North Conway, 2011

Cris and I try to go away each year on President's Day weekend, in February. This year, we invited Michael and Tricia to go with us, and timing conflicts led us to go early, in late January.
A picture of me, skiing at Cranmore, taken by Michael.

Fri Jan 28, 2011

We'd finally settled on using Cris's car, since he was able to get the roof rack plus ski holder on it. The only problem was that it hadn't been moved for 2 snow storms and it took us about half an hour to get it out of the driveway. We finally got it up on the street and packed with our stuff, with my skis locked into the rack on top and he drove me to work. I missed the moon roof on the Merc, not being able to see my skis was a bit worrisome, especially as the racks had shifted a bit before they were finally tightened down. He drove the car to his work and we agreed to meet up at around 4pm.

I had a fairly busy day and was glad to escape a bit early. I took the bus over to Harvard Sq and met up with Tricia near her office building, and Cris eventually made his way through traffic to pick us up. Then on to Michael's place where we reshuffled things a bit to get all our stuff in the hatchback. I think a retaining net to block the area above the seat backs might be useful. From there, we sat in traffic for a while, trying to get up 93 to 95 north. It finally started to clear out and we headed north west on 16 to North Conway. They've improved the highway a bit, but that meant more tolls. It was odd watching the snow banks get lower as we went north, the last storm had passed south of NH. We stopped briefly in Conway to get gas, and I gave the BNB (Cranmore Inn) a quick call to say that we'd be just after 8pm. They were there behind the desk waiting for us when we came in, and Bob led us up to the joined rooms at the back, two rooms with a double and single bed each and a bathroom off the connecting hallway.

We hadn't stopped to eat supper, so we walked up to the main drag and popped into Wine Thyme to get food. I resisted the thyme based cocktail and the delicious sounding wine, sticking with water since I was pretty tired. The food was great, we shared stuffed mushrooms and a cheese spread, and my ravioli was excellent. Back to the BNB and we changed and went back down to the outdoor hot tub. There were towels sitting on a dining room chair next to the door but we had to lift off the cover (and re-cover it once we were done). It was great, though I tried to keep my feet off the ice as much as possible when getting in and out. We were all wiped out once we were finished soaking and went right to bed at around 11pm. I'd brought a bottle each of red and white wine and put the white one on the windowsill to chill a little bit.

Sat Jan 29, 2011

Despite some debate about getting up at 6am, we were up and down for breakfast at around 7:30am. I tried the belgian waffles and was disappointed that my not so good waffle streak was continuing. I tried some of Cris's blueberry pancakes and resolved to order that the next day. Tiny little teapots with lipton bags made me wish that I'd brought my own tea and made use of the water machine with hot and cold spouts. Back up to the room to get our outer layers on for skiing, and then we drove up the street to Joe Jones so that the others could rent. I poked around a little in the shop, they had some ski bags that were shorter than I'd found yet, but still too long. I helped carry stuff up to the car and get it on the rack, all four pairs fit nicely though we had a tiny bit of trouble keeping Cris and Michael's in order (same length of ski, same brand). Stuffed all the boots and poles in the back and barely got it all to fit. Tricia and Michael couldn't find helmets to fit them but promised to be careful.

We turned around and drove back up to Cranmore, but stopped back at the BNB to get discounted lift vouchers. The older woman behind the counter took a while to figure out the credit card machine, Bob had to help her out. Eventually we were all sorted, and we exchanged them for lift tickets at the resort (the voucher line was nice and short). We tried to do a run all together, but we soon split up. Tricia was a very beginner (third time), Cris wanted some more green warm up runs, and I was itching to get onto the blues and Michael was willing to go with me. He and I skied together mostly, wandering all over the mountain to find the blue runs. It was mostly groomed, with a bit of extra powder and in some places a bit icy, but I had some wonderful moments of feeling like I was floating over the snow. We all met up at around noon for lunch at the base, grabbing food from the cafeteria and then sitting in the pub. The pasta with alfredo sauce was good, though it cooled quickly and congealed. Lots of kids around, it's a very family friendly hill. Michael and I tried some black diamonds in the afternoon, getting cocky since the blue runs weren't that steep. I ended up taking an impressive spill when I slid on some ice, just over a lip so Michael didn't see a thing. I slid face first, then head first, then feet first down the mountain, trying not to catch a ski since my knee was hurting. I lay still for a while and luckily it stopped and I was fine to continue. Looking at it later, I saw that it was bruised on the knee cap, I must have gone down on it, and I couldn't turn it in without it hurting - the loose ACL in that knee got a bit more stretched. We'd agreed to meet up at 4 to head out, once the lifts closed, I took one more run by myself to prove that my knee was fine, and luckily made it down okay.

We got the skis back on the car and made the quick drive back to the BNB. Showers, wine, reading and a bit of TV and then we headed out to get food. We stopped first at Clarks and EMS to do a bit of shopping and then made our way to Cafe Noche Mexican Cafe in Conway. It was delicious, I had a chicken burritto flavoured with thyme. The icicles were impressive on most of the buildings and Michael requested a stop next to a closed up video store where we could break some off of a long low roof line. I got two small ones and tried to enter the fray two handed, but they both broke off as soon as Cris tapped them with his icicle. Michael and Tricia then squared off with 3-4 foot long monstrocities, but as soon as they engaged, a heavy chunk flew off and hit me in the forehead. Even through the rolled brim of my touque it hurt quite a bit, and it turned out that I had a cut there and it was sore to the touch for days afterward. After that head trauma, I was ripe for another dip on the hot tub. This time it was occupied, by a pair of women from Somerville as it turned out, and we had a great time chatting with them. Chantal and Monica had done an ice climbing course via EMS and skiing at Attitash and one of them had climbed Mt. Kenya as well. At one point I was over heating and decided to try rolling in the snow. Michael tried it as well, but he mustn't have had enough built up heat since he was miserable once he got back in the tub, with icy tingles. I had a bit of it, but was more fascinated by the sensation of the snow melting off my body. A pair of guys that Chantal had met ice climbing joined us as well, one named Gerard, which gave me pause (my uncle of the same name had just passed away the week before, though my unrelated aunt Monica was still alive and well). Tricia went up to read first, and then Cris, but Michael and I hung out a bit longer. I think I only like champagne if I'm drinking it in a hot tub. :)

Sun Jan 30, 2011

We were all moving a bit slowly this morning, but at least the blueberry pancakes were good again this morning. We packed up our stuff and checked out, then headed back to Cranmore to go snow tubing - again getting discounted tickets ($21) from the BNB. Michael and Tricia had never been, it was awesome to see thier big smiles after the first fast ride. :) We did 4 person trains and diamonds, two person chains, single person races and all sorts of combinations. There was a person in a penguin suit (Cranmore's masco) who would ride down with groups of kids and wave at us. We'd arrived at around 9:30 and it was getting crowded by 10:30-11, so we bailed on our last half hour of tickets and headed over to Attitash to go skiing. Tricia decided not to ski today, so we had lunch with her and then left her to chill out and read on the leather couches in the pub. We'd had to wait until 11:45 to buy our afternoon tickets, they ran from noon to 4pm and I was uncertain if we'd cover the whole mountain in that time (Bear peak has a couple of connecting runs to the main Attitash runs). But we did most of it, occasionally getting pissed off at mislabled runs (one blue was a green, some diamonds were black diamonds, some blues were black, and some runs were missing altogether). I did my last run on a double black to get to the neat narrow corridor to either side of a terrain park, it was about a hard blue out west. In any case, I had fun, and had run into Cris for one run as well, the last one. It really wasn't crowded at all, barely any lift lines even though we would prefer to stick with the non express ones. Michael went in to collect Tricia and had to wake her up, but then they went to get the car while Cris and I waited with the skis.

We got everything back in the car and went back down the highway to return the ski equipement. We were all a bit peckish, so we stopped in at the Bavarian Chocolate Haus for snacky bits. Oh, man, their dark chocolate was divine. I got a cashew brittle that was amazing, and the chocolate dipped pineapple was awesome as well. The kiwi wasn't great but the apricot I had at home was wonderful. We drove back the way we came and stopped off at the Portsmouth Brewery for dinner. They were out of the special, it was pretty busy though we were able to get a table for four with a short wait (the party of five in front of us was quoted 20 mins). Their bathrooms are neat, the doors are curved pieces of tank with circular handles. Back in the car and snoring was heard from the back seat. We dropped them off and then made our way home by 9:30pm or so. I was fast asleep by 11.

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