Our New Hampshire lodging was the White Mountain Resort, an old but nice place high on the side of a hill. Due to the lodge's placement on the hill I couldn't get far enough away for a decent picture of the exterior, so I just stole the one at left from their website. The only picture I managed was one of the gazebo out back, a popular place for weddings.
Because of our traffic delay the previous day, we missed seeing any fall foliage on our drive up to the resort. Hard to see much of anything in the DARK. So we set out early the next morning, leaf-peepishly determined. Our plan was to spend the day driving a one-hundred-mile loop around the White Mountain National Forest. The first leg would be the famous 35-mile Kancamagus Highway; also known as "The Kanc," this scenic road boasts covered bridges, streams and waterfalls, hiking trails, and some of the best foliage-viewing areas in the country.
We started out near our rural lodging at the Albany covered bridge, built in 1858 to cross the Swift River. The foliage was pretty, although not as brilliant as we expected and hoped. But the bridge itself and its views of the river made the stop worthwhile.
The first half of The Kanc follows almost exactly the path of the Swift River, and every two or three miles there's a scenic stopping point, usually involving water. Our next one after the Albany bridge was Lower Falls, followed quickly by Falls Pond and Rocky Gorge.
Another popular stop on The Kanc is a three-tiered waterfall named Sabbaday Falls. A pleasant trail terminates in a series of staircases that lead to the top of the falls. An 8-foot upper fall drops into a deep emerald punchbowl; the bowl spills over a 20' horsetail, makes a 90-degree turn into a flume, and then drops about 12' into another pool at the base.
All this water was making me hungry (OK, actually I had to pee). We found our way into the town of Lincoln, at the end of the Kancamagus, and visited a local pancake house.
We continued our loop by driving north to Franconia State Park to visit The Basin, a giant glacial pothole.
The Basin-Cascades trail leads to a series of small waterfalls terminating in a pool.
Our last stop in the Park was Echo Lake Beach, a popular summer swimming spot. Not today, brrr.
On our way back to the car, we met a large family crossing the road. They were so alike I couldn't tell them apart, but it was quite clear there was a pecking order. :-)
We'd run out of parks and rivers and lakes and potholes to visit, but we did run across some more classic New England sights, including this country church in the small town of Bethlehem.
The Mount Washington Hotel is a grand old lady that first opened her doors in 1902. You can imagine the ghosts here, sipping tea in the opulent lobby or strolling the giant wraparound porch. Only open during the summers for its first century of existence, the hotel finally expanded to becoming a year-round resort in 1999.
We ended our drive in New Hampshire searching for nice foliage along the roadside. Sadly, we had very little luck. That evening, we would learn that a storm had stripped the red maples of the brightest leaves only days before our arrival. *Sigh*. Oh well. We knew that leaf-peeping is a crapshoot, and we had crapped out.