Granite State Ambassador VolunteerRecommendations & Tidbits
By: Dwight S. Haynes, GSA Discover Wild NH Class of 2008
On Monday, June 19 at 7 a.m. I was off for a 4-day tour of 17 of the top natural and man-made tourist attractions in the White Mountains, the 59th Annual Educational Tour sponsored by the White Mountains Attractions Association. In my 8 years as a Granite State Ambassador at the kiosk in front of the State House I have logged almost 500 volunteer hours; all I had to pay for was gratuities, as food, lodging, and bus transportation were provided and we were treated like royalty. The hope is that we will continue to help visitors, be even better informed, more enthused, and able to say: “I’ve been there, done that”. I didn’t have to drive. Maryellen drove me across town where I met Norma Angwin, and Connie Loken from Hollis who drove us to Polar Caves in Rumney, west of Plymouth, where we became a party of some 30 people, including some AAA and Chamber of Commerce people.
Being the oldest person in the group and not having traveled the way I used to before my double knee surgery 4 ½ years, I was a bit anxious as to how it all would work out. It’s a challenge to keep the cane with me at all times, especially for climbing and descending, set up the Bi-Pap machine each night in a different place, keep track of 2 hearing aids and batteries, 3 pairs of glasses, daily vitamin pills plus a pill and Flonase for nasal congestion, and eye drops twice daily, and carry rain gear, water bottle, notebook, etc. in my knapsack. Oh, to be young and care-free again! Despite the challenges, my love for travel was reawakened, and I had a great time!
Mike Duprey, old enough to be retired, has been conducting this tour so well for years and was scheduled to guide us; but a health problem prevented his coming. To the rescue came Estlin Loparto, 24, who worked at Lost River one season, has traveled in several nations, and works in the White Mountains Attractions Association office in North Woodstock. Many of us liked her as soon as we met her in the parking lot. She did a great job as our tour guide,
First stop - Polar Caves. 50,000 years ago, a continental glacier moved southward over New Hampshire. As the sheet thawed, great blocks of granite fell from Hawk’s Cliff. These massive granite blocks created a series of caves and passageways- great for exploring. After some Dunkin Donut munchkins & coffee, we started walking, some 300 steps up, but oh, such fascinating formations and such beauty to behold. The huge glacial rock is some 50 mil. lbs., has huge sections at different angles, offers different colors with different minerals and various forms of lichen and moss. I was fascinated not only by the rocks, but also by the trees, different kinds and different shades of green typical of late spring; and some of the trees are growing right out of the rocks! Apparently, seeds scattered by wind or birds find a home in the cracks of rocks; then dirt and moisture collect, allowing the seeds to grow roots below and seedlings above! Wow!
During a brief stop at Alpine Adventures in Lincoln we saw different kinds of zip lines with varying degrees of adventure, plus a steep slide with tubes flying and landing on a huge air bag. The Flume Gorge has a natural 800-ft. chasm with waterfalls, covered bridges, glacial boulders, and a scenic pool. Some did the long walk around; some of us hiked up about a 1/2mile up into the gorge - a bit steep, but worth it! I was there years ago; but before I read a great geology textbook in early retirement. I now have at least some clue as to what it’s all about and why! As I experienced the awe and mystery of God’s continuing creation I was moved almost to tears.
The Flume, like so many parts of our trip, provided a feast for all the senses with the different colors to see in the rocks and trees, the sound of rushing water, the smell of moist vegetation, the touch of different surfaces, and then the tastes in the cafeteria! In the gorge I was reminded of the rain forests in Puerto Rico and NW Oregon. I learned that the walkways, railings, and platforms in the gorge, weighing 300-4000 lbs., are removed by hand each fall because of the huge pieces of ice that form on the walls of the gorge and then later come crashing down. As I was walking down the steeper part, a young woman, appropriately named Angela, offered me her steady hand.
Heading north on Rte. 3, the road soon joins the I-93/Franconia Notch Parkway, which takes us through the spectacular scenery of Franconia Notch State Park along a route framed by the towering peaks of the Kinsman Range and Cannon Mtn. on the left and the Franconia Range and Mt. Lafayette on the right. The trip up Cannon Mountain in the Aerial Tramway offered such scenic vistas and also brought back memories of my having climbed Cannon a few times. The trees in June provide many different shades of green. While at the top, some clouds paid a visit to remind us how the weather keeps changing in the Franconia Notch. In descending, we saw the beautiful white blossoms of the mountain ash trees.
Next, we toured the Omni Mt Washington Resort in Bretton Woods. I’d seen this huge hotel in the distance many times over the years, but never close up! Despite some rain showers, the Cog Railway and the summits of Mts. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Eisenhower, etc. were all in and out of the clouds and clearly visible from the hotel porch. It was as though the clouds were tickling the summits while we were busy enjoying delicious hors d'oeuvres and later a full course meal. This hotel provides one of the most scenic spots in all of NH and I’ve seen quite a few in my time.
Ron LaBelle was a great room-mate. He thought I was a pretty cool cat for an 80-year old. He said that in the course of our first day we had walked 5 ½ miles, climbed the equivalent of 22 flights, and walked about 12,000 steps! After sleeping quite well, breakfast was out of this world with an omelet made to order. By the time I got through breakfast I had eaten 3 fruits and 2 vegetables. I was ready to take on the new day. Most days we were up at 6:00 a.m. and back in our rooms by 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 20. Santa’s Village - with such imagination and creativity was better than I expected. Santa was there, but so also the 3 wise men on camels, the Holy Family, and Christmas carols! How can this be in a park that caters to the public? Because it is owned and operated by a family, not by some big business with corporate headquarters far away. The theme is not just Santa, but fun, joy, kindness, and love. The buildings and grounds are beautiful with wonderful landscaping – trees, shrubs and lots of flowers.
Let’s begin with your own gingerbread man to decorate and to eat! Now, take these snack pieces of something to feed the reindeer; and so I did. This place is interactive with lots of touchy, feely stuff! Climb up these stairs and take a nice ride around and above the park. As you leave you are handed a picture of the 3 of you. That’s what was with the light flash part way along. Then, if you’d like, you can ride the dodgems just like the ones I rode at Canobie Lake Park 70 years ago. I’d love for us to bring Asher, our 5-year old great grandson, here next December, to be here when the thousands of little Christmas lights are turned on – a memorable sight I am sure. Before we left the owner’s 12-year old son came on the bus to thank us for coming and to invite us to come back again!
Before going up the 8-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road by Stage Van, we saw an old horse-drawn stage coach in the museum, as well as early and later cars that were used. The summit of Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the northeast at 6,288 feet. For cars, motorcycles, runners, and walkers (when permitted), you start in the parking lot at about 1.500 feet for an elevation gain of some 4,700 feet! I climbed it twice in my youth from Pinkham Notch, first with the Bates College Outing club and then with the youth group of our Lisbon Methodist Church. The views from the Auto Road were stunning and the driver’s comments were so interesting. I was reminded of the Alps in Europe and mountains in Alaska. We were to have an hour at the summit; but the weather changed quickly and we were asked to head now to the Mt. Washington Cog Railway for the sharp descent – as much as 37 degrees. It’s all quite fascinating.
Following Rte. 302 to Bartlett we come to the Attitash Mountain Resort with 5 downhill ski areas, miles of cross-country trails, and lots more things to see and do: an alpine slide, a mountain coaster, mountain biking, bungee trampoline, etc. The heavy spring rains delayed the preparations for their summer opening. We were going to try one of those things (I now can’t remember); but the manager pointed to the dark, heavy, ominous clouds coming down the valley and suggested we try it another time.
So, off we went to the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel and Conference Center. Before another full-course dinner there’s the cocktail hour with delicious hors d'oeuvres. We get to meet the owners and operators of some of the different White Mountain attractions. They are glad to have us becoming better educated, more informed, even more enthused about the various tourist attractions. By the time we finish dinner and dessert it’s almost time to call it a day, another full day.
Wed., June 21. After breakfast and a quick bus ride to Bartlett, we board the Conway Scenic Railroad “Budd Car” for a carefully narrated one-way ride from Bartlett to North Conway, where we get to walk around this old railroad station. Next, we’re off to tour the Cranmore Mountain Resort, which is undergoing major construction with older buildings being torn down and replaced by larger, more modern buildings. There are many different trails, rides, etc. It’s still a bit “pre-season”, but many in our group took the special buggy ride up the mountain. Coming down you can control the speed by moving it forward for faster or back for slower. Some went zipping down and around the curves with great gusto while also enjoying the scenery.
Then, we travel Rte. 16 North to Story Land in Glen, another family favorite, where you can explore the wonderful world of childhood with all sorts of rides, activities, and shows – so much imagination, creativity, and color - all in an attractive setting nicely landscaped. There’s lots of animation and lots of interactive, touchy feely stuff. Some of those wonderful stories from childhood days really come alive. In a show at the theatre we saw and then met a beautiful princess - a living doll! That’s the way Jane Russell described God! 2 days earlier, Estlin, our tour guide had circulated a clipboard sheet listing 3 options for today’s lunch. Upon leaving Storyland as we boarded the bus, we received our box lunch. My chicken salad was right tasty.
Continuing north past Jackson to Pinkham Notch, we head over to Wildcat Mtn., a ski area which offers a scenic gondola ride to the summit for incredible views of Mt. Washington and Tuckerman Ravine. It also offers a thrilling ZipRider trip down the mountain. In a boat the waves underneath provide a rocking motion. In a gondola you are suspended in mid-air and the invisible rocking motion comes from above! I have wanted for years to take this gondola ride with its splendid scenery. But having had a terrible time with vertigo just a few weeks ago, I decided not to risk getting dizzy and sick all over again; so I walked uphill a bit where I had a fantastic view of Mt. Washington looking from the east. At Bretton Woods 2 days earlier, we were looking from the west. There are 2 sides to every story; but how often to do you get to see 2 sides of the biggest mountain in the northeast!
In heading south back down Rte. 16, at Intervale there is a stunning view from the south looking up the Mt. Washington Valley! Then, further south, from Conway heading west to Lincoln we take the 35-mile Kancamagus Highway (a National Scenic Byway) which climbs to nearly 3,000 feet providing dramatic views, stunning overviews. I’ve been over this road many times; but usually from the west. I was eager to see it this time from the east. I woke up just in time to realize I had missed 2 of the best overlooks! Apparently, several others had taken a nap, too. This busy tour was catching up with us!
I had driven by Whale’s Tale Water Park in Lincoln many times over the years; but I had no idea what an attractive and interesting place this is with water rides and slides for different ages and different skill levels. There’s a ¼-mile tranquil river, a huge wave pool, and even a state of the art surf simulator in which the trick is to go with the water as it propelled up the slide! It was time now to head to Woodward’s Resort there in Lincoln to freshen up for the reception and dinner. Many of the owners/managers of the various attractions, also staff and members of the White Mountain Attractions Assoc. were with us for the evening. They responded to questions and comments that many of us shared from our 4-day tour. We heard they were impressed by some of our questions.
All the while, we’re being treated to specially prepared shrimp and other delicious hors d'oeuvres followed by a delicious full-course meal with a choice of 5 entrees I was very interested in 4 of the 5. I managed to gain just 1pound in the 4 days, mainly because of all the walking and climbing we did – a challenge following my double knee surgery 4 ½ years ago. It is a good thing I have a sturdy cane.
Thurs., June 22. After another amazing breakfast made to order with eggs, French toast, orange juice, etc., we departed to North Woodstock for Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in Kinsman Notch. Lost River is so named because it is in and out of sight! We were invited to discover the beauty and mysteries of the majestic granite walls, spectacular waterfalls, and rugged boulder caves. There’s Suspension Bridge, Twisting and Turning Boardwalk, and Paradise Falls. I think, like Polar Caves and the Flume Gorge earlier, Lost River is a geologist’s paradise.
Once again, I was fascinated by the different colors and formations, centuries in the making. Speaking of color, typically at this time of year the new growth on the balsam, spruce, and other evergreens will have maybe 2 inches of lighter green at the end of each part of the branches. This year, because of all the rain that’s come, this lighter green growth is often 4 to 5 inches! It adds to the beauty. It was the same at Santa’s Village. I don’t remember seeing such before. Maybe, I’m more observant, more aware of the feast for all the senses, more appreciative of God’s continuing creation in my old age!
Next, we go to Clark’s Trading Post made famous by its bear shows and train rides. It has been providing family entertainment for 85 years. Now, you can even try a Segway. It’s early in the season and already there are lots of people there. One person, from Concord, yells out to me by name. Later, I learned who it was. After touring the grounds and having pizza and ice cream for lunch, we head for the Hobo Railroad for a relaxing, round-trip excursion along the Pemigewasset River offering a variety of open vistas along the way. The Conductor saw to it that we got a snack. There’s even a Dinner Train available. Then by bus we head east again to Loon Mountain, home of NH’s longest scenic gondola skyride. There’s also a zipline, a climbing wall, a bungee trampoline, and lots more to explore.
By now some of us were ready to return to our cars back in the Polar Caves parking lot in order to get home for supper, unpack, unwind, and reflect on how blessed we were to have been able to see and do so much in NH’s wonderful White Mountains. Back in the 5th century, St. Augustine said; “The world is a book. And those who do not travel read only one page.” So, let’s travel and encourage others to travel when we can.
On June 27th, a group of Granite State Ambassador volunteers visited the Seacoast Science Center in Odiorne Point State Park in Rye to learn about what they offer to their guests. The Seacoast Science Center turns 25 this year. The center opened in 1992 as a public/private partnership between the state, two non-profits and the University of New Hampshire. Now, an independent non-profit (2001), the center sees 80,000 people a year, of which 10,500 come for their programs, and 26,000 are children.
The Seacoast Science Center is open 10am-5pm daily from mid-February–October; from November—mid-February open Saturdays-Mondays, and Tuesdays-Fridays by appointment. Their programming is diverse and geared towards families; up to age 5; grades K-12; adults (dinner-lectures and eco-adventures); and include environmental day camps, field trips and outreach programs, marine mammal rescue and badge programs for scouts.
The Seacoast Science Center is celebrating their 25th anniversary with 25 weeks of special programs held through September 9th, 2017. There are details on their website. http://www.seacoastsciencecenter.org/events/25th-anniversary-celebration/
On Thursdays throughout July, they host the Atlantic Grill Music by the Sea concert series from 6-8:30pm, and on September 23rd, the center will hold their BioBlitz, a daylong species scavenger hunt in the park. This is where families explore alongside scientists and field experts to find and record data on as many different species in the park as possible in one day. In 2016, 421 participants identified 547 species, 31 of which were new to their list. These are only a few of the fun stuff they have planned!
Inside the Seacoast Science Center guests can get up close to some incredible creatures. You can learn about whales and other Gulf of Maine marine mammals and the work the center does to protect them. You can hold a sea star, pet a chain catshark, and others in their touch tanks. Guests can also observe many varieties of fish and crustaceans in their live displays and learn about whales, seals, and exploring the ocean through other interactive exhibits.
You could easily spend all day at the center and Odiorne Point State Park. It’s a fascinating place in a beautiful location on the ocean shore. A definite must-visit for any age! www.seacoastsciencecenter.org
My touring and learning what the center is so proficient at, ranks with the top tours that I have experience during my twenty years as a Granite State Ambassador. The initial greeting from the staff made me feel so welcome. Those that provided us with the science of managing and caring for marine life are extremely knowledgeable and just beam with enthusiasm and love for the precious items placed in their care. The facilities are well maintained and structured to maximize the enjoyment and learning experience of both mature and young visitors. I asked myself a question while watching young children having the tine of their lives: "where were these great learning centers when I was their age": From the president on down, I offer my sincere thanks for taking the time to provide us with such a rewarding experience. I will be a pleasure to share information about the Center, when I have the opportunity to great both local and out of state visitors.
We love the Seacoast Science Center. We've taken our grandchildren there for an afternoon outing. They loved it.
This GSA tour was terrific. It's the second one we've been on and we learn something new every time. This time It was lobsters. Also their Learning center is very comfortable for LEARNING!!!
The Blue and the Albino lobster were outstanding!
After our Seacoast Science Center tour we traveled down to see the sand castles at Hampton Beach and to check out the Welcome Center there.
Anita and Dan M
The knowledge of the staff at the Seacoast Science Center was impressive. I’d been to the center before, but really liked having a guide to identify the species in the tanks on this trip. During our Creature Feature presentation about lobster, I was surprised to learn that there was an upper size limit when catching them, along with other great tidbits.
The setting, views and park were beautiful. Thank you for sharing it all with us – it was very interesting.
The Sea Coast Science Center staff and the people who support its programs have made a very smart strategic decision to focus their educational effort on children, the very people who will be making decisions about our future.
The staff seems to have a passion for teaching about the ocean and their well thought out displays show their commitment to sharing this knowledge with the children.
I visit Odiorne Point State Park regularly, but had never been to the Seacoast Science Center. I was impressed that the center was made for learning about the ocean and the creatures live on our coast. The staff make it very easy to understand the animals we find in the ocean and their relationship to us and each other. The center also runs a marine mammal rescue program.
I enjoyed the lecture on lobsters, and the opportunity for children to have a hands-on interface with sea creatures including their guided tours to the tidal pools. This is a well-run educational facility and great place to bring children of all ages.
I go there several times a week - each time I realize that this was where Europeans first landed in New Hampshire. When I go there, I walk the shore to the north, past first settlers’ Monument (1623) and view of the Isles of Shoals to the south and to the north, Fort Stark, the seacoast of Maine, Wood Island Rescue House and the Whaleback Light House Tower is just spectacular.
Click here to view the NHGSA photo album.
Here are a few more notes from GSAs who cruised with Experience Squam.
What a delightful host and wonderful way to learn more about Squam Lake. It was the first time in over 50 years that I was on the Lake, and first time with a full lake tour. Cindy was marvelous at finding out what we were interested in and then making it happen--how she got the loons, eagle, and osprey to appear at just the right times was truly amazing!! A special experience for anyone who loves this (or any) lake, with a personal touch!! Not to be missed on a vacation in the Lakes Region!!
What an amazing day on Squam Lakes! Cynthia is so well informed about all the history, secrets spots and knowledgeable about boating on the Lakes. The fact that she is willing to tailor the cruise to the individuals desire is worth noting. The experience and length of time boating is a big plus.
I will centennially be recommending it not only to tourist but family members.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to cruise Squam Lake on your beautiful 23 foot Bowrider. Your knowledge of the lake and its history is incredible. It really makes for a most informative cruise. In addition, your knowledge and enthusiasm for the wildlife of the lake, especially the loons, is contagious. Squam Lake is a special place here in New Hampshire, and you convey that very well. And for film fans, your stories about the filming of the movie "On Golden Pond" are just fascinating. I will be happy to pass on information about your tours to visitors looking for things to do in the Lakes Region.
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by GSA Sue Greenbaum
I was very fortunate to be included in a small group of Granite State Ambassadors who were award winners at the AMBIES, and we were invited to take a tour of Squam Lake this week, hosted by Cindy O'Leary of Experience Squam Private Boating Excursions.
I had never been on Squam Lake before, so I had no pre-launch expectations. The night before we left I did view her website, www.experiencesquam.com and was quite impressed. There were a total of 11 different excursions offered, and all could be personalized to the customers' preference. Being of a certain age, I was very relieved (pun intended) to read that bathroom facilities were accessible on several public islands. Ahh, all set!
It was a beautiful, warm and sunny afternoon, but the water was still a bit chilly on June 20th, so no one was interested in swimming that day. Cindy took us around the picturesque lake and pointed out some interesting sites. I am a fan of the movie "On Golden Pond" and it was intriguing to see where some of the scenes were filmed. Even more entertaining were the amusing stories Cindy told us about the making of the movie. It turns out that Katherine Hepburn maybe wasn't the experienced navigator she appeared to be in the film, but was actually assisted by underwater scuba divers in docking her antique boat so perfectly! Other times there was an assistant crouching out of camera range driving the boat. Another interesting tidbit for me was that when the producers were scouting for a 2 story cabin to rent for the film, they couldn't find one that met their requirements, including a second story. Finally they offered the owners of a cabin to add on a second story to their dwelling. The owners agreed, with the caveat that if they weren't completely happy with the results, the film company would return the cabin to its original layout. Guess they must have been pretty satisfied in the end, because the second story remains on that cabin to this day.
On another note, we spotted some wildlife, including several pairs of loons, (as well as an empty floating nest raft) and herons and a bald eagle were seen soaring above us.
We all thoroughly enjoyed this excursion of Squam Lake. Thank you very much Cindy, for a wonderful afternoon!
Sue Greenbaum, GSA
Two things stood out to me. The first was how well maintained all the White Mountain Attractions were. Being a New Hampshire native, I've known of and seen these places all my life, and I guess I expected them to be showing their age a little more. I was pleasantly surprised at how up-to-date, clean and well-maintained all the attractions were. All of these establishments far exceeded my expectations.
The second point was how enthusiastic the staff at each attraction was. Most of the attractions are family-owned businesses, and it shows. Most of the tours were given by the actual owners of the attractions. They were happy, incredibly enthusiastic and excited about the place that they've created. Their enthusiasm was contagious.
This FAM Tour gave me a new appreciation for all the attractions in the White Mountains and I can say I will enthusiastically encourage any guest to NH to make a visit to any of these attractions.
Phil and Chris
by GSA Tim Adams, Southern NH University Class of 2014
I’m sure you’ve all heard that the journey begins with a single step and so it was the other morning, a single step, a short walk to my car and then a 90-minute drive up to Squam lake. You see, I was heading up for a tour on the lake with a few other GSA’s that had been given the tour as part of their AMBIE award.
Now, I’ve been around parts of Squam Lake before, both in my Kayak and on a friends Pontoon boat. I’ve picked Blueberries from my Kayak along the shore of Great Island and been by the cabin used in the film ‘On Golden Pond’ so the lake wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me. I didn’t want to miss this trip however as you always learn new things when you have a different guide showing you around. I also hoped to get a couple pictures of Loons and, hopefully a Bald Eagle or two along the way.
The weather couldn’t have been any better. The trip had been postponed from earlier in the week due to potential thunderstorms and, since the thunderstorms did arrive as scheduled, the change turned out to be the correct choice. The temperature was in the low 70’s, the sun was out and there were just a couple of clouds in the sky.
Cindy, from Experience Squam (www.experiencesquam.com) was our guide and she picked us up right on schedule and off we went.
We started off in Little Squam Lake and headed to the far Southwestern end to check out the Covered bridge before heading to the Northeastern end and going through the channel and into the big lake.
We headed off counter clockwise around the lake and almost on cue there was a pair of Loons in the water in front of us! As it happened, we were close to the cabin used in the film ‘On Golden Pond’, so along with the Loons, we got told a few interesting items about some ‘behind the scene’ trickery that went on in the making the movie! Want to find out what these tidbits were? Guess you’ll have to go on your own tour OR spend time looking up some longtime residents that are still living in the area and asking them to fill you in. Personally, I’d pick another tour! Who knew skin-divers played such an important role in the movie? Certainly not me!
As we were leaving the Loons behind, we spotted a Bald Eagle in flight overhead and spotted another pair of Loons. The lake has a nesting pair of Eagles with no young this year unfortunately due to bad spring weather, and about 12 nesting pair of Loons. The Loons have also had a bad year due to all the rain and the high-water levels so it appears that only one pair will be raising young. Hopefully noting happens to them.
As we continued around the lake, we spotted an Osprey circling overhead and yet another Loon. This Loon however was different than the others as it appeared full grown BUT didn’t have the distinct coloration of the adult Loon, making it an immature one which typically stays out to sea until this color change take place.
As we were heading back to the pier, we spotted a small steam boat and got a chance to hear the whistle!
Back on dry land we all thanked Cindy for having arranged with the all wildlife to show up on schedule for us to see and for the wonderful trip.
Some of my pictures can be viewed at:
It was predicted to rain….a lot, on the day our lunch bunch was scheduled to sail on Lake Sunapee. Never ones to allow Mother Nature to have the last word, the “2 Sues” rolled up their sleeves (and pants) the evening before, busily performing sun dances. And how it worked!
The day was warm AND sunny when 41 GSAs/guests sailed out of Sunapee Harbor on the MV Kearsarge Restaurant Ship. Apparently our emails asking everyone to be on time was taken to heart. We actually departed 5 minutes early with everyone on board and accounted for. Good job guys, it was much appreciated, and we thank you!
The MV Kearsarge is a replica of the steamers that once ferried vacationers around the lake during the Grand Hotel era. Our Captain, Kara Obey, did a fantastic job navigating and bringing to our attention various points of interest during our 1.5 hour excursion. The MV Kearsarge has two decks. Some of us loved the upper deck, for the opportunity to go outside, and some of us loved the lower deck, with its proximity to the buffet, bar, and bathrooms.
Speaking of the buffet, the food was superb. Everyone we spoke to loved it, from salad to dessert. Many GSAs made a special point of mentioning to us how delicious everything was. The Social Committee can personally vouch for the Sangrias, too! We had 2 wonderful servers, Sam and Lynn, one for each deck along with a mate, Michael who was in the background assisting them. Sam and Lynn were enthusiastic, efficient, very attentive, and they never stopped smiling. Our server overheard us discussing the spiced apple slices offered with the salad bar. When she heard that some at our table had wished they had sampled it, she went back downstairs and brought us up a dish of them. They disappeared in seconds. Yum!
But all good things have to come to an end, and before we knew it, we were pulling back in to dock. As we were leaving the ship and thanking the crew for a great time, they suggested we might want to come back in the fall sometime and experience the beautiful foliage. Sounds good to us! We may well look into doing that another year.
Photo album: https://goo.gl/photos/Yx948mQfo5FCc8AK7
by GSAs Jimmy & Karen Jordan
Photos by: GSA Doug Moorhead & GSA Connie Loken
Well, I haven’t ever written a blog, but I have written many Jordan family Christmas letters! So here goes.
Jimmy and I were chosen to be a part of this year’s White Mountain Fam Tour as it is called! We weren’t sure we’d make it to the “final four”, but our luck held out and we were on our way to Polar Caves Park to meet the bus on Monday, June 19, 2017. A hearty group of GSAs, AAA advisors from around New England, Chamber of Commerce folks, state DRED people, and people from industry showed up for four days of learning opportunities (as well as fun).
We’ve toured other caves before, but these were glacial caves (not limestone or salt). Some you had to crawl or squeeze through, others twisted through the earth and cooled us off. A great way to start our adventure! Family-friendly and a great day trip. (Make sure to bring your bug spray!)
Then it was off to Alpine Adventures in Lincoln. No, didn’t try anything here; although some rode down the tube slide and flew through the air. A few of us tried the climbing ropes and free fall, but this body said no thanks to that. Great fun for those who like a dare. They are open year-round and even have snow shoeing.
Off to the Flume Gorge. There were choices of a long hike, short hike, or just enjoying the area around the museum/shop. We went on the long hike up to the top of the Gorge. It’s uphill, so a challenge for some. Absolutely beautiful!! This was one of my favorites as I like science and history.
We next rode the Tramway to the top of Cannon Mountain. Great view, new improvements at Cannon. How about a bike ride to the Flume next time? Then you can shuttle back to Cannon. Of course, you can plan on skiing in the winter, too.
Our next stop was the Omni Mount Washington Resort. I had passed by this hotel once before, but this was our own private tour of the hotel (with all its deep dark secrets), dinner and a room. The hotel is a classic turn of the century structure. I think I needed to be wearing a hat and gloves to fit in. Dinner was four courses in a luxurious dining room.
And that was just day 1!! Day 2 (after a breakfast buffet to die for) we headed to Santa’s Village in Jefferson. This was one of our favorite places. It is family run and very much family friendly. Even though we were caught in a downpour (it never rains in New Hampshire J), we were able to go around the whole park and soak it all in.
Then to the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Terrifying to drive up, so we were glad that there was a professional behind the wheel. (This was Ron’s least favorite part of the trip!) We recommend taking the tour. Dawson was a wealth of information as well as keeping us on the road. Froze at the summit. Then down the other side of the mountain on the Cog Railway. We have taken the Cog before and recommend it to all train enthusiasts.
Then it was off to Attitash Mountain Resort. Unfortunately the weather was threatening, so we were unable to partake of any of the activities. They were in the midst of some renovations, but were given a great overview. We checked into the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel and had a great dinner there and a buffet breakfast.
Day 3 we start with a relaxing trip on the Conway Scenic Railroad to North Conway. Breath taking scenery along the way. A good time to unwind. Then it was off to Cranmore Mountain Resort. We were able to get on the coasters and even ventured on a zip line. This is a seated zip line, perfect for young and the old J.
The bus took us to StoryLand in Glen. They have activities for preschoolers through preteens. And a new roller coaster that several of us hopped on. We enjoyed a musical show and box lunch on the bus.
Wildcat Mountain was the next stop. Their claim to fame is their elevation. They are able to have the longest ski season (by 50+ days). Skiing is the name of the game at Wildcat.
After Wildcat we traveled the awe inspiring Kancamagus Highway (a must for all NH guests) to Whale’s Tale in Lincoln. This water park has it all!! From kiddie pools to wave pools to water slides to a lazy river and the new simulated surfing/body boarding venue. A true state of the art.
The day ended with our stay at Woodward’s Resort in Lincoln. The resort is New England family-friendly, full of charm. Reception and dinner…full service breakfast. (Great pancakes!)
Last day…day 4 we started at Lost River Gorge…Wow! You must do the whole hike to get the full effect. The guides were courteous and knowledgeable. They were the highlight of this adventure. Knowledge is king. (They even have lantern tours. How cool is that?)
Next we traveled to Clark’s Trading Post. We had a personal guided tour by a member of the Clark family. Third generation NH business is a must for all NH guests. We watched an acrobatic show as well as the classic bear acts. They are braver than we are. (And the Russian girl must be made of rubber to turn her shoulders inside out!)
A lazy, quiet ride on the Hobo Railroad came next. Scenic views of the Saco River and even yummy desserts were provided.
Our last stop was Loom Mountain. This resort has it all. Skiing, adventure activities, hiking trails, bikes, and even a place for a wedding at the summit. (We counted places for about 180 guests.)
After Loon Mountain, we were back on the bus for our return to Polar Caves Park and our cars for our trip home.
To all who made this unforgettable trip possible, thank you.
Karen and Jimmy Jordan
The NH Boat Museum was a real treat. What an incredible collection of artifacts, memorabilia, and boats. The museum has a focus on the boating heritage and life on the lakes and rivers of NH. They have rotating exhibits, outreach programs, events, publications and hands-on activities.
I was particularly impressed by the programs they run from lectures, to workshops, to full boat building classes for families. The hold numerous boat shows/events throughout the year including a sailing regatta, model yachts, and even a vintage boat race event. I suggest visiting their website www.nhbm.org to look at their full calendar.
The NH Boat Museum operates a 28 foot, mahogany triple cock-pit 'woodie' which is a replica of a 1928 Hacker-Craft for guided tours of Wolfeboro Bay and Lake Winnipesaukee. It's a 45 minute excursion you won't soon forget!
The Toy Boat exhibit is fantastic. You could spend an hour just looking at them! Thank you Fred Clausen for sharing your collection with us.
A drive-by for many years, the Wright Museum is one of those sites that I have passed by often and wonder about the exhibits but never took the time to stop and actually do a tour. However, it was offered as a Granite State Ambassador tour and I always like learning what the State of NH has to offer for visitors.
Sometimes you go on a tour and wonder…will it be boring, uninteresting, too long etc. Honestly, what this State has for treasures always amazes me. The tour was remarkable and so interesting for all ages. The idea of the museum is to recognize the side of the war not revealed in many stories. What was happening in the United States during this war? We have seen battle maps, equipment, news film clips etc. but what were American efforts stateside? The Wright Museum captures that side of the war effort in so many aspects and interesting displays and films. And, yes, it does have tanks, jeeps, and armed vehicles but so much more. Not at all boring, uninteresting, or long…not at all!
Please take the time to stop and enter this wonderful museum…how lucky are we to step back in history and see what it would have been like to live through this war. Can you imagine biking because gas was rationed, homemakers stepping up to build airplanes, or no TV? A time that should not be forgotten. A very special museum. http://wrightmuseum.org
GSA, Seacoast Greyhound Class of 2002
I was very impressed with both museums. I had been at the wright museum years ago on a rainy vacation day. My father had fought in WWII, but it was surprising to see how much interest the kids in my family had in seeing how people lived during the road. My mother was a small girl during the war and as we walked through the museum, her grandchildren were so interested in stories she was telling them because they could look specific items in the cases. What an asset this museum is to New Hampshire.
I have never been to the boat museum. The boats they displayed were so impressive. After going to the museum, you just want to take a ride on the Mille B. It was very good to include the toy boat collection. Another museum I can see all ages enjoying. I'm looking forward to seeing their new building.
GSA, Manchester Boston Regional Airport Class of 2015
"Big Dreams, Little Boats" Exhibit of GSA Board Member Fred Clausen's amazing toy boat collection at the NH Boat Museum.
I thought the Wright Museum was wonderful. I went to the museum about ten years ago and the tour brought back the memories of how well it was back then. It offers a difference twist over other wartime museums, I think the home-front aspect, offers the opportunity to get different family members involve. I knew what to expect, but the tour reminds me to push tourism in the Wolfeboro area more than I am doing now.
The Boat Museum was nice, the two luxury boats were very interesting, but I felt that the museum was a bit too small. From what I could see, they have more boats, but did not have enough display area. If they do build a new Museum, and able to display more of their inventory, I believe that it could become a much more substantial destination. I surly plan to visit this museum again after the building opens in a few years.
I think these two museums, along with the Mount Washington, really make this area a desirable travel destination.
GSA, Manchester Boston Regional Airport Class of 2015
For more information including their event calendars:
Wright Museum of WW II
77 Center Street, Wolfeboro, NH 03896
Special events and exhibits: http://wrightmuseum.org/special-events--exhibits.html
New Hampshire Boat Museum
399 Center Street, Wolfeboro, NH 03896
Events, lectures, antique boat auction, programs: http://www.nhbm.org/eevents/
Physical:12 Vintinner Rd, #3Campton, NH 03223