New Hampshire in Mid-Winter

It’s been an icy, icy world out there lately. December and January seemed especially brutal with days on end of sub-zero temperatures, wind, and a couple of ice storms. On New Years Day, with just 2 degrees on the thermometer, Ethan and I set out for a northern adventure. We just had to get out of the house! And we wanted to see the snowy mountains. We bundled up and hit the road, temperature plummeting the more Northward we drove. fullsizeoutput_2cfa

fullsizeoutput_2cfcWe meandered through small towns, such as Grafton and Warren. We tried to take smaller, back roads as we went. Route 118 from Warren to North Woodstock was particularly scenic. From there, we jumped on highway 93 North so we could go through the Notch. The Notch was socked in with fog it was so cold, but the glimpses we got of the mountains were beautiful.fullsizeoutput_2cf6After a quick stop at the Garnet Hill Outlet in Franconia, we made our way to Sugar Hill for a late lunch at Polly’s Pancake Parlor. Situated on a hill overlooking a gorgeous mountain view, Polly’s has quite the spot. If only the food lived up to the location. I hate doling out bad reviews, but the food just wasn’t that great. But the options were many, so perhaps we just made some bad choices (I had the quiche of the day and Ethan had a reuben as per usual). Their peppermint cappuccino on the other hand- yum, yum.

fullsizeoutput_2cfdAfter our lunch, we went over to Sunset Hill in Sugar Hill to take in the view above. Still a  little foggy, but lovely none the less. We were starting to lose light, so we meandered towards home from there, though we were far from it. We went through some little New Hampshire towns that I had never seen before. Most interestingly, we stumbled upon The Brick Store in Bath which is on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest general store in the country- how cool! It had loads of old character, we had to go in and have a look around. Thankfully, we caught them just before they closed for the day. My favorite thing was the wide front porch with all the rocking chairs. Too bad it was below zero out, it would be fun to sit there and enjoy a treat from the store. fullsizeoutput_2d66

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Other towns of note were Haverhill and Etna. Both new to me, and both very colonial and charming. The moon was rising when we were in Haverhill, so by the time we drove through Etna, it was too dark for photos. Haverhill is along Route 10 in New Hampshire, and Etna is situated atop a hill off a side road- you’ll have to use your GPS to find it, but it’s worth finding- well, hopefully, I did only see it in the dark. fullsizeoutput_2d67fullsizeoutput_2d65Well that was our little mid-winter, sub-zero, just-have-to-get-out-of-the-house adventure! Hopefully we can repeat it in warmer temperatures. There’s a certain rocking chair in Bath calling out to me…

Winter Scenes

Ahh winter. The most quiet, beautiful, and relaxing of seasons. I love the home time, the hot tea, and the earlier nights. I like to catch up on books and movies I’ve wanted to read and see all year. Though there are not as many adventures or exploration as the other seasons, I’ve still taken my fair share of photos throughout the past snowy month. I wanted to share some favorites here. Cozy up and enjoy the season.img_5219fullsizeoutput_b55

The starkness of the bare branches against the sky is almost just as beautiful as when they are covered with leaves. And can’t you just feel the snow coming in the photo above. That was taken at Gregg Lake in Antrim.

fullsizeoutput_116eI love the silent morning after a fresh snowfall, the sparkles on the ground, and the brilliant winter sunsets. For those of you who are not so keen on winter, pop into your local florist or indoor nursery for a bit of spring. These beauties were at Twelve Pine in Peterborough. Create a bouquet to brighten up your home in winter 🙂

fullsizeoutput_116dimg_6017And for a nice walk in the woods on a bright day, you know, when the temperature creeps up near 40 maybe 🙂 try the Wapack National Forest (Here’s a link to a trail map) for a good walk. Ted’s Trail and Carolyn’s Trail are both very easy nature paths with lovely scenery. Just starting January, and already so much snow and winter weather up here in New England! Let’s make the most of this lovely quiet season.

Northern New Hampshire

I know I’m a little partial to New Hampshire. It is a seriously awesome state, with such variety and a lot of wildness for such a small state. For our third anniversary adventure this year, we explored the Northern reaches of New Hampshire, and ended up finding some hidden gems. Look :::

Glories of ::: Benton, NH ::: this is Long Pond (on some maps, also called Whitcher Pond), tucked away on a stretch of road called North-South road (on some maps, also called Long Pond Road), between routes 25 and 116. There is a campground all around the still water; it would be a very peaceful place to stay overnight. Nearby is the Appalachian Trail and Mount Moosilauke, so if you like hiking, this is a spot to check out for sure. We even saw a young moose feeding! Onward we drove, making it up to the town of ::: Sugar Hill, NH ::: where we had a lovely stay at the Inn at Sunset Hill, enjoying sweeping views of the Presidential Mountain range, wonderful food, and cozy surroundings.

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img_4781img_4759The next morning, we set out, still heading north. We made it to ::: Colebrook, NH ::: and visited Beaver Brook waterfall, a really impressive, high waterfall that I’ve never even heard of before! If you notice how small Ethan is in the photo below, it gives you an idea of the scale. The water fall is easy to find. If you approach the town of Colebrook from the South, take a right on route 145 (follow signs for the Hospital to find the route). It is just a few miles up route 145, and is very clearly marked (you can see the falls from the side of the road). There is a picnic area and a big lawn in front of it. There are paths through the woods all around the falls. Since it was chilly and slightly snowing when we visited, we went back into downtown Colebrook and had lunch at a quaint French cafe, owned by people who are actually from France (so their shop is filled with authentic treats and imported goods from Europe!) We enjoyed homemade pea soup and a freshly baked baguette. We also picked up some sweet treats for later; madeleines and macarons. Yum. img_4839

After lunch in Colebrook, we headed East towards ::: Dixville Notch ::: on Route 26. I had never been on that road, and was stunned to see such gorgeous scenery. Right off the side of the road, there are giant cliff spires rising up out of the forest. Directly across the street is the Balsams Resort (which was closed for the weekend when we drove by, or else we would have explored it for sure). After admiring the sights (and feeling gleeful that there was snow falling!) we continued onward, to the town of Errol. After a brief stop at the outdoors wear store there, we headed south through Milan, and ended up antiquing in Gorham. To complete our huge Northern New Hampshire loop, we cut back West across the state through Jefferson, and then headed South towards home, making a quick stop at Echo Lake by the foot of Canon mountain. When it became too cold to admire the lake any further, we drove onward to home, stopping only for a latte on the way in North Woodstock at the Cascade Coffeehouse and Cafe. The hot drinks were the  perfect thing to get us through the long stretch of highway back home.  fullsizeoutput_b9bfullsizeoutput_105c

When we set out on this two day-one night trip we literally had no plan (well, unless you count “we’re going to drive north” as a plan). But things couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. Sometimes its best to use a real map, avoid the highway, and stop at whatever looks interesting to you. Even in your home state, whatever state that may be, I bet there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be found. Happy adventuring 🙂

A Simple Beach Picnic

This past weekend some best friends and I celebrated a milestone in our lives together: 20 years of friendship with each other. We went back and forth trying to decide on what special thing we would do together. We agreed that a picnic dinner on the beach on Plum Island, Massachusetts was just the thing.

When we arrived on Plum Island, we turned right to enter the Sandy Point State Reservation, paid $5.00 for our car to enter the gated nature preserve, and drove all the way to the very tip of the island, admiring the coastal marsh scenery along the way. We chose our beach spot, spread the picnic blankets, and laid out our feast.
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For a simple (but filling) beach picnic, here’s what to bring: 

Logistics~ blankets that can get sandy, an insulated bag or cooler, a picnic basket, flatware & plates (use the real thing! single-use plastic is the worst thing ever invented), a bag to put the dirty dishes in when you are done, a cutting board, sharper knife (to cut the bread and cheese), and if you want to get real fancy, cloth napkins (cloth napkins are also advantageous because they won’t blow away in the wind). For drinks, we each brought our own refillable water bottles. Wine would have been nice, but I forgot it and the glasses.

Food~ we basically just cut up a baguette and made our own crostini concoctions with the following delicious treats: marinated mixed olives, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic cloves, brie cheese, cranberry-fig encrusted goat cheese, blackberries, mixed veggie slaw, and dill smoked salmon. Were I to do this again (which I surely will) I would include some meat too- prosciutto and salami – and also some hard cheeses – parmesan and manchego – to be exact. But we ate our fill and had fun making different yummy combinations.

Practical~ make sure to bring sunglasses even at sunset, so you can safely watch the sun go down. A sweater is nice too because it’s windy on the beach and always colder than you think it will be by the water. Flip flops, because even though I don’t consider September to be a flip-flop month, I regretted wearing my Tom’s shoes to the beach. I feel they will forever be filled with sand now.

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I hope we have a few more warm weeks this season to enjoy another beach picnic. This outing served to remind me that even just a couple hours on the beach is worth it, the simplest meals are the tastiest, and friendship -for any amount of years- is worth celebrating.