Jackson, New Hampshire
Our first evening in New England was spent in the village of Jackson, New Hampshire. We chose Jackson solely for its close proximity to Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the White Mountains and all of New England. However, Jackson also provided us with an idyllic small town New England experience.
We stayed in the middle of town at the Historic Wildcat Inn & Tavern – a very well maintained old ski lodge that includes a long wooden bar, great restaurant and beautiful courtyard. The inn is family run and reservations are handled by phone and logged in a large hotel register.
We arrived well before sunset allowing time for a leisurely stroll around the quiet village after settling into our room.
Following a path along the Ellis River, we came across a golf course and decided to return via the cart path since it was in the evening and appeared that no one was playing between us and the club house.
We found the club house to be open and Trey was glad he could inquire about green fees and club rentals. The gentleman closing up set Trey up with a great deal, an early morning tee-time, and also gave him a handful of good condition golf balls from those found around the course.
Jackson seemed to mostly consist of lodges, inns and beds & breakfasts. The village did not have many restaurant options and other businesses seemed to close with the sun, making our decision for dinner an easy one. Luckily, we had inquired about dinner options early enough that we were able to make reservations at our inn’s restaurant – they require reservations for meal planning purposes. Plus, we pleasantly discovered that their great food makes them a popular choice for locals.
We rose early the next morning and enjoyed breakfast together at Sarah’s Yesterday Restaurant before Trey headed to play golf at the Wentworth Golf Club.
After soaking up some sun and reading in the inn’s courtyard, I decided to catch up on laundry. The nearest Laundromat was ten miles away in Conway, but was a nice drive and timing was perfect for me to wash, dry and fold and get back to Jackson just in time to meet Trey for lunch at the club house.
After checking out of the Wildcat Inn we backtracked eleven miles to the Mt. Washington Auto Road – an 8-mile road that slowly winds up Mt. Washington to its 6,288 foot summit.
The auto road has always been privately owned and the fee to access it is not cheap at $28 per vehicle/driver, and an additional $8 for each passenger. The road was completed in the 1850’s, so obviously was not always referred to as an “auto-road.”
At the base we were instructed to keep our car in second gear and warned of the potential for high cross winds.
We knew of the dangerous winds as that is the primary draw to the mountain — the highest recorded earth surface wind gust was measured on the summit of Mt. Washington at 231 mph in the 1930’s. This fact had me a bit apprehensive, particularly when we ascended above the tree line and the road went from tree-lined pavement to a mix of dirt and gravel with steep drop-offs.
The ominous clouds to the west only added to my nervousness.
However, once we arrived safely at the summit, my heart rate returned to normal and I truly enjoyed the majestic panoramas surrounding us.
A weather research center continues to operate at the summit, along with an observatory and museum. We also found a restored hotel and a cog railway at the summit that was completed in 1869 to provide travelers quicker access to the summit before the invention of automobiles.
We left beautiful New Hampshire wishing we had scheduled more time there, but at the same time were anxious to experience Vermont.
Grand Isle, Vermont
We crossed the bridge onto Grand Isle in time to witness an amazing sunset; the result of a dissipating thunderstorm that we were glad to miss.
The Adam’s Landing bed & breakfast we had reserved sat directly on the western shore of Lake Champlain facing New York state.
After settling in, we headed for the only late dinner option on the island. I think that the veggie pizza we shared at McKee’s Island Pub & Pizza was the best pizza of our travels. Although, I have to also recognize that we were particularly hungry, and we didn’t really eat a lot of pizza during our six months on the road. It was delicious, nonetheless.
We were very grateful to be served a homemade breakfast the next morning, complete with pancakes and Vermont maple syrup. It provided great fuel for exploring the islands via one of its many bike routes.
Lake Champlain is 125 miles long and its linked islands provide biking enthusiasts a great route for riding the lake’s entire length from Quebec, Canada to Essex County, New York. We chose a manageable 12 mile loop that kept us on the northern end of Grand Isle, cut through the state park and took us along both the western and eastern shorelines.
It was a beautiful, cool, but sunny morning – perfect for taking time for bird watching and enjoying the scenic farmland and views of Lake Champlain.
It was then time to say good-bye to our lovely hosts and take off for the Adirondacks.
The ferry crossing at Gordan’s Landing was a short drive away and we were able to drive immediately onto the ferry crossing Lake Champlain for Plattsburgh, New York.
This was our first ferry experience and we entertained, or perhaps annoyed, the other passengers with our excitement and wonder.