Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Full Moon Hike with Badass Outdoor Outfitters of Littleton

 Photo courtesy of  Nick Keating

Recently, while enjoying the ambiance and good company to be found in Littleton's newest brew/pub Schillings, I chance to meet the owners of Badass Outdoor Outfitters. We talked and enjoyed the pleasant evening and soon I found myself invited to join them on a guided Full Moon Hike up Mount Pemigewasset. No way could one turn down an opportunity like that!

We met at the trail head just as dusk was gathering. The six adventurers, led by Badass Outdoors guide Jim McCann, donned warm layers, hats, gloves, traction spikes, and trekking poles and set off for the top.
photo courtesy of  Nick Keating

Mount Pemigewasset is a great mountain for out of shape adventurers like myself. I won't sugar coat it, I found myself struggling a bit on the way up, but guide Jim McCann and owners of Badass Outdoors Matt and Marie have an encouraging no-pressure way of blazing the trail. We reached the top in about an hour and a half. 

At the top they had special treats for us, and shortly after we reached the summit, our guides set to work with their jet-boil stove to make everyone a round of spiced hot chocolate, a blend of cocoa and cayenne pepper that can be found locally at The Little Herbe Shoppe on Main St in Littleton.

Photo courtesy of  Nick Keating
 Photo courtesy of  Nick Keating

Ok I took this photo...

Once at the top, and warmed by delicious hot beverages, we all took a few moments respite to take in the breathtaking beauty of the lights before us.  Stretching out as far as we could see was the majestic town of Lincoln NH.

The photo at the very top of this post is a much better reflection of what it felt like to be at the top, and I can not thank Nick Keating enough for sharing his wonderful photographs.

After a rest (and a palpable drop in temperatures) we decided to head back down the trail. Of course we had to stop for a photo opp or two. 
Photo courtesy of Matt Keating

We plunged down the trail and got to the bottom with enough time to spare to head back to Littleton and celebrate our victory at Schilling's Beer Co. Nothing tastes better after a great adventure than a cold drink and a hot meal, and good company to wash it all down.

Badass Outdoor Outfitters leads Full Moon Hikes once a month to different locations throughout the White Mountains Region. Follow them on twitter @BadassOutdoors or LIKE them on Facebook. Stop into their store on Main Street and ask how you can join their next Badass Adventure.

While you're in town stop in to Schilling's for a bite to eat and drink. Follow them on twitter @SchillingBeer or LIKE them on Facebook.

Follow free-lance photographer Nick Keating on his adventures by checking out his website or reading his Blog.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Clark's Trading Post

What could possibly be better, while exploring the White Mountains in New Hampshire, then seeing a black bear? How about taking a train ride, watching an acrobatics show, seeing museums filled with classic Americana, climbing a rock wall, and bumper boats all in the same place!

Just 25 minutes south of the Hampton Inn sits Clark's Trading Post on Route 3. Plan on a full day of fun with the family when you head to this amazing attraction. I started the day off pretty early on my visit, and checked out the museums and all the antiques first thing.
Train artifacts were displayed in the Florence Murray Museum
Along with antique guns, lanterns, and NH themed fine china
There is something for every American history buff at Clark's. Further down the road at 1884 Pemigewasset Hook and Ladder Fire Station you can find a collection of retired fire engines!
There's even something for the ladies in the American Building
History is everywhere, even tucked into the shops that line Main Street at Clark's, including the Clark Family Tree. Here  you learn that 85 years ago when Ed Clark and his wife Florence opened the attraction as "Ed Clark's Eskimo Sled Dog Ranch" they had guided tours that included artifacts from the far north, and a small Trade Post with souvenirs and maple candies. 2 years later they bought their first bear, and thanks to their perfect location, they were a hit with the frequent passer-by. 
At the end of Main Street you can stop in to Merlin's Mystical Mansion and have your world turned upside down!
On a hot summer day the perfect way to cool off a Clark's is to take a spin in a bumper boat! Each boat is armed with a squirt gun, making everyone and everything a target!
Even spectators can join in the fun, there are squirt guns alone the side of the rink to add another level of excitement and involve the whole family
There is more adventure in store beyond the bumper boats, you can head straight over to the climbing tower and see if you can touch the face of the Old Man in the Mountain
For all the miners (not necessarily minors) and rock enthusiasts, the River City Mining Company is nearby. Grab a pan and start sifting! There's lots of treasure in each bag.
Why not take a short stroll from the Mining Company down to Tuttle's Rustic House, where you step back in time and things get a little off-center

A guide is needed to navigate you through the Tuttle's humble abode but the whimsical history lesson is well worth it!
While you're out in the boonies by the Tuttles' be sure to stop and try Wolfie's White Mt. Wheelin Segway and Safari
By this time you've probably worked up an appetite, and the shows haven't even started!
Stop in to the the Peppermint Saloon for a cold Ice Cream or just across the way is Pullman's Lunch. I hear they just got a new panini machine.
I was strolling along the Main Street when I heard a train whistle blow. I knew it was time to board the White Mountains Central Rail Road and go for a ride.
After a short introduction the train started to move
As we headed out into the NH wilderness, it was apparent that one of the more rustic residents of the area thought we were trespassing. Wolfie the Wolf Man chased the train up and down making it clear that we were a threat to his mining claim and he would put up with none of our shenanigans!
Wolfie was ready for a show down. He would have taken on the whole train.

We got to the end of the tracks and after a brief pause for the scenery, we headed back to the station. Wolfie was there to make sure he ran us out of his territory, all the way back to the covered bridge that marks the end of his claim. The whole train united on the way out and made sure to tell Wolfie "Scram you old goat!" and he kept his distance.
We pulled back into the station with just a few minutes to spare to head to the Show Ring and catch the famous Trained Bear Show
To get the show rolling Murray Clark, son of W. Murray Clark greeted the audience and gave us all the details on the history of the Bear Show, the Clark Family, and facts about the North American Black Bear (Ursus americanus). I mentioned earlier that the founders, Florence and Ed Clark got their first bear in 1930. In 1949 their sons Edward and W. Murray began training the bears to perform shows for the eager crowds. Their legacy is carried on by W. Murray Clark's children Murray and Maureen, who have devoted themselves to the training and care of the bears at Clark's Trading Post. Their hard work has certainly paid off. The average live of a black bear in the New England wild is 4-6 years according to the Fish and Game Department. The Clark's bears live such a happy and healthy life that they live much longer. The oldest living bear they have currently is retired, and she is almost 30 years old! 

The stands were packed for the show
Our performance showcased two younger bears, Ecko and Tula
Ecko showing her patriotic side
Just lazing around
Tula going for a barrel ride
Ecko earns her keep in Ice Cream
Tula making a slam dunk!

The bears were amazing and they certainly kept the crowd happy. I hung around for a while because I didn't want to leave before the acrobat show. I'm glad I hung around. The performers were excellent. From balancing acts to juggling and even unicycling, the acrobatic show had it all.
Started off with a dancing and flipping routine
Such amazing talent
It was such a great way to spend a day. Clark's Trading Post has something for everyone. For more information on Clark's, their history and their schedules, head to their website here.

At the Hampton Inn in Littleton, we offer packages that include Clark's Tickets. Click here or call the hotel directly (603)444-0025

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Santa's Village

When I got home the other night, the first thing I did was call my mom and tell her, "I pet a reindeer today!"

Bear in mind, I am 24 years old and haven't lived at home for the passed 5 years, but the very first thing I wanted to do was tell my mom all about my awesome day at Santa's Village. Let me start at the beginning.

When my best friends Dani and Jason asked me a good place to bring their two sons to celebrate the beginning of summer vacation, I knew just the place. We all planned to take a long weekend and visit Santa's Village in Jefferson, NH. Just 25 minutes away from the Hampton Inn it was a perfect attraction to see. I had never been there before so I was just as excited as 9 year old Joshua and 10 year olds Jason and Jared to visit the North Pole in the White Mountains. I really didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when even my wildest hopes were exceeded. I was blown away by the park and the attention to detail.

As any parent or relative of a special needs child will attest, going to an attraction can be a wonderful and thrilling experience to share with the whole family, or it could be a very frustrating event for all involved. Before we start our tour I want to take a moment to extend a Thank You to all of the staff and "Helpers" at Santa's Village for their unsung patience and understanding. Little Jason is autistic, so his parents were sure to take every precaution to ensure the day would be fun for him. We were allowed to bring a large wagon for him in case he got tired and needed to rest, and the staff at the water park, food outlets and all of the ride operators were outstanding in the way they accommodated our party's needs. If you're looking for a place to take the family when you have special needs to think of, Santa's Village is the right place. Jason had an absolutely amazing day!

 We made sure we had a pretty early start, well before lunch, and we decided going in that we were going to start near the Yule Log Flume and end the day at HoHo H2O before heading home.

The Elfabet Game: I was told by my coworkers that the first thing we had to do inside the gate was stop at Elf University and get ready to play the Elfabet Game. Throughout the park are 26 little elf statues, each with its' own letter, name, and story that helps you locate them. Each elf holds in its hand a punch that you slip your game tag into and it punches out its letter. When you collect all 26, you have been around the entire park, and you turn your tag in at Elf University for personalized diploma and a special gift! We had to start right away and throughout the day, as the kids started to lag or get tired, all it took was to spot another elf and they all went running to fill in their cards!

 Dani and I had our own cards!

So we headed to the Yule Log Flume

 All four boys hamming it up for the camera

After the flume we headed further into the park and checked out some of the rides like Himalaya, Bumper Cars, and Little Elf Flying School.
Little Elf Flying School
Jared getting the hang of the flying bar

One of the boys' favorite rides was the Little Drummer Boy. Basically a spinning teacup-style ride, both the kids and the adults enjoyed the challenge of spinning as fast as we dared.
 Both big and little Jason enjoying the ride
Joshua and Jared pushing the limits

We grabbed lunch at the Burger Meister food court on the north east side of the park. The selection was great, even the picky eaters were happy with the options.


 After lunch we decided to take it slow, so we glided along on the Skyway Sleigh Monorail. What a great way to view the park from above!
Jared, Joshua, and I being serious as can be....kinda
Dani enjoying herself with her two favorite Jasons!

How can there be more you ask? Thats what we thought! but while we were on the Skyway Sleigh we saw the Reindeer Rendezvous, and we knew we had to head straight there.

 Joshua petting Blitzen
 Dani and Cupid
Prancer and Dasher

 After the Reindeer Rendezvous we decided to meander our way straight towards the water park. On the way we stopped to ride the Chimney Drop and see the Blacksmith, who trades rings for smiles
 Jared and Joshua enjoying the Chimney
Dani getting fitted for her custom ring

So finally we made it to the last section of rides before the water park. On the way we drove antique cars, and rode Rudy's Rapid Transit Coaster

The boys even took a turn on the Red Hot Racers!

So without further ado, we all got changed into our water clothes and made straight for the newest addition to Santa's Village, the 3 full size water slides!
Dani coming down Red
Little Jason got turned around going down Green
Big Jason making a splash on Purple

Once we'd all had our fill of climbing the stairs and going down the slides, we opted to hang around HoHo H2O the water-playground. Right next to the new slides and the heart of the waterpark, I am tempted to say that the adults had just as much fun if not more than the kids!

One of the best features of Santa's Village is the way they squeeze every ounce of fun into all corners of the park. From playgrounds, to Reindeer swings, to photo props, there is something to do  even walking between amusements.

The day was so much fun for the kids and for us adults. After spending over 5 hours in the park, the clouds started to move in and a thunderstorm was on the horizon so we all decided it was a good time to head home, but on the way out we realized there was still so much we had missed! We're already talking about a return trip before the season is over. So many great memories that the boys will be telling everyone about for months to come! It was a real splash!