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!
YOU HAVEN’T MISSED ANYTHING…I’VE BEEN PREOCCUPIED WITH OTHER STUFF
Took a road trip from central Florida last October for final observations on my wrist alterations.
First, as readers of this blog might remember, I had a wrist-replacement procedure at NE Baptist Hospital in Boston. Unfortunately it didn’t work out very well, and several months later I had to have all that hardware removed and a temporary fix put in place. Then I returned after the second surgery healed for the final, and originally unwanted, solution…I had my hand/wrist/arm locus permanently fused. The Carpal bones were joined and two Stanley Pins were inserted at my knuckle area, and extended through the Ulna to about mid-arm. I cannot bend my wrist to wave ‘goodbye’ anymore, so don’t leave. But I can still rotate my wrist to open new doors!
All this has affected the gestures I’ve used in executing my paintings; my right hand has been dominant, but I am adapting. Most of my work has been on more detailed scenics; landscapes and seascapes from my travels in the various RVs in decades past.
I have now sold my Class C Dodge motorhome, and shifted to a smaller shuttle-bus vehicle. The plan is to utilize this vehicle in moving to show locations, and to do more in-studio painting. I can take advantage of a more permanent set-up of easels and an array of works-in-progress….I like to work on many things at the same time. RV living with a rear studio set-up has always had a drawback (pun intended) ; working ‘on the road’ was the main reason I’ve worked in acrylics on hardboard. Space and drying time have been paramount.
Although I still employ that media and base for my paintings, I can go to larger pieces and broader brushwork as a way of living with the new physical restrictions.
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.
So it is just after midnight, and I’m moving east on the Connecticut Turnpike, I95. I’ve been driving since before noon, having left Petersburg, Virginia at late morning. I wanted to get through Richmond after rush hour, past the DC beltway before the afternoon rush (timeless), and out over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for a peaceful drive through the Maryland farm lands. That put me in Newcastle, Delaware at about 6 PM, but as I again headed for I95 near Wilmington, the traffic was not bad. Rush hour was over, around Philadelphia, going north, and the highway was hassle-free.
To digress; as I passed the Chester,PA Harrah’s Casino, I noticed a guy approaching the ramp for the highway on a HOT Kawasaki motorcycle. I was doing about sixty, but soon I spied him in the rearview, screaming up the road. He passed me like Roadrunner passed the Coyote…..Bwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! A minute later he slowed slightly to veer off toward the airport when it happened. Maybe he had won big at Harrah’s, and was tearing up the pavement in sheer exhilaration, but a WAD OF BILLS flew out of his pocket, hit the tarmack, splashed up into his backdraft and fanned out into the landscape. As I went by, a couple of HUNDREDS leapt over the right side of my windshield. I COULDN’T STOP! And the few cars in the lanes behind me hadn’t seen the paper bounty as it scattered toward the guard rails. This guy never realized his loss and I stared as he slowed for a cruiser, then re-accelerated out of my sight as I went up the bridge ramp past Philadelphia International.
Oh,woe..the mis-(missed) fortune!
Anyway, it is after midnight. I picked up the first real truck traffic on the NY Thruway, as it comes south and crosses the Tappan Zee Bridge (FIVE BUCKS TOLL for my little Saturn!), and it increased ex-potentially as I escaped the Bronx and entered New England. From the line, and to West Haven, I was literally surrounded by semi’s, threatening my rear bumper, pulling out and around with a whisker of room between surfaces, slowing and moving in unfathomable right lane convoys, flying past in the passing lane at 20 MPH over the limit. Then construction near New Haven closed all but one lane. The jockeying and intimidation really shook me as I hoped for some recognition in this bunch of BROTHER-TRUCKERS!
Whenever I visit a WALMART SUPERCENTER, which is a frequent experience for all RVers, I carry my refillable drinking water jugs in to the Culligan or Glacier water machine, to fill them from the water source with filtered, reverse-osmosis-treated, and delicious H2O. The cost per gallon is usually about 27 cents (by comparison,the Walmart drinking water is at least 78 cents in a throw-away jug!).
NO MORE!!! Walmart, in its constant profit-driven impetus, has removed those consumer-friendly machines in favor of their own supply of 5 gallon pre-filled jugs, showcased in huge racks that take up more floor space than the water machines, and which disallow the green-minded of us, a convenient system of providing the drinking water we can store effectively.
Is it about floor space in their newly-designed stores? Is it about aesthetics in removing those dispensers? Is it that re-fillers bring in their own recycled bottles and jugs? Is it about a pure profit motive?
I vote for the latter! The machines are installed, inspected and serviced by the manufacturer/suppliers. That the machines are not emblazoned with the WALMART logo may be a source of irritation to the world’s largest retailer.
They should be ashamed at this grab of one of the most important green-related activities that we RVers, and home owners could exercise. I won’t be surprised that their response will be mute.