At the end of a rainbow, a hawk comes to hunt

A double rainbow after a deluge

A double rainbow after a deluge

No matter how optimistic you try to be, it always seems there’s some one or some thing wanting to rain on your parade. The three of us headed to the ballpark last night to see the Phils and Braves. We decided to get a sandwich at Tony Luke’s on Oregon Avenue. As we waited in line, we had a view of a very ominous sky. Before our sandwich order was ready, you could see the storm literally, coming over Oregon Avenue from the west. The summer storm rained down on the flat, metal roof at the take-out store. Cars continued to pull up to Tony Luke’s and at one point, an SUV created a wave that gushed over the curb, sending customers in flip flops and sandals scurrying as they tried to (unsuccessfully) keep their feet dry. The half-hour storm passed to the east about 15 minutes before game time. A rare and beautiful, full, double rainbow formed. So many people stopped to take photos.

(l-r) Rick, Kevin, Mary & Michael

(l-r) Rick, Kevin, Mary & Michael

We met our friends, the Brauns at the game. Because of the rain, the grounds crew needed time to do what they could to dry up the field a bit and roll up the huge tarp that covers the infield. The game was a disappointment with Cliff Lee suffering his first loss as a Phil. After the 7 th inning, Doug and I decided to go to the section where our friends and our son were sitting, which was under cover on the first level. About 10:20, the heavens opened up. The wind had picked up and the flags in center field were stiff in the wind. In seconds, the teams scurried off the field along with the umpires and the game was in rain delay. Earlier, I had noted the Reading Phils game had been called in the 7th inning; I was concerned the rain from the west would be coming to South Philly. Boy, did it ever rain…and rain..and rain. This photo doesn’t show how unbelievably intense the storm seemed. There was a grounds crew guy walking the field, splashing and sinking into the outfield the entire way. Thirty minutes after the rain delay began, Phillies announcer Dan Baker told the remaining fans the game was called.

Torrents of rain; run for cover!

Torrents of rain; run for cover!

Now, we had to make our way to our cars. Doug went first, deciding to bring the car closer to the ballpark and pick up Adam and I, along with the Brauns. All seven of us were in our car; we found the Braun’s van and they went off into the rainy night. Fortunately, we made it home with no problems, except for drenched feet and the knowledge that the Phils lost big to the Braves 9-1.

A sunny Sunday meant sleeping in a bit, then tackling some work I had to do. The day was quiet and peaceful until lunchtime when the wailing of an animal sent Doug and I running into the backyard. It was a horrendous cry of distress; you couldn’t tell what type of animal was having a problem, but you knew for sure, the animal was in trouble. We followed the sound of the wailing. The hawk the visits our yard often was back. He cornered a rabbit under the forsythia bush and was definitely winning the fight with the rabbit. Hours later, Doug took care of the remains of the rabbit who had suffered such a painful ending.

Elmer looks for dinner near our veggie garden

Elmer looks for dinner near our veggie garden

Later in the day, the hawk was back, perched on the cage above our vegetable garden; his head turning like Linda Blair’s in the Exorcist, looking for dinner. As far as we could tell, the hawk only scored a few bugs and no small animals. I don’t think we’re eating dinner out on the patio tonight. Doug has named him Elmer for going after the “wascally wabbit.”

Bracing for goodbye to the lake

Just as the loons welcomed us back, the clouds are crying as we get ready to venture home from this wonderful place. Intermittent showers this morning, followed by the calm before the storm this afternoon will mark our final full day in NH. This morning, Doug and I ventured to a Barn sale. This family had a wonderful, fairly newly constructed bar, where they laid out their unwanted treasures in a very organized fashion.  Outside as rain fell, there was water sports equipment, boat motors and more. Hanging from the rafters of the barn was the most gorgeous wooden canoe. It was built in 2007, but it will likely last for decades. It was NOT for sale. We picked up a terrific wood, reclining beach chair that seemed virtually new as well as a pair of trekking poles Doug had been wanting.

Tamworth Farmers Market

Tamworth Farmers Market

We then stopped at the Tamworth Farmer’s Market which is there Saturdays from 9-noon. Just terrific to listen to the local people sharing stories of how their week went and seeing return visitors and welcoming new visitors like Doug and I. Doug picked up a homemade cinnamon roll. I bought a photo card after talking with a husband and wife who were also selling their vegetables and flowers. He takes photos of everything including a salamander, every type of wild flower and the NH scenery. We chatted about the NH state “bird,” the mosquitoe, then shared stories about the Brigantine official “bird,” the green head fly.

Simple pleasures; feeding the ducks on Danforth Bay

Simple pleasures; feeding the ducks on Danforth Bay

We also checked out two of three possible rental houses for next year. There is really little doubt we will return. This is our happy place. The sun is out now. The lake calls. A few more strokes in the lake and a drive by Camp Robin Hood filled the day. We stopped at Lobster Quest for three fresh lobster costing just under $21. Good things to come for our last dinner in this place.

Our delicious dinner was followed by a drive on Elm St. Really. The night is pitch dark here. The roads seem to go no where. The boys were telling spooky stories and Doug’s GPS didn’t seem to want to get us to the route 16 Dairy Bar for our last ice cream dessert. Just a few miles out of our way, we found Route 16. My small, sugar free Kahlua Fudge cone was awesome. The boys had their extra thick frappes. Doug watched since he ate his ice cream left from the Sandwich Creamery the other night. Now, it’s time to watch “On Golden Pond.” We get the Hollywood version of Squam and Winnipesaukee Lakes and classic Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda.

Barn sale chair put to good use; we'll be back

Barn sale chair put to good use; we'll be back

We’ll return to this place that brings us such joy and peace. The loons will call us back to the lake. Sweet Dreams from Danforth Bay.

“Ayuh!” (so THAT’s how you spell it)

The way people talk in different parts of the country never fails to fascinate visitors. I spent many years on the radio perfecting a dialect that indicated I was from absolutely no where! No hint of a Philadelphia accent (except when I was really tired). My ear is very sensitive to voices after all these years as a journalist and radio newscaster. The New England way of saying “yes” never fails to make me smile; you comment about the great weather to the gentleman at the general store buying a newspaper and he answers, “Ayuh!” Stopping today in Wooodstock, NH after a damp and foggy visit to the amazing Lost River attraction, there was a sign outside a coffee shop and cafe that simply said, “Ayuh!” At first, I had no idea what the letters meant. My brain sounded out the word and there it was; a word I’d heard and repeated myself during New England vacations but never saw in print.

NHFrirain_20090821_08We traveled the 34 miles of Kancamagus Highway and stopped at Upper Falls of Rocky Gorge where the boys enjoyed hopping the rocks. No swimming allowed there. The gray day kept down the traffic and crowds. The weather thwarted our attempt to visit The Flume at Franconia Notch more than an hour away from our vacation house. We did have a nice picnic lunch at the park before deciding the boys would best enjoy wandering the caves, rocks and climbing of Lost River about 15 minutes from Franconia Notch. Doug and I had been there before as had Adam. He wanted to show Andrew the attraction, so we opted to let them go ahead on their own while Doug and I explored the free garden path and Kinsman Trail. The site has lovely grounds maintained by volunteers as well as paid staff. Even on a dreary day, the place was beautiful.NHFrirain_20090821_12

After the Woodstock visit and some ice cream for the boys and Doug, the rains really started to hit as we crossed the White Mountain region along Route 93. We decided to let the boys have another round at Funstop in Weir’s beach. The place is a bit of Lakes Region history. It’s more than 50 years old and run by the Lawton family. It’s billed as the largest arcade according to the Guiness Records people. 55,000 square feet of arcade games that date back to the 70’s and to the present; there’s pinball, skee ball, air hockey, little rides andgames for the tikes and 20 bowling lanes. At 5 pm, I’m told by other parents wondering, he bar opens for adult beverages. Lest I forget there’s an indoor mini-golf course and one outside as well as a Bingo Hall. Best of all, you don’t go broke. You buy 100 tokens for $20 and most (not all) of the games are one token each. Doug and I decided to spend $5 on games which was enough for me. I got in some Pac Man and pinball; that’s as far as my interest in video games goes.

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Our ride back was mostly in the rain. We’ve had thunder and lightning throughout the dinner hour. A wonderful vacation meal of steak on the barby, caeser salad and baked potato leaves me content. We have one more full day in this paradise of NH. Sweet dreams from Danforth Bay.

A Man and his Fish; A man and his water ski

Some people are morning people; some people are not. I happen to fall in the former category. While my old work shift had me waking up the birds, it is so wonderful after eight years of sleep deprivation to wake up with the birds. Actually, it’s been waking up with the red squirrel squealing and chomping on a tree outside out bedroom window on Danforth Bay. But, I’m not complaining.

The heron shows us the way

The heron shows us the way

We actually slept in today until 7:30. By 8, Doug and I were gliding in our canoe on a mirror-flat lake with the morning sun just starting to warm the air that was so cool and comfortable through the night. We went to the Danforth Ponds where only canoes and kayaks can maneuver. The lily pads make Monet look like a fake. The beaver lodges are enormous and plentiful. A rustling in the trees caught our attention. It was a huge bird with a 4-foot wing span. It glided from a tree to the brush on our right; we caught up; he flew farther along the pond. This was a heron; slate blue with a graceful flight that seemed to be showing us the way along the pond. The heron did this a few more times, then flew back to the tall tree where he surely perched himself again to watch for the next group of people in a canoe or kayak. We made our way to the large pond where a lone man in a canoe was fishing. We kept our distance respecting the quiet of a fisherman. We paddled toward the sound of water, which was all we could hear in this pristine spot. We found the small creek feeding into the pond. Just as we came about, the fisherman said, “Look!” He was holding up his catch. We couldn’t react fast enough with the camera, but we gave him a “thumbs up” as he released his 18-inch catch back into the pond. He must have been so pleased someone was there to witness his catch of the day.

A fisherman after releasing his catch

A fisherman after releasing his catch

While Adam and Andrew slept in (until noon), Doug and I decided to go on a little hike. Mount Mary, which overlooks Danforth Bay rising nearly 1000 feet. From the base of the trail we chose, we only had to climb for about 15 minutes. 1/2 mile later, we were at the top, the only people on the trail and atop the mountain, looking down on Lake Ossipee and its bays, channels and ponds.

NHThurMtMary_20090820_11Lunchtime turned into an early dinner before we packed up to head to my brother-in-law’s vacation rental house in Meredith, about an hour away. Doug had a chance to water ski one more time and he had to take him up on the offer. The boys weren’t really excited about hanging out with relatives again, though they knew at the end of that visit they’d be going to the world’s biggest arcade, Funspot, near Weir’s Beach. We decided to let the boys have expanded arcade time, by dropping them off before we went to Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee. Good call.

We arrived at Greg and Theresa’s rental house where Barry, Joan and Carol had already arrived. We quickly loaded the boat with Greg and Theresa’s three kids, Carol, Barry, myself, Greg piloting and Doug at the ready to ski. Doug was determined to get up and slalom ski. After one failed attempt, he got up and skied around the cove. It was glorious to watch him skirt across the lake on one ski. He jumped the wake and maneuvered from one side of the boat to the other. Then, he’d had enough. The 50-year-old arms and legs just don’t last like they used to. Nicklas, all of 8, wanted his turn tubing. Greg wove around the lake for a while and I swore Nicklas would just fly off that tube, but he held on for dear life and loved every minute of it. Doug then had his chance to “hot dog” it for the kids on the tube. Doug caught some air a couple of times as Greg tried to zig zag around, I’m sure, to try and toss his brother off the tube into the lake. Didn’t happen this time!  NHThurDBski_20090820_59

Doug skis slalom on Winnipesaukee

Doug skis slalom on Winnipesaukee

We said our goodbyes to family, then picked up the boys at Funspot where they thoroughly enjoyed nearly two hours of arcade games and some unhealthy snacks. We’re back at the house; the boys build a fire in the pit by the lake; they’re talking about everything and making s’mores. It’s almost sweet dreams, from Danforth Lake.

A Bigger Lake to Explore

Some say less is more. I generally subscribe to that philosophy. Lake Winnipesaukee equals more. We’ve  vacationed now on Lake Ossipee for two years, now preferring the quiet coves, bays and channels which lead to the huge main lake. The main lake is windy and rough enough on any given day so you’re able to really feel the New Hampshire wind and see the amazing peaks of the White Mountains as well as a peak of Mount Washington.

Enter Lake Winnipesaukee. We vacationed there for three years. There is plenty to see and do in and around the lake. It is massive. We have enjoyed exploring islands throughout the lake, finding coves and conservation areas to explore and one of our favorite swim spots, Braun Bay. People anchor there for hours and enjoy the shallow water to float and swim around in, tossing balls and frisbees and even using their boat grill to sizzle up burgers and dogs for lunch. NHWedWinni_20090819_44

We returned to rent a power boat from Anchor Marina mainly to let our son’s friend Andrew have the Winnipesaukee experience. After seeing Lake Ossipee, which he thought was amazing, he was more amazed at the massive size and how different Winnipesaukee is. The wide, open areas which are great for water skiing and tubing, are never really smooth as glass.

Andrew's 1st attempt

Andrew's 1st attempt

For a beginner water skier, smooth water would have been best. But, he’s 15 and willing to give this a try. Doug gave him the safety lesson and on-board water skiing tips on the main thing: getting up. From a crunched, fetal position with these heavy water skis attached to your feet plus the ski rope which has to be between your skis and the ski vest. It’s a lot to negotiate all while floating in a deep lake. Andrew tried SIX times to get up on those skis. Once, he almost made it. He was exhausted; we applauded his efforts. Between the wind and the rougher water, I knew he might have a tough time. He gave it a shot.

Adam and Andrew then took turns tubing. That experience on Winnipesaukee was also more rough. On a Wednesday, water traffic isn’t too terrible, but the Winnipesaukee mail delivery boats, the Doris E. and Sophie C. were cruising the lake delivering mail to the islands, plus other boats made for more wake and rougher waters. The boys didn’t care; they loved jumping the wake of our boat and others to bounce around like no ride they have ever enjoyed more.

Adam on Winnipesaukee; barge hauling a deck on right

Adam on Winnipesaukee; barge hauling a deck on right

Lunch time came about quickly. I noticed a large, bare dock which turned out to be a camp dock that was apparently closed for the season. We gobbled lunch, then headed out to Braun Bay for some relaxing swim time.

Later, it was time for more tubing. We ended up near where our vacation house on Winnipesaukee is located. Both Andrew and Adam took turns tubing on a very rough patch of the lake. There was lots of bounce and Adam got thrown off the tube when we hit a wake of another boat. Watching their faces grinning with the excitement of the wet ride is what vacation is about with family and friends.

Despite a hearty lunch, the boys were hungry a bit later. We cruised in to Meredith Bay. It’s a lovely town with a great marina area and the Town Docks restaurant which has a couple of docks for drive-up service. We enjoyed a mid-afternoon snack and watched storm clouds pass overhead. There were a few raindrops, but nothing to spoil the day.

The boys were completely wiped out. We headed back to Anchor Marina on Weirs Bearch. The boys got off to head to the car to chill with their I-Pods while Doug and I had a half-hour power date. We wanted to cruise around Governor’s Island which has the most expensive real estate on Winnipesaukee. First, Doug told the marina staff the engine was losing power. That word brought Captain Bob to the dock. He is a character. I don’t know if he’s a captain; I just call him that. He wears a white, Anchor Marina shirt and shorts and has a gold chain with an anchor charm attached. His voice is distinct. He explains all of the safety hazards and basic “ins and outs” of the part of Winnipesaukee that the boat renters will cruise on during their 8-hour rental. Doug, fortunately, is an experienced boater and sailor. I think Captain Bob really appreciated that. He could tell Doug was responsible and not out to “hot dog” and be reckless on the lake. Bad things happen to good people; sometimes those things happen because they think nothing bad can happen to them. Back to the engine power. Captain Bob boarded the boat with us and wanted to “feel” the engine himself. After the staff added a few quarts of oil, the power problem dissipated, but the Captian said the engine was revving too high. No matter; in a few minutes, the Captain was back at the dock while Doug and I continued the power date.

The Governor’s Island properties vary from traditional lakehouse to obscenely huge and completely out of step with the landscape of the lake. The properties cost a minimum of about $5 million into the $20 million range and probably higher. The largest house on Governor’s island is 265′ long. Lord knows how many square feet; I’d guess in the 30,000 range. Obscene. There is a cute play-set in one of the many landscaped areas around the house, so kids or grand-kids can enjoy the place. Of course, the house had several boathouses, an extensive dock and more than your eyes could take in with a “boat-by” glance. Our favorite house was a blue-gray frame, Cape Cod-style house with a screened porch overlooking the lake; a very nice dock and just enough beach to enjoy three seasons a year. Still, that place had to be in the $5-7 million range. Yikes.

After turning in the boat after a long day on the water, we stopped at The Old Country Store in Moultonborough on Routes 25 and 109. It’s a tradition; we stop there almost every visit. I pick up a New Hampshire calendar for the next year; Adam combs through the toys and kid stuff in the back room and Doug plays with the puzzles. Andrew bought a Harley Davidson sign (?). We bumped into a nice couple. Tom is from Medford, NJ now living in Salem, NH. He wanted to know what happened to the racetrack in Cherry Hill; he had heard it burned down years ago, but he had loved the rebuilt sight. No more. All gone. That’s one thing about New Hampshire. There may be new, bigger and obscene houses here and there, but the simple scheme of life here continues. The lake will never change and life around it will be tweaked a little, but I’ll let the lake be my guide whether it’s Ossipee or Winnipesaukee.

Sweet Dreams from Danforth Bay.

From 3 Bucks at a Rocky Gorge (and other boulders) to a Pizza Barn

Madison Boulder in NH

Madison Boulder in NH

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Vacation can be full of sensory overload. Tuesday was that day. The Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) is called one of the nation’s most scenic highways. The road stretches through the White Mountains for 34 miles from Route 16 to Route 93. Except for a few National Forest-approved inns and businesses along the first few miles on either side, there are no services; no gas, no snack bars, no souvenir shops, no flush toilets (seriously). While we have traversed the road in a motor-home some years back, our visits have mostly been to a place called Rocky Gorge. We go to what is called the lower falls. Rocky Gorge is about 7-8 miles from the east side of the Kancamagus. Walt Disney or Six Flags have nothing on this water park made by Mother Nature. The Swift River winds along the mountain range and New Hampshire, being the Granite State and all is blessed with boulders the size of Winnebagos. The rocks have been part of the mountains, streams and rivers for eons. In this patch of the Swift River, families from the local area as well as visitors who just happen upon the site, are amazed at the rushing current on one stretch and the babbling brook feel of the cool water. Here is a place where you can climb the rocks find some rapids you can handle and plunge into the river with the current taking you maybe 20-feet into a deeper pool; you quickly swim to one side or the other, or face a waterfall that isn’t so high as it is rough when you hit the rocks below. The veterans at the sport of Rocky Gorge are observed by the novices. The vets tread on the smooth and slippery rocks knowing just where their feet will get a grip. Small children stick to the babbling brook areas with moms, dads and grandparents close by. From age 8 and up, it’s a playground like no other. On a Tuesday morning, there were no crowds, just those of us with some time off, wanting to enjoy what Mother Nature offers for the price of  National Park day pass..$3. Seriously.
Adam, Andrew and Doug negotiate Rocky Gorge

Adam, Andrew and Doug negotiate Rocky Gorge

Earlier, we visited Madison Boulder. A zillion years ago when glaciers were moving the earth, this boulder ended up in the forest. It’s the size of a four bedroom house in the suburbs. Unless you take a left off Route 153 when you see the brown attraction sign that says “Madison Boulder,” you’d never know it existed. Our host at a bed and breakfast we loved to visit told us about Madison Boulder. Now Adam and his friend, Andrew have enjoyed this spectacle of nature. Admission price: Free.

Along Route 16 in Ossipee is a place owned by the Meader family; it’s been around for decades. My husband went there when he was a camper at Camp Robin Hood. Pizza Barn burned down at least once, but it’s been in its current form for many years. It’s..a barn and they serve ..pizza. OK, there’s pasta, salads and the like. Pizza Barn became the site this vacation for our family dinner.

Part of the Breskin-Friedman family at Pizza Barn, Ossippee, NH

We gathered, all 17 of us, for pitchers of cold Tuckerman’s beer and soda; several pizzas, plates of pasta and some caeser salads. Most of all, it was a chance to hang out for a couple of hours. Our family picture will be posted when cousin Sean catches up when he gets back from vacation. Family time is priceless.

Loons, Beavers, Red Squirrels and Nudists (now that I have your attention..)

The magic in the trees of Camp Robin Hood, may never look the same in my mind’s eye after seeing how one group visiting camp spent their leisure time.  More on that later..

Katherine Hepburn stands on the cabin porch “On Golden Pond” crying, “The loons, the loons are welcoming us back” (Or something like that). Once you hear the call of a loon, you have experienced lake-living in New Hampshire. Sometime after five this morning, I heard that solitary call. I heard it just once so far. Loon are solitary birds. Unless they are nesting or training their young, they swim by themselves. Their sleek bodies are longer and flatter than a duck, therefore their bodies are just about below the surface when they swim with their long necks and black beaks showing.  Unlike ducks, they don’t want to come near you for a morsel of food you might toss off the canoe. You just watch; the loons watch you back. Then you move on as do the loon.

Last night after ice cream, Doug heard a rustling in the trees next to our cottage. He also heard something gnawing on the trees. He tried to silently move toward the end of the porch to peer into the black night to see an outline of whatever animal was so close. The noise Doug made bumping a chair spooked the animal which then hustled down the slope and splashed into the dark lake. Doug determined it was a beaver. Across Danforth Bay, there is a small waterway, large enough for a canoe or kayak to maneuver in. Follow that creek and along the way, you’ll see beaver lodges. We’ll make that trip this week.

Right now, I hear a rustling in the trees. A red squirrel with a whNHMonboating_20090817_07ite belly has been very busy this morning. He was chirping and pecking at the trees. Now, he’s chewing something that’s about a third the size of him. It appears he’s chewing the bark off a small limb. OOPS, he dropped it. He’s looking down as if to say, “Aw, crap.” Doug thinks he dropped it intentionally because he’s done with it.NHMonboating_20090817_47

This is boating day on Lake Ossipee. We pick up the 18 foot speed boat at Lakefront Marina this morning. Cousin Barry and Joan from LA joined us for a morning of water skiing (Doug) and tubing (Adam and Andrew) on Lake Ossipee. We decided to pay a visit to Camp Robin Hood and have some lunch. We approached camp’s waterfront on Broad Bay as we have many, many times before. But as we got closer and the people visiting camp for a private event seemed somehow, different. Just as Doug or Barry made note of people in the nude I looked over as a man dove into the lake, au naturale. OK, folks, I’m no prude, but it’s broad (pun intended) daylight. This camp has been in my husband’s family history for decades (1927). The Friedman brothers who founded camp are surely chuckling in their graves today.

Andrew has another "first" experience..tubing

Andrew has another "first" experience..tubing

We got off our boat on the beach at camp and decided to go ahead toward the dining hall for lunch. We wanted to track down some of the camp brass to let them know we were visiting. First, we met a woman who was part of the artistic group that had rented camp for several days. She made a very big deal about US visiting and invited us to join them for lunch. She introduced my husband to the group as a whole, telling them Doug’s grandfather had founded Camp Robin Hood (along with his three brothers). The group applauded. I was mortified. We said hello to the camp owner and a few others we knew, then made our way into the dining hall. The artistic group had a special menu..all vegetarian and vegan. Very interesting, healthy and full of fiber. After a quick walk back to the waterfront, where people were still sunning themselves where the sun don’t shine, we sped away over Broad Bay (really, that’s the name of the bay, not another pun).  I am certain my 15-year-old son and his friend, Andrew will have stories to tell from the open and free way these folks so easily lived for some time. I feel as though I was in a time warp and was in my own little Woodstock. I don’t think I’ll ever see the camp waterfront in quiteNHMonboating_20090817_22 the same way again. By the way, I could have taken photos, but that would have been just wrong.

Our day of the lake was full of splashing, floating, sightseeing and eye-popping spectacles. Another dinner on the grill back at Danforth Bay..amd maybe out for ice cream. It’s oppressively hot, but the sun has set and it will certainly cool off. Sweet dreams from Danforth Bay.

Back at my happy place

You know when you are going through a painful dentist appointment or facing an unpleasant situation you try to put your mind at ease by thinking about something happy? New Hampshire is my happy place. I have many happy places, but this week, I get to revisit many of my happy places with my family and on my own. This afternoon, we picked up Adam’s buddy, Andrew at Manchester airport. Even that experience was a “happy place moment.” Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) is one of the finest small airports I’ve been in.

You can arrive from Philly, get your luggage, rent your car and be on the road in under 30-minutes. Andrew arrived from his first solo commercial flight with a big smile on his face and thrilled he was in New England for this vacation. A quick stop for lunch on the way to our vacation rental house, then groceries and we were unpacking on Danforth Bay off Lake Ossipee about 3 pm. Adam and Andrew took the first dives in the lake; Doug inflated the water toys; I unpacked and was not far behind them. I floated in a raft for about 45 minutes. The usual first vacation dinner of pasta, sausage, salad and garlic bread was enjoyed on the screened porch of our waterfront cottage. NHDanforthBay_20090816_01NHDanforthBay_20090816_04

OK, cell phones work here..sometimes

OK, cell phones work here..sometimes

 Now the sun is starting to slip below Mary’s Mountain.

Frappes for the boys

Frappes for the boys

 There are still some speed boats with a wakeboarder cutting through the smooth bay water. The air is still and it’s warm. But it’s nothing like the humidity and discomfort you feel at home. NHMonboating_20090816_01Once the sun sets, a cool breeze will envelope the White Mountains and we’ll settle in to watch the Phillies game on ESPN tonight. First, it’s ice cream at Cozy Corner in the tiny town of Freedom. OK, maybe another adult beverage as well. Sweet dreams from Danforth Bay.

A classical vacation..almost interruptus

A visit to Tanglewood

A visit to Tanglewood

Do you remember that commercial where a group of friends around a lake, presumably on vacation, throw their cell phones in the lake? THAT’s what I need to do over the next week: silence my phone and NOT take it with me when I’m out supposedly ON VACATION.

This final prelude leading to a week in New Hampshire included seeing off some family going ahead of us to their vacation rentals in NH, a bit more laundry and a walk in Great Barrington with my husband.

Tonight, Doug, Adam and I had dinner at Tanglewood with my mother-in-law and her concert friends. The site there is gorgeous and serene in the hills of Lenox, MA. Mostly adults, but some families and 30 somethings choose their patch of grass or a favorite tree to have a picnic supper in the twilight before tonight’s concert led by conductor Andre Previn and the Boston Symphony

Grounds of Tanglewood

Grounds of Tanglewood

 Orchestra. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performed Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2 in A which was preceded by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B-flat.  In reality, Adam didn’t find enough around the grounds to interest him, so we took him home after dinner and a walk around the grounds. While the three of us were on that stroll, my cell phone rang. We have caller ID for a reason. And I reacted, rather than realize WHO was calling; WHEN they were calling and that I probably couldn’t do much about what would be on their mind. Ten minutes later, I had to handle this situation; make an executive decision and execute it. Fortunately, it did not ruin my evening. Live and learn.

Now, after the serene and classical evening, the temperature has cooled down; windows are open, there’s a book to read. Despite the work-related drama a few people tried to create earlier today, the world will turn, no lives will be lost and life will go on. So will this vacation. Cheers!

Vacation is..forgetting what day of the week it is.

I often wonder what stratosphere vacation falls in. You can go through every work day knowing exactly what time it is, what task is underway, what comes next, what is on the next day’s “to-do” list. Start your vacation and everything revolves around trying to make the day last longer.

This vacation day wasn’t particularly notable or unique, but I had to keep thinking, “Is today Thursday or Friday?” Doug and I walked out into the morning dew with a light fog hovering over the fields. Our morning exercise took us about two miles from the house. We noticed the homes for sale; discovered that pianist George Shearing lives in one of the houses I’ve been walking past for years. I looked deep into the meadows to the left and right hoping to see the family of deer that once bolted across Devon Road mere yards in front of me, creating a vision that will always be in my mind’s eye. On this day, it was a great conversation with Doug about life, home, relationships and more. It’s amazing what you can get done in an hour.

Sweet Larissa before dinner

Sweet Larissa before dinner

Later in the day while Doug worked on his mom’s “honey-do” list around her house, Adam finally

Sketch by Carol Kardon of First Congregational Church of Lee, MA

Sketch by Carol Kardon of First Congregational Church of Lee, MA

got up. We went into town to pick up a few things. He finally was hungry for lunch. So I had a lovely conversation and some food while sitting on the restaurant porch. We looked across the street where the historic First Congregational Church of Lee has stood in several different forms since the 1700’s. The church has one of the tallest steeples in New England and looks just like the one that sits in the middle of the wide shot of the opening of the 1960’s night time soap opera Peyton Place. We noticed the paint literally falling off the church and worse yet, the top of the steeple is rotted away. Adam said we should cross the street after lunch to take a closer look after lunch. As we walked in the shade of the old trees lining the sidewalk leading to the church which sits just behind town hall, Adam said that he really liked the feel of the small town. We read the sign that has been posted in front of the church indicating that it has qualified for an emergency grant to restore the facility. There’s no indication work will start any time soon. In fact, it appears they have an interim pastor whose name isn’t even posted on the sign outside the church. The tall windows gracing the sides of the church are cracked and crying for attention. Every inch of the outside seems to be peeling away inch by inch. Church members of the sexton have made every effort to make the place welcoming to all by putting big, potted plants outside. But the facility is just so sad looking. The restoration will take many hundreds of thousands of dollars. I hope the next time I visit, we see scaffolding and work crew who will skillfully bring back the First CongregationalChurch of Lee back to its glory. The building was twice destroyed by fire; now it is being destroyed by time. Adam noted, “At least the clock on the church still works.”  http://www.ucc-lee.org/history.asp

Family time today brought more family to my mother-in-law’s. First the afternoon was filled with puttering around the house and conversation about family; who did what to who and expectations of things to come. Dinner was a zoo!  Burgers and dogs on the grill may sound simple enough, but when you factor in three young cousins, a teenager and seven adults. It gets very loud. The New England mosquitoes decided to kick into overdrive, so plans for dinner on the patio evolved into  finding a place at the table. There’s nothing like watching our son totally entertain his three young cousins. They couldn’t get enough of him. Dessert was followed by quick good-byes. The little ones needed to go to sleep at their nearby hotel with their mom and dad.NHLeeMA_20090814_08

Sleep on vacation is nothing like day-to-day. Dreams are more pleasant; sleep is more sound and waking up brings that, “What’s next” feeling. Tomorrow is…Saturday; What’s next?