Eric always complains that I don’t like hiking. Actually, I just don’t like boring hiking. I like scenery. I like vistas. I like crossing small streams and figuring out my footing over rocks. I like waterfalls. New Hampshire, thankfully, has all that.
On Friday, we left work a bit early and I took the PATH train to New Jersey to pick up our rental car, a minivan (more on that later). The trip was over six hours, including an hour break for thai food. We passed right by the exit to Wesleyan, so I gave my standard alumni shout-out.
I have to say, I love traveling with smartphones. The thai place we found, which was pretty good and so quiet and peaceful, was over two miles away from the highway. We would have been eating at Denny’s if we hadn’t had Yelp and Google Maps. The hotel the first night, a Red Roof Inn, was not my favorite. A lot of the places were sold out for some reason, and at this point it was 11:30pm. I pouted and couldn’t sleep because of those thin comforters they have in cheap hotels. It was also just a little bit cheaper than the much nicer place we had reservations for Saturday and Sunday night. Eric refused to eat the free continental breakfast in the morning.
However, that turned out to be a good thing because we found this awesome pancake place further North on our route. Pretty much everything in this small skiing town was shut down, except for this restaurant, which was packed. It had a cute little train going around that captivated all the little kids in the restaurant, one of those things that makes me almost excited to have children, until I see the little rascal clinging to his mother and running around the restaurant like a wee madman.
The weather was about as nice as it was going to get, so we went up to Mt Washington. It’s the tallest mountain on the East Coast, the site of the highest wind speed ever recorded, and the first “attraction” on the east coast. You have to pay $30 something for the toll road up to the top, which comes with a cheesy yet wonderful audio CD to play in your car. We stopped and walked around at various points. It was really cool to enter the alpine zone. The trees get smaller and smaller until there are flattened, twisted conifer vines, basically. Up top was totally covered in fog. I brought my ski jacket, gloves, and a hat, which I put on at the top. It’s that cold. On the way down we hiked off the road and perched on a rock for awhile that was basically on a cliff. We tried to take pictures but they just couldn’t capture the depth and scale of what we were experiencing.
We stayed at the Bretton Arms Inn, which is on the ground and part of the Mount Washington Resort. The Victorian-era hotel is a vestige of the days when people would spend their whole summers at one hotel. Fifty trains arrived a day. It was a huge hotspot. A lot of these places have gone away, mainly due to the arrival of plane travel. Fun fact!
The hotel was absolutely gorgeous. We ate the first night in the formal dining room. Neither of us had realized the environment was so formal. I brought a new dress that I had been dying to wear, but Eric was in his cargos. I didn’t want to eat at the other restaurants so I made him borrow a suit jacket so he could eat in the formal area. Dinner was wonderful. We sat right by the window, had that exceptional service that makes you pull out all the manners you learned from your mother, and I now have a new favorite dish: osso bucco. After dinner, Eric treated me to one dance on the dance floor. We danced alone in front of the three-piece band. Just a little two-step. He turned bright red and it was so cute. He’s actually expressed interest in dancing lessons, so I need to take advantage of that. I’m not a great dancer myself, but I’ve learned that confidence goes a long way, and I really enjoy dancing with someone that loves me. No sweaty palms!
Sunday it rained all day, as forecast, so we treated ourselves to a hotel day. We had brunch buffet in the formal dining room again, it was one of those crazy Mother’s Day-level brunches. We ate a lot of lox. Then we checked out the spa, since we had made appointments for a couples’ massage later that day. I’ve only been to a true spa once, and didn’t really get the full experience. The male and female concierges each gave us separate tours, and we met briefly in the couples lounge. I went back out after changing, and Eric was nowhere to be found. I went back and used the steam room for a minutes, then checked. No Eric. Did more steam room. No Eric. Finally, I go out and see him. He had shaved and showered, commenting that there’s not usually all that stuff for him to use. After going to a formal tea in the afternoon (so stuffed by that point after breakfast and tea!), we came back for our massage. It was incredible. I definitely want to get more massages. My mom had a bunch of them covered by insurance after she got a concussion in a fender-bender (ok, not a good reason to get free massages), but I hear Washington is a massage-positive state. I would love to get medical massages for my back problems. I asked for a deep tissue massage, which left me a bit sore the next day, but I think it worked out some of my perma-kinks.
On Monday it finally stopped raining and we went on a couple of hikes in the White Mountain National Forest before we headed back to NYC. The first one was advertised as “Twenty Minutes to the Waterfall,” and it took a bit longer, but it was beautiful. We could see the trail markings on the other side of the waterfall, but there was no way you could get across at this time of the year, with all the spring snow melting. Then we headed down to the river, where we saw people canoeing and rafting down the river in wetsuits. They do this every May. Eric and I decided we will go rafting together—he’s done it before but I haven’t.
At this point Eric thought I wanted to head back to the car and go home, but no I didn’t! I turned onto a trail and started hiking. It turned out to run uphill along a stream/waterfall. We had the best time hiking up there, which led us to believe that there are only good trails in New Hampshire. There were lots of rocksteps and tree roots, and different types of waterfalls. We finally ended up turning back at a break in the trail.
Then, we got around to the whole purpose of the trip, and why we rented a minivan. The boxes. About a decade ago, Eric left ten boxes of stuff at his ex-girlfriend’s parents’ house before he moved to Portland, Oregon. Seriously. The parents were really nice, and I didn’t feel that awkward, thankfully, even though I was wondering if they were judging me against her. We started to go through them and there’s lots of duplicate kitchen stuff, for example. This morning Eric spotted a trio of microwave cookbooks. Yeah, there’s some great stuff in those boxes.
It was so nice to take a three-day weekend, and now that I have more vacation time this is something we’ll plan to do a couple more times this summer. Relaxed and refreshed! Also, we always tend to get closer during a trip together, but I think now I really understand what old married couples mean when they go away for a weekend to reconnect. The weekend was all about spending time with each other away from our usual distractions, and I felt so much more in sync with my partner by the end. Going to New Hampshire made me realize there are many, many more destinations to explore on the East Coast.