I am a Justice of the Peace in New Hampshire and I can’t help but think how wonderful it is that New Hampshire Civil Unions Law gives same-sex couples the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as heterosexual married couples. As a gay or lesbian couple whether you desire a simple civil union affair for just the two of you or a large formal gathering for your family and friends, I would invite you to come celebrate your most memorable moment with us in the Mt. Washington Valley. Come and discover the breathtaking mountain views, beautiful wildlife, charm of our many villages and an almost limitless variety of shopping and things to see and do for you and your guests.
With the relatively minor requirements for getting married in New Hampshire, I know that your wedding will be intimate, relaxing, and a memorable event and both of you and your partner will want to return year after year to the Mt. Washington Valley to relive romantic memories.
As a family traditon, every year in October we go apple picking. This year was great! We went with just the girls in my family, and my 1 year old niece went for the first time. She was a great apple taster…and as we know, it is important to taste the apples from each tree before you start picking. We all had a great time, and ended the day with making apple pies and homemade apple sauce…yum! Check out my video from the orchard! Apple picking is a great way to take in the fall foliage, and a fun activity to do with the whole family.
So we bought an inn that had no clientele, what to do? First thing was to get our marketing going and make our website better, actually better is not the word, we had to create a site as the previous owners did not have one.
The valley we live in has many talented people and two of those are Stephen and Lisa Surrette of North Country Graphics who we went to for help in designing our website and marketing materials. With their help we now had business cards, rack cards and a website that got rave reviews, . Our website became so popular with search engines that by the time we closed our business in March 2005 we were being listed on the first page of Google. I remember talking to Marti Mayne of Maynely Marketing 6 months after we had closed the business as she called me at the Chamber office to tell me she was doing a Google search and we were still coming up on the first page of Google. We did so well with the web thanks to Lisa and Stephen but also due to some SEO tips I learned through the years.
The other way we improved upon the inn was using local knowledge by joining an inn association, of which there are two in Mt Washington Valley; Bed & Breakfasts Inn Mt Washington Valley and the Country Inns in the White Mountains. It was by joining one of these that we became part of the Annual Cookie Tour and getting more exposure as we hosted a writer from a Boston Paper and got great press from that. Also, by joining the association we met great people like Kevin Flynn who had owned an inn on Long Island and then moved to Snowville to operate a successful inn there also. Others who were great resources were Bill and Lisa Guppy who owned an inn in Intervale and Mark Donaldson of the Darby Field Inn. These long time innkeepers were a wonderful source of knowledge for fledgling innkeepers.
First I’d like to start off this first of the series with how my family came to live in Conway, NH.
It was January 2001 and my wife and I were searching for a Bed & Breakfast to buy. We took a ride from Rockport, MA up to Wolfeboro, NH to look at an inn. Well it definitely was not the one we wanted based on decor and setup and the final piece that made us not want it was when the realtor asked us to sit with the current owners to talk about the ghosts that inhabited the inn. In February we had a ski vacation at WatervilleValley and we decided on the way home to go to Conway to look at some places. We arranged with Antonella Bliss, formerly of RE/MAX and now principal with Coldwell Banker Wright Realty to show us some properties. The first two properties were definitely not for us but the third was The Lavender Flower Inn that was in Center Conway. The inn had not operated full time for about 5 years due to a death of one of the innkeepers, so we knew it needed work and the clientele needed to be built back up.
We decided on purchasing the inn and came back in March and had a home inspection on Mary Ellen’s birthday, not the best thing for a husband to arrange, but I did get out of it somewhat by spending a nice evening out at dinner and spending some time in the Up Bar at Horsefeathers on the nice large leather couch in front of the fireplace.
Things got slow in the final purchase time line and we moved in at the end of June in 2001. I arrived a couple days earlier than my wife and daughter to rip out all the built-in beds in the owners quarters so our furniture would fit. We ended up opening the inn the 5th of July with no reservations. We had a great location so we did get drive in guests until we got our website up and running and the marketing going the way we wanted it. We made some great contacts early on in the Chamber and local lodging community which helped immensely. Patti and Ed who had owned the Saco River Motor Lodge down the street from us sent us business from their overflow and Fryeburg Fair filled us up each year. Patti is now the General Manager of Holiday Inn Express.
The hardest part about 2001 was September 11. My wife and I were out on the Kanc sitting on a rock having coffee as it was a slow day for guests and then came back to do some banking at Berlin City Bank (now Northway Bank). Well Lyn from the bank told us about the plane flying into the building, but we had no idea of the tragedy until we got back and put on the TV. This day affected the entire valley with travelers changing and cancelling their plans.
In the winter of 2001/2002 I became a ski instructor at Attitash while my wife worked the inn during the 3 weekdays I instructed. I also became an Assistant Ice Hockey Coach for Fryeburg Academy, where my daughter attended high school, and coached Girls Junior Varsity and Varsity Hockey, something I would continue for 6 years before resigning from the Head Coach position in 2007.
As long I’ve known my sister-in-law, I’ve heard the story of how her parents drove by Story Land weekend after weekend on their way to their family camp in Colebrook, NH, and how weekend after weekend they promised her that they’d take her to Story Land next season.I’ve done the same thing with promises with my daughter. It happens. But living so close to Storyland, I recently decided that we needed to create a new ending for my sister’s-in-law story… by taking her and her two young daughters to Story Land.It was a blast (as Story Land always is…)! And if your story is that you haven’t been, there’s still time… they’re open through Columbus Day. It’s where fantasy lives! YouTube tea cup video
The past few days the colors have begun to pop on the trees. Each day I see the leaves becoming more vibrant and colorful. I have a 22 mile ride to and from work each day from West Ossipee to North Conway and the scenery is magnificent. I got home last night and went for a motorcycle ride after playing with the dog and it was just about dusk. The colors at this time were amazing and I thought about how I could share this with you.
Well on the ride to work this morning I brought my Flip Video recorder with me and stopped at Chocorua Lake to take some video. Now this morning was not the best of days as I was in and out of rain on the way in, but the rain stopped long enough for me to record these videos. Click on this link for video one and this link for video two. When I stopped to record these there was only one car in the pull off and it was from Missouri. People from all over the US come to our great state to see the splendor of our fall foliage.
Well, it’s that time of year again, the Fairs are around New England and what better Fair to go to than the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg Maine. This year is the 158th year for the Fair. I’ve gone to it each year since moving here. As an Innkeeper who lived just 5.5 miles from the fairgrounds, it was always a busy week for me, but I somehow managed to get to the Fair anyways.
It is a huge Agricultural Fair with a midway and plenty of food vendors; they even have harness racing. There are just too many events to list, but if you want to experience a great Fair then this is it. I grew up in MA going to the Topsfield Fair and my brother told me about Fryeburg as he had gone to it, but I never knew what the draw was until I experienced it myself. You could probably fit 5 Topsfield Fairs into the Fryeburg Fair and still have plenty of room to move around. What I can remember of Topsfield were all the people and the feeling of being a Sardine in a can; you do not get that feeling with the Fryeburg Fair.
Some tips for getting to the fair – use these less traveled roads: East Conway Road, Corn Shop Road, Fish Street, River Road, Route 5 from the north, the power lines from Route 302 from the East (need good ground clearance on your vehicle). You can always pay to park at Fryeburg Academy on the weekends and walk a half mile. Also, park on Swans Falls road lots, they are easier to get in and out of if you’re going South or West.
So whether this maybe your first time there or your 20th, enjoy and have fun.
Do you have any memories of the Fryeburg Fair you care to share?
WOW!!! What a night. The first annual Fields on the Saco (see my video)was held at the 4-H building at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds. The original idea for dining in the Weston’s hayfield was scrapped when our non ticket holding friend “Hanna” decided to storm the valley.
Spirits were hardly dampened however when guests were amazed at the effort put in to transforming this otherwise “barn” space into an idyllic al fresco dining experience. The guys from Green Thumb Farms laid sod, to cover the cement floors. Full sized trees were brought in from Western Maine Nurseries, along with mums, cornstalks, pumpkins, grasses, gourds and hay bales, all provided by Weston’s Farm and Sherman Farm.
The dinner was served to the one hundred guests by Chef’s Market of North Conway. The farms provided them with all the fruit, vegetables, beef, and dairy products necessary to put on a gourmet five course meal. Cold River Vodka graciously provided all with Nasturtium Martinis and Blueberry Vodka on the rocks. The award winning jazz combo from Fryeburg Academy, Birth of the Cool entertained during cocktail hour and into dinner. Artists from around the valley painted area scenes that were later auctioned off “wet”.
I know I’m already thinking about next year. The spotlight of this night was the farms and all they have to offer us. It reminds us of all that we do have right here in our own backyards. The importance of susatainability, creativity, history, improvisation, sense of community and good ole yankee can do spirit is what I took away from the experience and I hope that others did as well.
At this time the weather outlook for the weekend is great, so if you’re planning a trip to the Mt Washington Valley area for some sight seeing and foliage peeping, then this would be a great weekend to do so.
This is the first of ongoing foliage reports from Mt Washington Valley. We hope you will use images provided in your weather reports throughout the fall.
As temperatures continue to drop, we are beginning to see changing foliage colors accelerate, especially in the higher elevations of Mt Washington Valley. Always the first to change, the red maples are beginning to turn and we’re seeing wisps of color throughout Mt Washington Valley.
While temperatures at the summit of Mt Washington were 31degrees at 8:45am, the base of the Mt Washington Auto Road was 44.8 degrees at 8:46am.These colder temps and shorter days combine to create the pageant of color that is beginning in Mt Washington Valley and New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
An area of low pressure forecasted from the Mount Washington Observatory promises cooler temperatures next week, which will continue to impact foliage color.
This weekend had plenty to offer for those living and visiting Mt Washington Valley.
Friday morning the Mud Bowl kicked off and ran through Sunday and the championship games. The rain from Hanna on Saturday night helped the field for the mudbowl, but stayed off long enough for the first Annual Fields on the Saco event to go off tremendously.
Speaking of the rains from Hanna, we moved our daughter back to college for her senior year at Endicott and got to drive home 3 hours in the pouring rain Saturday evening. There were times just seeing the yellow and white lines on the road were near to impossible.
Hanna pushed out in the early hours of Sunday allowing beautiful blue skies for a (windy) motorcycle ride to North Conway and Settlers’ Green OVP to see the annual MWV Old Car Club car and motorcycle show. The cars were great as always and fun to see. Not many motorcycles to see though, it made me think I should have entered mine as there was only one “nice” chopper and the rest were run of the mill bikes.
Well, another beautiful 3 day weekend has passed and what fun it was. We had company up for the weekend and enjoyed the beautiful area in which we live.
Friday night was relaxing with cooking on the grill and staying in. Saturday morning though the activities began. Mary Ellen and our friend Donna went hiking at Dianas Baths in North Conway off West Side Rd, while Jeff and I went off to the driving range. When we got back to the house the ladies were still out so Jeff and I set up horseshoes at the new house.
The ladies got back a bit later and we got together some appetizers as we were going to a neighborhood party that we were invited to so we could meet some of our new neighbors. Well, the party was fun and it was at one of the houses right on the runway. Afterwards we went out for more late night appetizers at the Whittier House.
Sunday we loaded up the kayaks and went over to Chocorua Lake. Jeff and I went out first and when we got back Mary Ellen and Donna took the kayaks out. While they were out the wind picked up and actually had some whitecaps on the lake. While coming back if they stopped paddling, the wind would push them backwards! After kayaking we decided to go as a group to the driving range again. Mary Ellen and Donna enjoyed this and Mary Ellen got to try her clubs out. Last year Mary Ellen played golf with me once at Eagle Mt House and Golf Course. After we got back we went over to Wolfeboro and had dinner at a restaurant right on the shores of Lake Winnepesauke.
Monday our friends left early after breakfast to avoid much of the traffic heading south. Mary Ellen and I geared up and took the motorcycle out to North Conway for some shopping and relaxing. Mary Ellen needed some supplies for her classroom so that was our first stop at Lowes, then once that was done we headed up the North South Rd to The Met for a coffee. While there we met our friend Mike who along with his partner Sal own Salvatore Michaels Framed Art Superstore and Soyfire Candle. While talking with Mike we also ran into our friend Kate who was in the village with family.
On the way home we passed many political signs as it is that time of year again. We also passed Coldwell Banker Wright Realty where our friend Sean Bossie works. Sean is the one who was instrumental in getting our blog up and running so that we could post these tidbits of our lives in the valley.
Hope everyones weeekend was a good one. Care to share your weekend adventure with us?