No, I was celebrating my first trip to the Glen Beverage Company. Since our first family vacation in the North Conway area in 2011, I have driven by this store advertising 500 different kinds of beer about 500 times and always wondered what kind of operation was in there. Because we were always on some kind of a schedule, I never stopped in.
This year marks the last time that we will be staying at the Madison, NH vacation home owned by my step-father-in-law Leo - better known in our circle by his grandfatherly alias Pep. (In our version of Modern Family, my kids have been extremely fortunate to have three grandfathers in their life who love them abundantly - the kids’ bond to each grandfather is oblivious to whether the connection is based on blood or marriage.) The house, dubbed by the kids as “Pep’s Pond,” is under agreement to be sold next month. We are very happy for Leo, but the occasion is bittersweet for us freeloading Teravainens.
In the last seven years, Pep has graciously allowed us to crash at his vacation home without accepting a dime. His generosity freed us up to be more flexible on finances so that we were able to afford way more adventures than if we were renting out a vacation home, be they meals at restaurants or excursions to destinations that charge a premium for fun. When we first started finding our bearings in vacation mode as a family of four in 2011, (forgive the self-promotion, but these posts have held up over the years: http://waitingforbabyt.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-news-from-north.html) we were almost paralyzed by the enormity of all the crap we had to carry whenever we left the house! It is honestly a miracle that we even left Easton.
But at the same time, when you have a family with children who are little, the challenge to find fun is proportionally small. We could have pulled beach days at Pep’s Pond for seven consecutive days, and three year-old Greta was in Nirvana. I distinctly recall walking around a Christmas-themed store in North Conway for an hour when Greta and Gus were young. They had an absolute blast. And that was literally the only main attraction of our entire day. As the kids grew, we adapted our daily trips through the area to suit their capacities.
Before our trips up in this section of the 603, I had never spent any significant amount of time in the White Mountain Valley. As a native Granite Stater, though, our trips gave me extra satisfaction to become more familiar with the place I most consider to be my home state.
If you polled the kids, I would guess that their favorite activities have been Story Land, Santa’s Village, Whale’s Tale, and any of the several ice cream establishments we’ve visited anywhere between Ossipee to Jackson.
If you ask me, my favorites have been any of the excursions into the woods or water: Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls, Cathedral Ledge, Diana’s Baths, tubing on the Saco River, Middle Pea Porridge Pond, and random stops along the Kanc.
Reflecting on the last few summers, I realize that we started off here still knee deep in bottles, diapers, naps, water wings, and strollers. Now, the kids can make their own breakfast if we neglect them long enough, we are potty trained (most of the time at least - a post for another time,) they swim out to the dock on their own, and the Bob stroller is collecting dust in our garage. One caveat: I usually piggy-back Gus and Tilly here and there when their little legs are fatigued. Next summer, I can only imagine the kids will be that much more independent - in whatever location becomes our new destination.
As for Story Land, I am happy to never return. Or at least, not for the next 20 years or so. The first time that I ever went to the place, Greta puked before we even pulled into the parking lot. Talk about an introduction!
The park is totally fine and I’m not here to rip it apart. I am just done with it. We have logged weeks worth of time in this amusement park. We have been participants in or a witness to hundreds of sun exposure/sugar crash-induced melt downs. We have been on every single ride dozens of times. We have engaged in endless debates with the kids about whether they are allowed to get face paint, ice cream dipping dots, colored hair extensions, play games, et cetera, et cetera. THE WIFE has treated me as the invisible man - the point in the day when I am literally dying to leave but she pretends to not see the exasperation in my face - more times than I can count. If I hear the clang of that effing bell or that freaking song playing in the Old Mother’s Shoe area again, I might require institutionalization.
So, getting back to that beer in the parking lot. I made my first visit to Glen Beverage and picked up some Granite State IPAs. I selected one to enjoy by myself in the shade of the lot across the street away from any cars, like a creepy weirdo. When I got THE WIFE’s text message asking if my field trip was complete, I took a deep breath and finished what was left in the can. Then I went inside for one last stroll among hysterical children being dragged by the arm with tears smearing their rainbow butterflies or Spiderman faces.
This morning, we are packing up for our trip back home. I’m putting the finishing touches on my last blog post ever from Pep’s Pond. I will miss this place. However, I am also excited at the prospect of a change in the routine next summer.
Most sincerely, Pep, we thank you very, very much for enabling us to make such a special connection as a family to the White Mountains - and your pond - these last seven years! It has been a blast.
Saying goodbye to Madison, NH yesterday.
The maiden voyage to Storyland - Bartlett, NH. Greta is not pleased.
Greta and Gus at Remmick Farm in Tamworth, NH 2012 (?) - two of my favorite pictures of them. And Tilly marked her arrival at Pep's Pond that year in a fashionable two piece.
My absolute favorite picture of Gus from Storyland - Bartlett, NH. 2015. Priceless.
Tilly outside the covered bridge over the Swift River. Conway, NH. 2015.
A shot from the base path to Diana's Baths - North Conway, NH. August 2018.