A Beautiful Fall Day

My boyfriend surprised me with news that he had Columbus Day off. It’s not a holiday for my company, but having a few vacation days left to burn I put in for the day so we could spend it together.

There is always debate about the celebration of Columbus Day. I remember learning in school that Columbus “discovered” America, yet outside of school the talk was that the Vikings had been coming here long before Columbus. I guess teach young and impressionable elementary school children about the rape and pillaging ways of the Vikings was probably a bit frowned upon, whereas Columbus had the backing of the Spanish Queen.

You could go back and forth all day about whether it was right or wrong for us to come here and how we eventually treated the Native Americans. As far as I’m concerned, if it wasn’t for Columbus and those who followed, I likely would not be living in one of the more beautiful places in the world right now.

We are often reminded that New England isn’t the only place in the world where the trees change color and there are many places just as beautiful. Still, there is something about the rolling hills and mountains ablaze in yellows, oranges and reds that just take your breath away.

So that morning after taking care of the farm critters, we made a leisurely fried egg breakfast. The “girls” are laying well now and we have eggs to use up. Maybe it’s just me, but I still think fresh eggs taste the best.

Originally, we planned to head to the coast and up to Kittery in Maine to do a little outlet shopping and eat seafood. Upon awakening that morning, my boyfriend changed his mind and we decided to head north instead. It was a perfect day, very sunny and warm.

I had always heard about how beautiful Sugar Hill was but had never ventured to that little town. With a destination in mind, we hopped in the truck and hit the highway.

We stopped in Lincoln for a rest stop and to check out the visitors’ area. I love to pick out the brochures with all the touristy things you can do. They had one brochure on scenic fall drives that I picked up and another with a map of all the tourist traps along Rt93.

Being the peak foliage weekend there were a ton of people, many of them Asian. A group of Asians that appeared to be late teens or early twenties were laughing and chatting and taking pictures with a giant stuffed black bear that was standing on his hind legs, claws and teeth bared. Truth is black bears are quiet creatures. They don’t fear too much, but they aren’t aggressive unless you mess with their cubs. Generally speaking, they stay away from people. They are mostly dangerous to bird feeders or beehives.

Cliff Face

Heading North on Rt93

From Lincoln we stayed north and stopped at another spot with great views. The parking lot was full so we ended up pulling over on the side of the highway with everyone else. It was the north side where you could park and check out profile rock. We decided to keep heading north and hit profile rock on our way back.

We drove through Franconia Notch and on the other side headed northwest to Sugar Hill. Sugar Hill is the second youngest incorporated town in New Hampshire having been incorporated in 1963. It’s a very small town with some spectacular views overlooking the Notch.

We stopped along one side road and enjoyed the amazing color. In the springtime this area is covered in lupine and people drive from all over to see the lupine fields. This time of year it is the colors people are looking for. Still we were the only ones on this road. Our own little secluded piece of heaven. We contemplated what it would be like to have a house right there in the field and to wake up to that amazing view every morning. We both agreed that we would not like the winter months. It must get pretty cold with the wind that zips through that Notch.

Fall in Sugar Hill

Fall Colors in Sugar Hill

Sugar Hill NH

Views from Sugar Hill

From there we headed back south and stopped at Profile Lake and the granite cliff where the “Old Man of the Mountain” once made his home. The Old Man was a stern almost presidential face carved by nature into the side of the mountain. It lasted (so they say) for over 14,000 years, though I wonder how anyone really knows that. Still, it was something both my boyfriend and I grew up with. You always said hello or goodbye to the Old Man on your way up or down through the Notch. Back in 2004, the Old Man gave way to Mother Nature and crumbled down the mountain side. It was a very sad day for all of us. The emblem of the Old Man can be seen on almost anything related to New Hampshire including our license plates.

Profile Ledge

Overlooking Profile Lake to where the Old Man of the Mountain once lived.

Old Man Viewing

Having Fun

Old Man of the Mountain

Dennis doing his impression of the Old Man of the Mountain. Not bad, dear!

Part of the Profile Mountain

More views of the area around the Notch

Sign

A sign explaining the Old Man of the Mountain

There is a nice set up in place now where you can stand and see what the Old Man would have looked like. My boyfriend did his best impression of the Old Man, too.

We stopped further down the highway at the Basin. The Basin is like a bowl that has been worn into the rock by water. A quaint little river flows down the mountain and through trees and over granite worn smooth over the years. The waterfalls are lovely and the water was very clear. There are several trails you can follow. We made our way to the basin taking several pictures along the way.

River

Another part of the river.

The Basin

The basin where the granite has been worn by the river.

River

Part of the river that runs to the Basin

Waterfall 2

Another waterfall

Dennis and Cindy

Dennis and I posing on the bridge over the waterfall.

BW Forest

More Black and Whites of the forest around the Basin

BW Trees

Black and white of the trees by the river.

The whole day was absolutely amazing. It was great just to pick up and go and not worry about where we were headed or where we would end up. I just love those kinds of days. We stopped in Tilton and had country fried steak for dinner at the Tilton Diner. It was already almost four o’clock and the eggs we had for breakfast had long stopped holding off hunger.

After a long day out in the fresh air and a great big dinner, it was back home to hang out with the goats and sheep, a glass of wine and early to bed. A very satisfying day.

Advertisements

Haunted New Hampshire

Ghost Towns

While not as old as Europe, New England does have a past. In fact, our earliest settlers established a colony in the early 1600’s on what is now known as Odiorne State Park. Over the next couple of centuries the population spread and moved inland.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s logging companies gobbled out thousands of acres in what is currently the White Mountains for pennies on the dollar. They clear-cut this land sending much of the logs they harvested south. Small towns sprung up as loggers and their families moved in to support the booming industry. Railroads extended their lines further north to take advantage of the situation, which made moving north even easier. As the logging industry began to dry up, so did the towns and the railroads until in many cases nothing was left except a few stone foundations and a sprinkling of cemeteries.

Livermore, NH

Main Street, Livermore, NH (whitemountainhistory.org)

Livermore was once one of those logging communities. You can still find it on Google Maps. It was technically an unincorporated civil township that was created when the Saunders family started a logging camp in the area in 1874. By 1928, however, the last sawmill closed and the last resident left in 1949 essentially dissolving the town. The town is now part of the White Mountain National Forest.

The Kancamagus Highway drives right through part of Livermore, though you are unlikely to find any evidence of the former town unless you really search.

Back in the early 1700’s, the small town of Monson, NH was located on what is now the border of Hollis and Milford. It only lasted for forty years when the few hundred inhabitants left due to harsh conditions. Today, the land that was once Monson is a public park and historical center.

The town of Passaconaway also lies along the Kancamangus highway in the White Mountain National Forest in what is now known as Albany, NH. It once had its own hotel, sawmill and store all of which are now gone and forgotten.

Zealand was another logging town in the White Mountains owned by a gentleman by the name of J.E. Henry. Zealand had a sawmill and served two railroad stations. It also contained a post office, boarding house, store, school, charcoal kilns and various homes. All of which are now gone.

Haunted Places

In addition to abandoned ghost towns, New Hampshire has its fair share of haunted places. In Concord, Margaritas Mexican Restaurant is in the same building as the old Concord jail from the 1800’s. You can still have dinner in what was once a jail cell. Creepy, right? Well some diners swear there is a ghost or two who will sip your drinks, move your chair and even throw food.

Blood Cemetery

Blood Cemetery

Cemeteries by their very nature are spooky places, but a few around the state have particular reputations. Pine Hill Cemetery in Hollis, NH, is such a place. The cemetery is nicknamed Blood Cemetery because of an entire family of Blood’s who are buried there. It is said that a young boy will run out in front of cars making them come to a screeching halt. Others have reported a brownish substance coming from some of the tombstones. Glowing orbs, strange noises and shadows have also been noticed.

Mount_washington_hotel_1905

Mount Washington Hotel c.1905

The Mount Washington Hotel is the largest and one of the oldest grand hotels in New Hampshire. Its history starts in 1900 with Joseph Stickney who built the hotel for a whopping $1.7 million. Unfortunately, Mr. Stickney died within a year of the hotel opening. The hotel was expanded over the course of several decades and is today a National Historic Landmark.

The Bretton Woods Conference took place there, which established the World Bank and the IMF. Of course, something so old and so grand must be haunted, right? Of course. Stickney’s wife Carolyn spent many summers there after her husband’s death. Room 314 was her private apartment and people who stay in that room report flickering lights, a fireplace that turns itself on and off and objects that mysteriously disappear.

By far the scariest place you might go is the New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane. Built in the mid-1800’s the State Hospital, as it came to be known, was responsible for well, the insane. By 1930 this large ominous brick building housed over 2000 patients, many who were considered criminally insane. Today, it has been converted to offices for state employees, some who still refuse to go into certain sections of the building, including the basement.

There are many historical places in New Hampshire, many if not all claim to be inhabited by spirits. You can check this Union Leader article or this article by New Hampshire Magazine to find more haunted places.

Enjoy and don’t let the goblins get you!

Nothing Better than This

Northern New England is my favorite place. It just feels like home. You will rarely catch me venturing south of the New Hampshire border unless I’m in the mood for some Boston food and even then it would have to be a significant hankering.

It’s not that there isn’t anything beautiful south of the border, it just doesn’t “feel” right to me. Too busy, too congested.

Even as people from Massachusetts begin to drift ever north I find myself looking in the other direction. In fact I can’t tell you the last time I went to Manchester or any parts south of there.

Sadly the New Hampshire I grew up with and raised a family in is ever changing and I am always looking for things to stay the same…simple, quiet, beautifully secluded.

All the pictures you see of New Hampshire are quaint villages with white steeples with surrounding hillsides dotted with farms. Cows lazily graze in the fields along with the occasional sheep, goat or chicken. Colorful maple trees run along old stone walls marking the lines of days gone by. Dirt roads beckon you to see what’s just around the corner. Old cemetery plots are reminders of a harsh history with sturdy people.

This is the New Hampshire that I grew up loving and still long for today. I am privileged to be able to continue to live this dream. I wake up to the sound of a rooster, much to my boyfriend’s chagrin. Goats and sheep graze right in my backyard and if you listen carefully, the soulful moo of cows can be heard in the not too far distance. A stonewall with trees that brighten the sky in fall run along two sides of my property while fields open up views in every direction. A non-town maintained dirt road offers the solitude of an afternoon walk communing with nature.

Sure we have our downsides, too. Property taxes are the second highest in the nation. Electric rates are almost sixty percent higher than the national average. Subdivisions pop up in what was once historic farming communities way too often. And just like the rest of the nation we have our drug crisis and crime.

Still, when you look at the big picture, I’ve got it pretty good. An easy walk down an old dirt road lined with stone walls, apples trees and wildlife is all I need to shed the burden and stress of daily life. A quick hug from a tiny goat, the cluck of a few chickens scratching in the yard, the smell of herbs in the garden as the morning sun warms the leaves…Yep, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Tis the Season for Apples!

Apples

This fall has flown by. In early September we had our third heat wave, three days in a row in the 90’s or higher. Then, just a couple weeks later, BAM! That’s right. We had a frost!

That’s New Hampshire for you.

Despite the drastic temperature changes, fall is really the best time of year to visit our fine state. We have beautiful weather (warmer during the day, but bring that coat for the evenings), wonderful colors and apples.

There are many pick-your-own apple orchards throughout the state, each one providing a fun experience and the best tasting apples around. You don’t have to look for long on the internet to find some amazing apple recipes, either.

My favorite type of apple is the Macintosh. I cook with it, eat it plain, I even give it as a snack to our goats. They are sweet with just enough tartness.

Cortlands are another favorite for cooking. In fact, the rule of thumb is eat Macs and cook Cortlands. I like both, but Macs will always be my favorite.

This year we have already made five jars of cinnamon applesauce, an apple pie and apple butter. We still need to make some apple pie filling and probably more applesauce and let’s not forget apple crisp.

New Hampshire offers a lot more than apples this time of year. Pumpkins are a favorite and typically there is a large pumpkin festival in Keene each year. Sadly, people created a riot last year and Keene has canceled the festival. I believe Laconia might pick it up. Laconia is closer to where I live so that would be great. The festival typically features the most lighted pumpkins at one time holding the Guinness Book of World Records.

Hay rides, corn mazes and haunted houses are also popular as we head towards October. And let’s not forget the fairs. We attended the Deerfield fair this year, which is one the most attended fairs in the state. There are other smaller agricultural fairs throughout the season, too.

Take a scenic drive along back roads or head north and try a scenic train ride. The weather is perfect for hiking, horseback riding or just taking a stroll.

Interested in visiting a New Hampshire ghost town or haunted location? I’ll write about that next…

Jack’s Adventure

So Jack’s adventure continues. A few weeks ago we had his horns surgically removed. You can check out here to read about how that came about. We had hoped his wounds would heal and everything would be fine. I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy.

Sure enough, first one side then the other became infected. Our neighbor works for the vet we use and when we first noticed something was wrong we asked her to take a look. From there we have embarked on a two-plus-week journey fighting to keep Jack from succumbing to the infection.

Twice a day our lovely neighbor has come over to help rinse out his wounds with Epsom salt and warm water. This has helped remove some of the infected tissue and I have become a little more tolerant of looking at pussy wounds.

We are also using a new antibacterial spray (which costs a mint, by the way), which has really helped with the healing.

On top of all that, we are giving him penicillin shots twice a day. The good thing is that both my boyfriend and I have learned how to give our goats shots. This is something we’ve wanted to learn from the beginning and will really help when it comes time to do spring shots. It also brings us one step closer to becoming more self-sufficient.

Our neighbor has warned us that this will be a long haul for Jack. He has been such a good boy and much more tolerant than some people would be for all the poking and prodding and spraying going on. He gets lots of treats for his good behavior and has found a new love for apples.

We’ve learned what it takes to take care of our goats both the cost and the time. Early mornings up before dawn to give him his treatment before we get ready for our “real” jobs. Then back at it again in the evenings. Most farmers wouldn’t have bothered. We’ve already spent more money on him than he is worth, but he is our “Jack” and we love him to pieces.

Over time we have seen some improvement. Jack continues to be a great patient, but he is not out of the woods yet and we are not stopping until he is a 100% on the mend.