Friday, February 20, 2009

Back to Black Mountain!

It's school vacation week...time to read, relax...and see if we can still get down a mountain on skis. So, on Tuesday, Hank and I headed up to Jackson, NH, with our grandson, Brian, to enjoy the snow. The Jackson covered bridge is a local landmark and Hank has convinced all of the "kids" who have ever come to Jackson with us that there are trolls under the bridge...everyone has to pick their feet up when we drive over it so the trolls won't get them! (No one is ever too old to worry about Hank's trolls...). The bridge holds memories for all of us...maybe none more than Kit and Erin who got engaged on the Jackson bridge in 2002.
Just over the bridge is Nestlenook Farm, a beautiful Victorian wonderland where everyone goes to enjoy sleigh rides and ice-skating under the bridges and around the islands. On the big island is a gazebo where a fire is always going and hot chocolate is served all afternoon.
We decided to go ice-skating with Brian. Neither Hank nor I had been on skates in 40 years but off we went. After about 20 feet my ankles were burning and I wondered how I ever skated as much as I did as a child in Connecticut when we had a pond behind our house and skated every day in the winter. Andi, Nancy and I used to twirl and spin, skate backwards, and skate at the end of the "whip" without a care. Not anymore! (I refuse to accept the fact that the 40 years are what has made the difference...I'm sure I must just need a little more practice.) But, to prove to my sisters that I actually did this crazy thing, here is a picture of Hank and I on skates. Notice that neither of us is hanging on to the bridge for dear life!
It was a beautiful day...warm and sunny, but I think back on much colder days we have spent at Nestlenook. I especially remember the time I had invited a group of my "girlfriends" from the Epilepsy Foundation to fly to New England for a winter weekend in Jackson. The temperature never got above zero and two of the "girls" were from Atlanta and Baltimore...not used to that kind of cold. We had booked a special sleigh ride for the ladies and I still remember Jeannie and Diana yelling at the driver to stop with the historical narrative and just get the d**m horses moving! (I think Jeanne reads this blog and am sure she hasn't forgotten how cold it was on that sleigh!).
Ankles on fire from the skates, we finally made it up the mountain to Whitney's Inn. The Inn is named for Bill and Betty Whitney who first started Black Mountain ski area in the 1930's. At that time, a rope tow went up the mountain. Wooden shovels were attached at intervals along the rope and skiers would hold onto the shovel handles to be pulled up the hill. When Hank and I owned our "camp" on Whitney Hill behind the inn, Mrs. Whitney was our neighbor. We were sad to learn that she has passed away since our last visit to Whitney's but she lived over 100 years and skied into her 80' amazing woman. We were happy to see that the old sign with our name on it has not been painted listed all of the families who had camps or homes on Whitney Hill. We had some wonderful years at that camp...everyone came for weekends, both winter and summer...and a lot of people learned to ski at Black while we were there. Nancy's son, Kit, was one of the people who loved our camp and he is now a volunteer on the Ski Patrol at Black. I remember how much my Mom and Dad enjoyed the camp...we would always have campfires when they came up and in my mind I can still see Daddy sitting by the campfire cooking marshmallows with Robert and Kristen. When Andi's children were little, they came to Black from Arizona and Hank would make each of them sit on the "story stump" by the campfire to tell a ghost story. (Katy always told the very best ghost stories!)
One of our neighbors on Whitney Hill was our old friend, Tom Franco, who taught Hank and I how to ski. Tom certainly was patient with the two of us...he would ski backwards down the mountain while we snowplowed our way down behind him. We thought of Tom this week while we enjoyed Black...I think he'd be proud of the progress we've made since he first helped us down.

The photo above is of Hank and Brian on the triple chair lift and the one to the right is of the three of us at the top getting ready to ski down. It was another beautiful day, sunny with no wind, temperatures in the high 20's and perfect snow. This morning, Brian and I skied while Hank checked out, loaded the car, and played the role of photographer. Here are Brian and I heading up on the double chair.
We started Brian and Robert on skis last year and they have really gotten good. Robert was sick with a sinus infection this week and couldn't ski, but Brian is already doing intermediate trails with "Nanny" (no black diamonds for me) and even tried the mogul hill today. Now Hank and I can't wait to teach Taka and Toshi to ski at Black!

The views are beautiful from the can see Attitash across the valley and the town of Jackson looks like Lilliput far below.

After a full day of skiing we packed the car and headed back to Maine. As we drove, I turned around to see Brian sound asleep with his head on the cooler. Think it's safe to say that he had a good time!

Later: Just a few more photos to add to this post...
Horses in the snow at the base of the mountain...
Whitney's barn, aka the "Shovel Handle Pub"...
View heading up the mountain...and the last one...the ride up.


  1. Cheryl
    Looks great-your pictures are terrific--Kit and Erin are going up next weekend--I think we're going to join them-it's been years since we were in Jackson=thanks for sharing! Nancy

  2. I love the winter photos, though it is too cold for me. I was going through the blogs to see if there were any that interest me.

    Nancy, you are a very brave woman.

  3. We loved the mini vacations at the ski house , very peaceful.We also had a great time at the Victorian Inn you mwntioned.{ It was a gift from Joanne and Mark {x-mas}.
    The buggy champagne ride fun, rooms beautiful, the food delicious.The whole areais beautiful. Mom

  4. P.S>The bummer on this great little vacation was as we were ready to leave our house, news came from Manhattan about the first plane hit on the the Twin Towers.After watching the rest of the story we left for N.H.We were in shock, and at various stops along the way , you could see how moved people were, it wwas the morning of 9\11.Mom

  5. P.S>The bummer on this great little vacation was as we were ready to leave our house, news came from Manhattan about the first plane hit on the the Twin Towers.After watching the rest of the story we left for N.H.We were in shock, and at various stops along the way , you could see how moved people were, it wwas the morning of 9\11.Mom

  6. P.P.S>Someday I'll master the Blog(with no mistakes or P.S.'s}.To keep the true Victorian feeling at Nestlenook, there are no Tv's vnewsisible. To follow the awful news of the A.M>, we went down to the only TV in the basement, a dark,sort oc cozy media rm.Needless to say it was a historic moment.Mom

  7. I must comment on Grampa,s photo in the bathing suit{with Bill Haubrich}. Grampa dressed me in the same suit {moth holes and all}, made me up with peroxide wig, blacked out front teeth and wearing a cardboard\sign saying "Miss Plaistow". This to go to Keezer,s Plaistow, costume dance with Fred.Iwon a 1st prize.Thank God he didn't come up with cupid.Somewhere ther's apicture, better get to and hide it. Mom

  8. from Jeanne Cahill in Atlanta:
    Oh, what memories you dredged up from our youthful pasts. It was wonderful to relive the ski weekend, and to hear you and Hank are doing the same things with a new generation. I have not been on skis for a long time...Colorado with my sister, Lynda, was the last such fun outing.
    Love to all,

  9. from Aunt Marion:



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  11. from Tom Franco, Viera, FL

    I finally had a couple of minutes to read all of your account of your trip to Jackson. Yes, you did bring back some very, very fond memories. I am SOOOOOOOO thankful that you wound up in one of my classes. The best part is that, after all of these years, we are still friends, and that is the most important part for me. Your trip down "memory lane" was a delight!! Thank you for sharing it with me.
    My best to my buddy, Hank.
    Love, Tom