We did our annual family getaway to the now-infamous Town & Country in Gorham, NH this past weekend. In attendance were: Dad, Mom, Me, Brooke, Hunter, Max, Shea, Jamie, Whitney, Jack, Amelia, Justin, Melissa, Thomas, Elizabeth, Shawn, Kristen, Megan, Erinn, Garry, Peg, Sean, Meredith, and Griffin. Got all that? Good. So some of us headed up a day early this year in order to spend more time in the great white north, and it proved to be effective. I took Hunter for a solid 30 miles on the snowmobile Friday with Dad chauffeuring Amelia around and Jack and Jamie riding together. We went to Lowe's for gas in Randolph and then up to the warming hut and back. Trails were in marvelous shape. Everyone got together for lunch at Mr. Pizza where Jamie and I then took off on our own to enjoy the still-perfect riding conditions up to Berlin and back. Grand total of 70 miles. We all gathered together that night for dinner at the hotel which has sadly been mediocre-at-best for the past few years. The remaining members of our group sauntered in around 10pm, long after we were all in bed.
Saturday brought a change of plans. Brooke took Hunter skiing at Cranmore with Justin, Melissa, Thomas and Elizabeth, and Dad, Amelia, Jack, and Jamie went to Fabyan's for lunch on the sleds. That left me and Max to spend a nice quiet day with Whitney and mom, and it turned out awesome. We took an extra long swim in the pool that morning after breakfast, then I took Max for a seven mile ride on the snowmobile - his first. We parked the sled in front of the room and as soon as the engine died I heard him muffle "more?" through his neckwarmer. The four of us then took Jamie's truck to Fabyan's to meet the snowmobilers and had yet another astounding meal there. It's just pub food, but it's still delicious every single time. Jack and Amelia were wiped from riding the 40-or-so miles there, so they rode home with us. We dropped Whitney off at the hotel for a nap and then proceeded back into town to hit a few of the shops. I finally, after all these years, made my way into the big hiking store in town, and wasn't disappointed. While my funds limited my purchases, I did come away with a great map of the AT for the gear room downstairs. As the day wore down we realized with a party so large we had only one real option for dinner, the hotel restaurant again. We had to get separate tables, but the tradition lived on: some pretty good meals were outnumbered by some truly atrocious meals. Oh well, we always have fun at dinner so the food is always secondary.
We woke up Sunday and all went our separate ways. Dad and mom made the trek back with us, as L.L. Bean and lunch together has become kind of a staple in recent years. We were back home by dinner time, and another successful trip north was in the books.
Dad and I headed up, just the two of us, to Gorham this past weekend - just like last year. We got up here Friday early evening (half day at work), and immediately grabbed a gold medal dinner at Mr. Pizza. As usual, we downed a few drinks at the Town & Country bar before retreating to our room for the night. Unlike last year, though, our room was quite nice and exactly where we wanted to be: pool building, ground floor, facing the rear parking lot.
We mapped out our ride for the day at breakfast bright and early Saturday morning. Dad had stumbled upon a flyer for a decent looking hotel in nearby Lancaster (earmuffs, Town & Country...) that looked promising. We took the town trails to corridor 12W to Lowe's to top off the gas tanks and buy a second trail map that was actually worth the $10 price tag. Once back on the trails, we returned to corridor 12 and headed further west to the junction of corridors 12, 11, and 5. Once there, we took 5N through the hamlet of Jefferson into the town of Lancaster, riding past the home base of the Waumbeck Methna Snowmobile Club. We found this hotel about a mile down a side trail off of 5N, and disappointed doesn't fully capture how Dad and I felt. We took note of the three trucks in the parking lot, the lack of foot traffic in and around the lobby, the shuttered restaurant and bar, and the receptionist who greeted us like she hadn't had human contact in days. The flyer and website advertise a vibrant resort-like atmosphere, but when we asked what time lounge opened we were told, "oh, the bar and restaurant have been closed for some time." It was a ghost town, and we couldn't hop back on the sleds fast enough. Once back at the sleds, we took note of the time and aimed to time the 30-plus mile ride to Fabyan's to coincide with lunch time. We took 5S back to the intersection of 12/11/5, and took 11S to the Iron Horse trail up and over Cherry Mountain to Fabyan's, an all-time favorite lunch spot of ours. It was now 12:30 (perfect timing), so I ordered my go-to (draught Long Trail Ale & house smoked pulled pork sandwich), but Dad took the road less traveled and actually ordered a burger to go with his Budweiser. In true Fabyan's fashion, the burger was delicious as was the pulled pork. After lunch we gassed up and took 11N up and over Jefferson Notch down to Jefferson Notch Rd., which dumped us back out to Lowe's. We checked our new map, and decided to take 12A behind Lowe's up to a club-maintained warming hut. Once there, we veered right and followed 116 for quite a few miles eventually ending up in Moose Brook State Park and following those familiar trails back to the town trail system. We were back at T&C by 4:30 pm and had reached Dad's lone goal - to ride 100 miles. How close did we get? My odometer said 100.7 miles. That night, post-shower and post-beer, we headed back to Twin Mountain (via truck) to take Dad's friend Joe out to dinner at a new establishment in town. Our meals were pretty good, but couldn't compare to the conversation. Joe has seen and done more than most, and isn't too shy share the sordid details of his colorful past. A good meal with good company, it was the perfect way to end the day. Despite arriving back at T&C well past 10pm, we still had to belly-up to the bar for one (or two or three) more drinks before calling it a night.
Breakfast came early, and once that was finished we decided we were best off loading the sleds on the trailer and calling it a weekend. We had 100 great miles of riding under our belts, and didn't want to have our last day of riding for the season be a less than pleasurable memory. As always, we hit the L.L. Bean outlet in Concord on the way home, and were back at home before 4pm. It was an almost identical repeat of last year's trip, and I wouldn't change a thing. The snowmobiling season couldn't possibly get any better if I get one trip a year just me and my dad.
The second-to-last weekend in February turned out to be our annual family weekend at the renowned Town & Country Motor Inn in Gorham, NH. Along for the weekend this year was Brooke and I, with Hunter and Max, my parents, my cousin Kristen, her husband Shawn, and her daughter Megan, and my cousin Erinn, her husband Jason, and his daughters Emma and Maya. Everyone arrived Friday night after a white knuckle drive through rain, snow, and ice, and eventually met up in Erinn's room to imbibe - and imbibe, we did. Saturday morning came awfully fast for us, especially for those of us with toddlers (hint: Brooke and I). All of the cousins went skiing at Sunday River, while Dad and I hit the trails. We cruised west from Gorham through Randolph and eventually into Bretton Woods, where we had lunch at Fabyan's, as we try to do every year. This time, Brooke, my mom, and the boys met us for lunch. It was Brooke's first time at Fabyan's, and she was quite impressed. After lunch, Dad and I set off on the scenic route home - and by scenic route, I mean taking trails up over the White Mountains that we hadn't ridden in close to twenty years. We were eventually poured out onto the main corridor that runs along the outskirts of Gorham, and made our way back to the T&C a little before 4pm. A few showers and a few beers and we were like new. After dinner Saturday night we had a repeat of Friday night, but this time we didn't go to bed at 2am, only quarter-of-one. Sunday morning after breakfast, I took Hunter on my sled and Brooke drove Dad's for about an hour a half, making it halfway to Berlin before I remembered checkout was at 11. Hunter loves snowmobiling, and the following dialogue happened around the 15-mile mark:
Me: "How are ya doin'?"
Hunter: "Dood!!" (good)
Me: "You wanna go back to the hotel to swim?"
Me: "What do you wanna do?"
Hunter: "GO!!!" (pointing forward)
We got back to the hotel in time for a quick swim in the pool before showering up, packing, and hitting the road. We swung through Conway hitting the various outlet stores there, including, of course, L.L. Bean, and were back in Central Mass by dinnertime.
Dad and I headed back up to the Town & Country, just the two of us, the first weekend of March. No one else was available to go and we saw that the trail conditions were good to great, so we hooked the Triton to Dad's Tundra and headed north right after work on Friday. We grabbed dinner at Mr. Pizza, Gorham's finest restaurant - no, really - and then headed to the hotel to check in get some shut eye. We were wildly disappointed to find that room 180, the last room available for the weekend, was in the "old" building at T&C, a section we had never stayed in before. Our disappointment was due to the fact that it was severely dated and incredibly small - there are people with larger closets than this room. But we made the best of it, mainly by spending the majority of our non-snowmobiling time at the bar. We awoke to 2-3" of fresh snow on Saturday morning. After breakfast we got the sleds off the trailer, got suited up, and hit the trails. The riding was fantastic. We zipped right up corridor 19 to Berlin, but got there too early for any businesses to be open. With trails this good, we decided to head south again and make our way down to Fabyan's Station in Bretton Woods, a favorite eating establishment of ours for the better part of the past two decades. We got there right around noon, so lunch it was. Dad got his staple Caesar salad with grilled chicken and I also went with my own old faithful, their smoked pulled pork sandwich. Wash that down with a draught Long Trail Ale and you won't find a better lunch anywhere. After lunch we headed south towards Twin Mountain, our old stomping ground in the late-90's. The trails were starting to deteriorate from a combination of 35* air and hundreds of sleds on the trail, so we turned around after six or seven miles. We cruised around some smaller ancillary trails in the mountains separating Twin Mountain from Bretton Woods, and found ourselves back at Fabyan's an hour or so later. It was time for one more Long Trail. We headed back towards Gorham around 3pm, knowing we would stop for gas at Lowe's in Randolph on the way and get back to the hotel some time around 5pm. We threw the sleds right on the trailer when we got back, knowing we wouldn't be doing any Sunday riding, and then showered up before dinner. An even 100 miles of riding will make you very thirsty and very hungry, so we strolled down to the dining room for dinner. Another few beers in the adjacent bar, and we were ready for bed. We woke up Sunday and grabbed breakfast before packing up the room and hitting the road. As always, we hit the L.L. Bean outlet store in Concord, NH on our way home and were pulling into Dad's driveway just in time for dinner on Sunday night. It was another great weekend of riding in the books, made better by the fact that it was just Dad and I. It was the first time in over 20 years that it was just us, and it was great.
Every year my family gets together at the Town & Country Inn in Gorham, NH for a long weekend full of various winter activites. My parents started taking my sister and I over 25 years ago, and now our extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles are invited to visit a place that has a lot of memories for us. In years past people have enjoyed skiing at Sunday River just over the line in Maine, snowmobiling the hundreds of miles of trails maintained by the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association, and shopped at the outlets a few miles away in North Conway. This past January we gathered yet again. Our group was smaller due to an ever-growing amount of snowbirds, but we still had a lot of fun. I got to take Hunter on his first real snowmobile ride, and I finally got to put some solid miles on the snowmobile I bought in April of 2011. Everyone gradually arrived throughout the day Friday and we ate our dinner down the road at Mr. Pizza (they serve a lot more than just pizza). Saturday brought the breakfast buffet followed by 85 miles of snowmobiling ranging from fair trail conditions in town to good/very good in the higher elevations. We grabbed lunch at Fabyan's, as we always do when riding in the area, and enjoyed a great day of riding. It was nice to finally put some miles on the sled, but it was even nicer to ride with my dad, brother-in-law Jamie, and cousin Garry. I've been riding with my dad since 1992 and Garry since 1994 or so, so the memories came rushing back after my sabbatical from snowmobiling brought on my law school and parenthood. I was jealous of Jamie and Garry who were fortunate enough to bring their kids along for the riding that day, but I know soon enough I'll have Hunter in tow and he'll fall in love with the sport just like I did on my first ride with my dad 21 years ago. Hopefully conditions will allow for one or two more trips north this year. I've put enough money into my sled over the last two seasons that I need to start racking up the miles! Below is the slideshow from the weekend, enjoy!
Well, the first winter after my dad and I purchased our sleds, and also the winter after a record-setting winter in the northeast, we had the driest, mildest winter in over 50 years in New England. As our luck would have it, my dad's sled never came off the trailer and mine was ridden a whopping total of 70 miles at Town & Country in Gorham, NH. Jamie did manage one trip with Dave and Garry to Haynesville, ME, and they put on 230+ miles, but that was the only legitimate trip for anyone in our group all winter. Below are some pics from the one day of riding Jamie and I managed in Gorham while the wives and kids splashed around the pool. Here's to next year!
Here's another set of pictures I found from a weekend way back in Rangeley. It was almost the same exact group as the March, 2014 Rangeley trip. Time flies!