Laura and I have begun making trips from our home in western Maine to the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s taken us this long. We moved to Maine in 2013 and our first trip to our neighboring state hadn’t occurred until 2018. It’s a shame really because northern New Hampshire has so much to offer, from the quaint, but slightly touristy town of North Conway to the stunning views of Mount Washington to the many scenic waterfalls and hiking spots. It’s a great area actually; one of my favorites. We’ll be back time and time again and I’ll use this page to keep you updated on our activities. Please read below for my separate posts. I’ve given each one a heading and the date visited to make browsing easier.
Visiting North Conway, New Hampshire & the White Mountains
November 2, 2018
I’ve had this trip on my mind for some time now. Like many other folks out there, I tend to do much of my traveling via Google Earth. When I’m not actually in the car driving somewhere nice, I like to use “Street View” to see what an area looks like. I have fun doing this. It gets me out of the house, so to speak.
I’ve been visiting North Conway, NH through my computer for a while and just the other day, I suggested that we actually head out to the real place. North Conway is approximately two and a half hours from where we live, so it took a lot to get me up and motivated to do something like this. If you aren’t aware, one of my least favorite activities is sitting in the car driving. Can’t stand it. But, for the greater good, I made the trip and was excited about it.
There were two things I wanted to see in this town. First was Zeb’s General Store and the second was The Christmas Loft. Both are situated right there on the main drag, so getting to them wouldn’t be too challenging, once we landed in town.
I’m always surprised at how places actually are when compared to how they appear on the computer. Usually, an area is very recognizable when compared to a photograph, but because of the wide angle lens Google uses for the mapping program and because of the lack of ability to discern topography, I’m usually pleasantly surprised when we make it somewhere in person. It always looks better.
For the first part of our trip, driving through the White Mountains was utterly beautiful. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. We left our house and drove west on Route 2 and then when we arrived in Gorham, NH, we made a left and headed south. We entered the White Mountain National Forest and that’s when the adventure began. Maine was nice and so was New Hampshire, but nothing compared to the size of the White Mountains. Here is Mount Washington, right at the base of the road that leads to the top. I had to pull over to get some shots of this.
Mount Washington is actually the small peak behind the big one in the front. Here’s a better shot of it. It’s the one with the snow and antenna on it.
And because I’m such a whiz when it comes to photography, I put together a really hard to see panorama of the entire view. I still haven’t figured out a better way at displaying these things.
Once we entered the park, we quickly realized that there was no shortage of beautiful views. I kept wanting to pull over to take them in, but I realized that if we did that, we’d never get anywhere. Time was passing quickly and I wanted to get into town to see what it was all about. Although, I did snap a shot of a tunnel that went under the road, so bikes could pass by without getting hit by a car. I thought that was pretty cool. I kept seeing people ride into this lowered area in the grass and disappear and had to see what it was about.
About a half hour later, we got sucked into another beautiful view, so we were forced to pull over for some more photo opportunities. This is Mount Washington from the south, looking north. nice, isn’t it? The location is called the Intervale Scenic Vista.
And here’s another panoramic shot from that location.
It’s just so nice.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s get into North Conway now.
When we finally made it North Conway, we parked and I immediately jumped out of the car to take a photo of the Main Street while it wasn’t that busy. Check it out.
We parked near the town green, which is right near the North Conway Train Station. I saw this online too and I really wanted to see what it looked like, as well as what the trains were all about. So that’s where we headed first. We walked straight across the green and went into the station.
Inside the station, tickets are sold for three different rides. One is about an hour, one is about two hours and one is about five hours. The last one travels all throughout the mountains and must be so much fun to experience. As far as the rest of the station goes, it was more of a gift shop. It contained everything you’d expect it to. Stuffed animals, shirts, small rocks and all the rest. It even showed off different model trains and the such.
Here’s the ticket booth.
And here are some of the colored stones.
I’m really trying to keep these photos to a minimum because I have about a million of them.
After we were finished looking around inside, we went out back to take a look around. There were all sorts of trains out there, along with some autumn decorations and of course, the train tracks. Here are some festive pumpkins on a wagon.
And here are the train tracks themselves.
In this next photo, you’ll notice a sign that says, “Stay Off the Tracks.” I saw that right after I was on the tracks. But this is the coolest train of the lot.
When we were finished up with the trains, we walked into town. The first thing we saw was an old time 5&10 cent store. I thought that was so neat. We used to have one of these in the town I grew up. I miss that place. It seemed to have everything. We used to go there after church on Sunday mornings. This one has been operating for almost 80 years.
After walking around a bit, looking at things, we made it to one of the reasons we visited in the first place. Ah, Zeb’s good old fashioned general store.
We went in and discovered that the store sold pretty much everything under the sun. From jellies and jams to candy and soaps, there was a very wide selection. We actually got sucked into buying some candy. We purchase a pound of licorice for $8. Can you believe that? The tourists we were.
I’m going to post some photos of the store here without description. I’m sure you’ll get the idea of what things were about just by looking at them. This is part of downstairs.
Here’s some of what was upstairs.
And finally, here are two photos of the candy that was downstairs. There was so much more, but you get the idea.
I’ve decided that I’m actually going to leave this post here. I have so many more photos that I’d like to break things up a bit. For my next post, I’ll focus on visiting The Christmas Loft and the covered bridge and general store in Jackson, NH. And then after that, I’ll write one about Bethel, Maine. It’s just too much for this one post. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!
Visiting the Christmas Loft in North Conway & the Jackson, NH Covered Bridge
November 2, 2018
Now that I’ve shown you all those wonderful photos of the inside of Zeb’s General Store in North Conway, NH, I think I need to turn my attention to the Christmas Loft. I’ve seen photos and video of this store online and I thought it was worthy of a visit. After all, what’s wrong with Christmas 365 days of the year? I’m just glad we visited the area during the cooler months. I couldn’t imagine browsing through Christmas items in July.
The Christmas Loft is about a mile south of the rest of the stores. The entire drag of North Conway is a few miles long, but most of the touristy stuff is up north (what I showed you above). Up in that area, cars are packed, bumper to bumper, slowly moving on their merry ways. Down near the Christmas Loft, there’s a bit more breathing room.
Even though I saw photos and some video of the inside of this store, I wasn’t quite sure of the layout. I thought it consisted of a small village on the inside and then just a few little trinkets to buy. I was right about the village, but there is a lot more to purchase than just a few trinkets. It’s Christmas all over the place.
This is the entryway, leading into the store. I threw a few lollipops in here as well because I like them.
After entering the store, we were led to its center. That’s where the village is. It’s basically a miniaturized version of a real Christmas village, if there’s such a thing. It’s actually really neat. I enjoyed myself as I took dozens and dozens of photos. I’ll show you the highlights here.
Even after entering the store, I didn’t quite understand the layout. I was too busy looking around the village to figure things out. After a while though, I did realize that the village was at the center of the building and if I walked through any of the doors of the village shops, I’d enter the rooms where the Christmas items are held. It was like the village was at the center and a “U” of stores surrounded it. Here are some of the more interesting items I found in the various rooms.
One of my favorite areas was where there were small village buildings all set up. There were quite a number of scenes. Some of them were of the Dickens Village variety and there were others too. These are some of the buildings I liked best.
There was even an entire room dedicated to Christmas lights. Of course, I took some photos of them.
Here’s a model Santa Claus for you. He was about three feet tall and enclosed in a large case.
If you’re into those small villages, you can really have a lot of fun in this store. They not only sold the ceramic village houses, but the small figures that go with them as well. I don’t think these are to scale, but I’m sure people do something with them.
I saved the best for last. I love nutcrackers and there were a whole bunch of them at the Christmas Loft. I was in my glory. Take a look at these.
There was so much more, but I couldn’t take photos of it all. It’s definitely worth a visit and I wouldn’t mind going back if I’m ever in that area again.
After a few hours of walking around and visiting the highlights, we decided to leave. After all, we had another two and a half hours of driving. We also wanted to take some photos of the many wonderful things we saw on the way in. During the trip back north, we stopped off at the Jackson, NH covered bridge. This is a big attraction and we definitely had to stop to take some pictures of it.
I should have known there would be a tourist trap on the other side of the bridge. Yes, another general store. This one was called Flossie’s and it was very cute. Unfortunately, they didn’t want us to take photos of the inside, so I only have two from the outside to show you.
The entire area is so beautiful. I haven’t ever spent any time in New Hampshire, so I was pleased. It’s a great state and I look very much forward to exploring it more in the future.
My next post will be very brief. On the way back home from this trip, we stopped off at the Bethel Inn Resort in Bethel, Maine. It’s a wealthy area and it’s worth the stop. I took some photos of the outside of the hotel and a few other random things. Until then – thanks for reading!
Visiting the Bethel Inn Resort in Bethel, Maine
November 2, 2018
One of my favorite pastimes is to travel around and visit different hotels and inns. Most of the inns I’ve seen and learned about have been located somewhere in New England. My favorites to date are the Blantyre in Lenox, MA, the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and the Spring House Hotel on Block Island, RI. Click on those links I just shared. I think you’ll be pleased with what you’ll find. Those inns are huge and wonderful and beautiful all in one. If I had to pick one to run away and retire to, it would have to be Blantyre. It just suits me well.
I may have to add another great inn to my list, but I’m not sure about it yet. On the way home from our recent visit to North Conway, NH, we stopped off in Bethel, Maine. I’ve been eyeing this town since we moved to Maine from Florida. It’s out there in the middle of nowhere and it’s got lots of money. I simply don’t know what’s not attractive about that.
Anyway, the town of Bethel is somewhat built around the Bethel Inn Resort. There’s the inn and then a town green with a gazebo in it right next door. There are tree lined streets with old houses that are in nearly perfect condition. Main Street has restaurants situated on it and there’s pretty much everything else a small town offers nearby. Bethel is an out of the way, exciting place. I just wish it wasn’t two hours away from where we live.
While we were there, we decided to take some photos. This isn’t unusual for us. We did visit the inside of the inn, but it was so quiet that I felt strange about taking pictures. I will tell you that it was very nice. The word “elegant” comes to mind. It’s upscale and much more than what I was expecting. I didn’t know if it was going to be a country inn where everyone goes to kick back and relax or an exclusive one where only those who are “in” go to spend their days. I’m still not sure about which one it is, but when I find out, I’ll tell you.
Here’s the front of the building. Don’t worry, this isn’t all. It’s actaully quite expansive.
As I said, there’s a green and a gazebo near the inn. I took a photo of the gazebo for you. Everyone loves gazebos.
Toward the center of the green was a fountain. I admit that I had a bit too much fun taking photos of the water. I’ll summarize all that fun with just a photo or two.
And finally, this is the fountain farther away. This image shows the corner of the green.
That’s about it. It was a quick stop. We almost ate dinner at a restaurant right across the street from the hotel, but decided not to. We instead ate at Sunday River Brewery. That was a good dinner.
If we make it back to Bethel, you can count on many more photos. As I said, it’s a pleasant town and I wouldn’t mind exploring it some more.
To Sweden, Maine, North Conway & Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
October 15, 2019
This past Sunday, Laura and I took a long drive through the hills of western Maine and into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I knew the drive would be long as I planned it that way. Due to the autumn weather being rainy, then sunny and then rainy again, we only had the day to enjoy the peak foliage that both of these New England states offered. And let me tell you, when they say “peak,” they mean peak. We went out for our road trip during peak colors. The trees were bright yellow, orange and red and the sky was perfectly sunny. Well, at the end of the day it was sunny. There was some cloud cover during the morning hours.
The plan was to drive straight to Pietree Orchards in Sweden, Maine and then over the mountains into North Conway, New Hampshire. We left bright and early so we’d make it to all of our destinations without running out of steam.
The first leg of our trip went well. We were making good time until we were stopped by a policeman standing in the middle of the street. He was directing a detour because there was a running race going on. We were directed to travel a few alternate roads to make it to the orchard, which was only a few miles away. We were so close and after getting slightly lost driving around this pond and that, we finally made it. Believe it or not, that little detour cost us at least a half an hour. I guess that’s what you get for not knowing the roads. The people directing us seemed to know the roads rather well. They kept telling us where to go, but we couldn’t understand them half the time. Ah, Maine. I do love you.
The orchard was packed. I’ll tell you, for a place that’s truly out in the middle of nowhere, it sure was popular. We parked the car and walked around a bit. Here’s a photo of some apples inside the store.
We didn’t actually go apple picking. We primarily focused on taking some photos of the area. This particular orchard offers some wonderful views of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. But f course, I had to snap some pictures of the apples on the trees. This first one is a regular ol’ apple pic.
This next photo is a tad more special. It’s of a cluster of McIntosh red apples, but it’s actually three photos in one, merged together to create an HDR photo.
I used this HDR (High Dynamic Range) trick for a few different scenes at this orchard. Because there was such a contrast between the bright sky and the much darker land, my camera either washed out or darkened too much of each image. By capturing three different shots; one too dark, one just right and one too bright, I was able to get the best of all worlds and merge them together.
This is an HDR image of the White Mountains. I was looking west and the scene was framed by some apple trees. I’d say this was the money shot.
Here’s a picture for you. I saw these leaves as we were walking around eating apples that we lifted from the trees. It’s a small plant that was situated near a stone wall.
These are just a few more classic signs from a pick-your-own apple orchard.
Great orchard. It’s beautiful and the apples were delicious. They were extraordinarily crunchy and sweet.
As we were walking back to the car, we spotted this awesome looking 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass Custom convertible. Take a look at these photos of it. I jazzed them up in Photoshop as well.
After we left the orchard, we began making our way toward New Hampshire. We drove through a few small towns and ultimately to Fryeburg. I will tell you this – there is nothing so beautiful as northern New England in the middle of autumn. Nothing at all. If the sun is shining and the air is warm, it makes the falling leaves and the colors on the trees all that more sweet. We had a wonderful ride to the edge of Maine.
One of the most enjoyable legs of our trip came as we began crossing the mountains from western Maine into New Hampshire. I believe the mountain we traveled over was named Hurricane Mountain. I’m not sure about that though. It’s slightly north of Fryeburg and east of North Conway. Beautiful paved road. Here are some photos we pulled over to take. There was no shortage of photo ops.
We’re going to be making another trip to the area soon because there were just so many places to stop to photograph. It pained me to drive right by without stopping at so many of them. It also pained me to drive by small parking areas where others had parked to go hiking. There were so many folks out for the Columbus Day weekend and they were enjoying themselves so much. Next time. I keep telling myself that. It’s perfect to have all of this right in our back yard.
The real goal was to drive down into North Conway and then drive north and then west toward Crawford Notch. This area is dead-center in the middle of the mountains and is nothing short of remarkable. There’s a small pond in the area and it’s nearly surrounded by very steep mountains. Take a look at these photos.
We drove around so much and saw so many things. The last area I’d like to show you is of the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. I’ve wanted to see this resort for the longest time and I finally saw it. Next time, we’ll either stay over for a night or two or at least walk around to see the inside. As it was, we were running out of time.
I’m grateful to have experienced northern New Hampshire twice now. I’d like to go back to see what the Christmas season is like and again, as I said, for the hiking. It’s a wonderful state and it may just be one of the prettiest in the union. Thanks for reading!