The Farm by the River in North Conway, NH is a wonderful change from the antiseptic, generic hotels so prevalent in our modern society. Like a trip through time the drive itself can seem like another world if you travel across New Hampshire's scenic Kancamagus highway to get there. From the moment you pass through twin stone lamposts built back in the days when electricity was the most modern convenience in town you are transported to a world where horses and their human friends still work together hand in hand. I have stayed with the Innkeepers, Rick and Charlene, three times in the past year even though I only live an hour away. To wake up to the birds singing outside your window in the morning or be there at quitting time when the horses run through the dugway and down to the field where they can roll in the cool grass as the sun sets behind the mountains is well worth the stay all by itself. Breakfast can be home cooked eggs, waffles, pancakes or fruit on the porch as the fog lifts slowly and the sun peaks out from behind the barn in the summer or a warm quiche by the fireside as snowflakes gently fall outside the window behind you in winter. Although I could calculate the value of a visit to this New Hampshire Haven as being well worth the money I believe I could never calculate how much this place is worth in terms of respite, inspiration, soul searching and "recovery" value. There are things gained by a visit with my four legged friends Duke, Reba, Billy, Big Bob, Charlie and brothers Rusty and Rubin that have nothing to do with money. As a freelance photojournalist I can honestly say I don't believe you can take a bad picture here and if anyone leaves with a bad attitude it's because they still have the one they brought with them. You meet interesting people from all walks of life and the farm's 40 acres are beautiful year round. The Maple grove is 11 acres of breathtaking gold in the fall and the perennial garden is a great place to lie in the hammock and quietly read a book on a hot summer's day after you check into your room. Tradition and pride is evident here in the original fireplace which still warms hearts and bodies when the weather outside is frightful. I would recommend this Inn to anyone and eveyone. My sister actually slowed down her busy pace long enough to relax here and thanks to the considerate, helpful crew my best friend, who has been afraid of horses all her life, went on a trail ride and had the time of her life! Nothing compares with the sight of and a little boy about 3 feet tall hugging "his" horse below the level of the saddle. If you stay overnight at the Inn you can go hiking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing on the property and the Saco River is worth kayaking or swimming so bring the appropriate toys with you! If you only have a couple hours in the area you can sign up to ride one of 22 horses for an hour's trail ride but the schedule fills up fast so call ahead for reservations and be there 30 minutes before your ride to sign forms, pick out a helmet (if you want to wear one) and pay for your ride. If you like to spend your time watching TV in bed then this is not the place for you. Although there is a TV in the common living room for in-house guests and you can connect your laptop if you have to I have seldom seen anyone here do either. There is just so much more to experience. If you feel a longing for civilization it's just down the road a piece in either direction but I think civilization can wait. Come and take a sleigh ride with Copper and Sampson for your honeymoon or celebrate your 25th anniversary with Barney in the harness and Nancy at the reins of a lovely white carriage. Bring your kids and make memories together that will last a lifetime. Stay long enough to paint that canvas you've always wanted to paint or make friends with the people on your trail ride. Come any time of year you want, just come! The mountains and the horses are waiting!
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