Thursday, March 15, 2012

when you leave your plans behind

Dear Em,
New England is made up of a bunch of small states. That's probably why it doesn't just feel like Rhode Island is home, all of New England is our home. Daddy & I have spent much of our childhood & adult years exploring Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, & Maine. So when we took you on your first trip to New Hampshire, it was like taking you to visit another piece of home. Daddy had spent his fall vacations in New Hampshire & I had spent my summers there. We couldn't wait to take you to the places we had grown to love.

While we've had so many fun adventures throughout the country, this fall Daddy & I decided to take our first vacation just the 3 of us. We chose the last weekend in September, hoping it would be prime leaf peeping season. Daddy booked a condo across the street from Loon Mountain (a two bedroom condo ended up being about the same price as a hotel room). We had plans to take you to Santa's Village, do some biking, & do some hiking. We had taken off Friday to make it a long weekend. We hoped to drive to Santa's Village Friday morning, spend Friday there, check into the condo that night, & spend the rest of the weekend in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

Well, everything didn't exactly go as planned. We woke up Friday & dressed in Christmas colors (I was not going to miss an opportunity for early Christmas pictures). 5 minutes later, you threw up all down your clothes. We put you in the bath, & while we were cleaning off all the puke, you had diarrhea (TMI? sorry). Poor little munchkin. Daddy & I looked at each other (after Daddy cleaned the bathtub, I have a very weak stomach) & talked about what we should do. Should we cancel? After a little while, I decided that we could be sick at home or sick in New Hampshire. So, we might as well be sick surrounded by amazing foliage.

So, your outfit of the day became your jammies (still holiday themed), & off we went.

You did really well during the drive up to New Hampshire & kept food down when we stopped for lunch. We decided to keep our plans & go to Santa's Village, a theme park where it's Christmas every day. Since we had left much later than originally planned & had taken more stops during the ride up, I checked my IPhone to see how late Santa's Village was open. Guess what? It wasn't open at all. While they're open daily in the summer, from Labor Day to Columbus Day, they only have weekend hours. Whoops. So, we decided to try Santa's Village the next Day & just head directly to the condo.

We arrived at the condo an hour before check-in time. While we waited for it to be ready, we played at a park in the complex (still in your jammies). You still weren't quite yourself, but you enjoyed quietly swinging. We walked around & found the 2 indoor pools, an indoor hot-tub, an outdoor pool, & an outdoor hot-tub.

When it finally came time to check-in, we were pleasantly surprised by our home for the next couple days. It was big, clean, & cozy. There were four levels with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a loft, a kitchen, & a living room with a fireplace. There was a back deck with a magical view of Loon Mountain filled with colorful foliage.

You had a blast climbing up & down the different levels & scoping out the place. We had brought your pack & play, but you were still excited to find bunk beds. You & Daddy had such fun rolling & playing on your first set of bunk beds in your very own room throughout the weekend.

We were sitting on the back deck, taking in all the beauty & talking about what we would do next & where we would go to eat. You started whimpering, & I picked you up to put you in my lap. That's when you threw up all over me. At that moment, I made the executive decision that we would stay in that night. After I showered us off, Daddy went into town to pick up groceries & dinner. We had a quiet night in front of the fireplace playing with puzzles & reading books.

You seemed to be feeling a lot better the next day, but Santa's Village still wasn't in the cards. It was raining (sadly, that sick Friday was the best weather of the weekend). Biking on the bike trail wasn't going to happen either. Daddy did find the most amazing breakfast place. As I write this, I still long for White Mountain Bagel. They have a variety of bagels & the most amazing cream cheese spreads I've ever tasted. Daddy loved jalepeno, but bacon horseradish was my favorite. The coffee was great too.

With our bellies full, we decided to put our raincoats on & make the best of the day. First we headed to Clark's Trading Post. Your Daddy & I had both gone there as children, & it was fun to see your little feet run through a place where our little feet had once run.

There was so much for you to see at Clark's. You were so excited to take each thing in. You giggled as you watched the trained bears & called out to them. You splashed in the puddles & shouted "choo choo" as you watched the train.

Inside, there was a stuffed animal bear that was as big as you. You squeezed him with a big smile on your face, but then dropped him when you saw the big moose head.

They had a player piano. You danced in front of it with a little drum until we ran out of quarters to feed it. You whimpered as you walked away from the player piano until we stopped in front of your very favorite...colored rocks. You would have played with the rock bin the entire day if we had let you. We bought you your own pouch of rocks & you cried when we took it away from you just so we could pay for it. It really is the simplest things that make you happy.

After Clark's Trading Post, the rain died down to a light sprinkle. We headed to the Basin for a hike. I don't know how it started, I think Daddy & I were trying to get you to smile. We could tell you still weren't feeling your best. So, we started to say, "the Basin" in a deep, low voice. You would reply, "the baby Basin" in your own deep, low voice. It made us giggle & smile during the whole hike. 

You weren't feeling great, & we weren't in any rush. So, we just took our hike really slow, with lots of snuggles, & just took it all in. The colors, the quietness, the was breathtaking.

Next we headed over to Indian Head Resort. We played in the teepee, made faces with the totem pole, & took in gorgeous scenery that seemed to be right out of a post card. 

On the way home, we stopped at the Christmas Loft. If you didn't get to see Santa at Santa's Village, at least we still got a glimpse of him at the Christmas Loft. We also got to pick out our family Christmas ornament.

We headed back to the condo for naps & quiet moments. It was so nice to feel at home even away from home. Since you were on the brat diet, it was amazing to have a kitchen to cook & prepare food in. I can't even imagine trying to order bananas, plain rice, sliced apples, & toast at a restaurant. This way, we were able to pack most of our meals & all of yours. When you woke up, we decided to relax & check out the pool. 

The outdoor hot-tub was our very favorite spot. Can you see why?

I wanted to spend the rest of our weekend in the hot-tub. You had made a cute little friend about your age. My heart was so happy looking at the beauty of the mountain & watching you & your little friend splash around. Eventually, we had to get out to go to dinner, though. 

We went to Woodstock Inn & Station Brewery. Daddy had found it online & was impressed with their food & local beer selection. Apparently, so was everyone else in the area. It was packed! Luckily, there was all you can eat popcorn while we waited. You enjoyed many baskets of popcorn. The food was worth the wait & Daddy bought a growler to take home with us. By the time we got home, you were happy to head to bed while Daddy & I relaxed in front of the fire.

The next morning, we packed up & said bye to the condo. 

It was still raining, so we ditched our bike-ride idea & headed across the street to Loon Mountain. We took a cloudy but beautiful gondola ride up to the top of the mountain.

This is what happens when we ask you to say cheese too many times.

It was a lot colder at the mountain top & I wished I had remembered to grab the hats we had packed. Though our visit was brief, it was amazing. The mountain top views were incredible & humbling. It was a perfect end to our New Hampshire weekend.

I couldn't help but feel a little sad that our family adventure was over as we drove home. Stopping at White Mountain Bagel for coffee & bagels helped (why didn't I think of buying tubs of their delicious cream cheese to take home?). On the way home, we were already making plans for a repeat trip next year. It wasn't the weekend we had planned, but Daddy & I will always look back at our first vacation, just us 3, with the fondest memories. It was smiles, it was beauty, it was fresh air, it was adventure, it was laughter, it was love. It wasn't what we planned, it was better.

I love you so,

* For this post I'm linking up with Design Mom & here series, Love the Place You Live. She wrote her first post of the series in February & I linked up with this post about The Wall. *

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