Honeymoon Part One: The White Mountains.

Alastair and I have been back in Sierra Leone these past two weeks, but I’m still catching up on all that has happened in the last month!  Taking you back in time…

On the Monday morning after the wedding weekend, Alastair and I were still buzzing with excitement. Our plan was to head North for a couple of days in the White Mountains for a mini-honeymoon of sorts.  It was going to be a quick turnaround before we had to fly back to the U.K. for a wedding celebration there, then off to France for the real honeymoon, so we were happy with the opportunity to squeeze in a brief retreat and enjoy New England in the fall.

I had booked an Inn in Jackson, New Hampshire for two nights, so we packed a couple of small bags, brought some snacks in the car and started driving North.  Honestly, it was an odd feeling initially, for it to just be the two of us without a million and one things needing our attention.  The quiet took me by surprise.  I enjoy being alone, or being alone with Alastair.  I tend to find peace in solitude.  But, after being in a whirlwind of wedding planning for nine months, and then hosting the wedding weekend, it almost felt a bit foreign.  I was finally able to catch my breath, and I loved having the time to process in my mind all that had happened.  Alastair and I swapped stories and perspectives from the weekend, and I couldn’t help but constantly gush about how wonderful those past few days had been and how amazing our friends and family are. 

The drive was magnificent.  It was another crisp, clear and sunny day that highlighted the deep reds and gold of the trees as we made our way closer to the White Mountains.  Our first stop was the Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire.  We had lunch before taking the relatively easy walk through the Flume.  It was so nice to hear the breeze through the trees, or the rushing of water in the gorge, and the crunching of fallen leaves underfoot.  We walked holding hands and taking in our surroundings. 

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I think Alastair appreciated the Flume Gorge, because he looooooves rocks :)

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Leaving Franconia Notch, we headed to our final destination, Jackson, via the Kancamagus Highway.  Anyone who has ever driven the Kancamagus Highway around peak foliage season can attest to its wonder.  The slow loopy drive takes one on a single road cut through the White Mountain National Forest.  Dips and turns will guide you under curtains of trees, then without warning, open up to magnificent panoramic views of the mountain range.  The colors were rich and dense.  It felt like a slow, peaceful rollercoaster ride, and the drive landed us on the other side of the National Forest where we would be staying in the town of Jackson, at the Inn at Ellis River. 

We couldn’t stop ourselves from singing our own unique and adapted versions of “Jackson” by Johnny Cash throughout the ENTIRE drive.  We sang the original version a few too many times too.  Try getting that song out of your head once it’s in!

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout, / We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out

Uhh, anyway, Jackson is such a cute town and we booked an awesome Inn called the Inn at Ellis River.  That place is fantastic! 

The whole property has a beautiful backdrop of mountains with the sound of the river running next to us. We had a room that is separate from the main house so it was a bit quieter with more privacy.  The room had a balcony overlooking the river below, a fireplace, and a Jacuzzi bathtub.  We were met with a cheese and fruit plate and a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate our honeymoon!

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The Inn had everything, a heated swimming pool, an indoor hot tub, a game room with full bar, and yet it all felt personal as if you were visiting a friend’s home.  There was a gazebo for rocking out in and enjoying hot chocolate and other afternoon treats that were set out for guests.

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And, we even discovered a raspberry bush that had thousands of ripe raspberries for picking.

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There was an annual competition going on in the town, where businesses and families arranged pumpkin people on their lawns.  Driving around we saw pumpkin people sitting at dinner tables, climbing up trees, and doing all sorts of strange behaviors.  Our Inn had their pumpkin people set up like a circus show, only, the day we arrived, the pumpkin heads hadn’t been attached yet, so Alastair and I loaned them ours :)

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Since we were in the White Mountains, Alastair had his mind set that he wanted to hike Mt. Washington.  So, thanks to one of the proprietors from the Inn who loaned us his gear, we dressed appropriately and stuffed our backpack with water and snacks.  We started at Pinkham Notch to begin the long hike up. 

We were doing a trail via Tuckerman’s Ravine, which is fairly steep. 

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Tuckerman’s Ravine opened up to some great views, but, without the shelter of trees around us anymore, I could see the steep drops behind us, which didn’t do much for my nerves.  I have no idea how anyone is able to ski this slope in the winter.

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Honestly, I was a bit shaky during some of the more gnarly parts of the climbing.  The photos don’t really capture how steep the ravine can be in some areas, although, Alastair will tell you I was just being a baby :)

The guide at Pinkham Notch said it would take four hours to the summit, but Alastair and I motored ourselves up there in just over three.  Although we had been sweating in the warm sunshine during the entire climb, the moment we reached the summit, we were hit with whipping winds of freezing air.  We were thankful for the gear that had been lent to us as we put on some warmer clothes.

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It felt great being at the top and we were met with spectacular views.

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Unlike the trail, which was extremely quiet passing only a couple of other hikers, the summit, on the other hand, was buzzing with activity.  Visitors are able to drive to the summit of Mt. Washington by a steep and winding vehicle road, which is what a lot of people do, obviously. 

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Because of the time, we decided to take a shuttle back down the mountain, although walking down probably would’ve been faster.

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We treated ourselves to a nice dinner that evening at a local restaurant. The next day, our final day, Alastair and I visited Diana’s Bath, which is a brook that has lots of cascading falls and pools. 

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I imagine it is a really fun place in the summer, sliding on the smooth rocks, relaxing in the pools or dipping under the waterfalls. 

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We tried to be artistic with our wedding rings and a couple of stray leaves :)

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That same day, we also did a hike up through the back trail to the top of Cathedral’s Ledge, which is a massive rock face where there are a lot of rock climbers. 

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Unfortunately, we got utterly lost on the way back down, and spent an extra hour finding the car. 

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We were sad to leave New Hampshire after two short days, but we had a great time.  The weather had the warmth of late summer and the colors of fall, we enjoyed the small town of Jackson, and loved our Inn and the people there, ate some delicious foods, drank some local beers, hiked in the White Mountains, and relaxed in nature’s beauty (except for when we got lost).  It was a perfect mini-honeymoon.

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