When I think “week end in New England”, Vermont’s countryside (and cheese), Maine’s lobster or Cape Cod’s beach come in mind first. And what about New Hampshire? We spent Memorial Day weekend over there. What stroke me first when I came there was the “Live Free or Die” motto written everywhere. Claiming freedom is THE biggest deal in the US, and New Hampshire is really proud of it. Some examples though are a bit surprising: no helmets for bikers, no seat belt for car passengers, and no taxes on a lot of products. But anyway, what I’ll remember from this weekend won’t be about freedom, but mostly about wilderness: country, lakes, mountains, ocean, they are all in New Hampshire.
The video of our 3 day trip
And that’s the big loop we did:
Portsmouth and the Atlantic coast
The road along the ocean is narrow, and I’ve got the impression to be surrounded by water: the ocean on one side, and salt meadows on the other side of the road. On top of it, it was raining. We didn’t stay long though, since the coast is only 18 mile long, which makes it the smallest coast in the US.
Portsmouth is a really charming city. It’s small, but downtown is bustling with cafés and restaurants, the harbor is still on, and there’s a whole neighborhood with historic houses. We stayed for a couple of hours at the Strawbery Banke museum: it’s an old neighborhood preserved from destruction in the 70’s. It’s now possible to go inside each of the houses, to wander in the nice yards full of flowers. A bunch of costumed people tell stories about the past. It’s kind of eccentric, but I really enjoyed it. The name of the museum comes from the original name of Portsmouth. So cute!
In the center of New Hampshire, there’s a huge lake, the Winnipesaukee, which means “Smile of the Great Spirit”. But it’s not the only one, there’s almost a dozen of lakes. On the edges, we saw small coves, boats and cabins. With this sad weather, the feeling around this area was mostly… mysterious. It seems though that it’s pretty bustling during summer, with rustic stuff to do, like fishing and canoeing. We saw really nice villages over there, with tons of American flags, even more than usual – Memorial Day style I guess.
Close to the Winnipesaukee, there’s Squam Lake, where the movie On Golden Pond (the French name is: The House on the Lake if you ever interested) with Jane and Henry Fonda was shot.
New Hampshire humor: Fish Free or Die.
It was our third time in these mountains, we went skiing this winter, and last summer, we spent one day in the spectacular Flume Gorge. I’ve booked a few weeks ago two tickets for a cog railway to go at the top of Mount Washington, the highest point (2,000 meters, 6,288 ft – it’s definitely more impressive with the feet). It was really touristy, but I wasn’t really up to hike this mount: it has the reputation to be one of the hardest mountain to climb, not because it’s high, but because the weather is terrible and hard to predict. And this weekend, it snowed on top of the mount. So we found a shelter at the museum, where we learned everything about flowers and animals living there. But well, since the weather is awful, there’s not a lot of life up there.
We found this awesome BnB on AirBnb. Gorgeous view over the Presidential Range, home made breakfast with bacon and pancakes, and at night, fireplace, and sauna. We’ll go back!
We spent the last day on the countryside. The first stop was actually at a yard sale where we found a super rocking chair – saying that reminds me that I’m almost 30. We drove really slowly this morning, there was a parade on each village we crossed. It smelled barbecues.
In Hanover, we walked around the famous Dartmouth College campus (I say “famous” but actually I didn’t know anything about it before going there). High quality campus: red bricks building, cute white bell tower, large green where students do nothing. I wonder how it would be to live there during winter. I guess you just have to study.
Small villages in the south
Once again, we had the pleasure to admire true postcards of New England (maybe because we don’t go to ugly places): villages, white bell tower, mill along the rivers and of course, covered bridges. We need to go back for the fall foliage!
Cutest police station ever.