12 Sep 2013 @ 1:49 PM 

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.

P9070472

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.P9070476 P9070481P9070477 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.P9070504
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!P9070474

Posted By: Bob
Last Edit: 19 Sep 2013 @ 08:03 AM

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 29 Sep 2011 @ 3:25 PM 

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.

 02 Jun 2011 @ 9:33 AM 

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!

 27 Aug 2010 @ 9:34 PM 

Some of the most interesting things for RV’ers to experience on the road are the many events held all around the country dealing with American history.

I have toured many battle sites for instance; from the Boston Tea Party and Bunker Hill in Charlestown, to Lexington and Concord. Places that help us remember the price of freedom, like Fort McHenry and Fort Sumter, or the many battlefields of the Civil War. Places of infamy such as Andersonville, and sites dipicting the Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee Nation was forced into the West. Little Big Horn.  We celebrate great victories in Yorktown and Washington’s raid across the Delaware.There are docked naval vessels of all conflicts,  from the Constitution (Old Ironsides) to the Nautilus atomic submarine.

All across the United States, whether your family were Confederate sympathizers or Yankee die-hards, there is a panoply of history in myriad locations, in every state;  places and things that interest most of us.

Old west mines and ghost towns like Virginia City, Nevada, Deadwood, South Dakota and Langtry,Texas where Judge Roy Bean dispensed the law west of the Pecos River. Wherever you travel there is something to remind you of the way things were, and often how far we have (or have not) progressed.

Museums abound in all parts of our nation that memorialize the progress of our industries, our arts and all aspects of our culture. The struggle for equanimity, for civil rights….you name it. Every sojourn in your RV can find you in a place of rich enlightenment for the whole family. The privilege of being able to bring your kids to the actual places is something we, with recreational vehicles don’t think of as a luxury…but it IS truly  that!

This week found me in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, where their second annual Living History Event took place on Saturday and Sunday. At four distinct sites around this town, which dates back to 1735 and is located north of Manchester and west of the capitol city of Concord, volunteers and townspeople remembered the 14th president Franklin Pierce, who was born here. There was a French and Indian war re-enactment and encampment true to the ways and customs of that time. A mounted cavalry performed a Civil War drill. The old center of Hillsboro (as it is often now known, thanks to the U.S.Postal Service) boasts an old schoolhouse, historic architecture, an old cemetery, and a work shop operated by a second- generation pewterer of great skill. His facility is like stepping back to another time in many ways, as well.  Downtown, in the section once known as Hillsboro Bridge (There were mills along the Contoocook River), stands an old firehouse which has been converted to a Heritage Museum, with artifacts from the town’s colorful history, including theater screens from the old movie house. Incidently, this town was also the birthplace of B.F. Keith, who built theaters across the country, and with his partner E.F.Albee, presented the country’s first moving pictures at their Bijou Theater in Boston. They went on to become the fathers of vaudeville, which captivated the American audience for fifty years (and until Ed Sullivan).  They took over the Orpheum  chain of ornate theaters and vaudeville circuit, and later, with Radio Pictures, became RKO (Radio/Keith/Orpheum). For many, Hillsborough is most famous for it’s stone arch bridges. Both single and double arches! There are six in all,  along Beard Brook and the Contoocook River (one is submerged, but still intact),all built originally without mortar.

Lots of activities for young and old marked this wonderful two days in just another New England town (but……NOT just any other….for so many) !

A Living History Event

Posted By: Bob
Last Edit: 29 Aug 2010 @ 03:19 PM

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 08 Jul 2010 @ 3:26 PM 

Hillsborough NH - Beard Brook

I often stay in New Hampshire until the first part of October. There are some real cool nights after Labor Day, but I don’t heat the RV…I prefer for it to be cool for sleeping, anyway. I generally head south to Boston. I pass Manchester on I 293 and join I 93 for the first leg of the journey. I time my departure with a last doctor’s appointment in Beantown, a last dinner with friends and a stop to see relatives before departing the area.

The first choice for a route depends on weather, and can take me down I 95 to Rhode Island, and on to the Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun Casinos. These are good places to spend a free night, and there is great dining as well. Otherwise, I will go west on the Mass.Turnpike, or the slower U.S.20, to Springfield. My sister lives in Suffield, CT, so I pick up I 91 south, and after a visit there, my second choice intervenes. At Hartford one can break for the Hudson River by continuing on I 91  to the Connecticut Turnpike (joining I 95 at New Haven), or go west through Danbury, CT on I 86,  to I 686, just inside New York state. You’ve got to get into Jersey somehow (SORRY), and these are my default routes.

Both routes lead to the Tappan Zee Bridge (FREE going west!) and the Garden State Parkway, the best way to circumvent the metropolitan NY-NJ cities, and around to my next choice of stops: the Walmart at N.Brunswick, NJ.  Get off the G.S. Parkway at Edison, US 1 south (Gas-up here, cause you won’t find it cheaper). You might go farther on US route 1, to Trenton, re-joining I 95 there.  You’ll  cross the Delaware River near where the first George W  did it, standing- up in a tippy boat. Don’t get out to throw a coin across the river or you’ll never make it to the warmth. (This bridge is FREE) It isn’t far to Philadelphia Park, just off I 95, for my third night, at this stop north of the city.  There is track,and a new casino with acres of parking.

My fourth day brings me along the Delaware river past the Philadelphia skyline on I 95, and into Newcastle, Delaware (Don’t head into Wilmington by mistake). Join US 13.  Just past the airport ,I turn west (right turn) and head for Delaware Park, still another casino and raceway with free parking.Follow the signs…you will go under I 95, but you’ve avoided another toll!

My personal selection for the succeeding leg of the trip:  back to US 13 in Newcastle,  and down the state of Delaware and the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia. The Delaware Turnpike is inexpensive, and congestion-free. Jump back onto US 13  just above Dover.  You can park at the Dover Downs raceway and casino, or the Walmart/Sam’s Club just north, near where you exit  DE route 1 . Just beyond Dover you will find a Walmart Supercenter at Camden. My next stop is in Harrington,though, at the state fair location there. There is a raceway there, and a 24/7 casino. I slow down even more on this route since I like to stop at Salisbury, MD. There is a Walmart Supercenter/Sam’s Club with a gas station there (usually the best gas prices until the Tidewater area), and good outside dining choices, too.I like the Chinatown Buffet. There are also Supercenters at Fruitland ,Farmington,Seaford, and Pokomoke City, MD.   I go over and under Chesapeake Bay using the bridge/tunnel complex. and arrive in Virginia Beach.There is a newly renovated rest facility before you pay the toll for the bay crossing where you can overnight if you choose. On the mainland again, you can stay at the Walmart on US 13 ,Veterans Highway in Norfolk, or continue to Battlefield Road in Chesapeake, to the Walmart/Sam’s Club there (w/gas station). Another Walmart Supercenter is found in Chesapeake, off US 13 south,  just before Dismal Swamp, and the North Carolina line. We’re headed for the Ocean Highway. You want to go a little farther, you say? Okay, proceed through farming country on the Elizabeth City by-pass, and you’ll come to  Route NC344, Halstead RD., and still another  Walmart Supercenter with fuel. Then we are headed for Ablemarle Sound. Side trips to the Outer Banks, anyone?

For years I followed the other good possibility from Newcastle, DE. You go south on US 13 to the curving  right turn onto US route 50, for a few miles to US 301 South. Bang a left!  For decades, until I 95 was completed, US 301 was the alternative to going south via US 1 all the way ( Maine to Key West!) and seemingly  through every population center east of Chicago, and it’s still a good way to go. You cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (you gotta pay in this direction) and continue to Waldorf,MD.( I have stayed overnight, without incident, at the K Mart near Kent Island, just before the bridge, or in Waldorf at the shopping plaza behind Wendy’s).  301 is a nice drive. It goes through Annapolis, the Capitol. Don’t bother stopping at the Walmart in Waldorf,as overnights are verboten.          ,

You like traffic? You can continue on toward DC and the Beltway on US 50,  where you join I 95 south to Fredericksburg, VA. There’s the  Central Park shopping area there, where I95 meets VA route 3. You’ll find a Supercenter with good gas prices, and many shops and restaurants. History abounds in this area for Civil War buffs,too.  Keep on I 95 to E.Parham Road (VA 73)  and the Northgate Shopping Center (Walmart Supercenter, of course) at the US 1 intersection. Or take the I295 by-pass to Petersburg to avoid city traffic.  This fast way south is good for making time and distance. At Colonial Heights there is Southpark Shopping Area . Again…all the stores and restaurants and a Walmart and Sam’s Club. Petersburg National Battlefield is close by. Crossing into North Carolina this way,I always head for Dunn, NC.  Ernie’s Restaurant is there! It’s a buffet-style presentation of some terrific southern cooking. There is whole -hog pulled pork to die for, greens, corn bread,  fabulous spicy sausages, and all the favorites you would expect, including fresh fried chicken with all the fixin’s.  You won’t find closer to home cookin’ !  Need RV fuel, too? There is a Walmart gas station at Dunn, just west of town on US421.

If you had stayed on 301, you’ld cross the Rappahanic  on the narrow and scary Nice toll bridge, and west into Fredericksburg on Route 3. This area figures prominently in the early life of George W (the smart one).  Or keep on truckin’ 301 to Richmond. Either on the by-pass I295 or south on I 95 from the smokin’capitol of the country to Petersburg, and Colonial Heights,and Southpark,  where you find those good parking and eating choices. A Sheetz gas station on the other side (east) of Southpark has good prices.

Back to the Ocean Highway from Chesapeake, VA. The little-traveled US 13 beyond Elizabeth City, NC  is a fine highway now. It is joined by US 17, and continues to these NC  Walmart locations:  Williamston,  Washington, New Bern, Jacksonville  and Wilmington,  where you can find gas at the  Market Street location.  There is also gas at the Sam’s Club on College Ave., a few blocks away.

I am a fan of buffet-style restaurants, mainly because of the variety in choices. I probably dine out more than most, because I am single, and don’t find cooking full meals-for-one an easy thing to do without dealing with  tons of left-overs.  Good Chinese buffets are my personal favorites, and there are many on this route (Google ’em, they’re easy to find). All the Golden Corral restaurants on the Delaware stretch have closed! But you find them again when you get farther down the peninsula. Sure, you’ll probably eat too much; it can be difficult not to.

I like to stay overnight at the Walmart Supercenter in Leland, NC. It is just over the bridge from Wilmington in a new shopping area. It is quiet and uncongested, and also has fuel. Unless I go on, to stay at Shallotte;  this is the last night in NC. The next will be in Myrtle Beach, SC. Stay at the Walmart in North Myrtle Beach, at King Road where there is an outlet center, a Golden Corral and gasoline at the Supercenter, and on the US 17 Bypass, at  Sam’s Club at 10th Street,and a few other locations along the highway.  After I have “done” the ” Grand Strand”, it is on through Pawley’s Island, to Georgetown. As you approach Mount Pleasant you begin to see the roadside stands offering sweetgrass baskets that are woven by the native Americans of this region. They are quite elaborate or charmingly simple, but each is unique. I hope that you’ll consider buying something; help sustain this wonderful tradition (they are NOT inexpensive,however).

One can spend lots of time in Charleston. If you’ve got to just pass -through, stay on the highway and over the elegant Ravenel Bridge. But be advised…..there is a heap of history in this area, and before you head up and over, you can stop to see the USS Yorktown moored in Charleston harbor at Freedom Park, and take a ferry tour out to Fort Sumter. If that tempted you to stop, you’ll have to go downtown to the Battery, where the guns of the bombardment of the historic island are placed. The bayside homes will have you marveling at the antebellum architecture preserved there. Also lots of other historic sites nearby; the French Quarter and Waterfront Park.You can stay overnight in North Charleston, near the airport.From I 26 take Exit 213B. From I526 take Exit 16B onto International Blvd. to Colluseum Drive (Opposite the Colluseum )There is a terrific chinese buffet there, next to the Dollar Tree, and near the Supercenter/Sam’s/gas station/outlet center/convention center/fire museum. Whew!  It’s all just off the interstate. From I26, continue on Montague to International Blvd. and Mall Drive (at the Starbucks).  If you are drawn to tools and Harbor Freight, there is one within a mile, guys!

I get back onto US 17 south toward Savannah. The “low country” doesn’t get any better than this part of SC, and a side trip to Beaufort is worthwhile. This lovely spot can be toured easily in your RV. Many bridges to many pretty islands. Parris Island is also here, with its Marine base and a Marine airbase.  You can cross the Savannah River (after your side trip to Hilton Head) by heading for the clouds on the steep US 17 suspension bridge. It brings you right into the picturesque city, where  myriad city ” squares ” abound. Stay on US 17, or better, follow Abercorn Blvd. all the way to GA route 204. Get off onto US 17 south here, toward Richmond Hill, and you find  a Walmart Supercenter with fuel, and a night’s stay if you choose.

After Beaufort and/or Hilton Head, you can do what I do, as a rule. I go through Hardeeville,SC and through the GA wildlife preserve to Garden City, and then Savannah. If passing through, I get back onto I 95 and pass by to the west. There are truck stops just beyond the Richmond Hill exit, at the re-joining of the Ocean Highway US 17. The newly -widened I 95 is super from here to Florida. Wait a second!…I didn’t say I was taking that road!  No, I roll at a leisurely pace on US 17 with LITTLE or NO company, to Brunswick. I go out to I 95 on the Golden Isles Highway, Route 25,(Walmart here!) and head south to  US 17s (AGAIN), thereby avoiding another hummungeous steep bridge on US 17 from the city.  I follow that little traveled, mostly forgotten artery, to Kingsland. Left on E.King Ave (GA40) to Saint Marys. and more less-expensive gas. There is a nice State Park here near the Submarine Base. Yes, there is a Walmart with fuel, as well.  Git yer petrol afore y’cross the river into the Sunshine State.


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