I’ve been visiting my daughter in the ‘Port City’ of New Hampshire these last days of Summer. She has returned after living away from the seacoast for a couple of decades and is catching up on the history and culture of this vibrant city on the Piscataqua River.The river was named by the Abenaki tribe with their word for rapid waters. They weren’t kidding. The tidal currents are very powerful in from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Maine. The tide actually rises over 9 feet at Portsmouth and into Great Bay, where there is a confluence of five river systems; the fresh water meeting the salt.
A gundalow is a flat-bottomed barge- type of cargo vessel constructed and operated in and around this estuary, and was designed to carry timber and wares to settlers making their homes in this colony. With a draft of just 15 inches, it could be operated in shallow water and in close to shore. The Great Bay is rimmed with salt marsh and mud flats. Wares were loaded high onto the flat decks since there was no cargo hold. The forward mast was about 20 feet tall, and the long tapering spar, which bore the triangular ‘lateen’ sail, was lashed to the mast so it could be lowered to the perpendicular for passage under the river bridges, then raised again into the wind.
The non-profit Gundalow Company has re-created a gundalow, the “Piscataqua”, and conducts sailing tours for 4 miles up-river to the mouth and the Gulf of Maine. Andrea has been volunteering as a deck hand. As the boat moves away from the dock and into the river’s current, the volunteers encourage the passengers to help pull the ropes raising the sail on the spar. Moving past the historic Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, there are views of lighthouses and defensive emplacements along the shores. The pleasant crew is very helpful in making it an enjoyable voyage back in time. Coming-about and beginning the return journey, one can feel the relentless power of the surging waters. A volunteer recounts the impossible attempts of those who tried a swimming escape from the shore-side prison still seen at Kittery, Maine.
Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in Portsmouth, whether climbing aboard the nuclear submarine “Albacore”, sipping espresso at a sidewalk table in Market Square, visiting Strawberry Banke , the nearby John Paul Jones house or strolling the gardens at Prescott Park, plan to spend a few leisurely hours on the brine with the knowledgeable crew of the “Piscataqua”. The whole family will have a nautical blast!
Many years ago I worked with a gentleman who was a beekeeper, doing all sorts of interesting things, when not converting buses to motorhomes. We often made van runs from near Boston, Massachusetts, to Amherst, New Hampshire. We roved through the discarded metals and fabrications that had been abandoned in a scrap yard there.
On the way, we always pulled in to the seafood purveyor at Dover Point, just over the bridge (the old one,then) from Newington going west, and from Pease Airport in Portsmouth.
At about this time, my daughter went to work there, while attending the University of New Hampshire in Durham. She was a terrific waitress, and you were lucky if your table was at her station. The name of this place is NEWICK’S. Try to find fresher fare from the briny deep….I dare you. My favorite is, and was the Fisherman’s Platter (called a COMBO, with several offerings). In a huge barn-of-a place, the restaurant sports checkered vinyl tablecloths. There is real silverware, but the glasses and cups are of plastic and paper. There is a kind of outdoor picnic atmosphere….the huge windows around the entire seating area give proof to that openness. The shore…in this case, the shore of the Piscataqua River, leading to the Great Bay, and to Portsmouth harbor is just outside these windows. The catch comes ashore at the dock within view. Fried whole clams, haddock, scallops, onion rings, smelts, on a bed of french fries. Take your pick. Lightly breaded, and deep-fried to a honey-colored perfection (Jack, you can send my check to the address in your file).
Jack Newick is the proprietor still. The customers vary from tourists from all over, bankers, tradesmen, fishermen, students and foodlovers who know no bounds. On a recent trip from Concord to Portsmouth with my daughter to a “Fishtival” at Prescott Park, near Strawberry Banke, Andrea and I had appetizers there, but couldn’t drive past Newick’s without satisfying our palates, while watching the hunting skills of a blue heron out on the rocks.
Try it…you’ll find your way back, too.
I am about to drive my Class C RV to storage. In what seems like an eternal quandary, my interests have a national scope, as this post will make evident. Summer will be the usual over-heated, humid season in Florida, and I generally depart for more moderate climes before now. There are things I need to get done in my “home” state of Massachusetts; doctor visits, mail pick-ups, friends and family considerations are what have me heading north in my car…leaving my mobile house in Orlando.
It’s the price of gas which has dictated the course of action. It would be better if I had a tow-hitch behind the RV so as to tow the little car north. I have not yet decided to weld a hitch onto the RV structure, but it now is becoming more of a practical decision to do so. As it stands, I will drive the 1600 miles (the Saturn gets a phenomenal 40-45 miles per gallon!) in a quick trip to Massachusetts and New Hampshire. If I drove the RV (it gets 10-12 miles per gallon) I would pay an additional $450. in fuel.…based on a proposed June average of $3.75 per gallon. I can drive round-trip for $150. LESS than that one-way cost in the RV.
At the latter part of June I will either leave the Saturn and fly back to get the RV, with the prospect of staying in New England until early Fall, or drive the car back to central Florida to swelter through until September, preparing the RV for a longer journey west to Arizona/Nevada. I want to spend the Winter in the Southwest, and plan on living half of the year there, rather than Florida, parking the RV when sojourning.
Quandary: Do I weld the hitch and pull the Saturn, or drive them separately? Do I fly back to New England for visits, or do I drive cross-country when necessary? I have been wrestling with all of this for more years than I care to think about. Living in the West is easier and less expensive in an RV. And there is room to breathe! The open panorama and big skies have been beckoning for a long time, and this time I want to do more than just visit.
Several commitments dictate that I arrive in New England in June. I always enjoy visiting with my sister and brother-in-law in Connecticut, and my sister-in law in Massachusetts. My daughter lives in New Hampshire, and I will be taking her to the NH Philharmonic POPS concert on the 4th. Then comes her 50th birthday celebration the next day…it must be a VIRTUAL 50th, ‘cause I sure ain’t no 74 !!!!
Anyhow…our family has a 60+ year tradition of getting together on Fathers Day. It began north of Boston, Massachusetts about the time my sister was married and had her first born baby. Then my brother and his wife bought a house about a mile north in the same city for their budding family. Mom and Dad had a small house…but a BIG back yard. Half was devoted to aisles of flowers (half of that was for a victory garden filled with vegetable plants during the WW2 era) and the half nearest the house and porch was the croquet court!
We BBQ’d on the brick fireplace…my brother-in -law had the chef’s duties. We all sat around in lawn chairs amidst tables of food prepared on site, and imported from the various kitchens of family members from near and far. The wickets were placed, and a wicked game of ‘Poison’ ensued! Aunts and uncles attended. Then sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, even as my parents went from being grandparents to great grandparents. After Mom was gone, the moveable feast traveled to my sister’s home west of Boston. Thence to northern Connecticut when my brother-in-law was transferred there. We met each June and it became so much more than a Fathers Day as we all caught up on each others lives, and enjoyed the season and the general joie de vivre.
We also got the whole family assembled for 30 years in Lincoln, New Hampshire at Loon Mountain, in a time-share condo my folks had bought in 1976. With family activities and schedules it is difficult for everyone to have the same day free….but somehow we made it work. My daughter and I loved to cook the “big meal” on Saturday evening, and most of our loved ones attended.
Fathers Day morphed and moved to New Hampshire when my daughter and her husband moved from the upper Connecticut valley to a central New Hampshire city.
Things and circumstances change! This year we will all be together in a different spot…my niece will host…the same niece that was that new baby when it all began. I’m getting teary-eyed now.
I have been an active RV enthusiast since 1960. My first trip across 5 Provinces of Canada, in a ’55 Chevy, my wife and I sleeping “into” the trunk from the back seat, was my first RV trip. It led to many drawings for vehicles converted to RV use. Ultimately, it led to nearly 37 years of full-time RV living (including the present day).
There were not many Walmarts, then. No Walmart Supercenters. But there was Sam Walton, and as his empire took shape, he espoused that he would never disallow an RVer an overnight parking space. It was good business, if nothing else. RVers are very loyal customers, and reward the stores , buying most of their traveling needs, and making fuel purchases at their gas stations.
I began reading Trailer Life and Motorhome life in the early 70’s. My champion was the owner and publisher Art Rouse. He took a courageous stand that probably cost him his position,ultimately. He insisted that the Trailer Life Campground Directory indicate the locations of federal, state, city and other local camping sites that were NOT associated with private campgrounds and associations. The opposition was angry and spiteful. Many advertisers pulled their listings and display ads. They wanted all the business, not just most of it. That controversy nearly broke the publishing house, and after Art took on an Emeritus position, the new folks in charge (sons!) kow-towed to the CG interests.
Well, fast-forward to the turn of the century, and to 2011. The inheritors of Sam Walton’s realm have evidently decreed that Sam’s promise to RVers no longer matters. ” Those in RV’s must find camping facilities for their rigs for the overnight stay!” seems to be their new mantra.
Campground groups have descended on cities and towns decrying the old Walmart practice as “bad for their business” , and fomented the passing of ordinances and restrictions preventing what is called “OVERNIGHT CAMPING”.
Let’s be clear…most of these are UNCONSTITUTIONAL measures, and are based on supposed state statutes which really do not apply to the situation. But the CG groups have cowed the authorities into actions that boost their bottom line.
Let’s be clear on another point. People living in their RVs are not CAMPING! The RVs have all the amenities of the houses in which most Americans live. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be…Many RVs are much more luxurious! They are self-contained and sanitary vessels, and pose no threat real or imagined. When I first motored south from New England to Florida in the mid-70s, one could check-in with the manager at any supermarket, from Albertson’s to Publix et al, and permission to spend the night in the parking lot was almost always extended. We bought the evening groceries there, and what ever supplies we needed for the next day’s trip. Has this concept completely escaped the consideration of today’s super chains? Or KMart and local markets with big parking lots that stand empty at night?
I know that personally, I reward the merchants who welcome me. I avoid being where I am not welcome. That makes perfect sense, and is self-defensive with all the new NO RVS signs popping up all over. Florida has finally had the full effect upon me. This is the last year I will visit Orlando, in particular. It has become anti-RV, almost entirely. This resort area wants and needs business. But it does not welcome RVs any longer. There were two HUGE campgrounds in Orlando back in years a bit. They’re gone. The KOA land is still for sale. The other is now developed into commercial businesses along Interstate 4. If you WANTED to find a local campground in Orlando, you would have a difficult time. I know of a few not too far away, but all of them could never contain the RVers traveling from all over North America to this area! You can insert the LAS VEGAS area into this context. Once welcoming…now disdaining the business generated by those visiting in their own rigs.
Sam, you had the business sense, and the horse-sense to embrace the budding RV phenomenon. If only your family and assigns had the same foresight!