The destination today: the holy grail of shoppers everywhere in New England, the Christmas Tree Shop. Three of us ventured to North Conway hoping to find holiday bargains and affordable gift ideas. As expected, the store was mobbed (did I say I missed the holiday chaos yesterday in Marblehead? I take that back.) After an exhausting couple hours of shopping, we had lunch and then headed back home.
Instead of returning the way we came, Judy decided to go the back way – which is a smaller road that winds through little towns and villages. Halfway home, she thought we should find the place where she picked currants and blueberries last August. And from there we spent the next two hours backroading through central New Hampshire.
The dirt roads were so inviting – who wouldn’t want to venture down Bull Pasture Road? One road leads to another, and around every corner was something new – a beautiful old Colonial house, a farm that featured alpacas and Rag Doll cats, distant hill views, mirror-image ponds.
And this is what New Hampshire is all about: peeling paint, small white churches, hilltop graveyards and crooked everything. One dirt road marked a “blind spot” and it was oh-so-accurate: we drove up a small rise, and at the top couldn’t see over the ridge or past the nose of the car; the downside seemed straight down. Judy, having navigated Rocamadour, France, didn’t even flinch.
We came to a crossroads at the top of a hill where a big old house stood on the left, its barn on the right, and a funny little building in the center. We looked for Pea Porridge Pond (I love the name!). We never did find the blueberry farm.
So this is the real New Hampshire, less than 30 minutes from the outlet stores of North Conway, where this time of year you risk being run over with a shopping cart and traffic can be backed up for miles. Just off the beaten path is a whole other world of tiny crooked villages filled with chippy-paint goodness. New Hampshire all tied up with a big red bow.