Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Northern New Hampshire Getaway

Sunday May 20th found us with a day free to do what we wanted, and what we wanted was to go on a day trip adventure.  I don't have another weekend off for six weeks, so we have to take advantage of them when we can.

A few months back doing some random research I put together a nice little trip exploring Northern New Hampshire and was anxious to do it.  With a forecast of beautiful weather it seemed the perfect time to hit the road.

We were not in a rush Sunday morning but hit the road just after eight am taking our favorite drive to Gorham, New Hampshire.  In the past we had always taken Route 16 south or Route 2 out of Gorham so to us Gorham is the small idyllic mountain town.  However, when you take Route 16 north you find it's not quite that way with a huge 5 lane road, Wal-Mart and other box stores.

I don't recall ever traveling through Berlin before but it's quite a large city with active paper mills, hydro power plant, and more.  Everything north of Berlin are very small towns and communities with basically no cell service.


First stop was in the small town of Stark and the Stank Covered Bridge.  Spanning 151 feet over the Upper Ammonoosuc River this one lane bridge was built in 1862.



This bridge is unique to us as it is the first one we have seen with a pedestrian walkway on both sides of the bridge. Behind the bridge is a 750 foot cliff face called The Devil's Slide.


Next up was the Groveton Covered Bridge in Northumberland.  Built in 1852 and spanning 126 feet over the Ammonoosuc River the bridge is closed to vehicle traffic.



This is Wesley's favorite type of covered bridge to visit because he can run across it uninhibited which he truly enjoys.


Also located on the grounds is a old train engine and caboose.


Our next stop was the Columbia Covered Bridge, built in 1910 - 1911 it spans 146 feet over the Connecticut River which connects Columbia, New Hampshire and Lemington, Vermont.  I was the only one to get out of the vehicle at this one, there was really no place to park for Wesley to run around so it didn't make sense.


We stayed on the Vermont side of the river for a few miles before returning to New Hampshire in the town of Colebrook.  We were going to go to this french bakery I found, but it's closed on Sundays.  After driving around a bit we found a place to eat our lunch on the lawn of Colebrook Academy.  Even though there were picnic tables to sit at, we spread the blanket on the ground and dug in to our feast of bologna sandwiches, watermelons, and cherry's.


After lunch we continued out journey north on Route 3 to Stewartstown and a 45th parallel marker.  We had seen one previously on our Honeymoon in Perry.


The Pittsburg-Clarksville Covered Bridge, also known as the Bacon Bridge, was built in 1876 spanning 88 1/2 feet over the Connecticut River connecting the towns of Pittsburg and Clarksville.  This bridge is closed to vehicles and in-fact one side of the bridge is gated off and grass has covered whatever road there may have been.


The Connecticut river flowing under the bridge is beautiful with elevation drops and rapids.


Following the directions the directions Google gave me we next traveled to the River Road Covered Bridge in Pittsburg.  It told us to take Cardinal Dr to the Philbrook Rd, not the sketchiest roads we've ever taken Vanna on but I was not a fan of Philbrook Rd, or the idea of climbing back up the steep rutted road.  I asked a man mowing his lawn just down from the bridge and he instructed me just to drive 1 mile down the River Rd and we'll come out on Route 3.



Built in 1858 and spanning 50 1 /2 feet over Perry Stream it is the smallest covered bridge I have ever visited.  It is closed to traffic, a replacement bridge deck was built next to it.  The bridge decking was soft with loose boards, it needs some care.


The final covered of the day that we visited was also in Pittsburg.  Built in 1869 the Happy Corner Covered Bridge spans 60 1/2 feet over Perry Stream and is open to vehicle traffic.  Only I exited the vehicle to take some photos, again this bridge was not in an ideal spot to let the boy roam.



The last planned stop on the day was Beaver Brook Falls Wayside on route 145 in Colebrook.  You pull into the parking area and it is right there in front of you, I mean technically you don't even need to leave your vehicle to enjoy it.


But if you want to there is nice trail going across a wooden foot bridge that leads you to the base of the falls.  There is also a trail leading up the side of the falls to the top, had we not had Wesley we would have made the hike up.



Wesley enjoyed the falls, especially throwing rocks into the water.

Our journey home we took Route 26 through Dixville Notch State Park, New Hampshire and Grafton Notch State Park, Maine before landing in Bethel where he had dinner at the Crossroads Diner.  We had eaten here twice before coming home from Santa's Village and we had burgers, which were delicious.


Along the way in Dixville Notch we passed this beautiful giant building that is The Balsams Resort which I have since learned closed in 2011.  It had opened originally in just after the Civil War and became the structure we see today in 1918 with over 400 guest rooms and over 16 ski trails occupying over 11,000 acres.

Wesley was such a good boy all day, napping in the morning and enjoying his tablet on the ride home, of course falling asleep 10 minutes from the house.

I total we spent just over 11 hours on the road driving 340 miles.  It was a great day!

Later Readers!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mother's Day Monday

Kate took Monday the 15th off so we could make the Mother's Day trip to La Festa Pizza in Dover, New Hampshire.  We went there last year at Kate's request and decided to make it an annual adventure.

We planned to go on the Monday as we had a busy weekend with plans to help with the church clean up on Sunday with a taco party payoff. However with the rain it was cancelled.  So we just had a nice lazy day at home.

Monday morning after dropping the bigs at school Kate, Wesley, and I pointed Vanna south for New Hampshire.  Our first stop was at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye just south of Portsmouth.  When we got to the lot we watched three school buses unload and debated not going in, however we had driven all this way and said let's just do it.  It's good we did as the school kids had projects they were doing outside and didn't spend much time inside at all.


I had found this place on the internet, http://www.seacoastsciencecenter.org/, and it looked cool.  They talked about exhibits including a touch tank and fish tanks.  Wesley really liked the fish tanks section, they had step stools all around so he could climb up on them for a better view.  However the other exhibits and the touch tanks were sorta ho-hum.







Incidentally, last year on Mother's Day it rained and this year it rained on and off and was dreary and overcast for most of the day.  Here's hoping next year it's clear and sunny.

Next stop was Conner Bottling Work's in Newfields.  They produce and make 27 flavors of glass bottled soda, their brand is Squamscot, since 1863.  I had no idea what to expect as the website just says, stop in and say hi.  So I did.


Walking through the front door the bottling machine is right there, they were bottling Maple Cream when I got there.  There was just one guy working, friendly as can be, he gave me one fresh off the line.  It was good, tasted like Maple cream soda, and I don't like cream soda.  I was also surprised that the soda is bottled ice cold. 



He was fixing to close up for lunch but he turned the machine on for me and ran a dozen through so I could see the process.  You can buy any of their soda for $1 a bottle, or a six pack for $5 and a case of twenty four for $17.  I bought a sixer, they make their diet soda with splenda and pure cane sugar for the regular.


Kate and Wesley stayed in the van as the boy was napping.  We drove to Dover for lunch at La Festa Pizza where you can buy pizza by the giant slice and they have some very unique toppings.  The pizza is cooked and then re-heated when you order so it only takes a few moments.  They also have these amazing garlic knots that you so flipping good!


Dining in Kate had two slices of buffalo chicken, I had a pepperoni and buffalo chicken, Wesley a half of cheese slice and we had a couple knots.  We got slices to go for dinner, another buffalo chicken, pepperoni, a pepperoni & sausage, and something called and R2B2, the R2 is roni & ricotta the B2 is bacon & BBQ sauce and of course a couple knots.




The final stop was at Duston's Baker for desert, a place we found last year.


We'll got back next year and a trip to La Festa is now officially Kate's mother's day destination.

Later Readers!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Maine Discovery Museum

Friday April 21st was my second day off, it was school vacation week, we had the big kids and all day cares were closed.  So Kate took a vacation day and we took AJ with us as we headed north to Bangor and the Maine Discovery Museum.

Leading up to the day I had done some research and I'm amazed how much is still closed even during vacation week.  Trains, museums, even Fort Knox closed until May.  The weather also drove us inside being overcast with on and off rain in the mid 40's. 

Driving up we took the long way via Route 202 through China, Albion, Unity, Dixmont,  and eventually into Bangor.  It was a really lovely drive and helpful as that is my coverage area in dispatch and it's nice to be able to see it for a change.


We had lunch first at Chick-Fil-A, I know surprise right.  Wesley boy refused to sit in the highchair he wanted to sit on the bench of the booth like a big boy.  So we let him and he did excellent. 

We had to park in the parking garage and the elevator had a glass wall that all the kids thought was exciting.  The museum is located on main st and all four kids, aged two to eleven thought it was three floors of fun! 


There are nine themed exhibits over three floors, Amazing Animals, Artscape, Body Journey, Booktown, Dino Dig, NANO, Nature Trails, Sounds Abound, and Tradewinds.  

The kids each had there own favorite exhibit;


Wesley liked the truck especially when his favorite girl would ride with him.  He would keep saying momma down and pat the seat next to him until she would sit down.  He would then yell "yeah!" and clap his hands. 


AJ liked piloting the cargo ship. 


Addison loved the recording studio, we had to pull her away.  They all liked the studio but especially Addison.  Kate even has a video of myself and the three kids jamming out.


Canaan really liked this jungle tree house exhibit on the first floor.  It extended into the second floor but you couldn't get out on the second floor from it.  It was actually pretty cool, all the kid climbed through it.

We were there for just over two and a half hours and none of them wanted to go, until I told them I would buy them a cookie.  We drove a half mile down the road to Frank's Bake shop.  


Wesley and I got a molasses cookie, Kate a sugar, AJ chocolate chip, Addison a no bake cookie, and Canaan a chocolate dipped macaroon.  Wesley ate his cookie, half of mine and most of his mothers. 

We had a really fun day and there will be plenty more this summer. 

Later Readers!