Still hard for me to get “back on the road.” Things have changed so much due to the pandemic, but recently things appear to be rebounding, and folks are comfortable not hiding their faces. Remember in 2019 I had an opportunity for a stay at the Mountain Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods at a special rate? Again it happened, and three nights I booked, 30 March through 2 April. Arriving, how can you not be “wowed” by this view? (do click for full screen view)
For views around the Hotel, do visit my last post (link above) – the historic ambiance has not changed fortunately. But sadly Omni’s new ownership has detracted from many personal touches, and I am sure it is just not COVID responses. I paid this time for an upgraded room. Entering my room it was half the size of what I had in 2019. The first night the behavior of the people in the room above me was unbearable, and threatening to leave at 11PM, I was upgraded to another room. Yes, it was again half the size of the noisy room (I perceive it a downgrade – under a roof eave slanting my ceiling, no noise above me), but still with a mountain view if I could have managed to move the wing back chair that was blocking the minuscule window (minutes ago I had two chairs). I just received an email from OMNI for feedback – only one rating option of satisfaction on a scale of ten – no place for a comment or evaluation of separate things. I wonder if I will hear back when I check zero or one? Oh, and if you ask for bread at a meal, be prepared for the reply, “we don’t do that anymore.” I am sure deleting a roll really helps the bottom line on a $50 dinner.
Once relocated, Wednesday night still resulted in little sleep since I was so disappointed and upset. I struggled in the morning (already packed again to leave) but finally talking with friends opted to stay. I spent the day in the grand room viewing the Mount Washington, writing, researching, but again not getting to reading any of the books I brought.
Friday I got out into a loop that I had planned. Below I have maps of this year’s explorations (left) as compared to 2019 (again you can click to enlarge for your own future plans).
I headed to Lancaster to visit Potato Barn Antiques, which I have enjoyed, only to find them closed (unadvertised) until May. But, no problem, I was headed on “new” back roads to St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The Connecticut River in this area flows basically east to the west (before sliding south to the Sound). Jumping back and forth, I discovered (and crossed) the MT. ORNE BRIDGE between Lancaster, New Hampshire and Lunenburg, Vermont.
Arriving in St. Johnsbury I visited the Visitors Center in the wonderful old railroad station, and (as typical of Ray) collected brochures for study and planning. I decided to not hit the museums, but instead focus a trip in the North Country in the future to include St. Johnsbury explorations. So, I picked up the old route back to Littleton, New Hampshire, arriving at the Littleton Diner for lunch about 1PM. The diner opened in 1930, and I had a fun lunch, and for memories purchased their classic coffee mug – you can see them in the case on the counter in the image below.
Arriving back at the Mount Washington I got freshened up, and planted myself in my favorite public space. My son, David, was due in from Boston to join me along with friends, Tara and Bob, for dinner. When I first planned this adventure and told David he exclaimed, “I can join you for dinner, and then go hiking on Saturday.” Many mountain hikes he has done this winter until three weeks ago coming down a NH mountain he broke an ankle – end of hiking for this winter. But he said he would still love to come and have dinner and hang out on Saturday. Unfortunately the rest of his family could not make it. He arrived, and we all had a grand time and dinner (albeit without breads or rolls). Below is my beet salad and salmon.
My original plan for Saturday after David would have left to hike, was to take the Cog Railway (running since July 3, 1869) which two years ago began winter trips, but just to the water stop 15 minutes up the mountain. I had taken the full trip back in 2013, David has hiked the mountain (and slept on it) many times. You may enjoy the many pictures and videos I took on my 2013 trip on the “Railway to the Moon” by clicking this link. So, watching the weather, we decided to catch the 10:30 trip. After purchasing tickets (shown above) we had time to head into the museum.
During construction, workers would take these sled boards back down the mountain. A daring trip, now banned, but I told David to hop aboard – note his wrapped leg.
The call came out – ALL ABOARD.
Yellow to the left is the new bio-diesel locomotive, and a replica passenger car on the right. Originally run by steam (I got to ride steam in 2013) only the first and last trips of the day in season now are with steam engines. Protecting the environment from smoke, they are also slower, so with the new engines more trips can be made each day. Below, looking up from the coach platform.
seated and ready to go
looking from my seat as we started to go up—
the trees to my left below – and later you will see the trees on the other side of the route that are covered with ices crystals from the wind blowing towards them.
A short winter trip to Waumbek Station for the view, hot cocoa and a cookie. BUT, how many people have gotten to make the complete trip, and how even less have been able to have the winter experience?
yes, the open spot below on the right below the ski area is the Mount Washington Hotel. The road from Route 302 to the Cog’s base station is six miles. In the center you see the water tank that the steam locomotives top off from to make their runs.
Two happy “young boys” who love trains.
and, boarding for descent, but looking up the tracks to the top.
and a view of the trees on the other side, and how they are ice coated.
seats reversed, and down we go.
Back at the Base Station we headed off to the AMC Lodge at Crawford Notch only to find the cafeteria closed. But, down through the picturesque notch, along the river to Bartlett, and we lunched at the restaurant at Attitash Mountain Resort. Neither David or I had been through this stretch of road in a long while so it was a treat.
Heading back to get David’s car at the hotel, we said goodbye, and as I turned away with tears my phone rang. My friend’s conference was over an hour sooner than we thought. You know my uncanny luck with timing. So, off we headed, over mountain roads from Bethlehem to Franconia to Sugar Hill, and connecting then with Route 302 to head south. RAY RECOMMENDS the views on these two back roads looking back to the Presidential Range. Amazing, and seldom seen since not the main routes.
Maybe 18 years ago Cathy and I stayed a couple times at the Inn at Sunset Hill below. Sugar Hill, NH, is lovely, remote, and sadly a great shop is closed, and an original old stage stop, inn and then B&B has been demolished. Ray does not like change.
I think I may be able to start planning more trips, I have plenty of ideas, and I enjoy the planning and anticipation. If you got this far, thank you, as always, luv, RAY — and,..
1 – The Mount Washington Cog Railway any time of the year.
2- A trip exploring back roads from Sugar Hill to Bethlehem.
3 – Join me in learning more about St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and things to do heading north into the Vermont Northeast Kingdom.