Escape to White Mountain 7-21-09

Escape to the White Mountains

Richard J. Garfunkel

July 21, 2009


Franconia Notch is a wondrous stretch of real estate nestled in the White Mountains, not far from Lincoln, and Woodstock, New Hampshire. We spent time with our kids, Dana and Jon, at a marvelous time-sharing resort called the Villages of Loon Mountain. They drove up from Boston, a distance of 130 or so miles, and we drove up from the Mass Pike north on 495 to I-93 to Lincoln. It’s a five hour, 320 mile trip on wide-open 65 mph roads. Luckily there was very little traffic.


We were able to get in about four hours of singles and my elbow, which was recently the beneficiary of a cortisone shot, held up nicely. I have a bone spur, some tendinitis, and arthritis, but besides all of that I can still run and hit.


We took a wonderful drive up the Franconia North Parkway to the magnificent Mount Washington Hotel which is located in Bretton Woods. It was here, 65 years ago, on July 25, I944 that Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau chaired the all-important United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference that was called for by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

As World War II was still raging, 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel. The delegates deliberated upon and signed the Bretton Woods Agreements during the first three weeks of July 1944. Setting up a system of rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system, the planners at Bretton Woods established the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which today is part of the World Bank Group. These organizations became operational in 1945 after a sufficient number of countries had ratified the agreement.

The chief features of the Bretton Woods system were an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate of its currency within a fixed value—plus or minus one percent—in terms of gold and the ability of the IMF to bridge temporary imbalances of payments. In the face of increasing financial strain, the system collapsed in 1971, after the United States unilaterally terminated convertibility of the dollars to gold. This action caused considerable financial stress in the world economy and created the unique situation whereby the United States dollar became the “reserve currency” for the states which had signed the agreement. Meanwhile the hotel and the grounds are spectacular and we had a wonderful luncheon the wide veranda that overlooks part of their golf course, and the White Mountains. One could not have asked for a more awe-inspiring venue.

The next morning we headed back out to the Franconia Notch Parkway and to the Flume Visitor Center. In the shadows of the Liberty and the Flume Mountains we hiked our way up to the fabulous Flume Gorge. This gorge, which was discovered in 1808, is a natural water slide that races 800 feet downward from the base of Mount Liberty. It flows through the walls of the Conway granite opening that is between I5 and 20 feet wide and whose sides climb to a height on both sides between 76 and 90 feet. It is a great experience and well worth the two mile hike up and down the nature trails.

After our hiking, and a stop at the outlet stores in Hilton, NH, we part ways. The kids headed back to Boston, and we made our way back to Westchester, which included a dinner stop at Reins NY Style Deli at exit 65 on Route 84. If you are planning to get to New England, think long and hard about making a trip up to the Notch. It is well worth to the time and effort.



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