Wednesday, August 18, 2010

LIFE'S SIMPLE PLEASURES

Anybody who knows me will tell you that I march to the beat of a different drummer.

Who else do you know that comes home from a hard evening’s work and watches a steady stream of Have Gun – Will Travel and Gunsmoke reruns when the baseball games are over? If you know of anybody, let me know. I can use some good company.

I’m crazy, right? I should be watching the shows that everybody else watches so I can stay in tune with contemporary society. Sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy.

So when Lisa and I look into a vacation, we’re not likely to show up in the usual places. We don’t have a second home in Old Saybrook or Rhode Island and we’re not prone to sit idly on the beach for hour after hour anyway. We aren’t about to book any cruises so we can play shuffleboard and sail the ocean on a ship bigger than New Britain. You won’t find us in London, Paris or Amsterdam any time soon.

In June, we went to Antietam (western Maryland), Frederick, Md., Gettysburg and the Pennsylvania Dutch County. The impetus behind that trip was Civil War history.

Last week, we used our second vacation period to tour New Hampshire. As you would guess, we didn’t go to Hampton Beach. We didn’t even take in a ballgame in Manchester, Portland or Lowell, Mass., although my sports-loving wife would have surely been okay with that.

Lisa likes moose. She had never seen one up close and personal, so we packed up the Avalanche, motored up I-91 almost as far as you can go (St. Johnsbury, VT), and cut across the skinny northern part of New Hampshire on back roads. We came through the back door of the majestic Presidential Range, slipping through nice New England towns like Lancaster and Gorham.

In Gorham, we went on a moose tour. That’s right, a moose tour. The town sponsors tours in air-conditioned vans that seat a dozen or so people. The driver, who I’m so pleased to tell you is a fellow Grateful Dead freak, took us up along the Androscoggin River.

We packed in the van at about 6:30 p.m. We scoured the Androscoggin shores, the bogs, the thickets and the evergreen forests. No moose. Lisa’s optimism – they advertise a 94-to-97 percent success rate – was on the wane.

Dusk turned to dark and the driver took out his array of spotlights, one affixed to each side of the van’s hood and another more powerful hand-held variety. Finally, he flashed the hand-held light down a forested path and Lisa got to see her moose. One moose, and a small one at that.

It didn’t help to run into some folks from Presque Isle, Maine, during the vacation who said they see moose from their back porch almost daily. That didn’t please Lisa at all. She frowned and said, “No more moose.” No more moose socks, no more moose oven mitts, no more moose postcards.

We stayed in Jackson, N.H., just north of the bustling little burg of North Conway. The accommodations at the Inn at Ellis Falls were astounding. Jackson Falls are stunning as they cascade down the mountainside. We went on a train ride out of North Conway and heard some great historical stuff from the young conductors.

After two days in the mountains, we headed for the shore, which is a diversity that makes the Granite State so special. We stayed at a B&B (Three Chimneys Inn) in Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire, and went into Portsmouth for some shoreline frolic.

Portsmouth is the consummate New England port city, not so big and imposing like Boston but with plenty of amenities. Heck, we parked the car in a garage for 5 hours and it cost us $3. Try doing that in Beantown.

We took a boat tour of the Isles of Shoals, located about six miles out in the Atlantic, and were treated to an array of wildlife (no moose, but harbor seals aplenty), some sparkling white wine and a stirring history of the islands, part of which are in Maine and part in New Hampshire.

On the way home, we stocked up at the tax-free New Hampshire State Liquor Store (Live Free or Die) and made sure our gas tank was full to the brim so we could once again avoid paying the double tax on gasoline in Connecticut. Hey, a week later and I’m still running on that tank. I look for reasons to go out of state just so I don’t have to pay Connecticut prices, but I digress.

For years people have been compelled to show their home movies or still shots from their vacations. We’re not into the home movies but we have lots of still shots (no moose). Maybe Lisa will upload them. But I wouldn’t want to bore you any more with our run-of-the-mill existence. To many of you, I’m sure no moose is good moose.

2 comments:

Registered Maine Guides said...

Lisa, don't give up!
Northeast Guide Service offers daily moose tours. Our guides take you on leisurely canoe tours into our secret spots, where the Maine moose are known to hang out. We offer afternoon/evening Maine moose tours. Greenville, Maine and the Moosehead Lake Region are the best places in the world to see a moose!
http://www.northeastguideservice.com/maine-moose-tours

Ken Lipshez said...

Thank you very much for reading my blog and sending me this information. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to try again.

KL