Wednesday, August 13, 2014

White Mountains National Forest

The White Mountains of New Hampshire are part of the northern Appalachian Mountains and cover about a quarter of the state and a small portion of western Maine. Popular year round with summer tourists, winter sports enthusiasts, and those looking for brilliant New England fall foliage, you will find this National Forest busy no matter when you decide to visit. This time of year you can hike, camp, visit waterfalls, swim in the Swift River, go zip lining, stop at one of the commercial tourist attractions (such as Story Land and Santa's Village), or visit Visitors Center or the science and nature center. We opted for driving the scenic Kancamagus Highway (the locals call it the Kanc), sometimes touted as the best scenic drive in New Hampshire, a lovely winding road with multiple overlooks of the Pemigewasset Valley. We chose several spots along the drive to pull over for small hikes, views of waterfalls, and a picnic lunch along the river.  Here are some pictures we got along the way.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, is a beach resort located on the Atlantic Ocean, a popular tourist destination, and the busiest beach community in the state. Ocean Boulevard, which runs along the beach, includes a boardwalk, a multitude of vendors catering to the walkers-by, many seasonal hotels, and the Hampton Beach State Park. The Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom has been the center of attraction here for more than a century, and continues to draw top names from the entertainment world. From what we could gather on our one day visit, you had better arrive early if you want a decent place to park your car, and a spot on the beach to park yourself. We weren't there to hang out at the beach, more to just see what this place was all about, so parking further from the water for a lower price and a better walk didn't bother us at all. People of all ages could be found enjoying the activities - soaking up the sun, playing volleyball or Frisbee, building sand castles, or strolling the boulevard. Our senses were alive with the vibrant colors of beach towels and kitschy trinkets hanging from vendor stalls, smells from the ocean competing with food stand aromas, music playing from cars cruising up and down the street. We walked the mile long strip, up one side, down to the beach for a toe dip into the Atlantic, a stop for lunch at an unlikely Mexican restaurant, and back up the other side before calling it a day. Here are some snaps of the sights. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Concord, New Hampshire

Our next New England stop was New Hampshire, with the primary purpose of visiting the Capitol in Concord, while using the rest of the week to tour other parts of the state. I don't remember most of the state mottos, but somehow "Live Free or Die", New Hampshire's famous maxim, seems to stick with me. No, Bruce Willis didn't coin the phrase in Live Free or Die Hard, but I can see how using this would appeal to movie makers, it's catchy! (The motto comes from a statement written by the Revolutionary General John Stark.) I didn't find much about the State House itself to give it standout ranking. The building houses all the regular offices such as the Senate Chambers, the Representatives Hall, The Office of The Governor, the Secretary of the State's Office, and so forth. What I did find interesting was their claim of "oldest continuously used legislative chambers in America". There are a lot of "firsts" and "oldest" designations on this side of the country, I've noticed. Some fun facts about New Hampshire include: The first potato planted in the United States was at Londonderry Common Field in 1719; Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr., the first American to travel in space is from East Derry, New Hampshire; in 1833 the first free public library in the United States was established in Peterborough.