*footnote... our staff retreat day this year.. much better than last year. And we were back in our normal retreat place, which was nice.
So anyway, back to the post. Monday was slated to be the coolest day of our vacation. We had decided (but not told the kids) that while we were up there we'd go visit the Castle In the Clouds. It was about 45 minutes away from where we were staying, and neither of us had ever been there. If nothing else, we figured we'd get some good hiking in, enjoy the views and get out of the cabin for the afternoon. Before lunch we took the dog for some playing in the lake.. had lunch and then headed out.
I had heard about the Castle, but not really enough to know what it was. It's not a castle. It's an estate up in the hills that overlooks Lake Winnipesaukee, up in Moltonborough. It was built in 1913 by Italian craftsmen and if nothing else it's an amazing bit of architecture. While it wasn't the "castle" I was expecting, I thoroughly enjoyed touring it. You read about stuff like Butlers Pantries and Servant's Quarters.. but to be in the house experiencing how wealthy people live(d) was something else. That photo is part of the Servant's Hall. They had rooms on the 2nd floor, not in the attic. That was nice.
It's a self guided tour, so you can pretty much roam free and explore at your own pace. There are guides there to answer questions and when you first arrive (after taking a Trolley up to the house) you get a brief history lesson on the Man who built that house and how the Conservation Commission happened to come to own it. It is a bit of a fascinating story, but I won't ruin it by sharing it here. You'll have to go hear it for yourself. The guy who tells the story wasn't as animated or "into it" as one might have liked, but it was still ok. I might have chuckled once or twice.
I'm not sure what I liked best in the house, but the View.. and the outside gardens were to die for. You could stand at the window, or in the front garden, and look out to the lake.. and be amazed that once Thomas Plant owned all the way out to the lake. And 2 miles of the lake shore. and just about everything as far as your eye could see. It's enough to make your head spin. The flowers are meticulously maintained and the amount of time that must go into keeping the grounds in such good shape is more than I would want to think about. Ever. That's why I'm not rich. (grin)
On the way up to the house, we hiked up the "Brook Trail" and viewed at least a half dozen if not more waterfalls.. of various shapes and heights. There were plaques hung on trees that gave you the name of the falls you were looking at, along with a history and a photo taken almost 100 years ago that in most cases didn't quite match what you were viewing. Mother nature does some amazing things. That was a fabulous treat, and might actually have been my favorite part of the whole trip. That and the view., which was really something else. I stood there and tried to imagine drinking my coffee with that view every day. I'd never get any work done. And the old stove was cool. And the old knitting (more on that another day) that was on the rocking chair in the servants room was awesome. Ok, I enjoyed the whole thing and would recommend it if you are ever out my way.