“Welcome to God’s country!” This is what Tom Ryan, author of Following Atticus, commented to me on a Facebook post regarding my family and me arriving in the beautiful, northern New Hampshire village of Jackson. Anyone who reads my blog knows that Jackson is where I want to be, and anyone who has visited Jackson knows exactly why. The village is quaint, surrounded by beautiful mountains, fresh air and completely removed from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Jill and I used to visit Jackson on a much more regular basis, but with the little one, making multiple night trips up there is tough. This was our second trip up there with Miss Lylah, the first being when she was three months old and ended badly, with a midnight ride home due to an ear infection. This trip was much, much better.
Our view of the Jackson Covered Bridge as we arrive in the rain on Friday afternoon
We started the weekend on a Friday evening which was very rainy. We arrived at the Christmas Farm Inn, which has been our inn of choice with Lylah since they welcome children. As soon as we were settled, we did what we always do the first night we arrive, headed to the Shovel Handle Pub for a good dinner and a pint of Tuckerman Pale Ale! The Shovel Handle Pub is by far our favorite pub in Jackson. It’s built in an old, rustic barn next to the Whitney Inn at the base of Black Mountain. The decor is great, consisting of antique outdoor sports memorabilia (snow shoes, skiing stuff, etc.). Later in the evenings, they typically have live music from some great local musicians.
On the first morning, we got ready for a hike up Black Cap Mountain. On the way to the trailhead, I stopped at my favorite Jackson coffee shop, the White Mountain Cafe. To my surprise, it has changed ownership and is now The Backcountry Bakery & Cafe. I wish I had known it was for sale, because that would have been the perfect opportunity for me. Owning a coffee shop in my favorite town, surrounded by mountains…sounds like heaven!!! I chatted with the friendly people behind the counter, purchased two delicious hazelnut iced coffees and we were on our way.
My favorite coffee shop, The Backcountry Bakery & Cafe
Black Cap Mountain, by way of Hurricane Mountain Road, is a short hike so we figured it would be a perfect first hike for Lylah (on my back). I don’t want to go into the details too much since I will write a separate trip report on our hike, but Lylah made it to her first summit by 11am…not too shabby. However, I pretty much decided I hate my Kelty child backpack. I need to figure out something better if I’m to do any distance with her.
Lylah and I ready for our hike up Black Cap
After hiking, we hit up the J-Town Deli, one of our favorite deli shops in downtown Jackson. J-Town has a country store like atmosphere and you can order fresh sandwiches, subs and pastries. On this particular day, Moat Mountain Brewery was doing some promotions in the store, so they were giving away free samples of their brews!
After eating lunch and trying for two hours to get Lylah to take a nap with no luck (she was way too preoccupied with all the excitement of being on vacation), we decided to hit downtown North Conway, one of our favorite things to do while up there. I was lucky and found a parking spot right in front of Zeb’s General Store, so that is where we started our downtown shopping. We made the rounds and found that shopping with a big BOB stroller is not easy when trying to maneuver through the narrow and crowded store aisles. We crossed the street and stopped into Synergy Sportswear and picked up a couple Life is Good shirts. It was really great to be downtown again and the weather was perfect for shopping.
Lylah, a little apprehensive of Zeb's bear behind her
The next day, we went down to breakfast and got a surprise. We saw our first bear out the window of the restaurant. It was a small bear which the locals call Moe and was in search of its own breakfast. I snapped a couple pictures (one of which was Moe on top of the dumpster) and we headed back to the room to pack up. Before heading home, we decided to check out the annual Wildquack Duck River Festival. This is a cool event where the town has festivities which range from kid rides, silent auctions and all sorts of cool things. They end it with a huge rubber duck race down the Wildcat River starting at Jackson Falls. There are many prizes for multiple winners.
Moe, the little black bear hanging around Jackson!
The Wildquack Duck River Festival
We parked in downtown Jackson, got another iced coffee at The Backcountry Bakery & Cafe, and headed down the river path behind the Snowflake Inn. After checking out the festival and allowing Lylah to get her picture taken with a giant duck, we headed back up to the main road and decided to walk down to Flossie's General Store. It’s one of my favorite little shops, which has everything from door mats to kids toys, all stuff related to Jackson, New Hampshire and the wild. After spending some time in Flossie's, it was time to head south again, back to reality.
More of the festival
Duck's Head...I think this is why it's called Duck's Head, but could be wrong!
This was a great trip and Lylah’s first real vacation. We fit a lot in, in just two days of being up North including Lylah’s first mountain summit, downtown shopping, dinner at our favorite pub and checking out the Wildquack Duck River Festival. We had beautiful weather and it was a lot of fun!
I found one thing is for certain after staying in Jackson again, this time with a “larger” family…Tom Ryan is right. This is “God’s country”. It’s a special place where you can forget all of your stresses. It’s where we (my family) belong! Someday…someday…we’ll build that log cabin up there in the foregrounds of the White Moutnains…in “God’s country”!