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A New England Travelogue
May in New England
Every May, my wyfe and I make a pilgrimage to NH for a well deserved vacation. We mainly stay in the Northern part of New England as we base ourselves in Franconia, NH. In this page I am going to skip around and describe some of the places we visited this year.
Spring in New England is quite an experience. The dismal, aged snow has finally melted and the flowers are emerging. The air smells fresh and clean and the leaves are out in full force. The moose and deer are feeding and turkey's are everywhere. Foxes are hunting in the meadows and everyone is in a good mood. The weather may be a bit rainy but the temperatures are rising.
Note: all photos, unless otherwise stated belong to me.
Our trip delayed by four hours....a car accident
Those trees just jumped right out in front of us!
Well there we were, 10 minutes into our drive to New England, when we came around a curve and saw 2 trees laying across the road. There was no time to react and we smashed into them. The car was drivable, at least to get home with, but it delayed our start by about 4 hours. The good thing is that no one was hurt. We were able to swap our bags into the pickup and we then set off. When we got up to NH, we were both worn out. I went over to my brother's house, a short walk from the motel. My brother and I caught up on things and shared a couple bottles of Trader Joe's Vintage Ale. The next day my brother treated us to breakfast and helped us find a garage as the brakes on my truck were shot. Our vacation finally got off to an officail start at noon, when the truck was finished.
Vermont Roadside Stuff
On our second day we decided to hunt up some yard sales. We found ourselves in Lyndonville, VT where we found Bob's Welding. At Bob's there are several interesting sculptures in the yard. We then set out for Morrisville, VT, home of Rock Art Brewery ( which I will cover later). Enroute we found the Fisher Bridge in Wolcott, VT. Fisher Bridge was built in 1908 and has a cupola that runs the length of the bridge to allow smoke to escape. Of course, no trip to New England is complete without seeing a moose.
Bob's Welding Sculpture
I'm not certain what it is supposed to be. I guess this is what happens when a welder gets bored or has lots of extra time and or parts to work with. Maybe something out of his dreams or nightmares?
A Day at the New Hampshire Ren Faire
Our next day was occupied with the NH Renaissance Faire. After a 2 hour scenic drive, we arrived in Kingston, NH. We were immediately in the company of people in 16th and 17th century dress, along with others who sported horns and elf ears. We wandered the booths where various items from chain link armor to delicate necklaces were sold. We made our way to the area where the demonstrations were held and watched the crew of a pirate ship explain and demonstrate their black powder weapons. Following this was a show by 3 young ladies who were skilled in belly dancing. Though rain the previous day had muddied the area a bit, the Faire was worth seeing. It is small but the people involved are passionate about what they do. I shared a few photos in the gallery below.
Take up a new hobby...belly dancing
Antique shops, missles and....a dragon cloud
Sunday night we watched a dragon-cloud settle itself on the mountains at Franconia Notch. Most people aren't aware that the idea of a dragon cloud is really age old and in Chinese mythology the dragon controls the wind and rain...and that is exactly what he did this time around....he brought rain and wind... lots and lots of wind.
On Monday, still under the cloud, we decided to check out some antique shops. There are many antique shops in NH and I am not going to detail them here. Let your imagination run wild. We set out to Laconia and visited some shops there. After that we took a very scenic drive to Warren NH where the town common is dominated by a Redstone missile. We took some pictures of it and then took a leisurely drive up RTE 118 back to Franconia. RTE 118 winds its way through the mountains and is a great drive.
A ferry ride to Peaks Island, Maine
Our next day took us to Peaks Island, Maine. The island is located in Casco Bay just a short ferry ride from Portland, ME. The ferry makes 14 trips a day to the island and gives you a good scenic ride through the bay. Once you reach the island you can stroll through the streets, find a beach or browse through the shops. There are also cafes and restaurants to enjoy. The streets are narrow and the whole atmosphere is friendly and laid back. No one seems to be in a hurry. The most common form of transportation on the island is the bicycle. There are also a lot of golf carts running around. It was great to wander the streets and gaze on the classic New England houses. The ride on the ferry also provides great views of some of the old forts built to protect the harbor and of a few of the local lighthouses.
Day 5 To the Beach!
Jenness Beach State park Rye NH, a steeple with a message, Littleton NH's most famous "resident".
Day 5 of our trip took us to Rye NH where we spent some time at Jenness Beach State Park. Most folks don't think of New Hampshire as having beaches, but it does have 19 miles of coastline. So, what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. Jenness Beach is used by swimmers, sunbathers and surfers alike. It is easy to access and open to the public (there is a small parking fee). The beach is relaxing and very scenic. You can even find very strange things washed up ... such as a dead eel or a dead beaver.
On our way back to the Mittersill, we stopped off in a village that is known for having a church steeple with a message to share. It has a finger pointing skyward. Just the right kind of message to be showing off, don't you think?
Finger pointing is allowed here!
After the Ren Faire we sought out the Gilmanton Winery. We were not looking for wine but wanted to see it as it was formerly the house of Grace Metalious, the author of "Peyton Place". After her book came out and then the movie, some of the local people believed she derived the characters in the book from real life. I have heard that this made living in the town uncomfortable for Grace and she moved. Her house is now the Gilmanton Winery. It is located outside the town of Gilmanton NH, along a scenic dirt road that winds its way through the woods and alongside a pond.
Rock Art Brewery
One thing I like to do on vacation ( and my wyfe encourages me to) is to visit craft breweries. New England has several reallly good breweries. One of my favorites is Rock Art.
Rock Art is a small craft brewery in Morrisville VT. They brew some very interesting beers and the staff is very friendly. They just moved to a new location: 632 Laporte Rd/Rt 100 Morrisville, Vermont. I like their Jasmine Pale Ale but this time when we stopped in I bought their Belvedere Big IPA, an 8.0% beer with a big hops flavor. I also bought a glass and my wyfe got some soap made with hops.
They can be found online at : www.rockartbrewery.com
A Cheesy Store
One of our necessary stops on our trip is Harman's Cheese and Country Store. They sell an awesome aged cheddar that cannot be beat. I cannot say enough good about their cheese.
They also have a country store filled with soaps, signs, snacks and other goodies. I will include a link below to their webpage. They ship their cheese coast to coast. Try it with a warm slice of apple pie.
- Harman's Cheese Webpage
A link to Harman's
A Scandalous Woman and a Castle
In Southern NH, just outside the town of Chesterfield, is the site of Madam Sherri's Castle. Madam Sherri was a former showgirl from Paris, France who moved into the area in the 1920's. Her parties and constant stream of NY socialites visiting caused the locals to view her as scandalous. Her behavior was shocking for the time. The mansion she had built and her seemingly endless supply of money was a subject for gossip and local legend.
The ruins of her house can be found between Chesterfield NH and Brattleboro VT on a quiet back road.
Located in Candia NH, Charmingfare Farm is a lingering reminder of the past where roadside attractions abounded.
It features several animal exhibits and a petting barn where pygmy goats compete for your attention with lambs that have faces like teddy bears. There are even some very friendly cats that roam the property and greet you.
The dwarf out front has faded paint and a weather-beaten visage but the farm is well kept and the staff is friendly. I would recommend this as a nice family activity. They even offer rides around the farm in a tractor train.