The Exquisite Beauty Of New Hampshire: The Flume Gorge (New England)
15 Oct 2012 - “If you’re a nature lover, there is so much to see and do in the area. But if you only have a full day to spend here, you must visit Flume Gorge.”, Ilja, our host from Adairs Country Inn suggested.
After virtually a whole day in the car yesterday, Peter and I needed to stretch our legs, breathe in some sweet mountain air and crunch on some fall leaves. The idea of doing the two mile walking loop to the Flume at Franconia Notch State Park sounded like just the thing. Encompassing thousands of acres of rivers, falls, forests, pools, covered bridges, rock and boulder formations as well as the Flume Gorge itself, the Flume is a unique geological area with many scenic wonders. The entire walking loop through the Flume and back to the Visitor’s Center is 2 miles (3.2 kms) and takes approximately one hour and 15 minutes. With plenty of secure parking at the Visitor’s Center, we headed inside for a toilet stop, purchased our tickets, and began our trek.
Call me sentimental - I cry at weddings, TV ads, or when a great song plays on my car radio. I cry when I see my son after being overseas for 6 weeks and I cry when I think of something beautiful. So when I was confronted with the majesty of nature at the Flume Gorge, pure, pristine, perfect, my emotions and eyes welled up. The day was misty, the foliage was bright and the day was filled with poetry. Thank God for the Japanese tourists who added some humor and sense of the ridiculous to the day.
I have a soft spot for Japanese tourists. Neat, polite and good natured, they maintain a high respect for their host country’s surroundings, people and property at all times. Those in the 20’s and 30’s age bracket in particular are completely unselfconscious as they strike the most ridiculous catwalk poses, grinning and pointing at the most inane things while a friend snaps away at them on the camera or iPhone. With smiles from ear to ear and copious “thumbs ups”, their childlike spontaneity is infectious. I find myself offering to take their photos just so I can giggle along with them. Always appreciative and eager to return the favor, my poses were on the restrained side in comparison. Still, I just may lash out one day.
What are Covered Bridges?
Remember the movie “The Bridges of Madison County” starring Merryl Streep and Clint Eastwood? This was the movie that put covered bridges on the map. A covered bridge is a timber-truss bridge with a roof and siding which create an almost complete enclosure. Why the first covered bridges were built has been obscured by time. Some say that horses were more comfortable crossing an enclosed span than an open trestle. Others take an economic view, pointing to the fact that a bridge lasts longer if the heavy timbers are protected from the weather. History shows that monetary considerations did come into play as the first covered bridges were toll bridges.
Dining After Flume Gorge:
While we explored the foyer of the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods for its historic value - It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986 - it was at Fabyan’s where we settled to have lunch after our Flume Gorge trek. One of the original railroad stations, restored and converted to a restaurant and lounge, Fabyan’s is located across from the Bretton Woods alpine area and less than a mile from the Mount Washington Hotel. Famished and bone tired, we eyed the casual pub menu with all the eagerness of a fat boy at a cake shop. Since it was Thanksgiving in a few days time, what more appropriate a meal could we order than a Turkey Dinner for $16 and a beer. We were as happy as pigs in mud by the time lunch arrived. Happy Thanksgiving! Well, almost.