Some Florida snaps during Blizzard Stella….

A couple weeks ago was the school vacation week in New Hampshire, so I took some time to run away to Florida and see my lovely parents. They are a bit outside of Tampa, living the retired life! Now I am sitting in my living room watching the blizzard through the windows definitely missing the sunshine and warmth! Besides spending some time in Tampa and at my parents’s house, we also spent some time in Tarpon Springs and Clearwater.

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One of my favorite things to do at my parents’s house is just walk around or go for runs to enjoy the nice weather. The birds are so pretty down there, and so are all the flowers and plants. My parents have a couple palm trees and beautiful hibiscus flowers in their yard. Their backyard is actually the golf course, and it makes for some fun people watching from the lanai.

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I wore this outfit for a luncheon with my mother and some of her friends. Lilly Pulitzer shirt is sold out but this one is similar. White jeans here from Vineyard Vines and sandals are here from Palm Beach Sandals!

Tarpon Springs is a coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico northeast of Tampa. It is an important location for harvesting natural sponges and the historic sponge dock area has fun shopping and Greek restaurants. Tarpons Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US.

It was so nice to be near the water and all the sponge boats. My past few visits to the water had been pretty cold compared to this one 🙂 Walking around Tarpon Springs, there are lots of decorated bikes. My favorite was the one above decorated in sponges. They started appearing in the spring of 2015, and they are truly art. Warren Gregory is the artist behind the bikes. He was inspired by many years living in Amsterdam. From Tarpon Springs, we headed south to Clearwater for some beach.

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The Clearwater Beach sand is very fine, so soft on your feet. I love all the palm trees and the dunes here.
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Clear water indeed!
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The hotels along Clearwater Beach are so colorful
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Dress from Mahi Gold// Hat from Vineyard Vines// Sandals from Jack Rogers// Bracelet from Kiel James Patrick

Watching the snow fly and blow around outside, its hard to believe I was ever in warm Florida. I have gone down every February since my parents moved down there, and it really is such a nice winter getaway. Hopefully anyone else affected by this winter weather is staying safe and warm and maybe, just maybe, my pics will help get you through!

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The Oxford Exchange in Tampa

I have been following Carly Heitlinger’s The College Prepster for years. She is from the Tampa area and I have seen many pics from her trips down there, including some posts about a spot in Tampa, The Oxford Exchange. My parents live in that area of Florida so when I went to visit this past week, we checked it out! According to my parents, it’s in an older part of Tampa, far from the big shopping malls and airport which are the parts I am most familiar with. It actually is only open til 5:30 which I thought was interesting! Not sure if maybe that area just doesn’t have a nightlife or what?

The exterior of the place is crisp white brick with black accents. The store front really pops among all the others. I love the Spanish terra cotta style roof styles.

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When you walk in, there are sunglasses/glasses displayed for sale to the right, and books for sale to the left. This part sort of reminded me of an upscale Urban Outfitters without clothing. They don’t have every book, but its a good collection of books. I loved the white and black floor in this part too!

Continue walking and you will come to a cafe counter with great lounge/work area with chairs and places to sit. There are stairs with fabulous portraits but I didn’t venture upstairs. Continue on and there is a very cool gift shop….think Anthropologie meets Williams & Sonoma? There’s also Aesop skincare in that area too which I believe is a newer addition.

From there to the right is the hostess area for the restaurant. There is a dining room that is nice, but I was pretty excited that we were seated in the other room which has the white brick walls, a fountain, palm trees, and feels a bit more like a courtyard or atrium.

The food is amazing, all made from scratch. I wanted the club but with grilled chicken instead of turkey- done. My dad did the burger, and my mother did the chopped salad. We also got the maple bacon brussel sprouts side, which is amazing. We loved everything! They have an extensive list of teas and coffee drinks as well as fresh squeezed juices and wine. The sandwich I got might be the best sandwich I have ever had- thin sandwich appropriate grilled chicken, avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli all on buttered toasted white bread…just thinking about it, I want another one!

It was a great spot, definitely one that we will continue to visit over the years! Next time I want to go for brunch…. 🙂

Here is the main post from Carly on Oxford Exchange, although really most of her Tampa posts involve pics from trips to the OE!

Oxford Exchange (a must see in Tampa)

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Hampton Beach with Mizpah

Yesterday was quite the day for my pup Mizpah. We did off leash fun at a park with awesome trails near us and then made the short trip to Hampton Beach. Massachusetts and Maine both have beaches with more lenient rules for dogs in the offseason. Maine beaches and some of the beaches on the cape actually allow dogs during the summer before a certain time and after a certain time…usually before 9 and after 5. I moved to New Hampshire, the land of live free or die, and our short coast line here is made up of state parks and there is a hard and fast rule that there are no dogs allowed. Even the short sections of beach that are considered “town beach” can’t be accessed without going through state beaches.

We went expecting to just walk along the boardwalk- not as good as walking on the beach, but still nice views. When we got there though, sure enough there were lots of people walking their dogs on the beach! They were all on leash. It seems like the rule is in effect, but just not enforced because the rangers aren’t around patrolling.

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Pretty unbelievable that all the snow melted in much of the trails! My outfit was perfect for the weather. The needlepoint hat from Smathers & Branson, my Barbour Argon jacket (sold out but similar here) , LLBean scarf (sold out), and my LLBean boots held up nicely on this cool day. 
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One end of Hampton Beach, past here its mostly rocks up against the wall
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Mizpah loves the feeling of sand between her paws
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Running around the beach with Mizpah
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Down at the other end of the beach, a very brave surfer heading into the water

It was strange to be at Hampton with all the stores and restaurants boarded up, but it was also so nice and quiet! Hampton Beach is…..lively in the summer. The first time I went to Hampton was in 6th grade with two friends and I was totally overwhelmed in a good way I guess. The beach, arcade, and all the food. I had only ever been to Wingaersheek, Crane, and Good Harbor on the North Shore in MA where we brought our food in a cooler and just ran around the beach. The best deal on the boardwalk was at Sal’s Pizza- $5 for a huge slice of pizza and a can of soda. There’s the Candy Corner, the numerous trashy tshirt companies, and leaving the beach, we always had to stop for ice cream at Hodgie’s Too. Hampton is certainly not the most classy or picturesque beach, but it is definitely fun. Ok, time to stop procrastinating and pack for Florida!

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Warm winter afternoon at Crane Beach

So from pretty much the day after snow polo to the end of this past week, I have had the worst cold!! Coughing, sneezing, watering eyes, fatigue, all of it. Thankfully I started to feel better this past week just in time for the unseasonable heat wave here in New England.

For my first “finally feeling better afternoon out”, I headed to Ipswich MA to visit a friend who just moved there just down the street from Crane Beach. It felt so good to get out of the house for more than just work, hang out with friends, and of course be at the beach!!! Crane Beach allows horseback riding and off leash dogs from October 1 to March 31, so we brought her chocolate lab Wellie with us. I totally felt like I was cheating on Mizpah, she will come next time. We both ride horses so of course are both dreaming of trail riding there as well.

Here are some pics I snapped. With the blue sky and the setting sun, the water looked an iridescent blue. It was perfection for my first adventure out in the world post-sickness!

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Still a little bit of snow on the dunes. Check out our super long winter shadows!

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Sun setting on a beautiful day. To the right of the sun, you can just make out the roof/chimney line of Crane Estate.

My friend got her resident beach sticker recently, which I think will make for some really fun day trips this coming summer! Crane Beach is usually pretty busy in the summer, the normal parking rate can be pricey at $25 but they do have nice bathroom/shower facilities and a snack shack type place with food and novelty ice cream. Where I am in NH now, while I of course have way closer access to the NH beaches, I am more excited about being closer to the North Shore beaches in MA that I grew up loving. Alrighty, hope everyone enjoys their weekends! I am on vacation next week so I will be heading to Florida to dust off the Palm Beach sandals again!

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The Lighthouses of Portsmouth Harbor

The Piscataqua River is a tidal river that separates NH from ME, forms Portsmouth Harbor, and empties into the Gulf of Maine. Recently I ventured out into New Castle, NH, which is an island. Driving around the island I found a nice spot to see the Portsmouth Harbor Light and was so happy to see that from the same park, you can see the Whaleback Light just over the border in Kittery ME. Another site worth checking out in New Castle is Wentworth by the Sea, but I made the decision that visiting that historic beauty would need more time than I had…probably a nicer outfit too.

Portsmouth Harbor Light is actually at Fort Constitution. You can drive toward the Coast Guard Base and then follow the signs for the Fort Constitution Historic Site. From May to mid-October they actually do tours of the lighthouse! I am definitely going this coming summer. You can actually climb all the way up to the lantern room! Fort Constitution was originally Fort William and Mary. In 1791, NH gave the site to the US, and the fort was renovated and renamed something a little more American : )

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Coastline of New Castle NH from Great Island Commons
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Coastline of New Castle NH from Great Island Commons. The seagulls are so cute right now, all puffed up with their winter down.

I viewed the light houses from Great Island Commons, which is a pay to enter park in the summer, but is free right now! I also got a closer look at the Portsmouth Harbor Light from the end of Ocean St…..like I was one step away from trespassing on US Government property haha. The original wooden lighthouse was built in 1771. It was rebuilt in 1804, shortened in 1851, and then rebuilt again in 1878 lined with cast-iron bricks. There is an oil house built in 1903 and a keeper’s house from 1872 that is being used as US Coast Guard offices.

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Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

The Portsmouth Harbor Light is a fixed green beacon that can be seen 12 nautical miles out. Part of the reason for the steady fixed beacon and for the shortening of the light house was the construction of Whaleback Light, a little farther out in the harbor. Whaleback Light is actually just over the border in Kittery Maine off the coast of Wood Island. The original Whaleback was built in 1820, rebuilt in 1872 after a bad storm caused cracks to the foundation. The lighthouse is made of granite blocks and sits on a rocky outcrop in the harbor. There is a keeper’s living area and a storage area within the house. Whaleback has a bright white LED light (new in 2009) every 10 seconds. It originally had a fog bell, but at some point it was changed to a horn. The light was automated in 1963, so the last keeper to live there was James Pope, USCG in the early 1960s.

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Wood Island Life Saving Station & Whaleback Lighthouse

Wood Island is home to the Wood Island Life Saving Station. It was built in 1907 in Kittery, and before the USCG was around, this station had rowboats for the US Life Saving Service to help mariners in distress. The station is actually in the midst of a restoration to be used as a maritime museum! See the progress and more history of the station here.

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Whaleback Light- love the solitary gull there on the rock

There is something about exploring the coastal areas of New England during the off season. Great Island Commons is probably packed in the summer with walkers, families, picnic-ers, and so on. I bet there are days when the parking lot gets full and they have to turn people away! It is definitely cold, but for me its rejuvenating! Getting out of the car to this beautiful scenery and that raw wind blowing in your face- talk about all the shivers! In the winter, these coastal areas are so quiet, and still.

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Skiing Cannon Mountain, Franconia Notch Park, NH

This past weekend I headed up to Cannon Mountain to ski with my husband and a few friends. It was a cold day, mid 20s for the temp, but there was some serious wind too. The sky was gray, snow guns were going on quite a few trails, the world looked sepia. The only color was from bright ski jackets, and the two tramway cars, Mustard and Ketchup. The tramway? Oh man, I could write a whole post on the history of the tramway. Alexander Bright saw tramways in at ski areas in Europe as a member of the US Olympic Ski Team. North America’s first aerial tramway was built in 1938…..Alexander Bright’s vision came to life thanks to L.R. Bateman and his American Steel and Wire, E.J Loyd and Roland Peabody of Franconia, and the NH government at the time. Peabody was the first manager of the tramway. One of the chairlifts is named after Peabody.

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Heading up to the top on the Cannonball Quad, loving the beautiful rime ice on the chairlift!
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Mountain Station, tramway side! There’s Mustard ready to head back down the mountain.
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Other side of the Mountain Station, the 4080′ Cafe and restrooms are inside. Selling point? Highest Beer Tap in NH!
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Looking back at the view on the Peabody quad I believe
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Racing shack on Lower Ravine (my favorite trail)….but lets just pretend its my quaint warming cabin k?
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Check out all the snow making action! It was so windy we wondered if any snow made it to the ground!

I am pretty sure we did every blue trail besides the Tuckerbrook family area. There aren’t a ton of green trails, but loads of blues thankfully! A couple of us took a break and my husband and some others headed over to the Mittersill ski area. Mittersill is a sub peak of Cannon Mountain. The Taft Trail on Mittersill had been used for skiing/racing since 1931-32. Baron Hubert von Pantz (I know, what a name) opened lift service to the Taft Trail in 1942 with a rope tow. The Baron built what he called the Franconia Mittersill at the base of Mittersill after his Austrian Mittersill Castle. After WWII, Mittersill was quite the resort- a restaurant and ice bar along with the inn, and besides skiing there was skating, dancing, tennis, and car races on frozen Echo Lake! In the late 50s, Mittersill started to make snow, and the resort flourished in the 60s. Competition with its neighbor, Cannon Mountain, started to heat up in the late 60s and by 1984, Mittersill was done. The inn is still there though, see their website here. When the inn opened in 1945, it was a society hot spot. The Baron was already back in Austria working on his Mittersill Castle there when the ski area in NH closed.

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Looking back at the summit of Cannon from Mittersill! See the Mountain Station up there?
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View of the Cannonballs and the Kinsmans are in the background in the clouds.

Before Mittersill even closed, Cannon was trying to figure out how to incorporate the Mittersill ski area. See the history here or here. Finally in 2009, the rope cutting took place! In between time, many backcountry skiers utilized the Mittersill trails by skinning up, and skiing down. That is now not allowed! In those early couple years, you had to take the tramway or the lift up to the summit of Cannon and ski/hike over to the Mittersill trails. It was still very much backcountry status. A double chairlift started up in 2011 over there so now you can ski Mittersill without using lifts at Cannon. On Saturday when we were there, my husband said big training/racing was going on over at Mittersill, very exciting. Part of the deal for Cannon getting Mittersill was that the Mittersill trails were going to be a racing complex. The money needed to construct and expand the trails for that were contributed by the Franconia Ski Club and the state of NH. That means that the racing facility does not just belong to Cannon….it belongs to the Franconia Ski Club and NH…which is pretty cool. See all the drama of the racing expansion here.

So I need to go back many more times. There was just too much. There’s a ski museum at Cannon that I didn’t even get to go to. There is so much history at Cannon/Mittersill. I just can’t help but think about how glamorous it all must have been. The Cannonball Pub at the base of Cannon is terrific, but to see the ice bar or restaurant at Mittersill back in the 50s? That would be something.

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Mountain Town Charm- Jackson, NH

The first time I went to Jackson NH was back in college. I went cross country skiing around Jackson Village and immediately fell in love. For a New England girl that loves the White Mountains Region in all seasons, Jackson is where its at. First of all, one of the entrances into the village is through a red covered bridge. It’s called the Honeymoon Bridge. Through the bridge, the first inn on your right will be Nestlenook Farm. They have sleigh rides and ice skating there, and it is beautiful all lit up at night. There are so many cute inns with much history in Jackson. Someday I want to stay at the Wentworth Inn in one of the rooms with its own little hot tub on a little balcony. The complete list for lodging in Jackson can be seen here.

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Ski Culture in Jackson

No matter where you stay or where you eat in Jackson, the ski culture is ever present. There are two downhill ski areas close by: Black Mountain and Wildcat Mountain. They are very different. Black Mountain is a smaller, family oriented mountain. They do horseback riding and other activities in the summer. This is where you take your family of five to get all the kids skiing, or maybe go with multiple families and the kids can’t get into too much trouble because the mountain isn’t THAT challenging. Wildcat is a different story.  There is certainly beginner terrain on Wildcat, but it is a huge mountain compared to Black Mountain. The lift ticket is more expensive too ($79 vs $55 on a weekend), so probably better for skiers that will enjoy more of the mountain.

Cross country skiing is huge in Jackson as well. The Jackson Ski Touring Center is a nonprofit organization where you can rent cross country skis (skate or classic), snowshoes, and take lessons. (Side note: snowshoeing has gotten really popular lately!) The trail system is expansive. Most of the inns in Jackson are on the trail system which makes it fun skiing from one inn to another. The golf courses for the Wentworth and Eagle Mountain House becomes gentle sloping ski loops, and the trail that goes along the Ellis River is beautiful. There is a cocoa cabin on the Ellis River Trail that has come a long way since I started skiing there. To cross the river from the Wentworth golf course to the Ellis River Trail, you ski through another red covered bridge. So perfect.

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All of the restaurants and inns have maps, signs, and memorabilia from the ski areas. Jackson is extremely proud of their ski heritage, and in a few places, you might even see photos of Benno Rybizka who might be the reason for it all. Rybizka was the second in command to Hannes Schneider, who was one of the most prestigious ski instructors in Austria/Switzerland. Carrol Reed had the vision of having a ski school like the ones in Europe here in New Hampshire. At the time, there were no ski resorts in New Hampshire. There were vertical areas that you would climb up and ski down….as many times as the sunlight and your body allowed. Reed raised the money to bring Rybizka over in 1936 and the Eastern Slope Ski School in Jackson began. It ran out of what is now the Wildcat Tavern and lessons were given on a slope on Moody’s Farm. Eventually Rybizka moved on to North Conway and started his ski school there where Cranmore Resort is now, and one is his trained instructors, Arthur Doucette, kept the ski school in Jackson going. He ran his ski school at Black Mountain for 25 years, and also founded the Jackson Fire Dept. The lessons, and money, and excitement that grew from the ski schools led to ski shops and eventually J bar/T bar lifts and now here we are. Downhill skiing is a huge part of the economy in New England, and as this article that chronicled this beautiful history says, it all started here. The article was written in 1965 so many of these historic ski heroes were still alive. Benno’s wife was model turned ski instructor Blanche Rybizka. Check out her photoshoot for Life Magazine in 1945 here. She was/is the epitome of winter slope style. This was in the days when Benno was up at Mont-Tremblant. The couple later divorced and Blanche married Dick Hauserman, one of the founders of Vail. They opened the first business in Vail, a ski shop called Vail Blanche. Her third husband was Cortland Hill, who was a Mammoth Mountain pioneer. The last name that she went by was Christie Hill, not sure if Christie was maybe a nickname due to her middle name or maiden name, Christainsen. She was a pretty remarkable woman, quite the skier- here is an article Vail Daily wrote about her when she passed in 2015 at the age of 100!

The Eating & Drinking Culture in Jackson

Jackson is the type of place that likes to work hard and play hard. Most of the inns have their own restaurant and taverns with nightly dinner and apres ski specials. There are really too many places to name here but I will cover a few of them!

Breakfast

For breakfast, definitely check out one of the inns!! The inns are ready for the folks that want to eat a little something before hitting the trails or have a nice big country breakfast. We have stayed at Christmas Farm Inn in the past and they have a really great breakfast. If you are like me and don’t like to eat a huge breakfast before skiing, get a little something to go from J-Town Deli! They have delicious breakfast sandwiches and burritos. They also have the best variety of Ritter Sport chocolate I have ever seen and stroopwafels!

Lunch and Apres-Ski

So when I am out skiing or hiking for the day, lunch is the forgotten meal. We usually eat snacks or just have sandwiches. J-Town Deli is obviously my favorite sandwich joint in town, but I will also say there is a grocery store called Grant’s Shop n Save in Glen which is not far from Jackson to get sandwich stuff and cheap snacks. For me, if there is a meal to save money on during ski/hike days, it’s lunch

Favorite Apres-Ski spots are the Shovel Handle Pub and Wildcat Tavern.  The Shovel Handle Pub is really ski club rustic inside in a good way right next to Black Mountain. They have a great menu if you want to stay for dinner, good drinks, and live entertainment. Wildcat Tavern is my favorite. The vintage ski posters, booths made with double ski lift chairs, great menu, live entertainment, or great bar…..you pick, its all good. Parking can be a little dicey on the street, but it is a great spot. When its busy, settle in because the service can be a little slow, but the atmosphere is so great, I have never minded.

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Dinner

Now, as I have mentioned, most of the inns have dining rooms and taverns where you can get a great dinner. We ate at the Highfields Restaurant at the Eagle Mountain House and it was delicious. Both the Shovel Handle Pub and Wildcat Tavern do a great dinner. For me though, probably my favorite place for dinner is the Red Fox Bar and Grille. Here’s why: they have woodfire grilling and pizzas! This is the Wentworth Golf Course Club restaurant in the summer months, named after a fox that was known for stealing golf balls! It is probably the largest stand alone restaurant in Jackson, and it has TVs which made it a popular destination for playoff football this past weekend. I love the brick oven woodfire pizza there, and they woodfire grill meats and vegetables, so I know this sounds random, but the woodfire broccoli is amazing. There are definitely some cute ski decor type stuff around, but this restaurant is a little more on the modern side of life.

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Jackson NH definitely has my heart. Jon and I hope to someday have a little place up in that area and retire up there. I think that North Conway which is a little south might be a little more family friendly- think more hotels with indoor pools instead of the cute inns, bigger restaurants, larger main street, playground- but I love the quiet in Jackson.

We stayed at the Eagle Mountain House this past weekend! Check out my post on the Eagle Mountain House here: Winter Weekend at The Eagle Mountain House, Jackson NH

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Winter Weekend at The Eagle Mountain House, Jackson NH

Many years ago, back when I was in college, Jackson Ski Touring did a Hearts across Jackson Tour for heart health month. We cross country skied between all the inns, and each inn had a treat, some heart healthy, some not so much ha. It was really fun because you got to go in and see all the inns. I remember the first time I saw the Eagle Mountain House sitting up on its hill. Its a pretty big hotel for Jackson. I remember walking in and just wanting to stay. The lobby was cozy with a vintage telephone booth, and the elevator from 1930s still worked. This past weekend, my husband and I finally stayed at the hotel that I fell in love with so many years ago.

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The Eagle Mountain House was first built in 1879 and was run basically as a guest house by Cyrus Gale. Cyrus was an avid fisher and outdoorsman, and like many farm houses in the area, he opened his doors to guests as more and more people were flocking to mountains of NH for that curative air and activity over the summer. In 1915, the original inn was destroyed by a fire. The carriage house is the only thing that survived. The carriage house was originally used for horses and carriages, then became the garage for automobiles, and is now a ballroom for functions. The inn came back bigger and better in 1916. The new sign boasted 125 rooms with 100 bathrooms. The wrap around veranda lined with rocking chairs was 280 feet around. Arthur Gale, Cyrus’s son turned the pasture farmland in front of the hotel into a golfcourse in 1931. For many years, the hotel was only open in the summer months. They would collect guests from the train stops in Glen or Intervale to stay for a couple months typically. When cars became the preferred mode of transport, it still could take upwards of 5 hours to drive from Boston.

We arrived in Jackson Saturday around noon and did some cross country skiing until we could check in. The trails over by the Eagle Mountain House were in great shape actually, so we did some skiing in the village, and then headed to our hotel so we could go right in from skiing. After checking in, we brought our bags up the antique elevator that won’t budge until the doors are closed by hand. Our room had a queen bed with a mountain view. There was even the antique telephone still in the wall.

The lobby still had some holiday decorations up and a few sitting areas. One of the sitting areas was around a Christmas tree, and another was around a warm crackling fireplace. A library beyond the lobby had a second fireplace with more comfy seats, a piano, historic photographs, and of course books. In the summer there is an outdoor pool, and there is a hot tub inside that wasn’t working sadly this past weekend. There is also a game room which was popular with the kids, and a small gift shop with mugs and tshirts. In the morning they had tea, coffee, and hot cocoa set up in the lobby, and then in the afternoon they added cookies to the to-go spread! The Eagle Landing Tavern was packed in the afternoons into the evenings. We ate dinner at the Highfields Restaurant on Saturday night and Monday morning.  I got the beef tips, Jon got the duck, and both were delicious. Monday morning they had a delicious breakfast buffet. The french toast had the perfect amount of cinnamon and crispiness and then eggs benedict is made fresh that morning.

In the summer, they serve food and drinks out on the veranda, so we will have to go back sometime to do that. The views from the hotel are really beautiful. In 2012, the hotel was bought by George Heaton of Heaton Companies. They have really committed themselves to being caretakers of this historic hotel by gently making upgrades and maintaining the historic charm. An example of this? I believe the Eagle Mountain House was one of the last hotels up there to finally get air conditioning!

This hotel, as well as many other historic hotels up there were built for the guest that had to forced to finally come inside at night. Staying at the Eagle Mountain House in the summers of its hey day was about being outside away from the noise and pollution of the cities. The rooms were really meant to be for sleeping only, with the windows open in the summer! We really enjoyed our stay. Between cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking, there is so much to do outside in the White Mountains!

I wrote a little bit more about the lovely town of Jackson here: Mountain Town Charm- Jackson, NH – Check it out!

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The 52nd Head of the Charles Regatta

Hello everyone! It has been a crazy couple weeks. We finished ripping up carpets and putting down hardwoods in our living room and bedroom and painted the walls. The place looks completely different with fresh paint and nice oak hardwoods! I am glad we finished up in time for one of my favorite weekends, the Head of the Charles!

I decided against going down on Saturday because it was pouring for most of the day, but I did head down on Sunday because I was volunteering! Sunday is also a great day to go because parking is free in Harvard Sq and its the day of the Championship 4s and 8s! This was my fifth year of volunteering. I volunteered my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, and then the first two years out of college. My first two years we got long sleeve tshirts, the next two years we got fleeces from Nautica BUT unless you were there Friday night you got the big sizes so I gave those away. Brooks Brothers took over the volunteer apparel in 2009. This year they did a fantastic blue and red down vests and black hats. Love it. I have volunteered out on the docks in the past and I have volunteered in the info booths. This year I was in the info booth right across from the Brooks Brothers tent at Attager Row, the retail area between Elliot Bridge and the finish line. My fellow volunteers were great, all very helpful and interesting people. Volunteers aren’t just rowers, they come from all different backgrounds to help this amazing two day event go as smoothly as possible.

I think that having rowed in the event two years does help me to be a good info booth volunteer, as well as the fact that I got to learn how to row on the Charles in high school. I know all the bridges, all the boathouses, and the good places to watch. I have had some mishaps out there too:  I coxed a boat (the only time I ever coxed a boat) into the shallows on the Cambridge side by the Weeks Bridge (oops), rowed around in the basin during what felt like a hurricane, and swamped a four. Swamping the four meant hopping out of the boat to flip it, and then getting back in…not easy. For next year I am going to put together a HOCR guide- all the food, shopping, places to watch, and such. It will be really fun for me to write 🙂

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I did take a break to run over for a pic at the Brooks Brothers photo area.
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It was a cold and windy day, but gorgeous blue skies.
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I just loved the pink and navy unisuits on this crew
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Four launching out of Cambridge Boat Club from the Eliot Bridge.
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Beautiful scene by the Eliot Bridge. The boathouse up towards the left belongs to the Belmont Hill School and the Winsor School.

There were some fabulous highlights this year. Gevvie Stone who won the silver medal in Rio won the women’s championship singles. The O’Donovan Brothers who were hilarious in Rio rowed in a quad for a second place finish, the US Para Team rowed in the mixed eight race, and the gold medal women’s eight was on hand for autographs. The HOCR just after the summer olympics every four years is always a little special. I would love to row in the HOCR again. We shot for an alumni 8 but didn’t get a bid, maybe next year!

Now, sadly the HOCR gear from Brooks Brothers is not available anywhere else but their tent during the event. I really liked the HOCR long sleeve cotton sweatshirts but they were a little too expensive for me. The official HOCR merchandise is really nice too and can be a bit more affordable depending on what you are looking for.  There was no KJP presence this year in the Brooks Brothers tent which was interesting. The past few years there was an area within the Brooks Brothers tent featuring members of the KJP team and products.

How was everyone else’s weekend? Whose coming to the HOCR next year? Counting down already…

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North Country ATV Adventure

This weekend we headed up to the Great North Woods of NH to a friend’s family camp for some ATV fun and beautiful foliage. We boarded the pup so that she could have fun and socialize with other pups while we played out on the ATVs. We got up there on Friday night and headed on the ATVs Saturday morning. Up in North Country NH, there is an awesome trail network for ATVs called Ride the Wilds established in 2013. There are 1000+ miles of trails connected, which include town roads and sections of highway when necessary to connect sections. Eleven different clubs within the region take care of the trail system with donations only- no tax dollars were spent on them.

Before 2013, the trail network wasn’t as connected and was really dependent on permission from private landowners. The signage along the trails was amazing and really helps keep people on the trails and off land that the landowners would like to keep private. There are restaurants, lodges, general stores, and campgrounds along the way. For this adventure I wore my LLBean fleece, Harding Lane mountain hat, buff to cover my face for the dust, jeans, my old Merrell boots, and my Fox mountain biking gloves.  It was definitely a day for functional clothing that you didn’t mind getting dusty/muddy!

Our first stop on our ATV adventure was the Blueberry Hill Inn & Cafe for breakfast. The food there is fabulous- our party got blueberry pancakes, grilled blueberry muffins, bacon, homemade corn beef hash, home fries, and endless cups of coffee. The blueberries for the pancakes & muffins come from blueberry fields right on the property and of course, the maple syrup was locally produced.

From there we headed up the Cree Notch Trails to a great lookout/picnic spot. Along the way we rode along a railroad, saw glimpses of the Connecticut River, & rode through a Christmas tree farm.

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Along the railroad trail was the most dust, but I liked it because it was cool to see the old school telephone poles still standing

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Feeling like a bandit through the dusty parts
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The Christmas tree farm!

The views from Cree Notch were amazing. The foliage was just breathtaking.

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My husband Jon and I rode on a Polaris Sportsman ATV. He drove the whole way out, and I drove part of the way home. Our friend was on a Kawasaki ATV, and then his parents, our amazing hosts, were in a Polaris side by side. They have had their camp up north for about 30 years and have really been there since the beginning for ATVing up there. img_7219

From there we headed to Bear Bait Mountain which also had some beautiful views. As the day progressed, the clouds rolled in and there were even a couple rain drops but thankfully nothing that disrupted our day. We saw a juvenile moose alongside the trail coming down from the notch view. It was early in the day for it to be out and about, and it didn’t move when we approached. Sadly the poor thing might be sick with something. We didn’t stick around too long in case mom was close by. It may have had some sort of tick borne disease like lyme. It was still a pretty cool encounter.

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After our amazing day of four wheeling, Jon did some fishing at the brook right near camp, and we had a campfire to warm up before dinner. He caught and released six beautiful brook trouts to hopefully grow and increase the healthy trout population.

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Beautiful brook trout, caught & released

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We had such an amazing day and made it home on Sunday in time to watch Tom Brady play with the Patriots for the first time this season. I am pretty sure this weekend is the peak foliage for northern NH, but southern NH still has a week or so. I am just loving all the fall colors, and secretly I am totally getting excited for snow and skiing in a few months hopefully!

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