Back in the day, people used to call my parents and siblings the Wilderness Family. I’m serious. And we totally loved it. Every week, we’d wake up at an ungodly hour of the day, drive 3-4 hours to the White Mountains, hike a four-thousand foot mountain (my favorite was Mt. Moosilauke), stop somewhere for burgers and milkshakes, and then drive home. All in one day.
And, yes, we did this practically every week.
I had legs of steal, my friends. Legs of steal! 🙂
Looking back, I’m not quite sure how my parents had the energy and motivation to do it. But I do know that I’d love for my own children to share in that same experience one day. It was exhausting, but it was rewarding in ways I’ll never forget. We grew to love the fatigue at the end of a long hike, because it brought with it a sense of accomplishment. The grueling trails made us tough, strong, and determined. And after years of spending so many hours in the woods, the White Mountains became our second home.
Although I’ve only hiked one 4,000 mountain since I got married (Nate and I hiked Mt. Osceola together a few years back), I’ve still tried to make at least one trip to the White Mountains every year. It still feels like home to me. And no matter how many times that first mountain comes into view on the drive up, I find myself completely overflowing with a sense of pure joy.
The beauty and majesty of the mountains never gets old.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to the Whites with my parents and sister; but while on a mini-vacation with them last week, I instantly settled right in. Of course, things were a little different this time around, seeing as how I’m 23 weeks pregnant. My family did hike two (yes, two) large mountains before I drove up, but – once I arrived – things became a little lower key… without being any less fun!
I mean, hello, I ended up in the bunkbed room of the cabin! You can’t get much more fun than that, right?!? And my only cost for the trip was to make my family breakfast one morning. Since I love to cook, it was a win-win situation!!
We did several small hikes, including Sabbaday Falls and the Basin. It was beyond amazing to be back in familiar woods again, sitting beside flowing streams and waterfalls. Soaking my toes and feeling the warm sunshine on my skin. Snapping pictures nonstop, because everything around me was so beautiful.
Another White Mountain tradition of ours is visiting North Conway, where there are quaint little shops and delicious restaurants. One of my all-time favorite stores is Zeb’s Country Store, which sells everything from fresh maple syrup to penny candy.
But I’m also particularly fond of the 5 and 10 store just up the street. They sell the most amazing hats, and I have to try on a different hat every time I visit. (Yes, I’m aware of the fact that I don’t have any pride. But who needs pride, when you’re having fun)? 🙂 In my defense, my family was partly to blame, because they kept throwing hats on top of my head for me to try on. Ha, ha.
And I guess I kind of encouraged it with my facial expressions and poses. 😉
Gosh, it’s a good thing the rest of my family isn’t so crazy…
While in North Conway, we ate at the Muddy Moose, which never fails to disappoint. Absolutely delicious! We started off with an appetizer of mussels, and I completed my meal with a taco salad. So fresh and yummy! (But seriously, if you’re ever in the North Conway area, you have to try the mussels at the Muddy Moose. They are to die for. Trust me on this. I almost died. They are just that good).
The monster sweet potato fries – as modeled by my sister below – were absolutely amazing as well. I think when I go back someday, I’ll just dine on those fries and mussels in pure contentment.
During our trip to the Whites, we also ate our share of icecream (obviously) and went mini-golfing, which I am terrible at. I warned my family about this, but I think they thought I was exaggerating a bit. After the first five minutes, however, when I had already drove the ball into the water AND then also managed to step on a ball and nearly fall onto my back, my sister shook her head, laughed, and said, “You really are quite bad.”
But bad or not, we all still had an amazing time! 🙂
And THAT, my friends, was my mini-vacay away in a nutshell. 🙂 I’m so glad I went!!!