Before planning this trip, I knew very little of the natural beauty and friendly people I would encounter here. I also didn't know that, like Texas, they have no state income tax, and, unlike Texas, the have no state sales tax. Awesome!
Yesterday we took the Fall Foliage Special on the Winnipesaukee Railroad. It was a four hour scenic trip from Meredith to Plymouth which included lunch at The Common Man Inn. The train passed Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona and followed along and over the Pemigewasset River from Ashland to Plymouth. On the return trip we stopped at Ashland Station. The station has been restored by local volunteers who were there to greet us in period costume. Ashland is on Squam Lake, better known to movie goers as "On Golden Pond."
The buffet included squash soup, turkey and sage dressing with cranberry sauce, meat lasagna, garlic mashed potatoes, and acorn squash with assorted cookies and brownies for dessert. It was very good. I especially enjoyed the turkey and dressing.
Besides the beautiful foliage, the best part was meeting new people. We met a mother and daughter from Massachusetts, and four very delightful gentlemen from Providence, Rhode Island. They were our dining partners at the restaurant. Two of the men from Rhode Island are retired teachers who now run a theater in Providence. We had the best time discussing Broadway and upcoming shows. I told them not to be surprised if we show up at their theater in a couple of years.
Today we drove across the state to Franconia Notch State Park where we hiked The Flume Gorge. To describe Flume Gorge as breathtaking is an understatement of epic proportions. It's spectacularly beautiful.
Here's what the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation says about Flume Gorge:
The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. The walls of Conway granite rise to a height of 70 to 90 feet and are 12 to 20 feet apart. A trip into the Flume begins and ends at the Flume Visitor's Center. Guests can choose to walk through just the Gorge or do a two mile loop. The walk includes uphill walking and lots of stairs. The boardwalk allows you to look closely at the growth of flowers, ferns and mosses found here.I'm not going to lie to you, climbing up and down this gorge was challenging for both Grandad and Grams. When you factor in the medical problems that we've both overcome in the past six years, it's nothing short of amazing that we were able to do it. It was a lot of effort and I think we're going to hurt a little tomorrow, but it was so worthwhile. I've never seen anything like it before. It has now been added to the list of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
Framed by a spectacular vista of Mount Liberty and Mount Flume, the Visitor Center houses the Flume ticket office, information center, cafeteria, gift shop, and the state park system's historic Concord Coach. A 20-minute movie showcasing beautiful Franconia Notch State Park is available for viewing.
The Flume was discovered in 1808 by 93-year-old “Aunt” Jess Guernsey when she accidently came upon it while fishing. She had trouble convincing her family of the marvelous discovery, but eventually persuaded others to come and see for themselves. At that time, a huge egg-shaped boulder hung suspended between the walls. The rock was 10 feet (3m) high and 12 feet (3.6m) long. A heavy rainstorm in June of 1883 started a landslide that swept the boulder from its place. It has never been found. The same storm deepened the gorge and formed Avalanche Falls.
Today was the last day of the 2012 season for Flume Gorge. We got in just under the wire. But, if you can get to New Hampshire next year, I highly recommend a trip to Flume Gorge. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for children ages 5 to 12, and children under 5 are free.
On our itinerary for tomorrow is a trip to Vermont. We're going to visit The Vermont Country Store, look for an apple orchard, and seek out and, hopefully, eat some apple cider donuts.