Mount Washington and Linekin Bay are both made for play
Our latest grandparents and kids adventures in Maine and New Hampshire
By Walter & Patricia Brooks
Cape Cod is a great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there, at least not in July or August.
We appreciate that our summer visitors provide us with the bulk of our annual revenue, but when we lived off Cape we always visited Plymouth and the Cape before and after Labor Day when the crowds were gone, the weather still balmy, and the restaurants had plenty of room for us, and maybe appreciated our business even better than during the busy summer.
The reverse is true in the snow country resorts which we skip off to every August for ten days with our grandchildren Will and Marina.
This year we stopped at the Alpine Slide on Attatash Mountain in Bartlett NH on the way up. This ski area has the best snow-making in the region, and in summer there is still plenty to do here.
We spent our first two nights at the famous grand dame of the White Mountains, the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods NH at the base of New England's highest peak.
This property was acquired by the Omni Hotels recently, and they are refurbishing this venerable caravansary back to the splendor of its youth.
The Omni Mount Washington
We stayed here a few years ago when it was still grand but showing its age a bit. See what she looks like in November 2005 here.
Today it's really a lovely and quite unique resort sitting on over 400 acres at the foot of Mount Washington. A grand masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture, the hotel was a two-year labor of love for 250 master craftsmen. Conceived by industrialist Joseph Stickney, this National Historic Landmark opened in 1902 and has been attracting generations of families ever since.
But our real reason for heading here was the three-plus hour Canopy Zip-line Tour across the street at the Bretton Woods ski area.
Dining on the mountain
Just steps from rooms in The Mount Washington Hotel, you'll find superb award-winning formal dining. Breakfast and dinner are a world-class experience, with personalized service, elegant surroundings, musical accompaniment, stunning views and a menu of culinary delights changing nightly.
The Dining Room menu is based on an innovative approach to classic New England Style, including seasonal and regional specialties like shallot and rosemary seared duck breast with maple shitake bread pudding, broccolinni, roasted carrots and vanilla bourbon gastrique. A children's menu is also available.
The Dining Room is a AAA four-diamond restaurant.
There are other places to eat and drink here, and we tried Stickneys which is on the Patio level of The Mount Washington Hotel. This all-new pub and steak house brings “Farm to Table” to the North Country, integrating fresh local and regional products with the finest ingredients available. Serving lunch and dinner daily, sit by the fire on a cool evening, or enjoy al fresco dining in the warmer months.
Canopy Tour Zip-line
This year-round Canopy Tour program debuted in November 2008, and puts guests face-to-face and limb-to-limb with ancient hemlocks, spruces and white pines.
Never mind I was a few years shy of being the oldest person to zip this trip.
Nature lovers and thrill-
seekers alike will enjoy one of the longest canopy tours in New England. It is made up of ten zip lines, two suspension bridges, hiking and even rappelling deep in the forests of Bretton Woods from near the top of the mountain, descending over 1000 feet of elevation .
The final tandem cable zip line brings participants back to the base area and is also offered as a single ride adventure.
With nature center stage, the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour also features experienced Adventure Guides trained as naturalists who provide information about the local flora and fauna, as well as interesting anecdotes and stories about the area's history.
On to the next Zip-line in Lincoln NH
Since one 3+ hours canopy tour wasn't enough for Marina and Will, Pat had also arranged for them to zip down the SkyRider Tour at Alpine Adventures Outdoor Recreation a half hour south next to Loon Mountain.
The SkyRider Tour is the larger of their two Zipline Tours and features ziplines over 1500' long and 200' above the ground and includes suspension bridges, dual Ziplines and a final freefall zipline that reaches speeds of up to 50mph. The Treetop tour's longest Zipline is 900' long.
When the kids zipped, Pat took their "Summer Safari" tour which is an off-road thrill like no other in New England. She scaled to the top of Barron Mountain for awesome views in this low-speed roller coaster ride in a Pinzgauer.
Driving over the mountains to Boothbay
The mountain ranges in New England run from north to south, and there are no super highways which connect our upper region for travelers going east or west.
So the drive from Mount Washington in upper New Hampshire to our next port of call in East Boothbay Maine takes three or four hours even though it's only 145 miles.
At least the trip takes you through Fryburg and Bridgton ME if you ignore your GPS and follow Route 302 along Sebago Lake and head for Yarmouth ME.
This was our fifth week at Linekin Bay Report in East Boothbay. If you're seeking a four or even three star hotel, forget about it.
But if you have a ounce of class left a decade into the 21st century and yearn for the simple, classic beauty and charm of an older and gentler New England, this is the place for you to discover next.
The cottages are clean but old, but they also hang over this gorgeous saltwater bay. The Rhodes 19s, kayaks and sailing instruction come with the modest cost which in season includes three excellent meals a day.
I really don't wnt to persuade you to try it because I'd rather keep this secret to myself, so forget everything I just wrote, and look for a Hampton Inn or something.
A visit with the Bushes on the way home
We broke our trip home from East Boothabay by spending a day and a night in Kennebunkport 90 miles north of Boston. This small village is a glorious little corner of Maine where lobstermen still command the sea, where shop owners greet their visitors like long-lost friends and where the time-warp charm of New England's old-world fishing villages takes us back to simpler times.
We stayed at a superb hotel called The Breakwater Inn which loomed over the harbor's entrance and the Atlantic.
Kennebunkport is the summer home of former U.S. president George H. W. Bush, father of former U.S. president George W. Bush.
The spacious home on its own small cape was first built by Bush's maternal grandfather George Herbert Walker, and it has been a family home ever since, and has been owned by Bush since shortly before the elder Bush became Ronald Reagan's Vice President in 1981.
Later during his presidency, Bush often invited world leaders including Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev to Kennebunkport. In 2007, his son President George W. Bush invited Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Sarkozy here as well.
The Bush compound is on Walkers Point, known as Point Vesuvius prior to the Walker-Bush family's acquisition.
We dined at Grissini's Reataurant which is owned by the inn. The Tuscan cusine was remarkable.
I started with the Insalata di Portobello of Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Arugula, Red & Yellow Bell Peppers, Shaved Parmesan, Toasted Pine Nuts, Shallot Dijon Vinaigrette, $9. then had the truly memorable Cannelloni which was Meat Filled in Pasta Sheets, Tomato Sauce, Parmesan and Mozzarella, $22.
Our grand children shared a Pizze (their spelling) fired in their beehive oven followed by a very tasty steak entree.
The links for everything we did in this story: