Let’s forget for a moment that it’s been the coldest winter in recent memory. Let’s also ignore the weatherman, who has that awful “s” word again in the forecast for next week. Instead, let’s concentrate on today … sunny, blue skies, and above freezing!! It was a day just made to enjoy, and after all the below-zero weather we’ve had to endure as recently as, well, yesterday, I’m guessing most of New Hampshire ventured out somewhere today. It has been a long time coming.
Our chosen destination on this late winter day was North Conway. An hour north from where I live, it lies in the Mount Washington Valley and is prime ski territory. In fact, it has been called “the birthplace of American skiing” and the large number of ski areas and condos here might back up that claim. The out-of-state license plates in town far outnumbered the locals. We had lunch, went next door to the vintage five-and-ten store, and then crossed the street and visited what I consider the most fascinating part of this town … the train station.
In 1872 the Portsmouth, Great Falls & Conway Railroad extended their service to North Conway. The beautiful Second Empire depot was built here in 1874 to meet the demand, and it continued into the next century. In 1932 “snow trains” began carrying skiers north, a sport that grew with the development of ski lifts.
With the rise of the automobile, the train declined. The railroad, then part of Boston & Maine, abandoned passenger service to the area in 1961, and freight service in 1972. From there, though, the Conway Scenic Railroad was born and continues today, and the station is listed on the National Register.
Interestingly enough, my horoscope this morning read “You need to spend more time with people today — so open your door, head out somewhere public or just trek on down to the train station and mingle.” Train station, I thought? What train station?
I could have spent much more time here, but the breeze was cold and we had other things to do. So we hopped in the car, turned up the heater, and ventured a little further north into the village of Jackson, where there are some lovely covered bridges, and then through Intervale – over the bumpy frost-heave-y roads with the sun in our eyes and a renewed thirst for exploration. Always paying attention to road names in New England, my favorite today was “Yellow Brick Road.”
“Have you ever been down the West Side Road?” my friend asked. I didn’t think so, so we found it. It winds along through the valley, along the Saco River and past Echo Lake State Park, both of which were under a thick cover of snow. We came across a “bear crossing” sign, enormous old farms, and a beautiful inn called “The Farm by the River.” Honestly, if I was looking for a place to stay in New Hampshire, this would be high on my list.
We were taken at first by the beauty of the house and outbuildings, then we noticed that there were horses and sleighs in the driveway – so we made a quick left with the car. This is a beautiful old (1786) home that rambles on back toward the barn and stables, with fields all around and the mountains in the distance. At first I thought they were hitching up the horses, but apparently they had just finished a ride and were putting things away. Even so, we lingered for awhile and took photos; no one seemed to mind.
We wound up our little day-trip by heading down a favorite backroad toward home. This road meanders past Pea Porridge Pond, our favorite blueberry-picking spot, the beautiful white church in Eaton, a ski area where Wolfeboro grade-schoolers come to learn the sport, and the patriotically named town of Freedom. Not bad for a warm (it’s all relative!), sloppy, muddy, icy, blindingly blazingly beautiful March day in New Hampshire.
Conway Scenic Railroad: http://conwayscenic.com/
The Farm by the River: http://farmbytheriver.com/
<div style=’text-align:center;font-size:11px;font-family:arial;font-weight:normal;margin:10px;padding:0;line-height:normal’><a href=’http://www.dwellable.com/a/15075/New-Hampshire/Center-Conway/Vacation-Rentals’ style=’border:none’><img src=’http://www.dwellable.com/dwellback/15075.jpg’ style=’width:102px;height:20px;border:none;margin:0;padding:0′><br>Center Conway on Dwellable</a></div>