Why don't we live in the mountains? Why why WHY? I have been asking myself this question incessantly all summer. Indeed, I have been mulling it over for years. Brian teaches physics (not one of those jobs that requires a specific location) and I pick up a few writing jobs here and there. We homeschool, for mercy sake. We could live anywhere!
Yes, I love Mystic, Connecticut. I love my friends. I love running along River Road every morning with Eddie. But, man, I miss the mountains. We spent the last few days in Crawford Notch in the heart of the NH's White Mountains. Oh, darling reader, my soul, my soul was singing.
It all started when Nell's swim team clinic got cancelled this week. No coach; no practice schedule; no clinic. I had just spent a week of mornings writing a newspaper piece for the New London Day about Not Camping. It was a whiny piece about the difficulties of camping with kids, and yet and yet......
And yet, we had to go. We scrounged for pet sitters, packed up the car, plucked the sleeping children from their warm beds, and Sunday morning at 5:00 pointed the car north and drove.
First stop: Franconia Notch.
My goodness gracious, we hiked the Flume Trail. Those of you familiar with the Flume Trail will know what I mean when I say, "Oh, how the mighty have fallen!" Ten years ago you would not have caught us DEAD on the Flume Trail. Brian and I were hardcore. We were young, fit and free. We knocked off 20 mile days with everything we needed for a week strapped to our oaken backs.
But those days are gone. Why pretend? Here we are on the Flume Trail.
Yes, it's paved. Yes, we paid for tickets and went through a turnstile at the "trailhead." Yes, my children are "hiking" in crocs.
But never mind all that. We are in the mountains and we are making the most of it! The Flume Trail is actually quite dramatic, and a perfect starter hike for these flatland children.
On the way back down we found a couple of cool caves to explore and a few massive boulders to climb. All in all, an excellent way to start the day.
We stayed at the campground behind the Crawford Notch General Store. Our site was secluded (as promised!) and close (but not too close, please) to the Saco River. With the kids' help, we got the tents set up and the car unloaded in just under two hours. Each boy wanted to put the big tent up All By Himself. This required quite a bit of doing and un-doing and re-doing and patience. Neither Brian nor I am much for patience. We're learning. Believe me.
We found an amazing swimming hole with a little rapid that drops you into a deep-ish pool. Nell and Simon had a blast zipping through the cold water. While I was rooting through our bag for the goggles, Ben escaped and slipped into the water for a ride. Ben can't swim. Ben went under. Brian and I looked at each other for a split second (you, no You, no YOU!) and Brian took the chilly plunge to save him.
You'd think Ben would be terrified after that. But no. He cried for 30 seconds and then went right back in. I ended up treading freezing water and saving him every time.
Monday we hiked to Arethusa Falls. This was the deal I made with the kids: Hike with me on Monday and I'll take you to Storyland Tuesday. The boys spent every waking moment pouring over their Storyland map. Nell spent all of her time trying to get a fire started.
On the way up (and up and up) to Arethusa Falls we took the Bemis Brook Trail, which led to some lovely cascades and pools. I carried Ben a good bit of the way up, which felt okay at the time, but has now hobbled my poor ankle tendon which was finally starting to get better after VT. Alas. Still not running. Lots of ice.
We stopped by Bemis Brook again on the way back down. What started as tentative feet in the water
quickly devolved to this
and then this.
We spent the rest of the day at a different swimming hole back at camp. This one was a bit less dangerous for Ben and a more off the beaten path. There was a large pool with a big rock dock. We had it all to ourselves.
Ben wasn't too sure about swimming out to that rock. He put on his goggles and watched the proceedings for a long time from the safety of the pebbly shore. (Yes, his suit is on backwards.)
Finally, he agreed to be towed across and propped onto the rock.
He really is a brave soul. Off the rock he went!
And he lived to tell the tale.
After a long day, this was the perfect spot for a little quiet time. The kids stacked rocks in the sand, Brian strolled down the river, and I just sat soaking my poor tendon in the cold water.
Tuesday we opened Storyland and we closed it down. Eight hours of unmitigated fun! I was too busy keeping track of everyone to take any pictures. These places make me antsy and fidgety and nervous, not to mention dizzy and sick. But the kids had an absolutely stupendous time, and they slept all the way home in the car.