Day 16 – Tuesday, June 19th
Our first and last hotel stays in the Atlantic provinces were both in Moncton, New Brunswick. They could not have been more different experiences.
The first night was at the Wingate by Wyndham Dieppe/Moncton. Probably the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in. The last night was at the Howard Johnson. Probably the sketchiest atmosphere we’ve ever encountered at a hotel.
We were excited to check out of the Howard Johnson and happy with all the memories we made during the past five days.
This was mostly a traveling day for us. Moncton, New Brunswick to Bangor, Maine. Roughly a four hour drive which carried us back into the United States.
Thankfully our last gas fill-up lasted until we crossed the border. We will definitely not miss the crazy-high gas prices in Canada.
The boys were excited because our hotel in Bangor had an indoor swimming pool. So far the cool air and water temperatures haven’t provided us many opportunities for water activities.
Day 17 – Wednesday, June 20th
Similar to the day before, we had four hours on the road. Crossing from Maine into New Hampshire we were introduced to the beautiful terrain of the White Mountain National Forest.
We came into the area via highway 2 with the dominating presence of Mount Washington lurking just to our south. We are currently undecided about driving up the Mount Washington auto road which leads to the summit. The weather can be iffy, at best, and the road is not for the faint of heart.
From highway 2, a couple connecting roads lead us to Interstate 93. Driving through Franconia Notch State Park was absolutely breathtaking. Mountains on either side of the interstate rising several thousand feet in the sky.
After driving through the town of Lincoln we arrived at the Lost River Valley family campground.
One perk of planning your trip so early is you have more options when booking a campsite. It’s still a bit of a guessing game when the websites don’t provide pictures of what the actual site looks like. However, by using the campsite map, we try to do our best picking sites that look secluded and are relatively close to the bathrooms.
I’m not a big fan of the phrase “Winner winner chicken dinner” but you could probably get away with using it when talking about our campsite for the next three nights. Check it out!!!
Here’s a video of what the campsite area looks like: Campground
Day 18 – Thursday, June 21st
What a cold night we had last night. Whew! 41 degrees in a tent gets pretty chilly.
Here’s the issue we’ve been having. We bought a new heater because one of the ones we brought with us seemed to have a short in it. It would only work some of the time. The new heater works great but it pulls more amps and will flip the breaker off if we run both heaters at the same time. We are working on a solution for this.
We ate cinnamon rolls on the electric skillet and then off we went.
Our first stop was the Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park. It was about a ten minute drive from our campsite.
The Flume Gorge is a 2.1 mile loop trail that follows a portion of the Pemigewasset (pronunciation not included) River. The first half of the trail is full of surprises around every corner. Huge glacial boulders, table rock, avalanche falls and the wolves den to name a few.
Here’s a couple videos from the trail:
The back half of the trail didn’t offer quite as much. Even with temperatures in the low 70’s, the boys started complaining about being hot and tired. I admit that 2 miles of trail walking is not a piece of cake for two 5 year olds and a 3 year old.
After a picnic right off the Appalachian trail we went back to the campsite for naps. We hadn’t been able to make naps work at the campsite to this point and thought it might be a good change.
Yeah, it really wasn’t.
The boys took forever to fall asleep and by the time naps were done it was already pushing 5pm. We drove the extremely scenic Kancamagus Highway from Lincoln to Conway.
There are all kinds of neat train rides offered in Conway but they weren’t on our agenda.
Speaking of moose………what? You say no one was already talking about moose. Oh well. I guess we are now. There are moose crossing signs everywhere in this area. We have yet to see one but the boys are determined we are going to see a moose before this trip is over. Personally, I felt like our best chance to see a moose was in the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia.
On the way back to the campsite, Crawford Notch Road treated us to more incredible, mountain views.
Day 19 – Friday, June 22nd
There was a lot for us to see today after yesterday’s nap debacle. First on the agenda was the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway. You can purchase the adventure pass, which gets you into the Flume Gorge and Aerial Tramway for a discounted rate. Kids 5 and under are free at both places.
We arrived about 20 minutes after it opened and shared the 80 passenger tram with around 15 other people. The guide was funny and informative. We learned about the ski resort, the surrounding mountains and the different states we could see from the top.
Video of tram ride up the mountain: Tramway
Once at the top, there is a summit trail that winds its way to the very top of the mountain. We couldn’t have asked for better weather today.
The summit of Cannon Mountain sits at 4,100 feet. Here’s a picture that proves that:
Here’s a video I took from the summit: Cannon Mountain Summit
One thing we have gone back and forth on is driving up the Mount Washington Auto Road. We’ve had to evaluate the pros and cons. Pros: Beautiful views, being on the highest peak in the northeast. Cons: Intimidating drive up the mountain, costly, rough on car brakes, weather is unpredictable.
The ultimate deciding factor for us ended up being the weather. Today’s summit forecast was calling for milder than average winds and warmer than average temperatures. We had to do it.
Between the tram and Mount Washington we asked the boys to have some quiet time as it was about an hour drive. Shannon and Everett fell asleep early in the drive. As I am turning onto highway 2 the following conversation occurs:
Carter: Daddy, I just saw a moose.
Daddy: Wow, Carter that’s cool. (In a sort of no-you-really-didn’t tone)
Carter: I did see a moose. It was walking across the road.
(Daddy then slows the car down, turns around and looks at Carter)
Daddy: Carter, did you really see a moose?
(Carter is now smiling ear to ear)
Carter: Yes, I did.
At this point the car in front of me pulls an impromptu u-turn in the middle of the road. I knew something was up. I swing a u-turn myself and make it back to the spot where he said the moose went. Shannon is awake now and we are all looking in the woods.
After a few seconds we see something walking amongst the trees.
We only saw it for a couple seconds before it disappeared into the woods. We catch another glimpse of the moose before it makes its way deeper in the woods. Unfortunately, you are just going to have to take our word for it. By the time we were able to take a picture, the moose was gone.
What do you know? We actually saw a moose. Thank you New Hampshire for coming through in the clutch!!!!!
We rode for the next 30 minutes in the car looking at each other and saying, “We just saw a moose!!!!”
Upon entering New Hampshire yesterday, I explained to the boys that Mount Washington was the tallest of all the mountains in New Hampshire. Since that time, whenever we see a mountain, Jackson asks “Is that Mount Washington?” So far I have answered “No!” about 129 times. Today, I was finally able to say “Yes Jackson, that is Mount Washington.”
We arrived at the beginning of the auto road expecting to pay $54 for the family. The nice gentleman who checked us in didn’t make us pay for the boys, which saved us $14.
After paying, they hand you a map of the area, an educational CD that accompanies your trip to the summit and a bumper sticker that reads “This car climbed Mount Washington!”
It is an 8 mile trip to the top where you progress through four different climate zones. The average grade on the road is 12%. It’s steep!!
With many hairpin turns and steep drop-offs throughout the trip, the drive was exhilarating, breath-taking and sometimes slightly terrifying. Here’s a view from one of the pull-offs we stopped at on the way up to give our van a rest:
We also took a video of our drive up the mountain. WARNING: This video is not for the faint of heart.
We made it safely to the summit, ate a quick picnic lunch and were ready to explore the summit area. As a side note, the temperature at the base of the mountain was 73 degrees. When we arrived at the summit it was a chilly 53 degrees.
Mount Washington is often called the place with the worst weather in the world. Here’s proof:
Did you notice how the building is chained to the ground? Crazy!!
Here we are on top of the world……..well, on top of New Hampshire!! That just doesn’t sound as catchy.
They also have an interactive museum which explains how they maintain the weather observatory is maintained year-round. Here’s the boys piloting the snow-coach, which takes people part of the way up the mountain in the winter.
There were many, many hikers at the summit. Apparently hiking to the summit of Mount Washington is part of the Appalachian Trail. Good job hiker people!! We overheard a couple talking about how it took them six hours to make it to the summit.
After a quick visit to the gift shop we made our way up to the summit observation deck. It just so happened that the cog railway was arriving at the summit while we were there.
Take a look at this video of the cog railway making nearing the summit: Cog Railway
We were blessed with a clear day at the summit and a visibility of 100 miles. It was all we could do just to take it all in.
Here’s a video from the summit: Summit video
The descent was equally, if not more, intense than the drive up the mountain. It was suggested to put the vehicle in 1st gear and stop several times to cool your brakes. They even had water available at different spots to cool your radiator.
Here’s a picture from our trip down the mountain.
Here is a video or the first part of our drive down the mountain. I will upload more videos later when we have some spare time. Haha!! Spare time. What a concept!
After safely making it back down the mountain we were finally able to exhale. That’s a long time to hold your breathe.
To finish off our day we had dinner on the beach at Echo Lake in Franconia Notch State Park. We had a nice view of Cannon Mountain, Mount Lafayette and the tram we rode earlier in the day.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in New Hampshire and look forward to what Vermont has in store for us the next couple days!!
Until the next adventure!