Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Wooden House

No, contrary to some comments from the peanut gallery, it is not made of sticks, nor does it abut the Straw House. It is the Wooden House (I know... most houses are indeed wood) and it was so named by my kids in their infancy. I have been taking them there since Zak was born. His first visit was weeks after his birth. It is a pretty amazing little rental house that my Mom has been going to for decades and we have been added to that tradition.

It is a wonderfully peaceful place outside of North Conway, New Hampshire with a wood stove and lots of windows that overlook the woods of the White Mountains. While there we hike, shop, and hike some more. It is truly one of my favorite vacation spots and it means the world to me. I'm pretty sure it means quite a lot to the kids as well...

We have started letterboxing quite a bit around the area. Letterboxing? Yeah, it is really kinda neat. Folks hide boxes (more accurately small plastic storage containers) and post directions to their location online at a letterbox site. Inside the box is a rubber stamp, often carved by the folks who placed the box, with which you can stamp your letterbox journal. There is also a notebook in the box that you stamp with your own stamp. Did I mention that you have to have your own stamp? I designed ours and had it made up from an company online. The design was a bit too complicated for me to carve on my own.

I used one of my leather journals this year to start making things "official". I'm hoping that it is a tradition that we keep on all of our trips for many years to come. We found a "hitchhiker" this time around. That means that someone visiting a box added a stamp of their own and the next folks who find it are supposed to carry it to another letterbox, possibly far far away. We're planning on planting a box of our own after Thanksgiving so we'll start him there and see where he ends up.

Did I mention the hiking? We love the hiking there. This year I made walking sticks for the kids, and for myself while I was at it. It was part of teaching Zak how to be responsible with a pocketknife. The kid is crazy about the idea of whittling. I think it actually rivals video games as far as getting and keeping his attention.

This year I was able to share our experience with my wonderful partner Theresa. We explored the shops of North Conway for hours and had a wonderful dinner together. Despite that fact that it rained for an entire day that she was there I think that she's hooked. Now it is her tradition too.

Life is about experiences. You only get one shot to gather them up (at least in this lifetime). The wooden house is a place that to me represents calm and peace in a near-zen like fashion. It is my yearly reminder to slow down and take a breath, and it re-enforces and recharges my belief in a simpler way of living. I hope to return there many times in my life, and even if I don't get to I will always treasure the trips I have already made.


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