Our ears are popping and the temperatures are dropping, while the sun does its best to warm our cheeks and keep us beaming. Our quiescence minds run wild, as we distinguish the roar of the wind throwing a fit amongst the trees until it reaches our seats and lashes through our hair. The blast is forceful enough to sweep through the burgundies, scarlet reds, honey yellows, rusty oranges, and piney greens of the great forest trees. We swiftly come to a realization, that oftentimes what we see and what we sense, can seem otherworldly, faraway, outlandish, and even enchanting. The Northern Regions of New England, the land of beanstalk forests, mountains of legends, and twinkling skies, repeatedly affects and inspires us.
The last weekend before autumnal equinox has been considerably favorable to us. Ceremonially, we find ourselves quite a ways north in Jackson, New Hampshire, tucked away in a cabin in the woods. Another year older, imagining we are indeed wiser than last year, but nonetheless, ruminating if we really matured at all. Still, everything seems different, and yet extraordinary, as if we opened our eyes for first time and are re-discovering the world as is. Perhaps we have come to appreciate the little things or maybe we have just been behind closed doors for a bit too long. We lust after adventure with no bounds. Anywhere and everywhere is our destination, including places we have visited before and those that have peaked our curiosity year after year.
Our tale commences…with caffeine and delightful little pastries, as we take a rest stop after a long drive at Autumn Nomad Cakes & Cafe in Jackson, New Hampshire. A surprisingly delicious cafe with sandwiches, cookies, scones, cakes, and coffee. Their Instagram page is brimming with award winning cake designs, enough to inspire even a novice baker. Linger and savor, outside or in, and piece together a jigsaw puzzle or two, for in the same plaza is White Mountain Puzzle Store. A family owned business open for more than thirty years and a champion puzzle brand, one of the top in the United States.
Our curious mind frequently gets the best of us in RavenWood Curio Shoppe right up the street on Black Mountain. We are ready to buy one of everything, as RavenWood has the most eclectic array of glass and wooden sculptures, artwork, handcrafted jewelry, and pottery all located in fairytale creatures cottage. Feel like Hansel and Gretel fawning over their outdoor sculpture garden before even walking through the front door.
We found no better place to gaze at cascading waterfalls and brook-led trails than Diana’s Baths, in Bartlett. A ten to fifteen minute drive from Jackson and a wonderful place to take an effortless hike. This historic site was originally owned by George Lucy, who built a sawmill on the five acre property. The Lucy family quickly realized the areas tourist potential, and constructed a boarding house and later a souvenir shop. Eventually, the land was sold to the government and then purchased by the U.S. Forest Service. Today, catch a glimpse of the water fairies that supposedly live and dance in the caves and potholes amongst the falls. Envision the old sawmill that once stood strong as bustling visitors fly around the falls.
What would a small town be without a classic country store? We oftentimes stop at Flossie’s General Store, a few miles down the road from Diana’s Baths in Jackson. A throwback to the classic mom-and-pop stores, Flossie’s is located right after the historic Jackson Covered Bridge, and instantly recognizable, because of its plethora of wind spinners displayed out front. Knick-knacks, unique gifts, collectables, candies, candles, toys, pottery, apparel, kitchenware, name it and odds are, Flossie’s carries it!
Speaking of covered bridges, we drive back to Bartlett to visit the famous Covered Bridge Shoppe. The shoppe was uniquely constructed in 1850 on the historic Bartlett Covered Bridge that spans over the scenic Saco River. Like a hidden gem, the Bartlett Covered Bridge is one of only fifty-three covered bridges that remain intact in New Hampshire. Eerily channel royalty, carefully walking down the narrow creaking wooden pathway, with hanging garden flags aligned on both sides, to the shoppe entrance. Find the Saco River running underneath, and see it flow through the breaches in the wooden planks. For fear of heights, don’t look down! Find solace in the shoppe’s souvenir treasures and sweet treats.
We concluded, or perhaps, we candidly began our journey on the fearless one. Named after the last chief of the Pennacook Tribe, meaning ‘The Fearless One’, the Kancamagus Highway, also known as Route 112, twists through the White Mountain National Forest for more than thirty miles. Impressive viewpoints beckon joyriders ahead chasing magnificent mountains as they fade and reappear into view. Vivid hues have yet to fade with memory. We rest at Sabbaday beneath the falls drive on to soak in the crowning rays of sun on Loon Mountain. My husband and I rode home at dusk, a little more courageous, exhilarated, disconnected and dreaming after all, bewitched by the land of the free.