Tag Archives: photography

The last big weekend

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If you aren’t from around here you might wonder what the big deal is. Columbus Day? What’s that? Why all the fairs, festivals, and events and why is this such an anticipated three-day weekend? Why is this the third busiest travel weekend of the year in New Hampshire, and why are we expecting 645,000 people to boost the state coffers by millions?

Leaves. Lots of colored leaves.

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The traffic report Friday night was dismal – it was a slow crawl up from Massachusetts. It’s the last long weekend to enjoy the lake, or the camp, or the seacoast before winter; people are closing up their summer places and saying goodbye until spring. As if to render a proper sendoff, Mother Nature has cranked up the volume and supplied us with a long string of gorgeous autumn days that include chilly mornings, sunny afternoons, and a profusion of colorful trees.

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IMG_2614 (Large)Another leaf-peeping trip seemed like the thing to do today … foliage color is at its peak and it does not last long. Purposely avoiding the crowds, we set out for the dirt roads in the North Sandwich area – places that no fall foliage tour bus has ever been. Definitely off the beaten path, we took a little trip back in time … a valley floor lined with farmhouses – some dating back to the 1700s, over a covered bridge, through tunnels of brightly colored maples, and high up along ridges that offered wonderful views.

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IMG_2593 (Large)We found old cemeteries, a Quaker meetinghouse that is on the National Register, beautifully proportioned antique Capes, old farmhouses and barns, and we had lunch at the North Sandwich General Store. It’s a combination general store/antique shop/post office, with tables in the back to sit and chat with a cup of coffee amid the vintage snowshoes and canned tomatoes. It was perfect.

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Photo Oct 11, 1 11 46 PM (Large)Photo Oct 11, 2 37 16 PM (Large)IMG_2575 (Large)We ended up in the pretty little town of Tamworth, which I haven’t explored much (but I should). There were great views of the church as we came down the hill into town. The strangest find of the day was an obelisk set on top of a huge boulder next to the road, a set of stone steps leading to the top. Known as Ordination Rock, it was where Samuel Hidden was ordained as Tamworth’s first minister in 1792 (I read on the obelisk). He must have been successful, as the monument was also inscribed, “He came into the Wilderness and left it a Fruitful field.”

Only in New England.

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Photo Oct 11, 3 45 24 PM (Large)Happy Columbus Day – named after an explorer, it seemed only fitting to do a little exploring ourselves. Although many others may be doing the same this weekend in New Hampshire, around the Sandwich Fair or along the Kanc, I’m guessing we’re the only ones who visited tiny Weed’s Mills Cemetery. In backroading terms, this was a very good day.

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The field of dreams

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Car enthusiasts by the thousands flocked to the midwest two weeks ago for a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a rare collection of nearly 500 vintage vehicles and memorabilia from Lambrecht Chevrolet of Pierce, Nebraska. This sale of leftover inventory captured international attention and big money. More than 3,000 bidders were on site – in a crowd estimated at 15,000 – and there were more than 3,300 registered online bidders.

The Lambrechts are my family, cousins but closely intertwined. My mother was born and raised in Pierce, a town of about 1700, and aunts and cousins still live there. In a place where everyone knows everyone else, the idea of thousands of people descending on this town was a little intimidating. Where would they sleep? There are only two B&B’s. How would it handle the traffic? The national attention is surely something that will be talked about for years to come … who would have thought that anything could put Pierce, Nebraska on the map?

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But Ray Lambrecht did, unintentionally. Whether you think he was a shrewd businessman or a local eccentric (and family sentiments tend toward the latter), his actions created a stir in the car world 50 years on. My aunt called that Saturday morning to report that traffic coming into town was bumper to bumper eight miles out. Word was that Tim Allen, Will Farrell, Matthew Broderick, Mick Jagger, John Travolta and Jay Leno were all in town. And there was an Elvis sighting. Of course.

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Contrary to what the media presented, Ernest Lambrecht – not Ray – founded Lambrecht Chevrolet in December of 1940 (he was also the sheriff and the county commissioner in Pierce). He asked Ray to join the business and sold half the interest to him in 1955. (Ernest’s wife, Signe, was known simply to me as Aunt Signe – a beautiful lady who lived to be 93. She and my stepdaughter shared a birthday party one year: 9 and 90.) Ernest’s sister was Elizabeth, my great-grandmother. When his health failed a number of years later and he had to sell the business, Ray bought it.

My mom is fifth from the left

My mom is fifth from the left

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These cars, parked out in a pasture (not a soybean field), were Lambrecht’s leftovers. He rarely resold trade-ins, and he declined to sell newer cars if a brand new model was available. When the dealership closed in 1996, he had hundreds of cars and pickups sitting scattered across town and countryside. Auction promoters described the collection as a time capsule of automotive history. It also was a boneyard. Most vehicles were stored outside on farmland he owns near Pierce. Wild trees grew up amid the vehicles. Thieves stole radiators and chrome trim. Vandals broke windows. Steel rusted.

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So this past June these 496 cars abandoned in a field in the middle of Nebraska suddenly became the center of the car-collecting nation’s attention. There was, it was discovered, a 1928 Durant with wood spoke wheels, and an Indy pace car with 4 miles on the odometer, and a 1963 Corvair with the factory plastic still on the seats. A ’55 Chevy had a tree growing up through its front bumper. There was talk of the “Lambrecht mystique,” this past weekend was “Woodstock for cars.” This is what happens when the media gets hold of a story – silly labels!

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The 1958 Cameo, considered the rarest of the bunch, was the last of its Chevy line. Only 1,405 were built. Bidding started at $50,000. Within about 90 seconds, Steve Ames of Marlborough, N.H., was the pickup’s first owner. The auction description reads: “The vehicle was purchased new by Lambrecht Chevrolet company. It has 1.3 miles and has NEVER been sold to the public. It is on original invoice. The truck is turquoise in color with black roof. The body is excellent condition. The roof has damage from being in a building that the roof came down from snow load. The windshield is cracked from hit. The plastic is on the seats and the floor mat is rolled up behind the seat. It is a black and silver interior and bench seat. Manual windows and locks. It has not run recently. We were told that it was rolled off the truck and rolled in the dealership. NEVER offered for sale to the public till now. It has a straight 6 cylinder motor. Hubcaps. It has the original tires and belts. There is dust on the exterior but under the dust is a nice vehicle. Has shine to it. The interior is clean. The undercarriage is clean. It’s amazing.” And it sold for $140,000.

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Ray Lambrecht’s daughter asserts that her father always intended to set these cars aside because he knew they would one day be worth something, and that it was his plan to hold an auction. However, I have to wonder that if this is true why did he park these cars in a field where trees grew up between the bumpers and the elements took their toll? Perhaps this is the real “mystique” behind Ray Lambrecht: why did he do it?

I wish I could have been there on September 28, a sentiment echoed by my mom and my brother (who probably would have brought something home with him). It was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and a family event at that. Instead we enjoyed the national attention of the Lambrecht name and of our little previously-unknown town of Pierce, whose name may from now on be associated with those 496 Chevrolets. I hope they’ve found a happy home and will in time be back on the street or in the hands of a loving family. I’ll be looking for that Cameo pickup on the backroads of New Hampshire.

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[some text excerpted from David Hendee’s article on www.omaha.com ]
And thank you, Roene, for the photos of the auction!

The lupine festival

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The 20th annual Fields of Lupine Festival is just wrapping up as we close out June.  It celebrates the blooming of this wildflower, a favorite in New Hampshire and Maine, and the tiny town of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, takes center stage for the event.  The Franconia Notch Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the festival, insists that “every visitor is guaranteed abundant photo and recreational opportunities in the Northeast’s most spectacular mountain region.”

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Throughout the festival there are plenty of things to do: a parade, open air market, concerts, art show, and music.  But the main attraction is the flowers, and they always put on a good show.  The most popular location for viewing is a large field across from the Sugar Hill Sampler (a refuge for those who would rather shop than shoot) … the field has wide walking paths winding through it with small plaques that feature verses by Robert Frost, who had a homestead in Sugar Hill for nineteen summers.  You can also take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the fields.

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Two not-to-be-missed places:  Polly’s Pancake House, legendary around here for its rustic ambiance, beautiful views and delicious breakfasts (this time of year expect to wait an hour for a table on the weekends); and the pretty and historic St. Matthew’s Chapel, painted a cheery yellow and white, just down the road.  It is listed as one of the most photographed churches in New England.

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Set against the backdrop of the Franconia, Presidential, and Kinsman mountain ranges, the lupines offer a rolling sea of purples, pinks and blues.  Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to see New England fall foliage … but to truly appreciate what the rest of the year has to offer, come to Sugar Hill in June to see the colors of summer!

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Mud season

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March came in like a lion with another storm that dropped a foot of wet, heavy snow in many places in New England.  Then, being the fickle month it is, the sun came out and blessed us with a warm, bright weekend.  This late winter/early spring weather is how New Hampshire comes by its fifth season:  mud season.

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So on a brilliantly sunny Sunday we set out for our local farm to see if the saphouse was running – it’s that time of year.  As we rounded the curve on Mountain Road we were rewarded with the sight of steam coming from the saphouse roof, and the rule is that if they’re boiling, they are open for business. We parked, avoiding the puddles, and picked our way along the snowy path to the front door.

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This farm is glorious in March … nothing but leafless stick-trees and the timeworn shingled sugar shack.  It is beautiful in its stark simplicity. The sky was a royal blue, the ground a mucky mess, and the interior of the building a maple sauna.

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We were handed a small paper cup of fresh, warm syrup to sample as we watched the boiling process. The sap is poured into a stainless steel cooking bin, uncovered, that is set on top of a wood fire that burns long and hot.  As the sap is boiled the water content is removed, leaving only the syrup. The sugary foam forms bubbles on top, which is skimmed off.  The process involves lots of stirring and testing before the syrup is graded and poured into containers; the grading is based on color, flavor and consistency.

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Photo Mar 10, 2 49 24 PM (Large)Everything smelled of woodsmoke and maple.  Several other people were in the saphouse, joking and visiting, and we took some photos.  One man asked if we wanted him to roll the big wooden door halfway shut so we could see the generations worth of seasonal information penciled on it; we did, and he replied, ”Well since you aren’t professional photographers, I’ll do it.”  This brought some laughs, and one of the women said to us, “You just missed all the excitement!”  When we drove in we had seen a man traipsing around in the snow carrying a big camera and an even bigger tripod, and apparently he had come into the saphouse with a request.  He asked if they would move one of the sap buckets to another tree for him, presumably for photographic purposes.  While no one actually said if they honored his request, they finished the story by telling us that the tree he wanted the bucket moved TO was not a sugar maple!  So, heads up … if you’re flipping through a magazine and come across a beautiful photo of a sap bucket hanging from a birch tree, you’ll know the backstory.  Darn city folk!

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Photo Mar 10, 3 09 10 PM (Large)There are plenty of things New Hampshire isn’t in late winter …   Warm.  Green.  Thawed.  But if you want a little piece of maple heaven, this is the place to be.

French connection

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I made my first trip to the Dordogne in 2008.  A former colleague told us of its prehistoric caves, storybook medieval villages and gorgeous countryside, and we ate it up … although I had never heard of the place.  Sandwiched between overly-touristed Provence and wine-infused Bordeaux, we fell in love with this overlooked region of southwest France.

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In 2010 we again made the Dordogne a destination.  Two hours east of Bordeaux, it isn’t easy to get to … but that makes it all that more appealing.  Centuries-old bastide towns still feature their market squares, which have been holding weekend markets for 700 years.  Castles left over from the Hundred Years War still glare at one another across the Dordogne River.  Prehistoric caves at Les Eyzies and Lascaux instill a sense of wonder.  I didn’t pay attention to history in school, but here history is in your face – not something you can ignore and undoubtedly an influence in day to day life. And really, really photogenic.

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My traveling companion, Judy, and I are planning another visit to this area in the fall along with a week in Paris.  On the third day of the 2010 trip Judy fell and broke her wrist in a cave in Domme, so my travel duties increased to include driving full time and tying her shoes.  We are hoping for a less exciting time this year.  Before our last trip Judy learned that RCI (the vacation exchange program she belongs to) was looking for entries in its “You Were Here” page of its magazine, and she thought we should give it a try.  So while in France we had a photo taken of the two of us at our favorite place to stay, Domaine de Gavaudun, and once we returned home Judy wrote up a little piece and sent it off to the magazine.

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Eighteen months went by before she heard back from RCI magazine.  But … we were going to be featured in the spring issue!  We were famous!  Well … maybe not famous, but it IS fun to see your words and your face in print!

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This truly is a beautiful, undiscovered part of France (ok, the British have discovered it but Americans – not so much). If you want to experience rural France without the seasonal crowds of Provence, book your vacation here. Foie gras… bastides… chateaux… the gorgeous stone village of Monpazier, my favorite … il est merveilleux!  If you don’t mind veering off the beaten path a bit, it is worth the effort!

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The virtues of February

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As a way of showing February the door – and I have no doubt that most New Englanders are happy to see it go, with four storms in the last four weeks – I thought I’d post a few photos taken this week showing just how beautiful it is here this time of year.  I keep inviting my Northwest friends to visit in February, citing the natural beauty of New Hampshire in winter, but so far no one has taken me up on that offer.  Maybe this will change their minds.

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All of these photos were taken between my home and my office; as much as I’d love to spend time shooting on mornings like these, I do need to work.  Therefore I sometimes have to try a little harder to find images I like in my allotted ten mile drive, but that in itself is a challenge.

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Even under all this snow, with spring no more than a vague light at the end of the tunnel, the locals have not lost their sense of humor.  With our most recent storm delivering heavy, wet snow (what we in Seattle used to call Cascade Cement) a few snowmen popped up in front yards … along with a giant, purple-tongued shark.

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Keep smiling, New Hampshire – spring is on its way.

The blizzard of ’13

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This weekend a February nor’easter slammed New England and New York.  Connecticut declared a state of emergency.  The governor of Massachusetts ordered all cars off the roads or face a hefty fine.  Hundreds of cars got stuck on the Long Island Expressway.  Portland, Maine got a record 32″ of snow.  And New Hampshire?  New Hampshire had a fishing derby.

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To be fair, by the time the storm was in our path it was too late to cancel this annual event.  But judging from the crowds today in Meredith, not even a blizzard could put a damper on the 5000 fishermen who signed up to participate in the Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby.

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This year, the winners in each fish category – lake trout, rainbow trout, white perch, yellow perch, cusk, pickerel and black crappie – will have their names entered in a drawing, with the top winner awarded $15,000, $5,000 for second place, and $3,000 for third place.  Organizers said they hoped the worst of the storm would pass by the time the tournament really got under way.  Bobhouses were anchored into the ice a foot deep before the storm so they could withstand the winds that were forecast.

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P1140863 (Large)Personally I have no interest in fish.  The fun here is in the quirkiness of the event … where else can you walk on a frozen lake, eat french fries, and watch ice augers and tip-ups at work?  (And if you don’t know what a tip-up is, it becomes an education.)  There is a carnival atmosphere, with snow machines instead of rides and a midway of colorful, unique bobhouses.  The crowd is a mix of fishermen, photographers, kids, dogs, and sightseers in awe of the fact that they’re walking out in the middle of Meredith Bay.

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While there were no pool tables or hot tubs out on the ice this year, presumably because of yesterday’s storm, there was still plenty of entertainment:  music blaring, snowmobiles zipping past, cookouts, kids sliding down snowdrifts, and – maybe the best – the sight of a little boy weighing his freshly-caught perch.  Walking around was a little more difficult with all the fresh snow.  The wind was still blowing out on the lake.  By the time I left I couldn’t feel my toes any more.  But, as always, I’m glad I came.  After 13 years in this beautiful area the derby has, like for so many other people, become tradition – blizzard or not.

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