Tuesday, July 31, 2018

My month in New Hampshire

My take on New Hampshire

One of the things I'd been curious about before I came was whether New Hampshirites are different enough from Vermonters to justify the split in the states.  The answer is, they are.  And sometimes they say so.

The first person I met was the person at the New Hampshire Welcome Center, who told me he was originally from Vermont but had moved here years ago and liked it much better.  He said New Hampshire was a lot less rigid than Vermont.  Since I'd concluded Vermont was thoroughly laid back, I wondered how that could be possible.  A month later, I still don't see it.

It's true New Hampshire has slightly looser liquor laws than Vermont, though not by much.  And it's true New Hampshire doesn't have a sales tax.  But I didn't see that goods and services were particularly cheaper here, they just don't have sales tax tacked on top.

They have a yield-to-pedestrians-in-crosswalks law here, but they aren't as serious about it here as in Vermont.  Maybe that's an example of being less rigid but, given the alternative, I'd rather have the rigidity.

Something odd I noticed is that people aren't quite as nice here, or as friendly - even those in tourist-related businesses.  Here they're a little more like New Yorkers - the New Yorkers outside the City, of course, since I never went to the City.  Friendly enough but - I don't know, maybe not as welcoming?  Can't quite put my finger on it but I've definitely been feeling it.

On the other hand, New Hampshirites love their state.  I spoke with only one person who said she'd rather be living somewhere else; everybody else was as emphatic as the lady in Randolph.  They love living where they do.  They love the rural area, the small town atmosphere, the scenery, the mountains.  These are the answers I've gotten over and over from all ages of people.  There was the guy in Nashua who said if I only had a month, what was I doing down there, I should get up to the mountains.  He wasn't in love with Nashua, obviously, but he was clearly in love with his state.

They see their state as being special, individual, and they see themselves that way too.  Nobody volunteered to me that there was anything they didn't like about New Hampshire.  Oddly, though, I had trouble getting people to talk to me.  They decided they were too busy, or didn't look me in the eye but instead treated me impersonally as a customer to move along.  It's that kind of thing that makes me think people here aren't as friendly as in other places.

They certainly have a lot of beauty in New Hampshire, but I'm not sure how eager I am to come back.  I absolutely didn't expect to find so much of a difference between the two states.

What I missed that I wanted to see

I would have liked to see the place at Bretton Woods where the IMF and World Bank were created in 1944.  The building looks gorgeous and it's hard to beat the history.

Conway Scenic Railroad still runs trips, but they last for hours and I couldn't leave the critters that long.  Ditto for the Mt. Washington Cog Railway.  There are a lot of train museums and scenic rides in NH, but it's clear the railroad isn't nearly as much a part of the fabric of the state as in Pennsylvania.

I missed the West Branch Pine Barrens, owned by the Nature Conservancy, back in the neighborhood of the Madison Boulder.  Actually, I didn't see that on my list until just right now or I'd have gone looking for them as we apparently passed right by them.

When I was down at the seacoast, I forgot that Hampton is the home of the Timberland boot factory; I'd intended to check it out and maybe get a decent pair of boots for the fall and winter.  Looks like LL Bean will have to do, next month.

Both Wilton and Derry in the far southern part of the state, have mills: the Taylor Up & Down Sawmill, which has a unique way of cutting wood, is in Derry; Frye's Measure Mill, in Wilton, still operates.  Having seen the museum for the fabric mills in Manchester, which I found fascinating, I'm sure the real thing is much more interesting.  You know - a live horse is more interesting than a museum about one.

I was lucky that New Hampshire is such a small state, because I managed to get to most of what I wanted to see, despite the heat wave for the first 6 days of the month - which people are still talking about, which gives you an idea.

New Hampshire - Day 31

Ramblewood Cabins and Campground
Tuesday, 31 July 2018

I decided to take another day off.  I already visited the lakes I'd planned to see today and have a beautiful view of one of them.  And I can see that tomorrow's drive across New Hampshire and halfway across Maine is likely to be a long one - it's secondary and tertiary roads almost the whole way. 

Tomorrow I'll be staying at a KOA for its mail pick-up services, but even though it's the cheapest one in Maine it's still a lot more than I want to pay for a second night.  Which means I'll need to move on the following day with little time to rest.

I'm starting to understand that my body can't keep up with my interest level.  I continue to enjoy the places I visit and look forward to seeing more, but there's only so much traveling around I can do before my energy level falls too low.

Living in this RV is far easier than a tent, of course, but it's still a lot closer to nature than our house back in Austin, and I think that's starting to take a toll on my aging body.  I'm more likely to notice my arthritis, for instance, than I used to.

Given all that, I decided to take another day off and rest up.

There are some trails the dogs and I are exploring in the campground area, lots of berries coming out, blueberries and raspberries being most visible now.  Early this morning we walked part way down to the lake, which is half a mile away, but it's all down a steep hill, meaning the way back is up a steep hill, and Gracie has as much trouble with hills as I do.  Unfortunately, they don't slow Dexter down a bit.  I don't think anything slows him down.  Though I still have hopes that age will do that - in about 5 years (he's 3 now).

It's pretty today and quiet and peaceful here.

New Hampshire - Day 30 - the far north

Ramblewood Cabins and Campground, near Pittsburg
Monday, 30 July 2018
today's route
As you may be able to tell, today I went from near the eastern border of NH with Maine, over to and along the western border with VT, then up to the northern border with Québec.  This campground is about 20 miles from that 3rd border.  Despite all that bordering, the trip only took about 6 hours, including stops for lunch and dog walks and shopping.

As I was leaving the Gorham area where I'd been camping, I realized I hadn't said anything here about the Androscoggin River.  I drove along it 2 days ago when I went to Berlin - it runs from north of Berlin down to Gorham where it turns east and runs through Maine down to the Kennebec River - 148 miles.  So I expect to see it again when I'm in Maine.  It made a big difference in the development of the part of NH it's in back a long time ago.

I think I noted before all the "ATV Shared Roadway" signs in the Gorham/Berlin area but didn't think to mention the upcoming ATV Fest.  Thank goodness it's not until early August or I wouldn't have been able to drive around the area - the fest drew 6,000 people last year and will likely draw more this year, and it's centered on Berlin and nearby Jericho Mountain State Park.  Its motto: It's All About The Mud.  I'm sure glad I don't operate a motel in the area. 

I found as I drove along today that ATVs aren't just confined to the eastern side - shared roadway signs were all over the western side too with lots of businesses and facilities catering to them.  And I saw a lot of actual people using them.  Don't know what's special about this area that encourages ATVs.  Unless it's that the population - and therefore traffic - levels are lower in this part of the state.

In Jefferson, NH, I found a mob scene at Santa's Village - a crowd around the entrance about 30 people deep.  Not a line - a crowd.  With more people parking across the street and walking over, both children and parents.  Turns out it's a Santa-themed park with amusement rides and visits from Santa himself and all kinds of fun! they say.  And they charge for it, too - their website says it costs $33 for ages 4-61; $30 for 62+.  How can people afford to bring whole families?  How can it possibly be that great to come see Santa in July?  I guess that's what I get for never having had children.

Somewhere along that western road I passed a sign saying it was the 45th Parallel, halfway between the equator and the north pole.

I made a side trip to Stark.  It's a small town with 2 claims to fame: its historic covered bridge (1857) and its history of having had a POW camp during WWII.  I sort of found both.

Stark bridge and church
There are much higher mountains in the area, all tree-covered like the one in this photo.  That church is older than the bridge: Stark Union Church, 1853.  Both the church and the bridge are still in use.

I knew the POW camp was no longer in existence but had heard there was a historical marker and some ruins near the road so I went looking for them.  I got instructions from a nice young woman in the state liquor store back in Colebrook who said she lived on a mountain in Stark in a house she and her father built.  Her directions were vaguely accurate.

In a way, I got lucky at this marker because another car was already parked there, and as I got out to take this photo a man and his teenage son thrashed through the thick underbrush.  They told me there were still a few foundations there but that no effort at all had been made to preserve them.  I took a good look at how thick the greenery was and decided I didn't need to see some foundations.

This sign gave me pause, though.  I'd heard before that Germans in POW camps here in the US often became friends with those living nearby.  I can't help but compare that to the treatment given to American citizens of Japanese descent.  I never heard that people living near those internment camps made friends with them.  I'm so afraid we haven't learned anything, given the current treatment of American citizens who are Muslim or are of Asian or Latino descent.  Time will tell, but I think we all need to stay vigilant.

It wasn't until I passed back by the Stark village green and saw a statue I thought looked familiar that I realized the town had been named for Gen. John Stark (husband of Molly Stark), famous defender of Vermont at the Battle of Bennington, and New Hampshire's most distinguished contribution to the Revolutionary War.

It was John Stark who gave New Hampshire its motto, Live Free or Die.  In 1809 he was dying and couldn't attend some sort of gathering of old buddies and instead sent them a toast to make for him.  What he wrote was, "Live free or die: death is not the worst of evils."  It became NH's official state motto in 1945.

I was still roughly following the Connecticut River, as it's the boundary between VT and NH all along their joint border.  I think I mentioned earlier that unusually NH owns the entire river instead of the boundary being in the middle of the river as with other river/state boundary lines.  The Connecticut River turns inland just about when the highway does, and I continued to follow it all the way up to the Canadian border.

Once it stops being a border, the Connecticut River becomes lakes.  I'd heard that this northern part of the state had beautiful lakes and it does.  Lake Francis is the southernmost, large and very pretty.  Then come 1st Connecticut Lake, 2nd Connecticut Lake and, unsurprisingly, 3rd Connecticut Lake.  After that last one, I passed a sign on the highway that said it was the end of the Connecticut River Byway, which I'd followed off and on for a good part of the month.  I kept going though because the map promised me a 4th Connecticut Lake - and I sort of found it.

This is the border with Canada.  I don't know how much you can tell from this photo, but I was stunned by its prison-like appearance.  Not exactly your Welcome to the United States atmosphere.  Barbed wire and tall fences and so forth.  Along the fence on the right of this photo is a trail saying it's a path along the Nature Conservancy's care of the 4th Connecticut Lake.  I was truly intimidated by all that fencing and decided not to try it.  What is ICE expecting to happen on the Canadian border that requires all that fencing and those huge buildings?  I've seen lots and lots of people speaking French and driving cars with Québec license plates in NH, but does ICE expect hordes?  Or a flood of people trying to enter illegally?

this is the road
fireweed along the road
The last 20 miles or so to the border seemed to be uninhabited and unpopulated, except by occasional campgrounds.  It's really pretty though.  Lots of fireweed and views of mountains.

2nd Connecticut Lake
Not having stopped to take photos of any of the lakes on the way up, I remedied that on the way back.
3rd Connecticut Lake

1st Connecticut Lake
You can't tell because my camera doesn't take the picture my eyes see, which is panoramic.  Each of these lakes is smaller than the previous one, so the 1st Connecticut Lake is quite large.

I found when I reached my campsite that I now have a somewhat panoramic view that I can photograph.
1st Connecticut Lake
Pretty nice, huh?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

New Hampshire - Day 29

White Birches Camping Park
Sunday, 29 July 2018

I don't know why but I've been really tired lately.  Maybe I'm anemic and need to eat more raisins.  Anyway, I gave up my plan of driving all around the Presidential Range - I'd already been all along the eastern side of it and I was sure the traffic would be fierce on a sunny Sunday and I just felt too tired.

The two things I regret missing: (1) the town of Harts Location (population 43), NH's smallest town - 11 miles long and 1½ miles wide; (2) Bretton Woods, where the IMF and World Bank were created in 1944.  Next trip to NH, I guess.

This campground has to be one of the weirdest I've stayed at so far.  It's really nice in some ways - heavily wooded campsites and, when you can get a view, beautiful mountains, activities for children.  But.  There's only 1 shower for the entire 127 campsites, and that's back at the entrance, a long way from where I am.  The husband of the pair of owners checked me in and, in every contact then and since has been borderline rude.  Every time I see him he stares at me kind of bug-eyed as if he thinks I'm doing something bizarre.   The first site they gave me was really hard for me to get to because of the aforementioned trees.

See?  Nice trees.  And very narrow road.  My side mirrors barely cleared the trees on either side.  And it was going downhill.  And there are tree roots everywhere making navigating the roads harder.

So after the first night I went into the office and asked if they had another site available and the wife basically said what's wrong with that one, even big rigs can get in there, and I said I'm sure they can but it was hard for me and I'd like to move.  And she argued for a bit and then suddenly (apparently) remembered not to argue with customers who have prepaid for 3 nights and came up with 2 alternatives and asked her husband to take me up to look at them.

So on the way up he wanted to argue with me about there being nothing wrong with the site and I had and big rigs got up there all the time, and I kept saying I know they do but I'm not comfortable with it.  What's their problem, I kept thinking but tactfully (despite everyone who knows me believing I'm never tactful) didn't say.  And one of the alternates looked marginally easier to get to and I said so.

And on the way back the husband went down that narrow trail telling me all the time how it wasn't a problem and that I should have been just fine because everybody else was.  Apparently he'd never heard of the "customer is always right" theory.  Meanwhile, I didn't care what everybody else did, I just knew what I didn't want to do if there were an alternative.  Which there was.  I went back and told the wife and she said fine no problem (having remembered the theory).  Just weird.

And then, it being a Saturday in July, the entire campground filled up with mostly dog owners, making it almost impossible for me to walk my idiots.  There's always something.

Today, however, all the weekenders started packing up at dawn and now my end of the campground is much emptier.  So I'll go walk the dogs soon.

I'm spending some of this extra time working on where to stay in Maine, only 3 days from now.

New Hampshire - Day 28 - Berlin & Randolph

White Birches Camping Area
Saturday, 28 July 2018
today's route
Today I went first to try to find the Old Man of the Valley, which is supposed to be between the campground and the Maine border just down the road.  The website I'd found said I'd see a sign by the road with a small parking area that would lead down a trail to a rock formation of a man's profile.  old-man-of-the-valley  I drove all the way to the Maine border and can say that the only signs designated hiking trails - including the Appalachian Trail.  They all had cars parked in the lots, and I assumed one or more cars had transported dogs, and I just couldn't face taking me dogs down another single lane trail with dogs - especially if I didn't know for sure which trail led to the rock formation.  And I wondered if the sign had been removed because the rock formation was no longer there - this website dates from 2009, after all.  So regretfully I gave up on the idea, even more disappointed because the Old Man of the Mountain no longer exists.  I know time moves on but I'm not sure why.

My next goal was the town of Berlin.

I was interested in seeing Berlin (emphasis on 1st syllable) because in 1930 it was NH's 4th largest city, with a population of double what it has today, thanks to the rise and fall of the fortunes of the paper mill industry.  I was curious.  Also I'd heard it has a Russian Orthodox Church and I wanted to see what that was doing in a small northern NH town.  Here's the link to the information about the town's history.  https://www.berlinnh.gov/discover-berlin

Of course I got lost trying to find the orthodox church and found a regular Catholic church - St. Anne's - which is beautiful in its own way.  And in getting lost and then found I saw most of downtown Berlin and can say they're having financial problems.  That town does not look like it's figured out how to reinvent itself yet and, in fact, looks a little dingy and dismal.  Especially compared with the other towns in the area.  Hope they can get it together.
St. Anne Catholic Church
And I did find the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, built in 1915.
Maybe you can tell that this church is high on a hill, but what you can't tell is that so am I.  I had directions to the church - up the hill on Mt. Forist Street, left on Russian Street, right on Petrograd Street.  So I did all that - but that hill was like a San Francisco hill (straight up) and by the time I got to the top (Russian Street), I discovered Petrograd Street went up even farther and there was no chance at all I was going to try that.  So I stopped in what I'll bet was a small church parking area and took this photo.  The turrets were gold, but they don't really show up with the sun hidden.

Do the street names give you an idea of how the church came to be built?  The paper mill industry needed lots and lots of workers - many of whom were cutting down the trees (using axes of course) to be used in the mills - and they imported workers from all over the world.  Berlin ended with substantial foreign communities, one of which was Russian.

The last mill now operates in Gorham down the road - but since it's only about 5 miles down the road I guess the distinction matters only if it changes the tax base.

Anyway, after this we were all ready to stretch our legs and have some lunch.  I found 3 different parks in town - 2 with prominent signs saying "No Pets Allowed" and 1 with an equally prominent sign saying "No Dogs Allowed."  I mean who are these people?  I parked by a park anyway and walked the dogs along the sidewalk and tried to keep them off the grass. 

Next I went in search of Randolph.  I'm beginning to think every state has a town of Randolph.  This one has a population of 318, I learned online, so I wasn't expecting much, but after driving for farther than I'd expected and still not having found anything I stopped at the only store I'd run across.

Inside I found an older woman and told her I was looking for Randolph but wasn't sure where it was and she said, "It's here.  This is Randolph."  She said it stretches for 3 miles.

She wanted to know what I was looking for and I explained that had been my father's name so I was curious.  And I asked her if she liked living there and she said she loves it.  She's lived there since she married 55 years ago and she loves it.  When I asked what she liked best, she said, "This is God's Country.  Just look at the mountains.  This is where God lives."  So I took a photo of the view across the highway from the store.

This is actually the worst view of the mountains I saw along the drive - she probably had a better one from - say - the 2nd floor of the building.

And I have to agree, it's easy to think you're closer to God there, even for those of us who are non-believers.  Speaking of which, back down the road I found this tiny building with a sign in front saying Randolph Church 1884.
So I guess I've been to Randolph, NH.

New Hampshire - Day 27 - NH's eastern edge

White Birches Camping Park, Shelburne
Friday, 27 July 2018
today's route
Today I drove from the southern part of New Hampshire to the southern edge of what they call the North Country.  Besides changing campgrounds, I wanted to visit Dover and the Madison Boulder.

Along the way, I was delighted to see the first fireweed, which I loved in Alaska and have missed in Texas.
I also passed the sign of a business advertising itself as "New England's largest recycler of ferrous and non-ferrous metal."  It just seemed like an odd thing to put on a business sign.  Ferrous and non-ferrous?

Dover was founded in 1623 and claims to be NH's oldest town.  I don't think any of these buildings is anywhere close to that age, but they do look like they've been there a while.  Surprisingly, though, most of the buildings I saw looked no more than 100 years old or so - Portsmouth looked much much older than Dover.  Maybe Dover had a bad fire or something.

Driving in rural New Hampshire, as I've been doing lately, I've seen a LOT of cemeteries, large and small, in unexpected places.  I stopped at a grocery chain store (Hannaford's - very common up here) and walked the dogs in the large parking lot and stumbled across a small cemetery with gravestones dating to 1806.  The large cemeteries are around, of course, near town with old and new grave markers, but there are a surprising number of small cemeteries out in the middle of what's now nowhere.  I'm assuming they're telling us where people used to live.

I've been learning on New Hampshire Public Radio that the state legislature is having a fit over a recent Supreme Court ruling saying states must collect sales tax from merchants selling online.  New Hampshire doesn't have a sales tax and desperately wants to keep it that way - I guess they figure they're making it back in increased sales from residents of other states.  Anyway, the legislature is tying itself into knots trying to figure out what to do next.  Interesting.  I suppose that explains the fact that you can find a state-owned liquor store close to the border on any road that crosses from the surrounding states.

I drove north from Dover and bypassed Rochester.  Part of me didn't want to do it, but I searched very hard - including on the city's own website - trying to find anything like a sight to see, a historical note, anything.  And could find absolutely nothing.  How can a town that's the 5th or so largest in the state have nothing worth visiting?  So anyway I gave it a miss.  Onward.

Dexter's an interesting copilot.  He'll often sit up on the passenger seat and look at the scenery.  Sometimes a bird will come swooping by the window and Dexter will whip around to see where it went.  You should have seen him with the gulls at the coast.  Pretty funny.

When Gracie sits in that seat, she's usually telling me she's feeling a little queasy and I always open the window for her.  After a while, she'll lie down on the seat and I'll gradually close the window again.  Sometimes Dexter gets interested in the open window and will come join Gracie on the seat - it's a tight fit having both the dogs there, and I doubt if it's helping Gracie with her queasiness.  What a pair.

Even if I hadn't missed the boulder field a few days ago, I'd still have wanted to visit the Madison Boulder, and it turns out I was right.

 I don't know if you can read this sign very well, but basically it says the boulder is one of the world's largest glacial erratics, being 83' long, 37' wide, 23' high above ground, plus a likely 10'-12' below ground.  When I came around a corner and saw this thing I gasped.  My pictures don't do it justice.  You can find more information at https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/publications/geologic/documents/madison-boulder-brochure.pdf.

On an entirely different note, remember Claude Rains?  Capt. Louis Renault in "Casablanca?"  He's buried in Moultonborough at the head of Lake Winnipesaukee, where I spent almost a week earlier in the month.  Wish I'd known - I'd have paid my respects.  I passed near there on my way north but I remember those roads well and didn't want to go down them yet again just for this.

The last hour or so of the drive was through the White Mountain National Forest, and much of that was alongside what's known as the Presidential Range - the mountains are named Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, Mt. Madison, Mt. Monroe, Mt. Pierce, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Jackson and, of course, Mt. Washington - the highest point in New Hampshire at 6,288'.  I'd have stopped to take a photo but ran out of chances by the time I thought of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

New Hampshire - Day 26

Wellington Camping Park
Thursday, 26 July 2018

I got a sort of extra day, since I'd combined Portsmouth with my coastal tour, and it's a good thing because I'm tired.  I was going for 3 days straight and I'm finding it harder to keep up that pace than I did when I first started this trip.  Maybe it's aging me.

Anyway, the forecast was for certain rain and possible thunderstorms, so I was just as glad not to running around in it.  And the forecast is what we've been getting all day.

I needed some time to catch up anyway and plan my route for the next 5 days.

New Hampshire - Day 25 - Manchester/Nashua/Merrimack

Wellington Camping Park
Wednesday, 25 July 2018
today's route
I had a big day planned today with lots of stops, so we managed to leave the campground at about 7:30.  It turns out rural New Hampshire has a rush hour.  It took me almost 10 minutes before I could find a big enough break in the traffic to make a left turn on Rt. 125, a 2 lane road that runs from nowhere to nowhere, according to the map and my experience.  So what, there were plenty of cars coming from somewhere.  But we made it.  And we were on the other side of Manchester in less than an hour.

fish ladder
I went first to Amoskeag Fishways, pronounced amos (to rhyme with damask) + keg. amoskeagfishways.org/about.html  The link gives some basic information about the facility and its purpose.  One of the main purposes is the fish ladder built next to the dam.   At the moment there's no water in the fish ladder, as you can see, because there aren't any migrating fish.  They've already had most of their runs and expect more later in the fall, but I can't remember which species come at which time.

One of them is the sea lamprey, which I'd always thought meant an eel, but I got educated.  They look like eels to people like me but are actually anadromous fish - anadromous (emphasis on 2nd syllable) meaning fish that are born in freshwater, then go spend time in the ocean, then come back to their home stream to spawn - like salmon.
2 immature lampreys attached to a fish

sea lamprey
That odd looking front end is a fearsome mouth with rings of teeth used to feed off a fish's blood and body fluids.  40% - 60% of the lake trout in the Great Lakes are killed by lampreys. 

Lampreys evolved 500 million years ago - dinosaurs, by comparison, came a paltry 250 million years ago.  Thus, they don't have gills, as other fish do, but instead evolved a series of holes not far from their mouths, and the holes pump water in and out in a sort of vacuum way.

The Natives who lived in this area prized the lampreys as a food fish, particularly for their children as the lampreys don't have bones.  I learned that at my next stop, the Millyard Museum.

The Millyard Museum tells the story of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company (AMC), which in essence is the story of Manchester.  AMC became one of the largest textile producing companies in the world, and as a result Manchester became New Hampshire's largest city, which it still is.  At its height, AMC employed 17,000 workers and produced 470 miles of fabric each day (5,000,000 yards/week).

When the town was first settled, it was called Derryfield and sat near the 54' Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimack River.  Serious commerce was blocked by these falls as no ships could get around them.  In 1807, Samuel Blodgett built a canal around the falls, enabling ships to come and go.  And they did.  As a result, in 1810 the town of Derryfield changed its name to Manchester, after the thriving manufacturing town in England, hoping they'd be seeing something similar in their town.  And they did.

AMC was set up in 1831, with the owners aiming to own every stage of the textile manufacturing process.  They made the bricks the buildings were built of; they grew the flax used to make the linen cloth; they imported their own workers and housed them in their own buildings.  You get the picture.  And it all worked.  For instance, all the denim used by Levi Strauss until 1915 was made at AMC in Manchester.

The millyard was eventually a mile long.  It's hard to tell from my photo here, but those multi-story brick buildings line a long avenue, which I accidentally turned onto at the other end.  I drove and drove, trying to find the one brick building that was the museum, gradually deciding as I drove that surely - surely - those weren't all original buildings but instead new buildings designed to look like the old ones in the name of history or something.  But no, every one of those has been there since the mid-1800s, and they're still being used.  Many of them are offices now, one houses a branch of University of New Hampshire, some are still used for manufacturing and quite a few are now apartments.  In fact, at least 20% of the originals have been knocked down for one reason or another. 

diagram of the power canals
one of the tunnels inside the factory
The buildings in my photo back up to the Merrimack River.   Beginning in 1839 AMC used a new source of power called a "power canal."  It was dug by hand, of course, steam shovels not having been invented, mostly by Irish immigrants.  Water was pumped from the Merrimack River through tunnels into the manufacturing buildings, where it was used to turn belts that turned the engines, then returned to the river.  This system gave the AMC a power source not available to any other textile manufacturer, enabling them to out-produce everybody.

Almost by accident, the Amoskeag Machine Shop started making railroad engines, producing its first one in 1848.  In 1858 it produced a steam fire engine that sold world-wide, with 855 made in the 50 years it was in production.

During the Civil War, cotton to supply the raw material for the gingham, mattress ticking, denim, flannel and other fabrics got short-circuited (silly Southerners, cutting off their markets like that).  Ever resourceful, the AMC set up industrial sewing machines to make shoes, and the Machine Shop started producing rifles for the Union Army.

I learned about Margaret (Mattie) Knight who, in 1871, invented a machine that would make square paper bags, like today's grocery bags.  Someone else patented the same design just days before she applied; but she learned this man had spied on the person who'd made her prototype.  She used her original drawings and diary entries to prove she was the inventor and won the patent!  Imagine how hard it must have been for her to get such credibility at a time when women could scarcely own property.  Over her lifetime she received more than 80 patents, most of them inventions that would promote worker safety in manufacturing.

It's a good museum, well laid out and informative, but I was also lucky - a group of newly immigrated Indians had arranged a tour with the museum head and an interpreter, so I got to hear more information than was on the signs as I was within hearing distance for much of the visit.  The head emphasized the number of immigrants who had come to work in the fabric plants and how those people had become integrated into American life.

I went from there south to the Nashua National Fish Hatchery and got a tour all to myself.  The fish hatchery has been in existence since 1898 and is the US's 7th oldest national fish hatchery.  They grow various species of fish from eggs to several years old, moving them progressively from one environment to another.  These long white tubes are raceways and they have 20 of them, with 15 currently in use.  When I commented on them looking like greenhouses and aren't they too hot for the fish, the guide said the water comes from 3 wells on the property, and the well water stays at a constant 51° year round.  The guide took me into 2 of them and I saw Atlantic salmon and brook trout swimming around, and he was right - it was fairly cool inside even though the day was hot and humid outside.

These are brook trout in the photo - you may have to look closely but they're milling around like crazy.  The guide said they're like Dexter: even though they just ate, they'll go crazy over more food - and he proved it by throwing in some pellets that looked like dog food.

I learned to my intense surprise that Atlantic salmon aren't like Pacific salmon in that when Pacific salmon spawn, they die right then, but Atlantic salmon live and can spawn several more times if they live long enough, going out into the ocean after each spawning trip upstream.  The ones at the hatchery are being used as broodstock, but they'll also send eggs to other places on request - the fish must imprint from the beginning on one stream to be its native stream, and that's the stream it will always return to after a trip up to Greenland. 

Next I made a run into Nashua to the New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial.

The train tracks in the photo on the left stop at the blocks on the right, each engraved with the name of a death camp - e.g. Auschwitz, Treblinka.  A design that looks just like barbed wire is carved into the outside of the blocks.

Altogether a very somber statement.  Unfortunately, these days it seems we must be reminded to Never Forget.

My last stop was someplace much more lighthearted: the Anheuser-Busch Bottling Plant in Merrimack.

I learned a lot about the history of the company (they began producing an American-style lager in 1876 and still use their original recipe).  I learned they grow their own hops and may use as many as 15 varieties, depending on the type of beer they're making.  I learned it takes 30 days to make the beer and they can bottle 1200 bottles/minute.  I learned pasteurizing allows the beer to be shipped without being refrigerated, and that Busch started using pasteurizing 20 years before milk producers did.

But the thing I learned that most surprised me was this bit about beechwood aging.  I'd always envisioned barrels made of beechwood, as wine is made, but that's way wrong.  The beechwood is in the form of shavings, about 1/8" thick and 9" long, and a layer several feet thick is spread in the bottom of the final aging tanks before the almost-finished beer is poured in.  The shavings produce more surface area in the beer, which allows more contact between the yeast and the beer.  Whodathunkit.

And of course they gave us all samples at the end of the tour.  I took the free tour, so we got 2 small samples - about triple a shot glass size.  Not being a major fan of odd beers, I opted for a Bud and a Bud Light, never having had a chance to do a taste test before.  I can say they are definitely not the same beer, and I liked the Bud better.

I happened to talk to a nice family from Ontario who told me they'd raised a horse that is now one of the Budweiser Clydesdales.  They said they hadn't even expected to have a foal that year and thought at first what they were looking at out in the pasture was a fawn.  Nope.  They kept him until he was 3 years old, and then they sold him to the Bud people.

I spent some time walking the dogs afterwards on their extensive grounds to be sure I was going to be okay in traffic on the way back to the campground, as it was already after 4:00.  But Manchester rush hour isn't much compared to - say - Dallas or Seattle and I didn't have any trouble.  It just took a little longer than in the morning.

By the way, Sig Sauer has an academy down the road from here in Epping and offers lots of courses in various aspects of gun use.

In all an interesting day but a long one.

New Hampshire - Day 24 - boulders

Wellington Camping Park
Tuesday, 24 July 2018

today's route
Today I had 2 objectives: a CCC museum in Bear Brook State Park and boulders in Pawtuckaway State Park.  I managed to miss both of them.  The life of a tourist ain't easy.  Plus, I managed to find myself on roads that weren't on either map I had, which I figure took some doing.

I went first to Bear Brook State Park, knowing they didn't allow dogs in the park but prepared to talk our way in anyway.  That part turned out to be pretty easy; it was finding the museum that was tougher.  My first clue I was going to have trouble was at the main gate where the ranger, when I explained I wanted to see the CCC museum, said I wanted to see what? which didn't bode well.  But she was very young and I thought maybe she was new and this wasn't something she'd heard about.  She gave me great directions to get to her colleague near the campground.

the first ranger had clearly not read the signs in her own park
The colleague, more my age and obviously more experienced, told me I'd passed it and gave me not great directions to get to the right road.  I finally found I should have turned at the sign for the maintenance facilities, where they also had the museum buildings, the sign said.  And I found it all right.  It said CCC Museum.  And there was a very large sign on it saying Closed for the Season.  Right.  Late July IS the season up here.  I mean, this isn't Florida and it's seriously unlikely any museum (except maybe a ski museum) would be open for the winter but not the summer.  I deduced it was just flat closed for some reason.  And I was very disappointed, having read it's one of the most complete such museums.

So I then tried to head for another state park almost next door.  I'd read that the boulder field in Pawtuckaway State Park was special, and I found some information online that I now can't find and don't know why.  So take a look at this blog https://blog.nhstateparks.org/adventures-in-boulderland/ for some good photos.  These boulders, called glacial erratics, came from somewhere nearby (one of the pieces of information I can't find anymore) and got brought here by the Laurentide Icesheet about 18,000 years ago.

The information I did find online gave me the impression I'd have a bit of a hike to find the boulder field if I went to the park itself but could find some decent boulders if I instead went to the boat launch and walked in from there.  It was finding the boat launch that became the adventure.  I'd mapped a route that would take me from the first state park to the next but, as usual, ended up on the wrong road - one that is absolutely not on either of the maps I have - and then another wrong road - ditto - and finally on a right road that led (after a few false turns) to another right road and then, just as I was despairing of finding the boat launch, I saw a universal boat launch symbol on a sign hidden behind a bunch of leaves and would have missed it except I was going so slowly because of the narrow and winding road I was on.  But trustingly I turned down the boat launch road - a fairly steep hill - to discover the highway department was doing road work and had completely torn up the road surface so it was loose piled dirt, and the roadwork equipment was huge and hard for me to squeak by - but I kept telling myself that if boats on trailers could go down here so could I.  The road seemed like it took forever and I couldn't believe they'd make a road to a boat launch that was so long, but all along the road there were signs saying do not park along roadway, so I knew there must be a lot of people there sometime and FINALLY we came out at the bottom of the hill and sure enough, there was a boat launch and a parking area and a Launch Host On Duty.

Other people there also had dogs but they all seemed to be going out on boats so I took a chance on taking mine down a marked trail nearby.  I did see boulders, though none were of the size in the main field.
I wanted to get the dogs in the photos to give an idea of size but knew there was zero chance either of them would stay still if I tried it.  Gracie would run at the slightest unexpected sound and Dexter would chase chipmunks.  But I did measure one of them (a boulder, not a dog) and it was as tall as I am - call it 5½' high.

The very persistent mosquitoes were starting to get to me and as we went back along the trail we met several different batches of hikers+dogs.  And my dogs acted as I'd been afraid they would - trying to run and jump on the other dogs, so I did the best I could at getting off the trail and into the underbrush and as far from the trail as possible in the time available.  As I told the dogs when we got back to the RV, that's why I don't take them on more walks than I do.  Actually, if I had them separately they'd probably be fine - they usually are - but together they turn into a pack and it's usually trouble.  A shame, really.

Anyway, I did get to see some big rocks, just not what I'd hoped.  But I also got to see some picturesque New Hampshire backroads I didn't know about.  And by the way, thank goodness I bought a compass in the gift shop at the Pres. Franklin Pierce Homestead.  I'd have had a much much harder and more frustrating time getting found again after I kept getting lost.  It kept me basically heading the right direction.  I adore that compass.

And by the way, on the way out of the boat launch area I clocked the distance to the road and found it was only a half a mile!!  It had felt like 2 miles at least.  Ah well.  It's all a learning experience.

New Hampshire - Day 23 - Portsmouth & coast

Wellington Camping Area
Monday, 23 July 2018

As I was driving into Newmarket on my way to the coast, I saw a highway sign that said "Intensive Traffic Enforcement."  I concluded Newmarket takes these things seriously.

In Newmarket I saw a Sinclair gas station just like they were when I was growing up, with the green sign and dinosaur logo and everything.

Also in Newmarket I got lost (as usual) and ended up in a sort of upscale alley where I found the clubhouse for American Citizens of Polish Descent, the club established in 1923.  That was surprising to me for some reason.
today's route - sort of
I highlighted two wrong roads on the map today: the road I took was on the coast, Route 1A, aka Ocean Drive; it mostly runs right along the ocean the length of New Hampshire's coast line with the Atlantic Ocean.  New Hampshire has the shortest seacoast of any US state, clocking in at 18 miles.

We drove down to the southern end and then came back north.  We stopped in Hampton Beach to walk a bit.
seaside residences, Hampton Beach

Hampton Beach
All along the coast, the towns are typical seaside resort towns.

Farther down the beach from where I took this photo on the left were breakers on the sea wall and people trying to surf where the Atlantic started kicking up a fuss.

In North Hampton Beach I saw some very large beach houses.  Large as in one looked big enough to house the Kennedy family; another looked like a small palace with columns and huge green front lawn and a closed gate at the entrance - I'd think the salt air would make it hard to grow grass but they could clearly afford to try.

I passed a scuba diving class getting out-of-water instruction.

Farther north I started seeing salt marshes - at least I assume they're salty, given their location right next to the ocean.  These photos are sort of representative of the marshes I saw.
the front white dot is a gull, the rear one is an egret
this is the same marsh as the other, facing the ocean

This hotel is Wentworth-By-The-Sea, built in 1874.  In 1905, Pres. Theodore Roosevelt had the delegates to the negotiation of the Treaty of Portsmouth housed here.  The treaty, signed at the Portsmouth Naval Yard (located in Kittery, Maine, not Portsmouth, for some reason), ended the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War, earning TR the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

The hotel, by the way, looks like it's 5 star and yet it allows dogs!

next to the fort, lighthouse still functions
I also stopped at Fort Constitution, which may be the only US fort to garrison soldiers during every national conflict from the American Revolution to WWII. fort info I suggest you look at the link, because it describes an interesting history as being the site of one of the earliest acts of war in the Revolution.  Considering its age, there's still a staggering amount of it left.  It's actually in the middle of a US Coast Guard Base, and they've left open a little chain link gate with signs for tourists to follow the blue paint line around to the fort.
this is the front gate and part of the wall
by the front gate
facing Portsmouth Harbor

detail on an inside wall

The hotel and fort are in New Castle, NH's only town situated entirely on islands.  It is also NH's smallest town, physically (not populationally) covering only .8 square mile, 500 acres.  It's so close to Portsmouth that the boundaries are imperceptible to drivers.

Portsmouth was settled at the same time New Castle was, in 1623.  New Castle now, though, looks like what it mostly is - a recreational haven for the wealthy.  Portsmouth, on the other hand, looks like a very very old city.  In the main part of town, houses sit right on the street, separated not even by a sidewalk, and the streets are very narrow, mostly one-way, and don't even allow parking due to the lack of room.  These are clearly the streets as they were laid out in the 1600s.  But everything's very clean and bright, the houses are well-maintained, for the most part, and there were people everywhere, even on a Monday.  In fact, there were so many people out in the afternoon that it looked like a sunny Sunday.

Portsmouth has only 21,000 residents, nowhere near the 10 largest NH cities, despite its perfect location at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, where it stops being the boundary with Maine and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.  Maybe it simply can't grow any larger in the main part of town, or spread its boundaries outward because of all the smaller surrounding towns.  Anyway, Portsmouth seems a vibrant town that's comfortable with itself as it is.  I liked it.

I'd hoped to be able to visit some of the old houses, now museums, but the utter lack of parking even for a car let alone my RV discouraged that idea.  I couldn't even stop to take photos.  But I did find the oldest - and it is indeed old.  The Jackson House was built in 1664 and what is still standing is the original.  It's been shored up and reinforced, but it hasn't been moved or rebuilt.  It's the real deal.  I took 2 different angles because I couldn't find one that showed both the house and the incredible slope of the roof to the road.

My original plan had been to come back and tour Portsmouth on a separate day but I've given that idea up, thanks to my look at the zero parking near the museums I wanted to see.  But that's okay.  They won't be the only old houses around and my glimpse of life in Portsmouth was well worth my time.  I really liked the feel of the town.