Welcome to Jackson and North Conway
Bob and Terry on Tour 2013
Days One, Two and Three


Terry and I were kicking around a few things in February of 2013 when it came to March. All of them revolved around the possibility that some changes to our work schedules over two weeks were going to provide three days off in a row around the 10th of the month.

After some thoughts were exchanged we quickly agreed on heading up to New Hampshire for a long weekend. The funny part was that instead of the old stomping grounds we had been visiting in New Hampshire over the past decade -- in and around Lincoln -- we began considering the North Conway and Jackson area for this trip. We had been there together once, and thought it might be fun and a bit different for the weekend. And in the end… we were both glad we did.

Day one – Saturday, March 9, 2013

After taking care of cleaning up from a snow storm on Friday -- about two hours spent in the driveway last night -- the car could not be reaching the road early enough for me this morning.

I always say I’m done with snow pretty quickly in the winter season. Not because I don’t like snow. I do. I like it a lot -- with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, a fire roaring in the fireplace with the dogs asleep nearby, as I gaze out the window at the beautiful scenery. (I love snow.)

I always say I’m done with snow pretty quickly in the winter season because the stuff likes to fall in the middle of work weeks -- and when it snows overnight, it needs to be dealt with so I can get the car out of the driveway and to the employee parking lot -- and there are about five people with a driver’s license from a New England state that actually know how to drive in the snow… but everyone with a driver’s license from a New England state seems to think they can drive in the snow… and they all seem to think that jamming on the brakes frequently and/or speeding up for no reason isn’t part of the problem. Sure… I love waking up an hour (or two or three) earlier than usual to head outside and shovel snow, then face people that hit the brakes to slow down as they reach the bottom of a hill. That’s lovely. (I hate snow.)

We’ve got reservations at the Eagle Mountain House in Jackson for two nights. We’ve got ideas about things to do over three days. And most importantly… we’ve got the Muddy Moose plugged into Mi Luv U as the destination, along with Terry and Bob in the car… and we’re heading off.

It’s more than three hours for us to cover the ground crossing into and through Massachusetts and then up into New Hampshire. The drive itself is a bit crazy… it’s not highway driving, so there are slower speed limits in some sections, and not many chances for passing those cars traveling below the speed limits. And yet… a great drive. There really isn’t much traffic on this morning, so even keeping to the speed limits there isn’t a sense of being forced along faster or slower than you would like to be driving. And the views are impressive. (Plus, it’s always a bonus to start seeing the warning signs for moose, which just confirm the idea you’ve entered a different place.)

We’re making the turn onto the stretch of route 16 that serves as a Main Street for North Conway (while also connecting to places like Intervale, Jackson, and eventually to Mount Washington), and we decide that with the clock around 12:30 we’ll head directly for lunch and double-back to the stores later.

We arrive at The Muddy Moose and sit down at a table. Looking over the menu, Terry and I decide to order a couple of things and split them, along with a single bowl of their New England Clam Chowder. Our sandwiches are the Wild Turkey Wrap (featuring Boursin cheese and cranberry) and the Southwest Chicken Wrap (southwest seasonings and black bean salsa with rice). The chowder is really good, and we both enjoyed each of the sandwiches.

We get out and begin backtracking a bit… heading into North Conway and the retail section.

Terry makes a true score (that still has her smiling weeks later) on a few items from L.L. Bean.

A quick drive away we stop at Four Your Paws Only… which I probably don’t have to tell you is a pet store. It is fantastic. As you may know… we’ve got two St. Bernards (Molly and Gus), and they have plenty of items in their inventory for this breed. It’s not just for Molly and Gus though… they have plenty of coverage for all breeds, from the standard to the rare. It’s a great place, and we leave with a couple of items to hang on our walls, along with treats to bring back home. (Because you always need to bring back gifts… right?)

It’s now closing in on mid-afternoon, so we decide to get checked in at Eagle Mountain House since we plan on being back this way for dinner later anyway. Of course… as you know, the best of plans…

Jackson is best accessed by crossing the Honeymoon Bridge… a covered bridge that connects route 16 to the town of Jackson. Once across that bridge you begin to see some of the shops, and we couldn’t resist stopping…

The first was Flossie’s General Store. To say it’s immediately after the bridge is an understatement… since when you park at Flossie’s, the walk to their front door might be longer than the walk to the bridge itself. It was nice enough as a store, with a few unique items. Though honestly… if it wasn’t Local Friends weekend, with a focus on gift shops, I’m not certain we would have purchased anything.

Up next was RavenWood Curio and this place is unique, interesting, and I am certain vastly different than anything you may have seen before. Outside the store itself are several fascinating items, and the fun only increases once inside. From small novelties and knickknacks to large pieces and artwork, RavenWood had a little bit of something for everyone… in a way where none of it would be something you knew you wanted until you saw it here.

And a short drive later… we are now in our room at Eagle Mountain. The resort is a fabulous place, located pretty much off the beaten path (so to speak) while convenient to everything. The room itself has old-school charm, from the furniture and decorations to the design and structure. The elevator we used was one of those true classics, with double doors that needed to be opened and closed manually. Looking out the window, Terry spots something that looks like a ferret… could have perhaps been an otter or beaver… crossing the road.

I would highly recommend Eagle Mountain to anyone looking for a place to stay in the region. We wished we had eaten there… and have heard good things about the food in the lounge and restaurant… and do plan to return. The staff was AMAZING… from the moment we made our reservations, to the people at the front desk during our stay. Great people, a building with wonderful character, and a fabulous experience.

Somehow we’ve managed to see all of this, check in to our room, and it still isn’t 4pm. We make a decision about what to do for the next hour or so before dinner, and the plan sounds wonderful, except…

I will tell you first that there is a disagreement over who forgot the bag. Now… in my defense… this was the bag Terry packed and had used for not only toothbrushes and such, but also to hide a few birthday presents she had for me. And, it was never placed with the bags containing our clothes, laptop, camera and such that I was charged with getting to the car. And, it was found on the ironing board next to Terry’s dresser when we got back home. So use your own decision-making process and consider the evidence as you will… but we decided that we forgot it.

So… we’re going to need to stop for a couple of things, which is actually pretty good. While I wasn’t expecting snow during the weekend, I was definitely not thinking of 60-degrees and sunny when I selected shirts and such. So I could use a couple of things for the amazing weather we’re going to enjoy over the three days.

After a quick stop to take care of those few items, we set Mi Luv U up for Diana’s Baths.

New Hampshire is one of those fantastic states that seem to have some sort of natural wonder branching off of every road. I kid you not.

Let’s say you head out to visit Canon Mountain in Franconia. This was the home to the Old Man in the Mountain, and remains a terrific nature-based tourist attraction to this day. So there you are, on route 93, heading out toward Profile Lake… and Franconia Notch is nearby as well, and on the side of the road you see a sign for The Basin.

The Basin isn’t a hidden treasure… people know of it… but the reality is that between Canon and Loon and all sorts of other reasons to be in the area, you probably never thought about it or knew much of it on your first visit.

These types of treasures… and plenty of signs to beware of a roaming moose or two… are all over the place in New Hampshire. And it’s fantastic.

Diana’s Baths are a little more than a half-mile hike from its parking lot… which is pretty accessible from route 16 (following River Road to West Side Road). Terry and I hiked along the path… covered in packed snow… and enjoyed it a lot. Great walk… beautiful spot.

Back in the car, we’ve now zeroed in on dinner, and we’re heading to Moat Mountain. I’ll warn you up front… we waited 45-minutes for our table… and by the time we were seated, the wait for those just arriving was over 90-minutes.

It was so worth it.

Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing Co. is… like everything in the area… right along the White Mountain Highway. (Route 16)

Terry and I ordered a Czech Pilsner to split… and it was fantastic. (Next time we likely will try a generous sampler that features their beers and looked like a great deal.)

We decided to order a few things from the menu and split them as well, and only made one mistake… the spicy chipotle honey glazed chicken wings (without bones). Neither of us really enjoyed them. That said…

Moat Mountain Pot Stickers… words cannot convey the brilliance of these dumplings. Just incredible. They were cooked to perfection and the Thai sweet chili sauce was delicious. We could have ordered a half-dozen Czech Pilsners and several plates of these pot stickers and been blissfully happy for days. Awesome.

Long Horn Nachos… we got ours made with the KC BBQ Sauce, and they were fantastic. (They normally come with the mustard-habanero-based Austin BBQ Sauce… which probably would have been good as well. Though we are ok with it, we just were more tempted by the tomato-based sauce than the habanero-mustard-based sauce on this evening.)

And then… as if we hadn’t had enough… dessert.

Terry ordered the peanut butter chocolate cake, and that was delicious. (Still, even she enjoyed mine a bit more…)

I had the butter crunch pecan pie.

I… I… dear lord, I’m at a loss. Butter crunch ice cream served with a fantastic slice of pecan pie and the combination is jaw-droppingly wonderful.

The day ended as perfectly as you could ever hope thanks to this meal. Back to the hotel… a bit of television and a solid night of sleep.

Day two – Sunday, March 10, 2013

We’ve got a strange day mapped out ahead of us.

Between my parents and a good friend of ours (Todd and his wife, Jen), we’ve got some recommendations for the entire trip… and we’re looking at Yesterday’s for breakfast and Flatbread for dinner.

We covered most of our entire list of must-do items yesterday. So we’re setting things up around the thought of just aimlessly wandering the main strip of North Conway. Terry and I are also both interested in seeing Oz the Great and Powerful, which was released on Friday.

So… we’ve decided to start with Yesterday’s, and then try to locate where the movie is playing and get some show times. From there we’d piece together when to catch the movie while setting out for a Sunday afternoon of wandering around some stores.

Yesterday’s Restaurant is in the center of Jackson. My mother had recommended it as a nice place for breakfast, and she was right. Terry and I both got assorted specialty plates, the service was friendly and good, and we both enjoyed the stop.

We pulled in to a visitor’s center on the way to North Conway so we could take some shots of Mount Washington. Terry noted that she’d like to get out to the mountain if we could, and I filed the idea away for later.

We decide to catch the mid-afternoon showing of the movie, and have just enough time to sneak back to L.L. Bean before the show. (The store is pretty much directly across the street from the Mountain Valley Mall Cinema.)

After the film… back to Four Your Paws Only to pick up some treats for a friend of ours. And then we drive a bit up the road.

The next stops…

The Bavarian Chocolate Haus – One of the musts we hadn’t done on day one, this place has great owners and delicious chocolates… we were treated to chocolate covered macaroons that were being finished and bagged when we arrived. A tremendous stop.

White Birch Books – Perfect example of what Local Friends for Local Business is all about… nice store, with friendly people working that afternoon. We didn’t leave with our arms filled with books, but we enjoyed stepping in and looking around.

The Penguin Gallery – Another great find filled with special and unusual treasures. I found myself absolutely dazzled by much of the store… and not just the items, but also the way they were displayed.

Zeb’s General Store – Fun country store with a nice combination of unqiue treats and New Hampshire gifts.

Todd and Jen had been providing bulls-eyes for us all weekend -- Diana’s Baths... Moat Mountain… Bavarian Chocolate Haus (which we had been to before, but they made a point of telling us to stop) -- so as we arrived at the Flatbread Pizza Company we were expecting nothing short of phenomenal. And… this restaurant located at the Eastern Slope Inn… delivered.

We took a Jay’s Heart pizza (tomato sauce and mozzarella) and added pepperoni and sausage to it. Flatbread does two things a bit differently: (1) They operate from an organic menu base. It isn’t 100% organic in the end… it is fresh and delicious. (2) Their wood stoves are right in the dining area. It makes for a nice show, while also allowing you to watch your pizza arrive at the table within seconds of its removal from the oven.

Flatbread also serves Moat Hoffman Weiss beer… so we tried that. Good… very good… but we preferred the Czech Pilsner from the night before.

Terry and I made our way slowly back to Eagle Mountain. We stopped along the way to take some pictures of Jackson Falls… located along Carter Notch Road.

At the hotel, we decided to take up residence in their fantastic lobby area. Eagle Mountain has a sitting room… perhaps more of a library… with a few tables set up. We took some of our chocolates from the Bavarian Chocolate Haus, some cards, and settled in for a few relaxing games of what we call Dirty Hand and Foot. (It’s our version of Hand and Foot Canasta. We each won a game.)

Another great day.

Day three – Monday, March 11, 2013

Terry and I are up, moving, and heading along the mother road of the weekend -- route 16 -- to Mount Washington. We haven’t really decided to do anything once there -- it’s still too early in the year… the driving road isn’t open for cars, the train isn’t running, and so on -- but figure we both want to get closer, take a few pictures, and see what’s going on.

In less than 30-minutes… and more like 15… we arrive at a visitor’s center near the start of the Mount Washington Auto Road. We look around a bit, enjoy the view, and start mapping out our return home.

We agree on eating lunch back in the Jackson and North Conway area, which will mean looking around a bit more before we get into the 11:30am range.

Over the weekend we had spotted this really cool carving of some black bears climbing a tree. Our quest to see what the price for such an item was about to begin. Unfortunately… we were unsuccessful, since the stores were now out of the weekend, and we were beginning to find many places closed. However… we did figure out something else.

Todd and Jen had also mentioned the White Mountain Cider Co. to us. He had recommended the doughnuts, and pointed us in the direction of their store and deli, while adding that he really enjoyed their sandwiches.

Basically, we’ve been spending the majority of the weekend in Jackson and North Conway, while traversing along route 16. Sure, there have been side roads… but that works as an explanation of it. The store for the White Mountain Cider Co. is located on route 302, roughly a mile away from where routes 302 and 16 meet. (Heading up from North Conway, you could go right and stay on route 16 past Story Land and heading for Jackson. Or, you could break to the left onto route 302 and wind up in Bartlett for some doughnuts.)

Todd and Jen had a perfect weekend… the cider doughnuts were very good.

Now it’s time for lunch.

One of the funny things about the area is that you begin to learn about places like Bartlett, Glen and Intervale… all without ever realizing you aren’t in North Conway or Jackson. Honestly… blink and you’ll miss them. The area is so small that even on-line you’ll find places with multiple towns or cities noted, which all reflect the same place. And… even so… you’ll never get lost since it’s all right on route 16 or route 302.

My Mom had mentioned the Scarecrow Pub & Grill to us. Todd had nodded that he knew of it as well. And in that amazing concept of North Conway – Jackson – Glen – Intervale – all in the same place… we had driven by it a couple of times.

When we pulled in they were just opening up for the day. Our waitress later told Terry she was expecting a slow day, and was surprised to see us at a table.

We were both hungry, so we ordered the buffalo chicken fingers and stuffed mushrooms. (The mushrooms had a cheese and ham stuffing.) Both of them were really good.

Our dinners were also good. (Terry ordered Bill’s Mixed Grill (featuring steak tips, chicken teriyaki and Italian sausage). I went with a basic chicken parmesan.)

If we only ate this food, the Scarecrow would have been counted as a success. Once again… friendly people and terrific service… and the food was really good, and served right away. But there was more.

The fries.

Outstanding. Hot, perfectly cooked, and quite possibly the best French fries we have ever eaten. I’m not kidding. I mean… yes… it could have been one of those moments when the stars were aligned, and the oil was at the right temperature, and the cook pulled the basket out when things were at exactly the point where we love our fries. And with not many people around, they came directly from the oil to our table without a delay. So sure… some of it could be circumstance. But the “crow” fries are listed as fresh, cut daily, with “skins & all”… and there is credit to be given. GREAT job.

We start a nearly 4-hour trek home after lunch… stopping along the way for ice cream sundaes. We greet Molly and Gus… only to lose their attention to treats from Four Your Paws Only, which they take and then settle in to enjoy.

Awesome weekend… just a wonderful series of great times. Thank you New Hampshire… thank you Jackson and North Conway… we will be back.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com