Journey Through New England: Goodbye Damariscotta (Maine), Hello Bethlehem (New Hampshire)
14 Oct 2012 - It was a cool 11 degrees Celsius (51.8 Fahrenheit) and a rainy morning on the start of our road trip from the Maine coastline to New Hampshire. My lower back was holding up beautifully and our new Back Huggar lumbar back support cushions had been working a treat. Saying goodbye to Maine, where we created so many fond memories, was tinged with a little sadness, especially knowing that we may never pass this way again: it’s rugged coastline, quaint towns and villages, white steepled churches and shingled homes, icy Atlantic winds and mouthwateringly delicious ‘lobsta’ and clam chowders. However, we were very much looking forward to our journey, inland into New Hampshire. Our plan was to divide our road trip from Damariscotta (Maine) to Bethlehem (New Hampshire) via a visit to Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough. So rather than a straight 3 hours and 30 minute drive, we’d be dividing the driving time (and swapping drivers) at 2 hrs 30 and 1 hr 10.
After numerous discussions at the dinner table in Sydney about this journey, Peter and I were finally experiencing the reality of driving from the New England coastline to New Hampshire. And the reality was every bit like driving through a painting. With wet and deserted roads (yes, it was a Sunday), we relished navigating through picture perfect scenery, admiring quaint white homes with pristine yards, adorned with scare crows and pumpkins in time for Thanksgiving and Halloween. This quintessential American scene was, of course, completed by the American flag proudly displayed by the front porch. The sombre skies added a gentle gauze to nature’s vibrant color palette.
Peter and I have officially turned into “leaf peepers”. The changing colors of Autumn were in full glory as we drove through New Hampshire, signaling the trees’ preparation for Winter. Due to shorter periods of daylight and cooler temperatures, the chlorophyll in the leaves break down and the green color disappears. Yellows and oranges begin to replace the green foliage. The vibrant reds, purples and bronzes apparently come from another chemical process. The brilliant reds of the Maples has a sweet side: in the warmth of fall days, sugar is produced in the leaves and then trapped by the night’s chill. The more sugar that accumulates, the brighter the red leaves turn.
With colors varying from mountaintops to valleys, and from day to day, there’s no way to predict when fall foliage will be at its peak. A time of constant change, there’s no better place in the world to see nature’s most colorful display than the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Castle In The Clouds, Moultonborough:
Two and a half hours out of Damariscotta, and an hour and a half out of Bethlehem, sits Moultonborough, home of Castle in the Clouds. Castle in the Clouds (or Lucknow) is a spectacular 16-room mansion and 5,500-acre mountaintop estate that is open for tours to the public in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and the Ossipee Mountains from a rocky outcrop formerly known as "The Crow's Nest", the home was built in 1913-1914 in the Craftsmen Style by millionaire shoe manufacturer Thomas Plant (1859-1941) for his second wife, Olive Cornelia Dewey. Plant was a French-Canadian immigrant who made his fortune manufacturing shoes under the Queen Quality Shoes label and used his fortune to build his estate at Lucknow. Unfortunately, he lost a considerable amount of his wealth investing in Russian bonds (just prior to the Bolshevik revolution) and in Cuban sugar (before the hurricanes wiped out the cane fields), and then went into bankruptcy following the collapse of the stock exchange in 1929. Talk about unfortunate timing... His creditors, made up of loyal family members and friends, allowed him to live in his home even as they dissolved his estate. Nearly the entire estate and its grounds have been repurchased by a preservation trust, and is now known as Castle In The Clouds. While many Americans that we had spoken to along our journey through Maine hadn’t even heard of this site, it is well worth the diversion and the visit. Castle In The Clouds is the work of a true visionary.
Lucknow/ Castle In The Clouds Route 171, 455 Old Mountain Road, Moultonborough, NH. www.castleintheclouds.org
Our New Hampshire Sanctuary: Adairs Country Inn & Restaurant
Exhausted from the sensory overload of driving across the I-93 to New Hampshire, it was an exquisite sensation to turn into the long driveway of Adairs Country Inn & Restaurant, our home for the next 2 days.
Bordered by stately pines and gleaming white birch trees and stone walls to its picturesque setting on a knoll, and boasting spectacular views of the White Mountains, Adairs is not just an accommodation but a destination in itself. Set in 200 gorgeous acres, the Inn is rich in history. The country estate was built in 1927 by Frank Hogan as a gift to his only daughter, Dorothy Adair upon the occasion of her marriage to John W. Guider. The scenic grounds and colorful gardens designed by the Olmsted Brothers (designers of New York City's Central Park) provide an atmosphere of quiet splendor. Its current owners, Nick and Betsy Young and their children, are the fourth owners of this charming country Inn.
From the moment Peter and I walked into the Inn and were greeted by innkeepers Ilja and Brad, offered a cool (or warm) glass of home made apple cider, and shown to our room on the third floor, this was one of those places where I mentally kicked myself for not booking an extra night’s stay. One of New England's most renowned country Inns, each guest room is named after a mountain in the Presidential Range of nearby White Mountains. Each room has its own unique layout, furnishings, decor, and views, and are comfortably appointed with antiques, reproductions as well as original art. But apart from all that, the beds at Adairs are something else. Top of the range mattresses are teamed with down pillows, down quilt covers, down underlays, and topped off with fine-count Egyptian cotton sheets, guaranteeing the best sleep of your life. And with those romantic rooms and beds calling out to you like sirens, you don’t want to go very far to dine. Thank goodness that Adair’s in-house restaurant is the best New England style cuisine that you’ll get anywhere for miles, in a cozy fireside atmosphere to boot. But even as in-house guests, we had to book ahead as it is open to the public for dinner and gets very busy.
Adairs Country Inn & Restaurant 80 Guider Lane | Bethlehem, New Hampshire 03574 http://www.adairinn.com/