to feel cozy and private.

All the same, I don't think we will stay at Terrace Pines next time we camp in New Hampshire. As it happens, most of the attractions we ended up visiting and the ones we want to make time for on our next trip were in the southern part of the White Mountains and points north. I think we will choose a campground more in that direction when we return. And we will return. New Hampshire is beautiful, and the skiing operations have really bought into making the state a year round draw. I don't ski or snowmobile, but the areas devoted to those winter sports have really invested in drawing tourists in the summer as well. There were a lot of family attractions with outdoor activities and tours for a full range of abilities. New Hampshire weather being what it is (Mount Washington is shrouded with fog 60% of the time), you do need to be a little flexible in your plans, but there are plenty of options.  If you are easily bored you will not run out of things to do.

The Kancamagus Highway is a beautiful attraction. You could easily spend an entire vacation on this 34.5 stretch  of road. There are campgrounds, hiking trails, scenic overlooks, waterfalls, rapids, and swimming holes a-plenty. I doubt you would run out of things to do if you never left the area. We were overcome with its beauty and variety. One day we went back to the campground early as we had seen as much natural beauty as we could absorb.

We also visited Woodstock and Conway to shop and look around. Woodstock is very pretty, and the Woodstock Inn would be a wonderful place to stay. We had lunch at the Woodstock Inn and found the food and the house made beers exceptional. Conway has an outlet mall of remarkable diversity if you are a vacation shopper. We confined ourselves to shopping at the L.L. Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports outlets, as we needed a few bits of equipment (you may read that as "we went shopping for toys"). I got a nice pair of hiking shoes at a reasonable price at L.L. Bean. My old standby boots are 30 years old, and it was nice to have a lighter and cooler pair of hikers for summer. I'll also be wearing these at work; I have worn out a pair of cross trainers on the job. Although both towns have plenty of attractions and shopping we found the prices very high and did little other shopping. If you go to Conway you should go to Zeb's Country Store. It's a lot of fun, and a good place to get some non-foolish souvenirs and gifts like candy and handmade soap.

We had our share of vacation misadventures, which I will note on a later post. For now I will just say that we found New Hampshire stunningly beautiful, delightfully cool, and worthy of a second and third look.  As with any road trip, I also got most of a gift sock completed - it's the holiday knitting part of the year, after all!

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