Tag Archives: winter

Day-tripping

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Let’s forget for a moment that it’s been the coldest winter in recent memory. Let’s also ignore the weatherman, who has that awful “s” word again in the forecast for next week. Instead, let’s concentrate on today … sunny, blue skies, and above freezing!! It was a day just made to enjoy, and after all the below-zero weather we’ve had to endure as recently as, well, yesterday, I’m guessing most of New Hampshire ventured out somewhere today. It has been a long time coming.

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Our chosen destination on this late winter day was North Conway. An hour north from where I live, it lies in the Mount Washington Valley and is prime ski territory. In fact, it has been called “the birthplace of American skiing” and the large number of ski areas and condos here might back up that claim. The out-of-state license plates in town far outnumbered the locals. We had lunch, went next door to the vintage five-and-ten store, and then crossed the street and visited what I consider the most fascinating part of this town … the train station.

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In 1872 the Portsmouth, Great Falls & Conway Railroad extended their service to North Conway. The beautiful Second Empire depot was built here in 1874 to meet the demand, and it continued into the next century. In 1932 “snow trains” began carrying skiers north, a sport that grew with the development of ski lifts.

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With the rise of the automobile, the train declined. The railroad, then part of Boston & Maine, abandoned passenger service to the area in 1961, and freight service in 1972. From there, though, the Conway Scenic Railroad was born and continues today, and the station is listed on the National Register.

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Interestingly enough, my horoscope this morning read “You need to spend more time with people today — so open your door, head out somewhere public or just trek on down to the train station and mingle.”  Train station, I thought? What train station?

I could have spent much more time here, but the breeze was cold and we had other things to do. So we hopped in the car, turned up the heater, and ventured a little further north into the village of Jackson, where there are some lovely covered bridges, and then through Intervale – over the bumpy frost-heave-y roads with the sun in our eyes and a renewed thirst for exploration. Always paying attention to road names in New England, my favorite today was “Yellow Brick Road.”

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“Have you ever been down the West Side Road?” my friend asked. I didn’t think so, so we found it. It winds along through the valley, along the Saco River and past Echo Lake State Park, both of which were under a thick cover of snow. We came across a “bear crossing” sign, enormous old farms, and a beautiful inn called “The Farm by the River.” Honestly, if I was looking for a place to stay in New Hampshire, this would be high on my list.

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We were taken at first by the beauty of the house and outbuildings, then we noticed that there were horses and sleighs in the driveway – so we made a quick left with the car. This is a beautiful old (1786) home that rambles on back toward the barn and stables, with fields all around and the mountains in the distance. At first I thought they were hitching up the horses, but apparently they had just finished a ride and were putting things away. Even so, we lingered for awhile and took photos; no one seemed to mind.

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We wound up our little day-trip by heading down a favorite backroad toward home. This road meanders past Pea Porridge Pond, our favorite blueberry-picking spot, the beautiful white church in Eaton, a ski area where Wolfeboro grade-schoolers come to learn the sport, and the patriotically named town of Freedom. Not bad for a warm (it’s all relative!), sloppy, muddy, icy, blindingly blazingly beautiful March day in New Hampshire.

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Conway Scenic Railroad:  http://conwayscenic.com/

The Farm by the River:  http://farmbytheriver.com/

 

<div style=’text-align:center;font-size:11px;font-family:arial;font-weight:normal;margin:10px;padding:0;line-height:normal’><a href=’http://www.dwellable.com/a/15075/New-Hampshire/Center-Conway/Vacation-Rentals&#8217; style=’border:none’><img src=’http://www.dwellable.com/dwellback/15075.jpg&#8217; style=’width:102px;height:20px;border:none;margin:0;padding:0′><br>Center Conway on Dwellable</a></div>

 

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Just another day on the lake

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Have you ever had the urge to walk out on a frozen lake, drill a hole through the ice, drop a hook and see what happens? No? Well, neither have I but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby once again this past weekend on frozen Lake Winnipesaukee. The carnival atmosphere is evident the minute you drive into town: backed-up traffic, snow machines rumbling across the road, hundreds of gawkers out on the lake. My travel companion’s comment from the passenger seat sounded something like, “holy sh*}!” We parked in a church parking lot off the beaten path and made our way through the snow and slush down to the circus.

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It was noisy. There were snowmobiles everywhere – some driven by kids that looked no more than 8 years old – and ATVs and dirt bikes and vehicles I don’t even have a name for. Pickups with fishing stuff in the back. At least two helicopters that flew so low you could hear the whoosh of the blades. The pervasive element here seemed to be testosterone, with a cigar shop and a beermaker and barbeque smoke filling the air. One bobhouse even had a plaque designating it as a “man cave,” punctuated by a grill and a particularly mean-looking snow machine outside the front door. In case there was any question.

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On the more girl-friendly front, there was a bright pink bobhouse with flowers on the front door and a young woman who asked anyone who came by, “Do you like it??” We assured her we did. Another area was cleared of snow, like a hockey rink, where kids could learn about tip-ups and jigging. Dogs on leashes sniffed at each other, people lounged in lawn chairs set up around fire pits, and babies dressed up like furry animals were pulled along in sleds. Oh yeah, and there was some fishing going on.

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At the end of the day, after treating ourselves to fresh homemade cider doughnuts and hot chocolate (which would have been reason enough to drive the ten miles to Meredith), we checked the big board at the Fishing Derby headquarters to see what had been caught so far. Noting some pretty decent specimens, we were satisfied we’d seen it all and began our hike back to the car – looking forward to its heated seats.

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And waking up this morning a Grand Prize winner – and fifteen thousand dollars richer – is an 11-year-old boy from Tamworth, proof that anyone can be a winner in this family-friendly event. You can find more information and photos on the Derby’s Facebook page (look up “Meredith Rotary Club”) and as one man sensibly advised him, “Spend or save wisely – and then go fishing!”

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Pond hockey and me

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As I was making my way over to the other side of the lake this morning (nothing is direct here … gotta go around the lake) I drove into Meredith to find a beehive of activity – the New England Pond Hockey Classic. While I knew it was taking place this weekend, it didn’t interest me much because I know zero about hockey. But the sight of the carefully sculpted rinks, kids bundled to their teeth, and a bright pink bobhouse out on the ice made me veer the car off the road and into a parking lot. All I had on my feet were sneakers, but the weather was relatively warm and I wanted to see what pond hockey was all about.

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This event began in 2010. Since then the number of teams participating has tripled to a total of 220 this year, with 1400 players coming from across the country (but predominantly New England; one team includes only members of the New Hampshire Air National Guard). It draws hundreds of people to the ice to watch, and gives a big boost to the local economy. This is a big deal.

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The teams play on 20 rinks plowed clear on Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith Bay, where the ice is about 20″ thick. A little worried about slipping in my less-than-desirable shoes, I tried to stay in the snow and avoid the bare ice. There were people everywhere, little kids on skates zipping past me, the smells of fried dough and grilled sausage in the air. Rinks were marked off with blue flags and I could hear pucks clacking off the sides. I wondered if any of them ever went airborne, and at one point I did hear some people yell and a puck landed not too far in front of me. I walked the length of the rinks and then beyond, where the bright pink bobhouse had caught my eye, and spotted a helicopter on the ice and some people holding a cookout. I overheard a woman say she was very nervous about walking out on the frozen lake.

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While I did not learn anything new about hockey, it felt good to be outside after the long cold spell we’ve had. A snowstorm is in the forecast for the coming week but we can also look forward to the Rotary Ice Fishing Derby next weekend, the sled dog races in Laconia, and of course the ice racing on Berry Pond each weekend. Who says there is nothing to do in the winter?

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New Hampshire is a different world – and for that I’m very glad!

Four men and an ice auger

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I view the world in pictures. I am constantly composing in my head, framing subjects, checking the light. It has become frustrating because on my drive in to work in the morning I’ll see half a dozen things that I just know would make a great photograph, but either I can’t stop for one reason or another, or I fly by it so quickly it is lost. Sometimes I do stop – I’ll turn around and go back to what I saw – but usually not. If I stopped at every potential photo I saw, I’d never get to where I was going.

One day last week, when the air was relatively warm with our January thaw and fog was sitting on the frozen lake, I zipped past Winter Harbor on my way to the office. There, sitting on the lake, were four men intent on catching fish through the ice at 8 a.m.  It was too good to pass up. Though I didn’t have a great vantage point, and the roads were icy, I turned around and went back.

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

 

 

A post about nothing

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I love that nothing happens in New Hampshire.

I’m talking about the morning news here. Residents complain of the lack of news in the morning report, but to me it’s a blessing. There are few major crimes, and occasionally some terrible car accidents and deadly fires, but in general far less depressing stories than the Northwest city I came from. There seem to be a lot of bank robberies … my favorite story being the one where the guy had the thought to disguise himself as a tree, taping branches to his body as if that might divert attention. Other stories in our morning news tend toward things like the farmer whose cow just had twin calves, or why the local oil company has had trouble keeping up with demand in our below-zero temperatures. I am not making fun of this … I find it refreshing in this age of gloom-and-doom reporting.

One of the lead stories the other day caught my attention, only for its ability to make me smile. A 12-year-old girl from East Kingston, NH, helping her dad after Thursday’s snowstorm, got her tongue stuck to a metal flagpole in her front yard. She said later, “It just kind of popped into my head, hey what would happen if I stuck my tongue to the flagpole?” As it turned out, nothing good. (And she had never even seen “A Christmas Story.”) Her dad, snowplowing at the end of the driveway, saw her standing at the flagpole, waving her arms. She tried to pull her tongue off the pole but it started to bleed; her parents tried blowing warm air on her but it wasn’t enough to solve the problem.

She was stuck there for 15 minutes in frigid temperatures. Later she said, “Did I seriously just do that?” Her parents were able to free her by using warm water while they waited for the emergency people to arrive.

She will be fine, but said her lips feel like they’ve been stung by bees. The swelling in her mouth is expected to last about six weeks.

I do not mean to ridicule Maddie in East Kingston; I actually find it a bit endearing. Kids are kids, and I much prefer hearing about her innocent 12-year-old bad judgment than stories of abuse or abandonment or murder. If this is the worst thing that happened in New Hampshire this week, I am grateful. Kudos to you, Maddie, for sharing your story. Her lesson learned, she told the news reporter, was “just think before you do something.” A good reminder for us all in this new year.

And here’s to a new year of nothing happening in New Hampshire.

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Circle

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Life is a circle, I’ve come to realize. Sometimes it seems that for as far as
we’ve come, we end up back at the beginning. I do not mean this in a negative
way. Take, for example, the garden. In this New Hampshire climate, which some
may view as harsh, I have had so much fun following the seasons. In early spring
plants put on new growth so quickly you can almost sit and watch them curl out
of the earth. Then it’s a mad dash to July, when everything grows so fast it’s
hard for me to keep up. Roses bloom. The apple trees apple. Weeds go
wild.

Then things begin to slow down, leaves change color and fall, the
ground freezes and here we are again at December. It’s this cycle, the circle of
life, that I find both fascinating and comforting here in New England. Of course
it happens everywhere, but the seasons here are more distinct than in my
Northwest homeland and during my first Spring here I was amazed at how
everything died to the ground yet almost miraculously reappeared in April.

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This December another circle has closed. Friends I knew many, many years ago
have come back unchanged save for a few extra lines around their smiles. From
Brier to SeaTac to Fall City – you know who you are – my life will be fuller in
2014 with you in it once again. Good friends, true friends, never really go away
maybe. You might not see them every day but you pick up where you left off last
(even if it was 1994) and they support you through the big life changes. People
I’ve reconnected with this month, along with new blogging friends in other
states and an angel of a friend who drove me to the airport even though it was
an hour out of her way, will make my January that much warmer.

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So I am looking forward to the new year. I am going to stay in touch more with
people. I am going to plant too many seeds in the spring and stay up too late on
school nights and send cards to my friends for no reason. I will create and
collect and remember and share.

Keep the circle going.

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“All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls through the nighttime
Til the daybreak comes around
All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why
Seasons spinning round again
The years keep rolling by.”
the great Harry Chapin

 

 

 

 

Snow

Photo Dec 16, 4 27 54 PM_ (Large)The first snow of the season is always welcome. It masks a variety of sins: bare-naked stick trees, frozen ground, that pile of scrap wood that never made it to the dump.

New Hampshire got its first “real” snowfall of the season (i.e., plowable snow) on Saturday night. Totals ranged from 8-12” depending on where you were, but certainly it was enough to make skiers happy and ensure a white Christmas for the rest of us. My little village, wearing a coat of white, looks like a Christmas card itself. Sometimes I think I live in a postcard.

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The early settlers here were farmers and loggers, and at first the population grew.  However, before the Civil War, the population of the area began a long, slow decline because of poor soil and harsh winters.  The 19th century brought something more positive:  the railroad, steamboats, and visitors from the cities to enjoy the cool summer breezes and the sparkling water of Lake Winnipesaukee.  Catering to the “summer people” continues to this day. The railroad bypassed this side of the lake, but steamboats brought businessmen, writers, poets, and their families from the railroad in Laconia to the landing here.  Without the railroad, this side of Lake Winnipesaukee developed little industry.  The year-round population eventually stabilized (241 at last count), but the area changed slowly.  If you look at decades-old postcards of this area, the houses and roads look virtually the same. This little village today looks much as it did 100 years ago, and the “big lake” still sparkles alongside the shore.

Well, not at the moment. It’s frozen.

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One of my favorite quotes – actually two lines of a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson – must have been written on a day like today. Blue sky, frigid temperatures, and with a stiff breeze off the lake, he wrote:

“Here where the wind is always north-north-east
And children learn to walk on frozen toes.”

The title of the poem?  “New England.”
Surely, today – at ten below zero – children were walking on frozen toes.

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