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Archive for the ‘Trip Reports’ Category

Alex thoroughly enjoyed his first flight from Boston’s Logan International to Ft. Myers Florida last week! We’d been talking about the trip almost every day for 2 weeks to get him excited about it. We parked the car at PreFlight Parking in Chelsea and hopped on the free shuttle. Once at the airport he could barely contain his excitement and didn’t sleep a wink on the 3.5 hour flight.

On the shuttle to Logan

On the shuttle to Logan

Looking at our plane

Looking at our plane

After getting settled at Grammie & Papa’s house in Port Charlotte we made plans to visit Historic Spanish Point the next day. This 30 acre “outdoor museum” connects visitors to 5,000 years of history through beautiful walking trails, well preserved homesteads, and interpretative historical walks.

Our tour guide, Marilyn, gives us a brief orientation of where Spanish Point is, on the flank of Little Sarasota Bay

Our tour guide, Marilyn, gives us a brief orientation of where Spanish Point is, on the flank of Little Sarasota Bay

Alex hiked the entire 1.5 mile walk on his own

Alex hiked the entire 1.5 mile walk on his own

An ingenious invention, this orange sorter was a quick way to sort oranges according to size. Alex was enthralled by it...

An ingenious invention, this orange sorter was a quick way to sort oranges according to size. Alex was enthralled by it…

Marilyn explained the process the homesteaders used to package the fruit before sailing it to the Key West so that Steamers could take it all the way to New York City!

Marilyn explained the process the homesteaders used to package the fruit before sailing it to Key West so that Steamers could take it all the way to New York City!

More trails!

More trails!

 

Mary's Chapel, originally built in the 1870's, and more recently restored.

Mary’s Chapel, originally built in the 1870’s, and more recently restored.

Some folks still get married here!

Some folks still get married here!

Spanish Moss, I discovered, is not really a moss at all, but an "air plant" that gets everything it needs to survive, you guessed it, from the air.

Spanish Moss, I discovered, is not really a moss at all, but an “air plant” that gets everything it needs to survive, you guessed it, from the air.

Inside one of the preserved pioneer homestead homes

Inside one of the preserved pioneer homestead homes

Taking a breather

Taking a breather

Some of the lush gardens

Some of the lush gardens

This 90 minute walking tour was well worth the price of admission!

General Admission: Free for Members (and kids under 5)
Adults and Teens $12.00 | Senior discount $2.00
Children ages 5-12 $5.00 | Guests accompanying Members $5.00

The next day we headed to Babcock Wilderness Adventures,  “a 90-minute Buggy Tour through the Babcock Ranch and Telegraph Cypress Swamp. Experienced guides offer in-depth descriptions of birds, animals, plants, and the cattle and horses that are raised on the ranch.”

Open air bus

Open air bus

Gator'

Gator’

Cypress Swamp

Cypress Swamp

Short boardwalk through a section of Cypress Swamp

Short boardwalk through a section of Cypress Swamp

Alex gets to touch an alligator

Alex gets to touch an alligator

How many alligators can you see?

How many alligators can you see?

Getting tired

Getting tired

Classic lunch spot

Classic lunch spot

While admission wasn’t completely unreasonable, I noticed most people in line had taken advantage of a Groupon offer. I should always remember to check Groupon for these types of deals!

Without a coupon:

(Eco-Tour (1.5 hours): Adults (ages 13+) $24.00(plus tax)
Seniors (ages 65+) $23.00(plus tax)
Children (ages 3-12): $16.00(plus tax)
Babies (ages 0-2) FREE 

We filled out the rest of our time in SW Florida with trips to some excellent public playgrounds in both Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda.

Florida Thanksgiving 2013 178 Florida Thanksgiving 2013 155 Florida Thanksgiving 2013 038

 

A short trip to downtown Venice, FL rewarded us with an excellent Italian eatery, Made in Italy. This is a fun town to walk around in with great shops and beaches.

Florida Thanksgiving 2013 139 Florida Thanksgiving 2013 140 Florida Thanksgiving 2013 143

 

After a scrumptious Thanksgiving meal we headed for home. Alex was excited to fly again, but this time slept for about half the flight.

Our plane!

Our plane!

Almost home!

Almost home!

I’ll post up a separate “Tips for Flying with a Toddler” in a few days. We feel like we were quite successful with only  a few bumps, and look forward to sharing what we learned with you!

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Excellent blog post from a very cool blog I’ve started following… many great posts here!

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I’ve driven by this trail-head on Allard Hill Rd dozens of times and finally took the opportunity this morning to check it out with Alex. A sign before entering the woods gave me some information so I could research the area later.

Louise S. Wold Conservation Land

Louise S. Wold Conservation Land

While my picture cuts off the other restrictions hunting is prohibited here as well, and as we are quickly approaching open firearm season (November 13th) I was glad considering we had no hunter orange with us. The trail climbs for a gentle grade though the thickness of leaves on the ground made it easier for me to carry Alex today than let him trip over every hidden root. As we reached a small clearing I noticed the trail split. A small map box on the backside of the pictured sign above (didn’t notice it till we returned) was empty of any maps so I was kind of guessing as to where this would take us. Kind of, because I was using my iPhone GPS app, “ViewRanger“, which any reader of this blog has seen many screen shots from. Looking at the topographic map I guessed this nature trail might take us on a loop around or over Tasker Hill. (elev. 748).

The trail was relative easy to follow, if you paid attention. Most of the trail was flagged with nylon orange tape, or wooden stakes, or little wired red flags, or every once in awhile a very cool looking trail marker on a tree:

Trail Marker

Trail Marker

The randomness of trail markings was a bit interesting and I found this on the Conservation Committee’s website.

“The conservation is located off Allard Hill Road, an extension of Tasker Hill Road off Hwy 153 in Conway near the Legion property.   Mrs. Wold donated the land to be used in its natural state to help educate children and preserve for the future. The Madison Conservation Commission employed Forest Land Improvement Inc to form a forest stewardship plan in June 2004. Two scenic views and several wildlife cuts were lumbered in the late spring of 2005. An initial trail was outlined with primitive stakes and directional signs and published on a small handout and placed in a box at the entrance of the lot. There are two scenic views that face toward the west and east. UNH undergraduates did a small semester project regarding trails and natural resource inventory in 2006.”

I plan to reach out to the committee to see if I might be able to be a volunteer steward for the trail, since it is minutes from my house and would be a great project to share with Alex as he grows.

As the trail looped around (and Alex snacked on pretzels), we started another gentle climb that I guessed might bring us to the hilltop.

A nice section  of the trail

A nice section of the trail

A fine view west to Chocorua opened up on our left, one of the obvious “scenic views… lumbered in the late spring of 2005.”

Chocorua

Chocorua

As I watched our progress on my GPS I quickly realized the marked trail would skirt the actual summit by a few hundred yards, so I turned around to make a quick bush-wack to the true summit. Almost as soon as I left the trail I picked up a faint trail that led to an obvious approach from the north, marked with blue diamonds and three cairns.

Mystery Trail

Mystery Trail

Judging by the map I’m guessing that trail would lead down to Tasker Hill Rd, close to the SOLO Campus. We finished our short, 1.2 mile hike in just over 40 minutes and took the long way home so Alex could have a nice car ride nap. I’m glad I finally checked this place out. Googling for info on the area led me to this blog which has a dozen more nearby areas for us to explore!

http://madisontrails.org/

I’m sure I’ll be visiting these other locations soon so stay tuned!

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This past Thursday my long time friend Jeff drove up from southern NH to go for a hike with Alex and I. Forecast-ed afternoon rain and a late morning start had us looking for a short hike nearby. Looking at the map I picked out Church Pond Loop Trail, a nice looking 2.5 mile flat loop that starts from Passaconaway Camp Ground. I then made a rookie mistake and neglected to check the AMC White Mountain Guidebook for details. Shortly after leaving the car we encountered the Swift River, sans a dry crossing option. I would later read at home that this forge requires getting wet, and half this loop trail was washed out and closed in 2011. After scouting a hundred yards down the river we decided to head somewhere else, and made our way back down the Kanc to the Rocky Gorge parking lot.

Alex, along with our departed Bear, had hiked this short 1 mile loop back in July 2012 and it was part of my second ever blog post.

Only minutes from the car we came across this festive group.

Happy Halloween Hike!

Happy Halloween Hike!

This is the first hike that Alex has wanted to walk most of it himself. He was self-powered for about half the 1 mile loop.

"I walkin'"

“I walkin'”

Falls Pond

Falls Pond

A nice bit of trail

A nice bit of trail

Bridge over the Swift River

Bridge over the Swift River

The top

The top

While a short hike it was nice to get outside and catch up with a good old friend I hadn’t seen in about a year. It was also nice watching Alex explore and hike under his own power. I think next year we’ll take the clue from the revelers we saw at the start of our hike and go for a jaunt in costume!

Anybody else go for a hike on Halloween?

 

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This week we have a longtime reader and first time guest blogger! Alex’s very own Mommy!

From a trip this summer to Sea Girt, NJ

From a trip this summer to Sea Girt, NJ

I wasn’t sure how Alex would take to Halloween this year. Alex has a weird sense of fear when it comes to costumes and inanimate statues. For instance, when he first saw Verizon’s Halloween Star Wars commercial he said, “No costume, no costume…” and frantically ran to hide. Apparently an image of a baby dressed as Princess Leia in a bjorn attached to Jabba the Hutt is a bit disconcerting for a 2 year old. However I wasn’t going to let that hold Alex back from experiencing the spirit of Halloween so this past Saturday we headed over to Halloween Town at Purity Springs Resort in Madison, NH.

There were two reasons I was interested in going – so Alex can enjoy Halloween as every kid should and to support an important cause. Halloween Town is a FREE event, but donations are gladly accepted and 100% of the proceeds go to The Laura Foundation for autism and epilepsy. “Halloween Town has been designed with the desire to offer kids an opportunity to enjoy…what some of us remember from childhood…Traditional Halloween Fun…” – Steve Harding, President of the Laura Foundation.

“Experience a truly family-friendly Halloween experience. Dress in your Halloween costumes and walk up the hill to Halloween Town on the grounds of Camp Tohkomeupog. Many are claiming “It’s better than Halloween night itself!” Halloween Town is a good, old-fashioned way to have Halloween fun; something to be enjoyed by kids and parents alike!” – http://www.purityspring.com

Halloween Town is filled with a variety of events which include: a tethered hot air balloon, music, some amusement rides, games for kids, a food court and of course a trick or treat “trail”, which is comprised of about 25 themed cabins. Each cabin has a sign to inform visitors of the level of scariness. It ranges from non-scary to terrifying. The local non-profit Mount Washington Observatory had sponsored it’s own kid-friendly cabin this year!

MWOBS Cabin

MWOBS Cabin

Weather observers are not that scary

Weather observers are not that scary

While visiting the non-scary cabins we ran into Alex’s best friend Rowan!

Best Friends Super Why and Robin!

Best Friends Super Why and Robin!

It was so exciting for me to see how much fun Alex was having. He was so proud of his character Super Why that whenever someone recognized him he went into character mode, put his arms in the air, and made the swoosh sound as if he was flying to save the day with the “power to read”! It was even more fun for him to recognize characters that he knew, especially Humpty Dumpty and Duke, who he even shared a few dance moves with.

Humpty Dumpty and Duke

Humpty Dumpty and Duke

Although Alex insisted on walking around everywhere, I was glad I had the stroller packed in the car. Parking is a few minutes of a walk to the event, but not terribly far. Having a stroller was key, especially when he started to get tired right before leaving. We visited cabins, all decorated with fun themes, road the train ride, petted the goats, danced and played music and had a great time with friends.

With the support from families, friends and local businesses – volunteers and sponsors – it has been a growing success (from 300 hundred attendees five year ago to thousands in 2013). We’re looking forward to returning for Halloween Town 2014!

What Halloween activities have you been sharing with your little ones?

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Sorry for the double post today but we’ve been very busy with Fall activities lately and tonight is the only time I’ve had to blog!

Something about the cooler temperatures and vibrant colors of this season invigorates me, and today we took the advice of a good friend to head to Pietree Orchard in Sweden, Maine for some apple picking fun! A very scenic 45 minute drive from Conway, NH, this farm offers “the rich cidery taste of a long proudly cultivated lineage, the crisp never-fresher bite of fruit right off the tree, and a feast for the heart, soul, and eye.”

Alex was pretty excited this morning as I told him we were going to pick apples from trees. His face lit up, and during the car ride he would sit in his car seat pretending to eat apple slices… it was quite comical. We arrived at the orchards just after noon.

Pietree Orchards

Pietree Orchards

Walking into the quaint country store we were greeted with the smell of fresh cider donuts being made, ripe produce, wood-fired pizza, and a warm welcome from the lady behind the counter. We grabbed a bag of still hot cider donuts and picked up a couple “peck” sized bags for our spoils. Each conventional peck was $10.

Enjoying freshly made cider donuts (still hot)

Enjoying freshly made cider donuts (still hot)

We headed over to the nearby staging area where a woman let us know what types of apples would be available and how to identify them. They marked the trees with a colored tape to show you the variety.

Flags on trees helped with identification

Flags on trees helped with identification

We then loaded into a tractor wagon much like the one from last week’s trip to Sherman Farms! The view to the north was great!

The view from the tractor ride

The view from the tractor ride

A short ride had us to the back of the orchard where a farm hand pointed out the areas that had each variety of apple tree. We headed over to the Cortland’s first.

The very first one picked!

The very first one picked!

Alex was thrilled to be able to pick and eat an apple from each different type of tree. We spent about 30 minutes roaming around the orchard filling our two peck bags to the brink with a couple different varieties.

This way!

This way!

After I eat this

After I eat this

This one looks good

This one looks good

Mommy goes high

Mommy goes high

Apple paradise

Apple paradise

Walking to the Cortland trees

Walking to the Golden Delicious trees

You’ll need to click twice on this next photo to see the full panorama in better detail.

Panorama

Panorama

Golden Delicious

Golden Delicious

Another family had come out to pick some pumpkins and graciously took this family shot for us.

Ready to ride back with our pickings

Ready to ride back with our pickings

When we go back to the main store we grabbed a couple slices of their brick oven pizza, which was absolutely delicious! We then browsed their produce deciding on some fresh kale and some mixed greens.  On the way home we stopped by Country Side Butchers in Fryeburg and picked up some Chourico so Michelle could make us some Portuguese and Kale Soup tonight!

Great store

Great store

Yum!

Yum!

Farm Fresh!

Cider donuts in the making!

The double rocker

The double rocker

We finished our visit with some fresh cider and headed home. We’re so glad our friends recommended this place and we’ll certainly be returning!

Do you have an orchard nearby? Share your favorite Fall farms in the comments below!

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Last weekend we took a family trip to the iconic Sandwich Fair. Located in the beautiful town of Center Sandwich just south of the White Mountain National Forest and north of Winnipesaukee Lake this historic fair’s origins date back to 1886! The fair draws so many visitors over it’s 3 days that the town arranges parking in fields a mile or so back from the fair itself and runs free shuttle buses to the gates. Riding a yellow school bus turned out to be one of Alex’s favorite parts of this adventure!

School bus mommy school bus!

School bus Mommy school bus!

We entered at Gate A, near the Midway and rides. Tickets were $10pp, under 7 is FREE. Youths 8-12  $3.00. Tickets included admission to all events and shows, so if you don’t need to drop a lot of money on buying “ride tickets” this is light on the pocket book. We only bought 5 ride tickets, for 5 bucks, so Alex & I could ride the carousel., which cost 3 tickets ($3).

Gate C, near the rides

Gate C, near the rides

Most of the rides in the Midway are for bigger kids than Alex so we strolled around and caught the second half of an “interesting” automated “vegetable” show.

Melody Farms Show

Melody Farms Show

Soon we met up with some good friends & neighbors whose child had shared some time in daycare with Alex so the two have become little buddies. Rowan got his 2nd trip on the Carousel with Alex then we all went in search for some food.

Alex riding with his buddy Rowan

Alex riding with his buddy Rowan

There is a huge variety of fair food here making deciding a bit tricky. We settled for a couple enormous Italian sausage subs with all the fixings, and a family sized bowl of hand cut fries. A bit of homemade root-beer washed it all down and we headed off to the catch some of the main parade.

Busy!

Busy!

We ended up near the horse show ring when a slalom race was about to begin. Alex loved being able to watch the riders maneuver their horses through the course only 20 feet from his spot at the fence!

Eyes on the rider

Eyes on the rider

Mommy & Alex watch a racer

Mommy & Alex watch a racer

Alex’s grandparents arrived and we decided to check out some of the indoor exhibits, sheep shearing, 4H projects, livestock, and outdoor band, but first Alex’s buddy Rowan had to head home so it was time to say goodbye.

So flippin' cute

So flippin’ cute

Mooooooo

Mooooooo

After trying some fried pickles and fresh fair lemonade we decided it was time to roll. We hopped the school bus shuttle back to our car and headed for home. Alex made about 1.5 minutes of driving before falling asleep.

This fair is a NH classic and we’ll be making this an annual event. It happens every Columbus day weekend, with the Saturday being called “Kids Day” and the Sunday “Family Day”. Either day has plenty to do for everyone. Next time we’ll remember a picnic blanket (because I’ll re-read this post).

Did you go to a fair like this when you were a child? What was your favorite fair memory? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sherman Farms Maize

This weekend was packed with quintessential New Hampshire Fall activities! Yesterday we made a return trip to Sherman Farms in East Conway, NH to partake in their annual “Maize” festivities. We had gone to this for the first time last year when Alex was just over one year of age. This year at just over two years old Alex was really able to enjoy it. This event is open every weekend though October 27th and is definitely worth it if you are within day-tripping distance! Kids 2 and under are FREE, and adults are only $7ea., or $10ea if you want access to the main “Maize”.

PROTIP: You and your kids can enjoy the entire “Courtyard” of farm activities, hayrides to a pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillow, petting pens, “corn pits” <- Alex’s favorite, and the “Moo Express”, and the mini-kid maize for only the $7 per adult entrance fee. While we paid the $10ea we had plenty of fun without experiencing the full size Maize. 1st time older kids/adults will appreciate doing the full size Maize!

Entrance to the courtyard

Entrance to the courtyard

What a difference a year makes at this age! Here’s a shot from our trip last year:

Last year

Last year

This year

This year

Alex’s favorite activity hands down was the “Corn Box”… a giant sand box filled with corn to play in.

 

This is going to be fun!

This is going to be fun!

Bliss

Bliss

Bury me Mom!

Bury me Mom!

Alex has also discovered a strong affinity for farm animals following our camping trip last weekend on a working farm! Here he was able to pet coats, cows, and a small pig!

Goats

Goats

Piggy piggy

Piggy piggy

The “Moo-Express” was pulled by a tractor on a round-about circuit. Alex enjoyed the mellow 10 minute ride while proud parents watched on…

Here we go!

Here we go!

Next up we entered a mini-version of the Maize. If it isn’t clear to everyone “Maize” is both another name for corn, and a double play on the word “maze”. It is a “maze made of corn”. Very New England clever! Farms that make these often design elaborate “Maizes” that when viewed from the air display their ingenuity. I remember one year they did a great “Old Man in Mountain”. This year was a “Stand up to Cancer” montage with some sponsors thrown in. Since I don’t have a helicopter to fly over for a shot you can see it here.

As I said, we opted to do the mini-maize, which is included in the $7pp price. Alex loved leading us through the simple maze telling us which way to go at each turn!

This way Daddy

This way Daddy

This way Mommy!

This way Mommy!

Next we hopped onto the hayride to go to the pumpkin patch and pic out Alex’s 1st pumpkin!

Cruisin'

Cruisin’

Pre-picked pumpkins

Pre-picked pumpkins

Alex preferred to explore the pumpkins out in the patch that were not pre-selected, and found the perfect one!

This one!

This one!

A quick look back at this time last year:

Last Year (Alex I still didn’t know your mother was going to take this picture)

Last Year (Alex I still didn’t know your mother was going to take this picture)

Back to the present!

Ready to ride back to the festivities

Ready to ride back to the festivities

We wrapped our visit up with some fresh kettle corn and headed home. We definitely needed our rest as the next day we were heading to the iconic Sandwich Fair! Originally I planned to combine these two events into one weekend post but I think there is enough to share about both events to keep them separate! I’ll share the info on the Sandwich Fair in a post either later tonight, or tomorrow!

On a side note I am trying to commit to a weekly post, every Sunday, so consider subscribing so I know people are reading! It’s at the top right of the website!

What other quintessential Fall activities should I share with Alex before the snow flies? Please comment below!

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I feel somewhat ashamed that it has taken us two years to take Alex on his first camping trip but I’m sure we will make up for it with many starry nights down the road. Especially with how much he enjoyed it! Yesterday we visited with my grandparents at their summer “camp” at the scenic Homestead By The River Family Campground in Biddeford, Maine. Only an hour and a half drive from home we figured this one night stay would be a good test run. After stopping by the North Conway EMS to rent a family sized tent and some extra sleeping pads we were off.

Subaru loaded

Subaru loaded

This campground is primarily an RV campground with a few tent sites down by the Saco River. We got a nice site next to my visiting cousin and his girlfriend, who were the only other tenters at the campground. A fire ring, picnic table, plenty of privacy, and bathrooms with free showers made this a pretty good deal for $25 plus tax. I had rented the EMS Big Easy 6 tent from the North Conway EMS store. While this tent comes in a 4 person version as well I figured the 6 person version would give us plenty of elbow room for sleeping with a 2 year old who loves to roll in his sleep and kick you in the lower back.

Our accommodation, the EMS Big Easy 6

Our accommodation, the EMS Big Easy 6

Set up was very straight forward, but like all EMS tents the instructions are sewn onto the pole sleeve just in case. Michelle entertained Alex while I spent about 10 minutes putting the tent up. With over ninety square feet of storage and height to stand up straight we were pretty happy with our choice.

Ready for the small chance of rain in the forecast

Ready for the small chance of rain in the forecast

After tossing in some EMS Trail Crash Pads I was testing and our sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets we walked up the small hill to my grandparents site, which is conveniently right next to the sheep/llama pen. This campground is a full working farm with quite a bit of livestock, horses, geese, etc. and Alex, though timid at first, quickly made best friends with the black llama and the white goat.

Checking out the Lhama

Checking out the Lhama

Alex's new friend

Alex’s new friend

Farmboy

Farmboy

Visit from the sheep

Visit from the goat

After dinner with the grandparents we returned to our site for some campfire time. With temps forecast down to the mid-forties we wanted to be sure Alex slept warm so taking a tip from the adventure blogger CragMama we brought along his North Face Infant Snuggler Suit. We picked this up last winter and I wrote a brief review of it here.

Comfy cozy around the fire

Comfy cozy around the fire

Zipped up in this down suit he was snug as a bug as we chatted around the fire late until the night. He dozed off around 9:30 and we laid him on of sleeping pad and blanket while we continued a bit more late night revelry. When we turned in at 11 he was still sound asleep, and would sleep like an angel until morning (better than at home I must say)! This is an excellent way to keep an infant/toddler warm and comfortable when camping in cooler temps, thanks for the great tip CragMama!

The EMS Trail Crash Pads we were using worked great. They inflated quickly and provided good cushion and insulation from the chilly October ground. While I love my more expensive Thermarest model these are a great value in a self-inflating pads. BTW, not many people know this, but “self-inflating” means YOU inflate it manually… your-“self”. Took me 10 years of working in outdoor retail to figure that one out.

The next morning we spent more time with the animals. Alex was confident feeding grass to both the llama and the goat.

Feeding time

Feeding time

After breakfast we stole one more quiet moment before saying our goodbyes and heading home.

Quiet moment with daddy before leaving

Quiet moment with daddy before leaving

First camping trip in the bag, and we are so stoked that Alex loved it. I’m not sure if we’ll squeeze another in before winter, but we are planning on heading to one of our favorite outdoor playgrounds, Acadia National Park, next Spring. Hopefully by then the government shutdown is over and the park will be open!

What was the youngest you or your kids ever camped? Any tips to share on how to help it go smoothly?

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The weather the last few weeks has been perfect for getting outside and enjoying the transition to Fall. Yesterday we drove over the scenic Kancamagus Highway to Lincoln, NH to ride the Franconia Notch Bike Path. This notch has long been one of my favorite places in New Hampshire and is easily one of the most naturally impressive areas of the White Mountains.  I have childhood memories of trips to see the Old Man’s profile, swimming in Echo Lake, learning to ski on Cannon’s steep and icy trails, and later in life learning to rock climb on the biggest cliff in New England along with learning to bail off scary ice climbs in the middle of snowstorms… suffice it to say visiting this notch always stirs up some great memories. A new memory was created yesterday, and while it will be cherished, it certainly wasn’t as ideal as I had hoped.

Following out-of-state leaf peepers along “the Kanc” we pointed out colors to Alex as he counted cyclists pedaling along the scenic byway. We arrived at a bustling Flume Gorge parking lot, the southern terminus of the 9 mile paved bike path, at about 11am. After a quick visit to the Visitor Center we hit the trail and started our climb through the Notch. The weather could not be nicer. 65 degrees, sunny and dry, leaves turning, birds singing…

First bridge crossing the Pemigewasset River

First bridge crossing the Pemigewasset River

Color!

Color!

Then something strange happened. From back in the bike trailer came a cry… then a scream. We stopped to investigate. Were the straps pinching? Let’s adjust his clothes to give him more padding. Let’s try this again. 5 minutes later screaming again, stopped again. What’s wrong buddy?

Out of the trailer, holding, soothing, calming down, look at the water… throw some sticks in the river… no more tears… Ready to get back in?

“no… no… no… NOOOOOO!” reminded me of his first hiking trail meltdown….

“He just hasn’t had a nap yet” I tell my wife, lets just bear it for 10 minutes and he’ll fall asleep. 10 minutes later the screams reach a crescendo and I pull over again. This time it’s a 20 minute stop, and we’re discussing turning around. We’ve only gone 3.81 miles on the 17 mile round trip trail… I’m convinced our attempt is through and Michelle catches me by surprise when suggesting we continue as he is momentarily OK being in the trailer.

5 minutes of riding in silence… I savor every rotation of my pedals praying he’s falling asleep. If he falls asleep he should be out for at least 2 hours, long enough to complete the whole ride. We go over a bridge. He’s screaming again. We push on.

Cannon Cliff looms

Cannon Cliff looms

symmetry

symmetry

Artists Bluff close to the end

Artists Bluff close to the end

I wish I could say he fell asleep and we enjoyed our ride. The truth is I spent most of the ascent wondering if I should turn around. That’s not a great way to enjoy any trip. I was certain if we turned around he’d be asleep in 10 minutes anyways so why not push on? The temperature was perfect, he was dressed well for the weather, he had food & water with him in the trailer… so what was bothering him so much? I can’t wait till he is just a little bit older and able to say “Daddy this is what I don’t like”. Michelle thinks it may have been the wind at speed (20 mph on the downhill), but lowering the wind-shield on the trailer did not resolve it.  She also thought it may have been to much of a jostle when I hit small bumps on the paved road. I was reluctant to think this could be the cause as the road is quite smooth with rare little bumps, but I’m resolved to cut up some closed cell foam and try to add a bit more comfort in the cockpit for the kiddo.

We reached the northern end in just under 2 hours. Of course this was truly only half-way, since it is not a loop trail. It’s definitely a climb though!

132

You can see how many stops we made starting out on this distance graph:

Our return trip only took 40 minutes

Our return trip only took 40 minutes

I count 6 stops in the first hour & a half! Only 1 real quick stop on the ride back down the notch, right before the parking lot.

My bike with the torture trailer attached

My bike with the torture trailer attached

Mount Lafayette in the background

Mount Lafayette in the background

On the descent

On the descent

So many good memories

So many good memories

Almost back

Almost back

Towards the end I was desperate to get the kiddo out of the trailer but also get back to the car… he clearly had not enjoyed this ride through the Notch. We noticed one other couple with a bike trailer with 2 slightly older kids inside. They, my wife pointed out, had books to read which seemed to keep them happy. Great idea! So I’ll be adding some custom closed cell foam to the trailer this week which will also let me ride with Alex later in the season as it will be warmer. And books for the road are now on the gear list. I’m hoping this was just an isolated dislike of the bike trailer, but we will see!

The Franconia Notch Bike Path

The Franconia Notch Bike Path

Oh, did I mention he just turned 2 last week?

We have plans to go apple picking, maybe hit the Fryeburg Fair, the Sherman Farms corn maze, some more hikes, and maybe, just maybe,  a bike ride (we’ll see). I’m also attempting to commit to blogging once a week, probably Sunday’s, so if you are interested in more consistent trip reports, gear reviews, etc, please subscribe so I know folks are reading.

Also, how are you enjoying this Fall with your kids? Please leave a comment below about this post or what you love to do with your kids during this awesome time of year, and thanks for reading!

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