Markus and I just got back from our vacation to New Hampshire and Maine, and we had so much fun that I thought I’d post a bit about my trip (even though it isn’t knitting related). I’m going to break my vacation into 2 separate posts. The first will be about trip stuff, and the second is going to be the really fun post where I’ll tell you about the dozen or so yarn stores we visited!
We drove a total of 2836 miles round-trip from Pittsburgh through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The leaves were just beginning to turn, though they were mostly still green. But the scenery was beautiful just the same. So we drove through Pennsylvania and New York the first day. And can you believe there wasn’t one Starbucks along the way? Not one! When you’re not looking for Starbucks, they’re on every corner. Go figure. Anyway, the first day we stopped in Corning, New York, for coffee at this charming little coffee roasters.
We stayed overnight in New York and drove the second day through Vermont to our destination in New Hampshire. Our hotel was the Snowy Owl Inn in Waterville Valley, NH, right in the heart of the White Mountains. Holy crap, this was the COOLEST hotel I’ve ever been to! When you walk in, you’re greeted by this guy above the fireplace.
The room was comfortable and the rest of the hotel was spectacular in a gigantic, rustic sort of way. There was a big lounge off of the main lobby with comfy couches and chairs, tables, and a cupboard full of cards and board games, including our fave game, Racko. They even had a computer set up with internet access! And here I thought I was going to be computer-free the entire week. Anyway, this hotel would be the most awesome place to hold a knitting retreat. Too bad it’s so far from Pittsburgh.
There was also a huge dining area in the lower level with seating for at least 100 people. The continental breakfast was really tasty as well. And, had we remembered to bring our swimsuits (and not caught colds the day we left Pittsburgh), we would have used this gorgeous pool and whirlpools.
We stayed at the Snowy Owl Inn for 3 nights. For a few of those nights, we felt like the only guests. I guess we were there during the off season. The hotel clerk said it gets busy during the summer and during the ski season. I would love to be there during the winter, all cozy in the lounge with my knitting… If you’re ever in the White Mountains area of NH, I highly recommend this hotel. (And no, the hotel didn’t pay me to say this, although that would have been nice!)
The first full day in NH we went to Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park. The Flume is a natural granite gorge with a wooden walkway going directly through it past waterfalls and scenic pools. There are also hiking trails and covered bridges. Really beautiful.
After our hike we drove to North Conway, which is a touristy town with cute shops and pedestrian walkways where people actually stop driving and let you cross the street. Wow, what a concept! Along the main street is a sweet coffee shop called The Met, which not only serves good coffee but showcases paintings and sells beautiful pottery/mugs. To me, the best coffee shops have delicious coffee (check), comfy couches (check) and a really unique atmosphere (check).
On our way back to the hotel that evening we had some excitement. An actual, real live, full grown moose ran right in front of our car! Fortunately Markus had the brights on so he saw it coming and was able to slam on the breaks before we could hit it. Those things are HUGE! So those “Moose Crossing” signs don’t lie! That was, thank goodness, our only moose encounter, although I was on moose patrol the following evenings…
So after refeuling at Starbucks, we drove to Mount Washington, which is highest peak in the Northeastern US at 6,288 ft. We were given a packet before our ascent, detailing the many dangers and risks we were undertaking by driving up to the summit: variable weather conditions, narrow road with NO guard rails, average of 12% road grade, great scenic beauty which can be distracting to the driver, etc. This trip is not designed for people who are scared of heights. Sorry, mom. Despite all these lovely warnings, we drove up the mountain. When we arrived at the top, someone said it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It sure felt like 32 degrees! The wind up there can reach hurricane force during the winter, and one of the buildings was actually chained to the mountain!
After our wonderful stay in New Hampshire (I can’t wait to go back there again), we headed east to Maine. We drove up Route 1, the road right along the coast, to Hotel Pemaquid, a sweet, quaint hotel on the Pemaquid peninsula.
Our hotel was just about a stones throw away from the rocky beach and light house. The hotel was built back in 1801 and turned into a hotel in 1888. It was decorated in a sort of victorian style with old photos along the walls and antiques on every shelf.
The hotel is very remote, so you have to drive about 30 minutes from Route 1 all the way to the tip of the peninsula. They don’t serve breakfast which was kind of a bummer, but there is a nice restaurant just up the street next to the lighthouse. We watched the lobster fishermen hauling in their traps while eating belgian waffles one morning. If you are going to Maine for a relaxing vacation where all you want to do is sit around and knit or read, this is definitely the place for you. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the time to sit around and relax. Too much to see and do. And, oh, the hotel is closed during the winter because it has no insulation!
After all the scenery in New Hampshire, we decided to take in some more at Acadia National Park. The park is unique in that back in the early 1900s, people bought up land and donated it to the government to be used as a national park. It is touristy as expected and fairly small, and we were able to drive around a large part of it. We also went up Cadillac Mountain, which is the highest peak within 25 miles of the coastline of the Eastern US.
By the afternoon, I was a bit tired of scenery and was running low on caffeine, so we stopped in at the closest town, Bar Harbor, for the opposite of nature and scenery. Bar Harbor is a pretty standard tourist town which kind of reminded me of Provincetown in Cape Cod. We had some coffee and a piece of pumpkin bread at this sweet bakery called Morning Glory Bakery.
The next day we headed off to visit the “softest farm in Maine”, an alpaca farm called Winters Gone Farm. If you’re in the Wiscasset area, I highly recommend a trip to see the alpacas.
We watched a short video about alpacas and perused the alpaca store. She was selling some beautiful skeins of handspun yarn from the alpaca fleece. Each skein was labeled with the name and photo of the exact animal the fleece came from. The yarn was a bit pricey, and rightly so, so without having a project in mind I decided not to buy any. But she does take orders…
After saying good-bye to the alpacas, we went on an fall coastal boat tour of Muscongus Bay which lasted about an hour and a half. The tour left from New Harbor and traveled around the many islands off the coast. We saw lots of pot buoys and some seals, and learned about the islands and history of the bay area. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to visit Monhegan Island or see the puffins. Maybe next time.
My next post will be devoted to all the yarn stores we went to during our trip, and there were many. Markus was so great to not only drive me to yarn stores but also suggest we stop by some more! And he’s not even a knitter (though he likes to call himself a ‘theoretical knitter’).