Discover more from Carrot Cake
Julie's Jackson Cabin
Whether you’re coming from Route 16 or 302, you come into Jackson, New Hampshire from the South. On your first pass through town, make the right to cross the covered bridge for the full NH experience.
On a September afternoon, you might see folks out for a stroll or the hard chargers on a long run, with some type of hydration system strapped to their bodies. You’ll see people playing golf at Wentworth, and the staff setting up the Thompson House for dinner service. The northern point of the town triangle is where you’ll find my favorite stop, Ski the Whites (outdoor recreation and coffee shop).
Depending on who’s in the shop, you might say hello to Chris, Andrew, Monte, Hilary or Jake (if he’s up for it). Don’t be surprised if you spend between 70 and 130 bucks on t-shirts, hats, and stickers. While you’re shuffling around the shop, get some intel, sip a hot cortado and grab a bag of beans for the cabin. Have Pier grind it for traditional drip. Julie’s got a Hamilton Beach that is up for the task every morning.
Pull out of Ski The Whites and head north on NH-16 for a few minutes while your co-pilot reads and re-reads you Julie’s instructions on how to find the spot. The instructions are clear, but you still risk missing the driveway. It’s perfectly tucked off the river side of the road.
As you pull to the end of the dirt and gravel driveway and crunch to a stop, you see Julie’s place for the first time. It’s a single story, dark brown log cabin with a gray deck perched above the Ellis River. The linchpin of the property is a corner of the deck that gets drenched in afternoon sun and offers the best view of the river below. That’s where you’ll find two sturdy Adirondack chairs and a small wooden table. You’ll log most of your hours right here with a cold beer, a glass of bubbles, and a pre-rolled joint (no smoking in the house). In the morning hours, you’re burrito’d in soft blankets with hot mugs of STW coffee and a selection of books on the small table.
The next thing that grabs you is the sound. When you stand on the deck with your forearms resting on the railing or slip into one of the chairs, you are swallowed up by the sound of the river. You also can hear the occasional Harley Davidson roar past on Route 16 but it doesn’t diminish the joy for the place. I like to picture a smiling middle aged couple, smooshed butts to nuts on a bike with fringey saddlebags thundering into the mountains.
You can feel the sound of the river in your bones and guts. It’s like the highest-end white noise machine. Hundreds of gallons per minute of cool mountain water slip through a few gaps in some big rocky sections that produce this universally pleasing sound.
The house is perfect for a small group. Either one couple or a small configuration of humans not concerned with full privacy. If anyone decides to have a spirited disagreement or session of loud sex, everyone will know. The bedrooms are separated by an 8 foot high beadboard wall that visually separates the rooms but does not connect to the ceiling.
The kitchen at Julie’s is well equipped. You’ll use the coffee pot everyday. Use the oven to reheat takeout from the Red Fox Grille and J Town Deli. Not the French Laundry, but solid spots worth checking out. The rest of the furnishings include a gas grill, plenty of sharp knives, lots of kitchen tools, silverware, and ample glassware. The bathroom looks like Chip and Joanna got in there a couple of weeks ago to give it a redo. Perhaps the best part of the restroom is its location. It’s as far from the living areas as you can get. There’s nothing worse than having an audible bathroom visit with only a light wooden door between you and the folks sitting on the couch.
For sleeping, you should call dibs on the bottom rack of the full sized bunk bed setup. A comfy little nook with just enough nostalgia. It feels like slipping off to a little cave each night.
A tiny pebble in our shoe was the lighting. There was not enough light early morning or late evening to see inside our luggage. A cellphone flashlight or camping headlamp easily solved the challenge but every review should be well rounded. To be fair, it is a house made out of logs (that were once trees growing from the ground) passed down through generations of family.
Have dinner one night at the Thompson House Eatery in the village. This is a fancy dinner in a farmhouse setting. The type of food that you cannot make at home. Simple, generous dishes prepared with ingredients plucked from the onsite farm. The kind of meal where you are fully satiated without the need to unbutton your pants. Plan to spend at least 150 bucks for two people. If you’d rather save some cash and sip cold, creamy, black pints of Guinness and snack on bar pizza, The Shannon Door (a well struck pitching wedge away) is your spot.
The location is superb. Make a right out of the driveway and you are a little hop from Jackson Village, and a skip from North Conway if you want to take on the wandering droves of eaters and shoppers. A left turn and 10-15 minutes of driving puts you into the Mount Washington region with some of the best outdoor recreation and views in the country.
Expect to be a bit teary eyed as you take your last look at the sunny spot on the deck before backing out of the driveway.