You know I have hardly travelled this year what with my book and now with the renovations to the building I purchased with Barbara and Lynne — but I started getting itchy. The other day I was thinking about staying on Lake Winnipesaukee and doing things “on the list,” but in that research the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train in North Woodstock flashed through my mind. I had discovered it last June on the way back from my train trip from Montreal to Halifax, and Cog Railway trip. I called Leslie, and yes they had space on the 26th,. So, then I found a nice B&B booked it for a night, and called Leslie back to book the train. Dinner on the train could be done concluding a day trip from home, but I thought why not go back to Clark’s Trading Post for another visit. Thus the overnight and two days.
I have wonderful luck picking B&Bs, and here is the view from the couch as I am writing. The Wilderness B&B was built in 1912 in the arts and crafts style, and still retains that atmosphere.
Other than boarding the train at 4:30 on the 26th, and going to Clark’s on the 27th I had (note past tense) no plans, but played with a map and a yellow highlighter. So get your map out, and follow along.
From home I worked my way up to Sunapee Lake and took 103 down to Newbury where I turned north on 103A past the Fells (been there, worth a revisit and picnic). I picked up Route 11 towards Andover (been awhile) and then took US4 east towards Salisbury. Never been that route, but wanted to see Daniel Webster’s birthplace (open only weekends – but what the heck I am in area). Salisbury Heights remote and nice, as is Salisbury where I turned northish on 127.
There I spotted the sign proclaiming CURRIER AND IVES BYWAY. In the last year more and more routes have been designated byways, and I have been accumulating information to develop a section on my website about them, but I did not know of this route. Also, fascinated by Ethan Allen, since I have been to and enjoy most of the places he lived, traveled to, owned or fought at, I want to create my own “Ethan Allen Trail.” Yes, another book or website.
At the ubiquitous brown state sign turned left and around the bend sat the bucolic spot – Daniel’s small birthplace —
Someone else I need to know more about. Remember last year when BLUE BELLE and I visited the remote Vermont spot where he spoke in 1840 to 15,000 people?
I next arrived in Franklin. Even before we lived in New Hampshire Cathy and I enjoyed our visits to the three story Franklin Antique Market. Not only is it now gone, but every storefront in town displayed a FOR RENT or FOR SALE sign. You kind of wonder what happened. Wonder if there is a package deal price?
From Franklin I headed north on 3A which skirts the east side of Newfound Lake. I wanted to see The Inn on Newfound Lake which has been “on the list” to stay at having been built in 1840 as a stage stop half way from Boston to Montreal. Pretty sure I had been down this road before, but nothing seemed familiar.
Got to stop at the inn – the porch has my name written all over it – someday!
Arriving in Plymouth I followed US 3 north (who needs the parallel I-93?) arriving in North Woodstock with time to spare. I had not planned to go up to the notch, but having time I continued north. But, wait, right turn to the FLUME — now that has been many decades, think I visited with the boys when they were very little, or maybe when BELZEBUTH (1929 Model A Ford Roadster) and I ventured that far north in the mid-60s. I turn in and go to the visitor center. Great exhibits, and wonderful introductory video (RAY RECOMMENDS – always avail yourself of the videos). Not enough time to go in, BUT WAIT, look at this sign. I will return tomorrow, and this “deal” also covers Cannon Mountain – maybe I get to ride the gondola for the same “fee.” You will find out later in this post.
Check into the B&B at 4, shower, and arrive at the Dinner Train at 4:30. I miss my sleeping car train experiences in Canada – have to do the US. If you have never had dinner on a train, this is a must do — two hour, twenty mile ride with a five-course meal. Scenery not something to write home about, but savor the experience and meal.
The view from my table as the train evening began.
And, desert (can you believe?)
The kitchen after we arrived back at the station
and, one of the cars for dining
After a full 12 hour day, I am now home recounting in images and words the full and fantastic day I had, today, Wednesday, 27 August. B&B was delightful, breakfast on the porch just right, and I left about 9:15 to be at Clark’s Trading Post when it opened at 9:30.
This was my third or maybe fourth visit there in as many decades. CLARK’S TRADING POST is eight-six years old and probably the best family fun entertainment in America. It is the best value, unique, and reflects exquisite taste in showing showcasing early life, and what early roadside Americana was. I will let pictures tell my story in the gallery which I really have posted to remind myself of the joy I have always had here. And, if you look at the images (remember to click on any one to open the slideshow), you will see my comments that there are still items “on my must own someday list.”
Of course I had to show you this replica Cretors popcorn wagon.
Made by “Wagon Popcorn” in the early 1970s, I seriously considered buying one new when stationed in Charleston, SC. My plan was to sell popcorn in the old market that was at the time under renovation downtown. Glad I just have CORNELIA tucked away in my stable now.
I toured the park, took in the Chinese Circus, hopped on the White Mountain Central Railroad into Wolfman Country, and then took in the noon Bear Show. In case you do not get there before the bears go into hibernation, here are two videos of today’s performance
Everything is timed perfectly. I really enjoy the museums which have just about everything that I enjoy.
Shortly after 1PM, after 3 1/2 hours, I sadly left, and headed a tad north to the Flume. But, I saw Murray Clark, and thanked him for the pleasure his family has provided me in the past 40 years with their premier slice of Americana, the best in family entertainment.
The obligatory FLUME image
And, yes, I showed my NH driver’s license and received my free ticket. I completed the two mile walking loop through the Flume and past the Pool in about an hour and a half — not bad since that is the predicted time. Now, Road Scholars would class this “most difficult” warning their typical traveler, but obviously I am in the top 1 percentile of fit travelers.
Since the same deal applied to the Cannon Mountain Tram, I headed there next arriving in time to catch the 3:30 tram.
Built in 1980, the current tram replaces the original built in 1938 which was the first tram built in the US. I am about 80% sure now that Cathy and I traveled up on one of our sojourns and stays at Sugar Mountain, but considering what I paid, it was worth it. Now, the same deal applies to skiing Monday through Friday, so Bill and Dutchie take note, and Gretchen remember when your time comes.
I was done looking at the Skiing Museum at 5PM, and it was time to head back south. So, map time to follow along. Back down US 3 to North Woodstock, west on 112 to Route 118 south through the national forest. Wow – no telephone poles, no signs of life, and straight up before going straight back down.
the one open view on Route 118
Road deadends at Route 25 where I headed south to Warren, but first bumped into Warren where on its ancient, decrepit common has proudly stood this Redstone Missile since 1971. Gives me an idea for another Ray legacy here in town.
I was heading to Wentworth to pickup Route 25A west towards Orford. But the turn was before the town. One thing Ray has learned is that when this happens forget the turn and find the town first — you can then turn back to take your turn. So glad I did so in this case. Wentworth is a minute untouched gem. Small common with raised bandstand with Congregational Church at the end of the green. And just a couple architecturally interesting homes. Enjoy these images
Turning back to Route 25A (previously never traversed) it began to rain as I passed several old summer camps for kids. At Orford I headed south on Route 10 remembering how I was impressed with the Common in Lyme. Getting hungry I was pretty sure that the one other time I passed through Lyme that I saw an old tavern, but alas I was wrong.
But there are two lovely looking inns (probably getting some Dartmouth trade) that have gone on the list for a quiet getaway. And, alongside the church is the longest buggy shed that was probably ever built, and deserves a visit.
Well, dinner in West Leb, and after four exploration hours from leaving the notch I was home. This was a trip I have done before, and will do again.
- Take a trip on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train
- Visit CLARK’S TRADING POST in Lincoln, NH again and again and again.
- Explore all the Franconia Notch has to offer — but at least spend some time in the Visitor Center at the Flume Gorge