Wednesday, May 17, 2006

May 2006 - Our Vacation Is Over

OK, it's taken a while to get this thing up and running but here's the inaugural blog from The Owen Family, owners, managers and entire staff of Littleton's Maple Leaf Motel. Our goals for this effort are modest - we merely want to share news, travel tips, random thoughts and the occasional photo about our motel, the White Mountains region, and the family. Our publishing schedule is extremely loose. And we encourage guests, friends, and relatives to make comments and share information and pictures.

The less said about the winter, the better I suppose. We had almost no snowfall, even worse than last year. In spite of that, personally, we had a pretty good winter. Both Rick and Christopher worked in the Snowsports School once again, Rick as a supervisor, Christopher as a ski/snowboard instructor in the kids school. Spencer skied almost every weekend but Nancy only enjoyed a couple of days.

Having just returned from our annual month-long vacation in the warmer climes, we are quite busy getting ready for summertime. The lawn has been mowed twice and fertilized once and looks pretty good. The pool is uncovered and almost full. The house is getting new shingles. The units are getting their thorough spring cleaning and repairs. And, of course, we eagerly await phone calls and guests. We certainly hope that the late spring/early summer weather is better than last year's.

There's not much really new to report on in the region. Littleton, politics aside, is still healthy and growing at a slow but steady pace. A new Walgreen's will open soon on the site of the former Clam Shell restaurant which is kind of too bad as the Shell was the area's most popular dining place. Plus, we already have four pharmacy/convenience stores. Downtown Main Street, only a short walk from The Maple Leaf, continues to thrive in spite of the influx of chain stores outside of town. Strolling downtown is still a good way to spend a couple of hours.

Over the winter, local politics got kind of ugly with attacks on our elected and appointed town leaders around disputes over much-needed facilities for the police and town offices. It's a reflection of the national political scene I suppose with calm dialogue and compromise considered a weakness rather than a strength.

Now, back to issues likely of more interest to you, dear reader.

Spring has definitely taken hold. Golf courses in the area are looking good with abundant rainfall helping out. Fortunately, we didn't get the foot of rain that devastated the southern part of our state. We have a few deals for our guests on greens and cart fees, by the way. The regional attractions, both manmade and natural, if not already open, will be welcoming visitors very soon. I haven't heard of anything signficantly new and different but they're all interesting and a good value. From a natural perspective, our part of New Hampshire remains relatively untouched by development. Other than Bretton Woods/Mt. Washington Hotel area, there is almost no development going on at all. This is quite a contrast to the North Conway area and almost every place south of Franconia Notch where condo and second home construction is still rampant. Sometimes you win by standing still I guess.

Hey, Owen Family, how was your vacation?

Thanks for asking. It was great. With motorcycles aboard Nancy and I spent a bunch of time in the mountains of North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia enjoying some truly outstanding riding on twisty, smooth and empty roads. Here's a shot from The Blue Ridge Highway in Virginia. We put about 1,500 miles on the bikes. We spent six nights at The Iron Horse Campground in Stecoah, North Carolina. This is a motorcycles-only place in the middle of some absolutely awesome countryside about 15 miles from Deals Gap, considered by many as the best 11 miles on motorcycling in the country. The people were great and we look forward to returning next year. If anyone is heading south for riding, we can certainly give you our opinions about where to go.

The kids flew down to Florida for a 10-day stay in the Keys. Two great snorkling trips and way too much hot hot weather were quite a contrast to winter in New Hampshire. Saw some amazing fish and reefs. For two days we camped out at Bahia Honda State Park only a few feet from the ocean. We also saw a hundred degrees in the shade one day which kept us from doing much at all. The Keys are pretty neat but oh so far to drive, even from northern Georgia.

I've got to say that we continue to be impressed with the overall friendliness of almost everyone we meet in the South. Fortunately, there still seems to exist a courtliness and unhurried manner to the rural Southeast. Can't speak for cities as we don't go to them on these trips.

We do have a few groups already booked for the summer months including motorcycle groups from Connecticut, Canada and a Honda ST1300 bunch from all over. Our "cowboy shoot" folks will be back for a few weekends throughout the spring, summer and fall. We're also starting to hear from our regular families as they plan their warm weather trips. Greeting returning guests is always a special pleasure.

For now, that's it. Keep in touch, drive safely and visit often.