Road Trip to New England Continued – New Hampshire Lakes

This is the continuation of a week-long New England Road Trip.

The New Hampshire portion included a stop at my mom’s house in the town where I grew up, Laconia, NH.  This is right in the center of New Hampshire among lakes and mountains.  Growing up, “extended day” programs at school consisted of a school bus that would take us to the local ski area in the winter and in the summer we water-skied every day.

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This is Lake Opeechee, a small lake in the center of Laconia, New Hampshire.

We were there in late May and lilacs were in full bloom everywhere.  The fragrance perfumes the whole outdoors!  The lake was calm and occasionally you would hear a lone boat going by fishing or just cruising.

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These lilacs are the state flower in New Hampshire and they perfume the entire outdoors in late May!

My mom lives on the lake and to sit out back enjoying the town across the lake, and the familiar mountains in the background took me back to my high school days  (which is to say, many decades ago!)

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The view of Lake Opeechee from my mom’s back yard. In the distance, the legendary Belknap Mountain, site of countless high school hijinks.

For dinner we were going to a new place, the Holy Grail of the Lakes.  This was a former church that had been restored and converted to an Irish Pub.  This is my kind of church and I too was quickly converted!

There are beautiful stained glass windows, a very high ceiling and a choir loft for a more private dining experience.  In the center, what would have been the altar, is a large 3-sided bar.  The food was good and the beer list was superb!

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Looking down from the choir loft in the Holy Grail of the Lakes Irish Pub in Laconia, NH.

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My cousin Beth joined us for dinner in this church that has been converted to an Irish pub.

 

Our road trip was primarily to connect with family and it continued in Laconia. I visited my Uncle Dick and caught up with him, and stayed with my mom.  I also got to see my cousin Beth who joined us for dinner and once again we were laughing and telling stories!  This brought the family visit tally to 2 Aunts/Uncles and 3 cousins!

 

 

The next day I got up and went for a run around the lake.  It’s about a 5 mile loop and in the years since I lived there the city has built a nice jogging trail around much of it.  The WOW Trail is named for the three lakes in the area, Winnisquam, Opeechee, and Winnipesaukee.

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It was a great run and along the way I encountered so many memories of my youth.  Various friends’ houses where we used to hang out, my old middle school (which back then was called Junior High School) and a humble little fishing store called the Opeechee Trading Post where I used to buy a shoebox of night crawlers for fishing bait!

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The Opeechee Trading Post where I can still remember the shoe box I would get for $1 filled with dirt and big wiggly night crawlers to use as fishing bait.

From Laconia we were headed to Maine and as we left town we drove around the big lake, Lake Winnipesaukee.  If you’ve ever seen the Oscar-winning movie On Golden Pond, many of the scenes were filmed on Winnipesaukee and it is a huge beautiful lake.

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The charming town of Alton Bay. Out in the center of the bay (in the background of this picture) is a band stand.

One of my favorite spots on the lake is the tiny town of Alton Bay.  It is at the far tip of the lake in a quiet protected bay.  There is a bandstand out in the center of the bay and summer cottages (which in New England are called “camps”) along the shores.

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In New England it’s not called a “summer cottage”, it’s called a “camp”. The shores of Alton Bay are lined with such camps and certainly has a seasonal rhythm.

We made a stop at Shibley’s Drive-in for some fried clams.  This is not health food but it is one of life’s special treats!  We would go on to eat a lot of good seafood in Maine but the fried clam–complete with big bellies–is a fond memory and a treat I don’t ever find outside of New England.
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Fried clams are not health food and their flavor is not for everyone; but if you grew up eating them, they are a rare treat that brings back lots of memories.

Our stop in New Hampshire was a brief overnight.  Next would be Maine, Portland, Camden, and finally Bates College to retrieve our daughter.

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New England Road Trip – New Hampshire

This is the third posting from a week-long road trip to New England.

The next leg of our road trip was New Hampshire.  Right in the center of the state is an area called the Lakes Region, where I grew up.  The first stop however was a bit short of that.

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This is “The Farm”. All my life this has been a magical place. It sits on the Merrimack River and is filled with beauty and history and memories.

This beautiful picture is a place known to the family simply as, “The Farm”.  My great grandparents raised 9 children here on the banks of the Merrimack river in Franklin, NH.  The oldest of those children was my grandmother; the youngest, my Great-Uncle Stan, lives there to this day.

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My strongest association with the Farm is my great grandmother, a Polish immigrant whom we called Babka.  Babka used to tend large gardens in these fields and then make amazing food with what came out of the gardens.  She made chicken soup, the likes of which I have never seen again.  She also made Polish food that I remember most fondly.

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This humble spot in Franklin, NH has been the site of some of my best memories. Vegetables picked minutes earlier, a view of the Merrimack River, and the connections of family, all enjoyed on this lawn.

In the years since Babka, Uncle Stan has made the place more beautiful than it ever was.  Stan retired from a career as a cardiologist and now he and Aunt Yvonne enjoy all this gorgeous spot has to offer.  Flowers, home-grown vegetables, natural beauty, wildlife.

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In New Hampshire the state flower is the lilac and in late May they are everywhere. The air is literally perfumed with lilac everywhere you go!

As a kid, there was no mystery to what made the farm so great.  Toward the end of Babka’s life, Uncle Stan bought her a golf cart to get around the farm.  As kids we put more miles on that golf cart than a long-haul trucker.  Stan saw the attraction and began adding to the motor pool with go-carts, mini-bikes, and eventually a 1980 Dodge Colt with manual transmission that we could literally drive anywhere on the farm we wanted!

I have a great memory of my then 13 year-old daughter learning to drive a stick in the middle of a field with Uncle Stan in the passenger seat!  It should have been a Ford Bronco because that thing lurched and bucked all over the field!

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Below the front lawn is the Merrimack River, the biggest in New Hampshire. It starts less than a mile upstream when the Winnipausakee River meets up with the Pemigewasset…or as I prefer to call it, “The mighty Pemi”.

We had lunch outdoors with Stan and Yvonne and caught up with them.  We sat under an open car-port  because rain was threatening.  It overlooked the Merrimack River about 30 feet below down a steep bank.  You could see birds swooping in for prey, and you could smell lilacs from every direction.  This spot on the front lawn of the house was the site of so many fond memories and it was so great to be back.

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As if to illustrate New Hampshire’s nickname of the Granite State!

We even took a golf cart ride around the property.  Living in the Washington, DC area, it’s a rare event to have a 12 acre field of open pasture all to yourself!  We saw blocks of granite from an old bridge abutment.  They have hauled up from the bank by Stan and let you know you’re in the Granite State!

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The only problem we were going to have was explaining to our kids that we had gone to the farm without them!

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Alice at the wheel as we toured the property by golf cart.

After a great lunch that included Yvonne’s Asparagus soup, potato salad and some barbecue, we said goodbye and headed to Laconia.

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My Great-Uncle Stan and Aunt Yvonne

The next stop was my mom’s house in Laconia.

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