Weekend camping at Pillsbury State Park- Washington, NH

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Price and I had been talking about going camping this summer for a long time. We finally found a weekend that would work and off we went to Pillsbury State Park for a little camping weekend.

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We had been talking about going to Pillsbury State Park for about 2 years but we made it work this weekend since we knew we wouldn’t have another chance. Plus it was pushing my limit of going camping while pregnant. Kinda something related to peeing 10x a day and using a campground toilet.

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Pilsbury State Park is located in Washington, NH, about 45 minutes West North West from Concord. It is is comprised of 8,100+ acres that surround 3 large ponds. Open from the end of May to the end of October, the campgrounds have 41 tent sites that are either accessible along the main road through the campgrounds, by foot on a short hike, or canoe across the ponds.

When I called on Thursday the campgrounds were booked up, except that there are few campsites (5, 8, 9, 13, 21, 31, and 34) that are not reservable so we still had some options available. I learned that the state park opens up at 8.30 and by 9.30, after the rangers have done a drive thru to make sure it’s all clean, you can reserve the available campsites.

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Once ranger Tracy went through the grounds she came back to inform us that we had 5, 8, and 13 for us to pick from. I picked campsite #8 since it was a solo campsite so it would provide us with a bit more distance from the others, which would be helpful in keeping the dog quiet. As well, it was a very quick walk to the cluster of sites 9-19, which had toilet facilities and a water spigot. Plus then we discovered that there is a little creek just off from the side of the campsite. Kemper loved it.

We unloaded all of our stuff and set up the dog on a stake so he could roam around the site a bit while we set up the tent.

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And then off we went to check out the rest of the campgrounds, which include a jungle gym and big, open picnic area overlooking Mill Pond. Then we continued on to our hike up Balance Rock Trail. The trail is 1.2 miles each way from the start of the trail head and is a easy hike for families (and dogs!) that climbs up 550 feet up as it winds up and around Bryant Mountain.

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So yeah, this was the typical scene on the trail with the dog looking down at me like “why are you taking so long?!?” He didn’t really care when I was trying to explain to him that trudging up the trail at 6 months pregnant took some extra time. He was breezing up the trail on climbing up rocks, boulders, and hoping over downed logs. Quite the show off.

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Not Balance Rock! Just some balancing rocks. Price put on the top one.

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The best part of the trail was this overlook on the east side of Bryant Mountain right before you reach Balance Rock. I can’t even guess how far we could see since it just seemed to go on and on. It looked over the North Pond in Pillsbury State Park, the hills of Monadnock Sunapee Greenway Trail, and way beyond.

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When did he get so big?

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Some sweaty photos at the overlook.

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We finally made it to Balance Rock! It was a nice 3-mile hike (from our campsite and back) but we were saying that if there was no overlook we would have been a big disappointed just to reach the big rock. Don’t get me wrong- it was so cool so see this big rock deposited by glaciers on this ledge, but I’m all about the views. That being said, I would totally go back and do this again later on in the season (next year!) so we could see the stunning fiery oranges and reds filling up the changing forest.

We all took a nap once we got back to the campsite. I just love opening up all the vent flaps on the tent and letting the breeze blow in. Plus any chance I can take a nap is awesome with me.

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Obviously, we woke up super hungry since we had not eaten since breakfast (smart). We left the state park and headed north about 11 miles, stopping off at Violette’s Supermarket in Newport, NH. The small market had a nice selection of beers, fresh bakery breads, meats, and all the camping supplies you’d need. We bought some cheese, crackers, and pepperoni for a snack to have as our chicken sausages we picked up for dinner cooked over the fire.

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Price had to work really hard to get the fire going but kicked some ass and finally got it going so we could enjoy it for several hours. We enjoyed dinner and roasted up some marshmallows for dessert. Kemper was so tired that he fell asleep in my arms as we sat in front of the fire. 

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At 6.30 the next morning we walked down to a public boat (kayak, canoe) launch into Mill Pond, located between campsites 10 and 11. We quietly stood there and watched the mist burn off the pond as the 4 windmills spun in the distance.

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Stunning.

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We made breakfast of bacon, eggs, and blueberry pancakes over our Propane 1-Burner Stove while we sat in front of another fire that Price made to finish off the 4 bundles of wood we had purchased.

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Then I said I would lay down for 5 minutes and, of course, Price had to wake me up an hour later. When I downloaded the pictures from the weekend, I discovered these photos of the sunlight casting through the trees that he took during my ‘quick’ nap. 

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Right before we left we let Kemper do a bit more playing around in the May Pond by the Park’s lodge building. He is fearless and just runs and will take off swimming for sticks we throw him.

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On the drive back we stopped at Winter Hill Farm Market.  The Farm now has a market in the old Withington Antiques Barn building and it is just darling. I was so in love with the store from the decor to the local produce and products they sold. I picked up a bottle of maple syrup and 2 locally made sodas for our ride home. I want to go back to check out what foods they have and get some ice cream from their air stream out back.

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Kemper was drunk tired afterwards and fought sleeping in the car for fear of missing something out the window. He finally settled down and then basically crashed for the rest of Sunday and Monday.

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Well, we were all really tired. 🙂

Price and I will definitely go back to Pillsbury State Park for camping and for visiting. It was a fun weekend at a beautiful, clean campgrounds. There were plenty of things to do there from canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, and hiking. As well, the campgrounds were quiet enough to really step back and relax from it all.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Bring cash with you as you need to pay a small fee to visit the park.
  • The toilets are just pit toilets so there were no sinks to wash your hands so be sure to pack some anti-bacterial hand gel.
  • I would not expect to stay more than 2 nights as there are no shower facilities, unless you really like to rough it.
  • While the park does say not to bring in outside wood we had picked up an extra bundle at the grocery store, which worked out well since that was much drier than the wood at the campgrounds. We ended up starting both of our fires using the grocery store wood and once that was going adding in the campground wood. So either break the rules or be sure to bring a lot of fire starters like newspaper, cardboard, candles, etc.
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Best Pancakes Ever- Polly’s Pancake Parlor

We don’t typically have pancakes at home. I tend to burn them or ruin them in the flip. Plus I tend to enjoy waffles more. Mitch Hedberg and I would have been best brunch friends as we share similar views on pancakes and waffles.

That being said Polly’s Pancake Parlor is the only place that I LOVE for pancakes. We typically only go there when we are camping in the Whites, as a 2 1/2 hour drive just for breakfast is a little tough. So while we were in the area to see the sunrise at Mt. Washington, Price planned on us going there to have breakfast. sweet!

While they have a large menu we each go to the pancake sampler when we are there. Price went with plain blueberry, whole wheat walnut, and cornmeal coconut with a side of bacon.

 

I had cornmeal (no add-in’s), whole wheat blueberry, and plain chocolate chip with a side of sausage. nom nom nom!!!

They bring the pancakes out in 2 batches so that by the time you are nearing the finish line your pancakes are not cold!! The pancakes are so good and are such a treat but they still got the best of me and I left defeated- ha!

 

This cat found Price and had some fun running around after him as he was making a call. Clearly the cat knew Price is highly allergic and knew it would be much appreciated to rub its body all over him.

Well, obviously…

Polly’s Pancake Parlor

672 Route 117 (Sugar Hill Rd.)

Sugar Hill, NH 03586

603.823.8849

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Our Sunrise on Mt. Washington Adventure

If you’ve caught on by now, Price and I do a surprise date for each other every month. It was Price’s turn for June so he teased and tormented me with little clues about what he had planned. When he said I would need a heavy coat I started to have my suspicious about what we would be doing. I started to think it would involve the mountains, and possibly even Mt. Washington but didn’t want to guess in 1) sounding really foolish and 2) getting it correct and ruining the surprise. So I waited and waited until that weekend when he revealed that we were in fact going to Mt. Washington, highest mountain in New England at 6,288 ft. But this would be no orginary trip as we would be driving up through the night and getting there for one of the few times a year the auto-road opens up super duper early for sunrise. You read that correctly… sunrise.

So on Saturday, June 23rd we went to bed at 9pm and got up at midnight to get ready to start the drive up to Mt. Washington for the 4.56 sunrise. We were pulling out of our drive way at 12.28am, and after a quick stop at Sonic for a midnight snack (I am addicted to the limeades) we were on our way! We took turns driving up through the White Mountains while the other on the look out for moose (their eyes aren’t reflective like deer so they are much harder to spot). After a wrong turn and going the wrong way for a bit we did make our way, thanks so some friendly gas station attendants, to Mt. Washington Auto Road!

 

4.43am- entering the auto road

The types of vegetation changed as we made our way up. We also started to get more enveloped in the clouds.

  

5.09am- we stopped at this point because it was a clear area from cars. The eastern pull off areas were packed with people so we decided to just keep going up as we passed. This area was so scary at first as it was completely enveloped in clouds and so windy but waiting 30 seconds changed it all. It cleared up and we could see the clouds coming up the western side of the mountain and rushing up along the face and breaking right in front of us.

 

5.24am- We made it to the top! These stairs take you from the parking area up to the buildings summit. Man these steps were wet and it was so windy… I was holding on tight!! I really have no idea how the men built the road 150 years ago or even the new buildings on the top. The weather is super crazy up there! There is a building that is actually chained down to the ground! Did you know that the world’s fastest surface wind was recorded here at 1:21 pm on April 12, 1934? 231 mph!!!

 

Frank did it!!! Price is such an excellent driver so we had no problem taking our time to carefully get Frank up the auto road. (It was not actually this bright- it’s just the actions I used – it was cold and grey but still so fantastic to experience the summit.

 

6.12am- Coming back down and we get out of the clouds! We made 2 stops on the way down. The first one was still pretty foggy and as much as we waited it didn’t seem to clear up well for some good photos of the view. Our second stop was more on the eastern site (other was like northeastern side) so we were blocked from the wind and clouds at this point. The view was the most beautiful and unbelievable thing I have ever seen. We could see really far into the valley below while watching the clouds blast around the mountain on the northern and southern faces. Stunning.

7.03am- heading back down

All done. Once we got down to the bottom we could see the summit was clear (dang!) but we just figured we would have to come back another time to see the sunrise again and experience a clear summit.

After leaving Mt. Washington we…

had breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Parlor

 

saw family friends and enjoyed the view of Cannon Mountain

lost our minds seeing a Reliant Robin in person!!

It was such a great adventure up to Mt Washington! It was such an incredible date day. We had so much fun and got to do something that was unique. The views are really breathtaking and unforgettable. We were exhausted the rest of the day (passed out while watching the NASCAR race) and for Monday as well but it was all worth it!!

Mt. Washington

Route 16, Pinkham Notch

Gorham, New Hampshire

(603) 466-3988

6.22-24: Weekend Recap

mojitos at work | go to red sox game with Pricer | rain! | game delay | beers and hot dogs | green monster seats | sox loose | eastern standard kitchen | cab ride | crash after 1am | up early | stop by Price’s office | Ikea | Costco | headache & nap | grocery store | make pizza | bed at 9pm | up at 12am | on the road at 12.28am | sonic| price drives first | I drive into the whites | missed a turn, turn around | Mt. Washington | assent up to the summit | clouds, clouds, & more clouds | decent to clear skies & lots of photos | beautiful views and happy birds | over to Polly’s Pancake Parlor | Butterhill House visit | reliant robin | taking turns drive back home | KFC | napping & NASCAR race | cut jack’s nails | laundry | blogging

 

 

 

 

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Apple Picking at Mack’s Apples

I love apple picking. I really do. I remember this one time when my mom took my dad brand new WHITE Acura and took us apple picking. Well it got suck in the mud. Ruh-Roh! Even with a car wash there was still evidence that car was filthy from our muddy shoes. Needless to say that my dad was less than excited when we got home. Ha!

 

Well, thankfully my recent apple picking trip did not involve any stuck cars or really messy shoes. Instead we had a great time at Mack’s Apples in Londonderry, NH. I had sent out a tweet asking for some suggestions for places to go to that is a quick drive from Boston. Rachel (Baked by Rachel) responded by telling me about the great time she just had at Mack’s Apples. Then she posted a blog post about it and I was hooked.

 

Outside of the Farm Market, they had wooden bins of pumpkins and squash, as well as pallets of autumnal flowers.

This “Know Your Apples” chart was very helpful. I took a photo of it just so that I could remember which were the best apples to get for baking pies.

 

The Farm Market is opened a bit earlier than the U-Pick fields so we wandered around the store looking at all the different books, plates, jams, fruit butters, pickles, and decorations that were available for purchase.

 

While Mack’s doesn’t make their own cider donuts WITH sugar, they have donuts on hand that they have some brought in from the Chichester Country Store. We picked up a pack of them because cider donuts without sugar are just plain old boring.

The Honeycrisp… it seems to be the ‘it’ apple in recent years. Look how big these beauties are!

 

Breakfast of champions… splitting a chocolate and a pumpkin whoopie pie that we picked up from a school fundraising table.

The directory outside the store explaining which U-Pick field had which apples directed us to U-Pick Field #3. We went there because we wanted to focus on getting baking apples and this field had a large variety of apples that suited our needs.

 

U-Pick Field #3 is really 2 fields on either side of a road. We parked on one side and headed over to the farm stand that was set up. We wandered around that field for a while with little success since most of the apples had been picked over and the remaining ones were too high, even for Price to reach. Thankfully, when I went over to ask the woman working there a question about squash blossoms I overheard her telling another family that the field across the street had JUST opened so there would be a lot of apples there. So I hurried back to Price and told him the good news.

The other field was PACKED with apples. We were able to wander around while having a lot of options at our finger tips. I really appreciated that they stagger the opening of fields so that fields are not picked clean so early in the season.

The only real criticism we had of Mack’s was that the steaks at the end of the aisles indicating the type of apples were not really labeled. There were plenty of markers but not all of them were actually labeled. We wanted only baking/pie apples so we did not want to pick anything that was more for sauce or salads so the selection was very important to us. We would have to walk to the front of the orchard to see what each aisle was labeled and then to continue back down them looking for apples. I think that if they were to improve their signage it would make for a much easier apple picking experience.

 

We sampled some of the different varieties of apples that in U-Pick field #3. All here delicious and sooo fresh. You can’t beat an apple that you just pull off the tree and then bite into.

I’m not always such a smirky jerk… the sun was in my face.

 

We highly suggest going to Mack’s if you are around Boston or the border of New Hampshire. It was a large beautiful place that was very affordable. The selection of apples allows for the opportinuty to be able to pick ones that will use your needs.

Mack’s Apples

603-434-7619

230 Mammoth Road
Londonderry, NH 03053