New Hampshire Part II: Raymond

We got up early to leave the campground in Maine by 9. We were only traveling about 4 miles, and Cummins was expecting us at 10. However, we wanted to leave room for any worst-case-scenario that was likely to pop up.  The only real glitch of the morning turned up right before we pulled out. I was brushing my teeth when I realized water was rushing out onto the floor in my bathroom area. Looks like the repair man back in Gardiner, N.Y. didn’t fix our leak after all. We mopped up the water with towels and decided to deal with it later.

We dropped off the coach ahead of schedule and found a local diner in Scarborough. It seemed like a gut-buster breakfast was appropriate for the day. We needed energy for waiting and (hopefully) traveling. After we stuffed ourselves, we found a walking trail in South Portland. We figured we would walk off our breakfast and tire out the dogs at the same time. Next stop was the trucker lounge at Cummins, and the dogs would be much less conspicuous if they slept in a corner the whole time.

The trail was a nice way to see the community of South Portland.  We jumped on it in the central section of South Portland and followed it for a couple of miles along the water and through several neighborhoods before turning around and retracing our path back to the car. About mid-way through our walk we discovered one generous soul that lived along the trail had left bowls of water and dog treats (in a sealed Tupperware container) on her driveway for the canines that needed a break along the way. Very thoughtful. You can bet Piper and Cessna knew the exact house on our return trek.  They emptied the water bowl, and I refilled it with the spare jugs she left for that purpose. She returned home just as we were leaving for the second time, so I was glad I got to thank her in person.

The rest of the day went fine. They fixed the leak; we paid the bill, hooked up the car, and pulled out for New Hampshire about 4:30 that afternoon. We had been very smart and strategic about selecting our next campground. We knew we would be getting a late start, so we picked a place that was only about 60 miles south of us. We were heading to a new state in a different region, but only slightly over an hour’s drive from where we were leaving. Much less stress that way. Our destination was Pine Acres Family Campground in Raymond, NH. The state of New Hampshire doesn’t allow dogs in their state parks (go figure), so we had to stay in private campgrounds while exploring The Granite State.

We pulled in around 6:00 and settled in easily. This time our camp spot was nestled into some trees with lots of space and shade. It was much cozier than the two camping spots we stayed at in Maine – where we were exposed in the wide open. The campground itself was gigantic with over 400 sites. About 10% of the campsites were for RV’s coming for short stays, 10% were for tent campers, and the other 80% of those spots were seasonal. Families from Massachusetts had weekend trailers set up there permanently. They would come in on the weekends and go back home during the week for work.  They all knew each other. Our campground was on a section of the Lamprey River called Dead Pond. That is where the swimming beach was located. Not a very touristy name for a pond or swimming beach, but that is what it is called on the map. Everyone had a golf cart and the street in front of our spot looked like a summer lake parade at some times during the day – families passing back and forth in front of our windshield loaded down with floats, coolers, beach towels and KIDS. Some people had golf carts with trailers attached so they could pull more gear and humans at once. Carts, cars, work trucks, kids on bikes, pedestrians walking dogs, and all size RV’s entering and leaving the park all shared the same 1 ½ lane road.  At night there were no lights along the streets of the park. There were also no rules about having lights on your golf cart or bicycle at night (at least they were not enforced). We really tried not to walk around after dark. All the traffic and chaos added up to an accident waiting to happen.

We didn’t really join in on the festivities while we were there, but there were plenty of options available if we had wanted to. We ended up staying at Pine Acres over the span of two weekends. The first weekend was Carnival. They had scheduled a family dance at the Pavilion, a horse shoe tournament, a softball game, and lot of other kid’s games in the arcade area. The second weekend was Christmas weekend, so all the golf carts were decorated with wreaths & ornaments. They even had a comedian do a show in the Adult Rec Hall at 9pm on the second Saturday we were there.

Much of our time in Raymond was spent on two projects. The first was fixing my bathroom sink. There was no point in paying another nimwit to “fix” the issue with the plumbing. Mike was going to have to figure it out and fix it himself. The project became somewhat complicated when it was determined that the cause of the leak was related to the slide-out mechanism on the RV. Our rear driver’s side slide-out spans from my sink and bathroom area all the way through our bedroom to the back closet. When our walls expand the bathroom and bed all move back a couple of feet. It looked as though the pipes behind the cabinets were also moving when the walls expanded… and that wasn’t necessarily how the coach was designed.

The second project was related to storage. On travel days we have to carry some of our stuff in the car because there is no more room inside the coach or underneath in the bays. We generally store Mike’s golf clubs, our fold-up chairs, the dog kennels, and other miscellaneous things in the hatch-back and back seat of the Honda. Once we get to a new spot, Mike has to unload everything before we can use the car. He keeps busy shuffling our gear around before we leave and after we arrive to each place. When it rains, things get more complicated because we need to clear the car, but if we leave the stuff outside it will get wet.

After we started spending so much time on the road, I noticed how many cars have cargo storage boxes attached to the top. I started thinking we needed one of those. Mike would have a permanent place to store our “extra” gear. The stuff could have a designated “home”, and he could stop wasting time with the shuffling. Mike has Reverse Idea Origination Syndrome, so it took a while for my idea to come to fruition. The first step was to tell him the idea, and then start pointing out the storage containers during our travels. The next step was to wait until Mike thought he came up with the idea all by himself. At which point, he would take action. My plan had worked, and by the time we arrived in New Hampshire, he was ready to start the process of researching and purchasing our storage box. We visited every sporting goods store and one bicycle shop in southern New Hampshire before we ended up having to order one online.

Our first outing was to Manchester. For the past few months I had been craving Mexican food. I am well aware that Tex-Mex is not available outside of Texas. Each time we arrived at a new spot, I would scan the area for Mexican food restaurants, but I had not been brave enough to try one yet. I knew it would not be authentic, and therefore I would be disappointed. After reading many reviews, I had worked up the nerve to try a spot called Consuelo’s Taqueria located about 30-minutes away in Manchester. We stopped at a Dick’s Sporting Goods on the way to the eatery in downtown. I had a burrito and Mike ordered the tamale special. It was okay. We tried to walk around downtown Manchester after our lunch, but the place was so run down and dreary, we were heading back to our car after only a few blocks. The homeless guy following us down a deserted sidewalk toward a massive abandoned riverfront warehouse didn’t generate such a good impression on our afternoon stroll.

Our storage container research also took us east to Portsmouth. After visiting Sears and another Dick’s Sporting Goods in the big box retail strip, we made our way to downtown on the harbor.  It had been raining lightly all day, and by the time we got to the center of Portsmouth we were in a steady downpour. We had hoped to walk around and scout out several restaurants before selecting where we wanted to eat lunch. Instead, we found the first available parking spot and ate at the nearest burger joint across the street – the Rusty Hammer. We were a complete bother to the waitress, although we were the only customers in the entire front section of the restaurant. The rain let up just as we finished eating, so we did get to walk around town after all. All the buildings were red brick.  Cobblestone walkways and granite curbs lined the streets. A great mix of robust businesses seemed to thrive with local patrons and tourists. Storefronts included gift shops, clothing stores, book stores, artist galleries, and professional businesses along with a varied selection of restaurants and bars. After our tour of downtown, we drove the long way home through the community of Rye. We saw some fabulous properties as we followed the water to the south.

As for the previously mentioned “Project #1”, Mike as able to make a trip to Lowe’s and Wal-Mart in the next town for the parts he thought he needed. The brilliant man fixed the sink, and now I can brush my teeth in peace and quiet. We would not be able to survive this adventure if Mike weren’t such a great handy-man.

The biggest ‘daytrip’ of our tour so far took place during our stay at Pine Acres in Raymond. We happened to hear an announcement on the radio for a Robert Plant Concert at the Boston Harbor on July 25th, so we decided to go. Although the concert venue was only about 60 miles away, there was no way we would be driving anywhere after the event. We decided to book a hotel room near the Bank of America Pavilion and make it an overnight trip. We couldn’t leave the dogs in the bus, so we needed to take them with us. There was a Westin that allowed dogs just a few blocks from where the concert was to take place, so we booked a room and bought our tickets.

Of course, the day of the concert was rainy. We drove south in the grey wet to Boston, parked the car in the parking garage, and checked into the hotel. The rain had stopped for the moment, so we decided to take the dogs for a walk while we had the chance. We wandered around South Boston and into the outskirts of downtown. It seemed like the weather waited until we were at the farthest possible point from our hotel when it decided to start raining again. Even though we both had umbrellas, we made it back to the hotel completely drenched. We wiped down the dogs with towels and put them in their kennels in the room, and then we changed clothes and shoes before going back out into the wetness. We walked back through the rain for a few blocks toward the waterfront and had a pre-concert dinner at Legal Seafoods. I had a yummy mug of chowder and a Rhode Island Stuffie. Mike had a mug of gazpacho soup and the Portuguese Seafood Stew. When our dinner was over, we walked the 7-minute walk back to our hotel to let the dogs out one more time before the concert started. Our whole objective in finding a hotel was to park once and walk everywhere during our stay there. The plan was a good one; we were getting lots of exercise going back and forth, although soggy clothes and squeaky shoes were not part of my initial vision.

Robert Plant was awesome. We ended up being some of the younger people attending the event. It turned out to be a Led Zeppelin concert with a twist. He performed all the same songs, but a collection of exotic instruments were added to the mix and complimented the original guitar and drum sets. His voice was still strong and distinctive. I was hoping he would also play some of the tunes from his duet album with Alison Krauss, but there was a constant and heavy scent of weed in the air… and I don’t think this crowd would have really gone for that, dude.

Neither of us had ever visited Boston before, so we had planned to make the most of our 24 hours there. We will have to go back for a better visit during a future time when we are actually visiting the state of Massachusetts. Friday morning we woke up to more rain. We had planned to check out of the hotel and move the car to a parking garage in downtown. From there we were going to walk the self-guided Independence Trail because it would be a good history lesson, and the dogs would be allowed to join us. We had planned to stop somewhere along the route for brunch at an outdoor cafe. Because of the rain, we had a $50 breakfast in the hotel lobby and drove directly back to camp without any more touring of Boston. The dogs were sad.

We spent the last weekend at Pine Acres doing camping stuff: sleeping in the hammock, tending the campfire, walking the dogs, grilling our dinner. I wrote my blog on the last day while Mike got us ready to travel. By about 4 in the afternoon, we had finished our chores and were ready for happy hour. We decided to drive to the Atlantic Ocean one more time while we were still so close. Hampton Beach is a very popular summer vacation spot in New Hampshire. We drove about 15 miles east along the highway until it dumped into the seashore at the end. We parked the car and ambled down the boardwalk for some people watching.  It was cloudy and cold, and the air was damp and thick with fog. That didn’t stop all the tourists from playing at the beach, or swimming in the surf, or meandering down the boardwalk. The place was crazy busy. People were everywhere.

We found a restaurant that was built up through four levels. The third level was a bar where we could order appetizers and listen to live music. We settled in, ordered some drinks and shared a basket of fried calamari. As we made our way through our drinks and snacks, the musicians changed shifts. A new guy came in to entertain the crowd for the evening stint. We had planned to stop for a few errands on the way back home. However, the new musician was so much fun, we decided to stay a little longer at the bar and postpone our errands until the next stop.

He was telling jokes and the crowd was laughing. We were shouting out requests and he played them all. He was a one-man-guitar player that cued back-up music from the laptop in front of him. We were having the best time until things got really crazy. The singer played a George Strait song, and Mike asked me if I wanted to dance. Hell, yes! There was no designated dance floor, so we just stood up beside our table. All of our friends and family know for sure that Mike would never make a spectacle of himself in public… so I can assure you we were keeping it very low key with a one-step. It was a charming moment until I saw a 350-pound twenty-something male walking across the dining room toward us. I was wondering to myself, “Why is the bouncer approaching us”? It turns out there is no dancing in New Hampshire. Excuse me? You have to have a permit for that. What? He mumbled something about us being three levels up… and that didn’t make me feel any better. So the establishment has to have a permit for its patrons to dance, and they hire a one-man band to play snappy tunes and get the customers loose – yet they won’t spring for the permit to let them dance? Why have the live music? Why have any music? We were not escorted out. We were happy to sit down since the whole room was looking at us now. The bouncer kid told me there were three things he hated to tell the clients. I didn’t ask what the other two were. Suffice it to say, we did pay our bill and make a hasty exit.

No dancing in New Hampshire, and no dogs in their state parks… This place is beautiful, but I don’t think I could permanently live anywhere under those stipulations. Our month in the state was not over, however.  We had to get home and in bed. It was time to get a good night’s rest before we made our way north in the morning to see what the Lakes Region was all about.

 

The main drag in Hampton Beach. Taken from a third floor deck. It was rainy and cold, and we felt like we were in the clouds because they were looming so low that day.

The main drag in Hampton Beach. Taken from a third floor deck. It was rainy and cold, and we felt like we were in the clouds because they were looming so low that day.

Our campsite: W50.

Our campsite: W50.

We promised the dogs we would take them for a long walk on the Independence Trail in Boston on Friday before we left. Cessna was so disappointed our plans got scrapped because of rain.

We promised the dogs we would take them for a long walk on the Independence Trail in Boston on Friday before we left. Cessna was so disappointed our plans got scrapped because of rain.

Downtown Portsmouth on another rainy day.

Downtown Portsmouth on another rainy day.

Mike's fishing spot while we were at Pine Acres campground.

Mike’s fishing spot while we were at Pine Acres campground.

Fire boats in the Portsmouth Harbor. The bridge in the background goes to Maine.

Fire boats in the Portsmouth Harbor. The bridge in the background goes to Maine.

I always say that!

I always say that!

The swimming hole at Pine Acres campground, from across the cove.

The swimming hole at Pine Acres campground, from across the cove.

The Lamprey River bordered the campground.

The Lamprey River bordered the campground.

Robert Plant in concert.

Robert Plant in concert.

Hampton Beach

Hampton Beach

Concert!

Concert!

 

 

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