In New Hampshire: Bretton Woods

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Along U.S. 302 in New Hampshire's White Mountains, just before you head down through the Crawford Notch, you'll come to the village of Bretton Woods and see off to the left a huge white glimmering hotel etched against the mountains. The hotel was built in 1902 and symbolizes the idea of summer vacations for the rich that was in place then. It was here, in 1944, that the world monetary system was put in place.

If you drive up the winding road to the parking lot and stroll around the grounds, you can almost see, in your imagination's eye, guys in white flannel trousers and straw hats, sitting on the verandah, reading their newspapers and sipping coffee. I'm bedeviled by the thought it would have been grand to be alive then, before the carnage of two world wars ripped the scales from our eyes. But that may be just a dream, no more real than the Mount Washington Hotel seems when you come upon it suddenly here in the 21st century.