It had been almost twenty years since my last visit to New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Once my friends started moving or being stationed down south, time away became more about nightlife and free places to stay than mountain biking and admiring scenery.
This week wasn’t about those things either, but if my daughter and I continue to spend our time together hiking and she’s eventually willing to take them to another level, it won’t be another twenty years before we go back.
Fox Ridge Resort was home base for Summer Vacation 2016, a nice place in North Conway with a playground, indoor and outdoor pools, and free mini golf that dispelled any hopes I may have had about her being the next Tiger Woods. Friday night featured a bonfire and marshmallow roasting,on Saturday there were complimentary horse drawn wagon rides. One of the highlights for Alaina was a fairly large loft area for her and her babies to sleep in.
This trip was all about the amusement parks, and our first day was spent at Story Land, a children’s fantasy theme park with such attractions as Alice’s Tea Cups and the home of The Three Little Bears. Cinderella’s Castle was cool for anybody who’s never been to Disney’s Magic Kingdom and seen their version. The Roar-O-Saur is a legitimate roller coaster thrill ride that our normally fearless little warrior refused to ride for a second time.
Santa’s Village was our next day’s destination, another hour north of where we were staying, but well worth the drive. A scenic path through the mountains, just the trip itself would have been the highlight of most days.
The place itself was fantastic, slightly cheaper than Story Land, but also with more rides, an easier to navigate layout, and an overall aesthetic that was more comfortable and somehow less commercial feeling. The remoteness of the park and the surrounding country side made it easy for a five year old to really believe that she was close to the North Pole, even as she was careening down massive slides.
The lack of personal appearances by the jolly old fat man himself was odd, but a chance to meet and feed his reindeer was very cool.
Day three was a total washout, pouring rain that I thought would be combated by a day at Kahuna Laguna, an indoor water park at the sister resort to where we were staying. Unfortunately the place was closed to the public due to an influx of Girl Scouts being rewarded for exceptional cookie sales, something that very easily could have been added to the calendar on their website. After a great deal of initial disappointment, Alaina was content to spend the afternoon splashing around the heated indoor pool at our hotel. Daddy is hopeful that nobody under eighteen was on the receiving end of his subsequent e-mail.
The plan for Monday was to drive home, stopping for lunch somewhere along the way. Still frustrated by the previous day I instead channeled my inner Clark Griswold and determined that we weren’t done having fun yet, driving to Old Orchard Beach, Maine. With nowhere to be until late Tuesday, my thought was to spend the afternoon at the Palace Playground and perhaps spend one more night away from home.
After lunch on the pier, looking out over the ocean and the rides that weren’t open on weekdays yet, York’s Wild Kingdom became the last stop on our trek.
The amusement side wasn’t yet open for the year, but we did enjoy a pleasant time at the zoo at discounted rates. Besides admiring the variety of animals, we had the added experiences of watching lions mate, a goat giving birth, and a group of very friendly deer that I would like to thank for some of the funniest moments in recent memory.
It was becoming apparent that my brilliant plan to take our trip before the summer season officially started had allowed us to avoid the large crowds usually present at these places, but also had certain drawbacks. This will probably be the first vacation that Alaina will remember, and we were determined to make it one that she would treasure. A few bumps in the road notwithstanding, I’m content that we were successful.