Checking out Portland

LOCATION: Near Freeport, Maine

CAMPGROUND: Blueberry Pond Campground. See yesterday’s description

WEATHER: Rainy and cool. Highs about 70

Bummer – We discovered a big, bad dent on the top back side of the Airstream this morning. We are really perplexed how it got there. There were no limbs on the ground around it. It may have happened when we were driving, otherwise we would have heard something hit it. The limb, or whatever, also broke a light. Here is George trying to patch it up….

Today, we wanted to see a bit of Portland, about 20 miles from here. Like Portland, Oregon, it is a beer-lovers’ paradise. We went to a pub for lunch where we had a gift card. It had more than 80 beers on tap – all from Maine microbreweries!

Back at the campground, we made a campfire to cook the steamer clams we had bought for dinner. They are still alive. Quite big and have legs poking out.

DINNER: I prepared the clams like I cook mussels – I sauteed some onion and garlic, added wine and water and made a nice broth. (I did this inside in the kitchen). Then, not wanting to smell up the Airstream, I put the pan of broth on the campfire, and George finished up cooking them over the fire. We ate them with some drawn butter and some ciabatta rolls to sop up the juice. Really tasty ! Side was steamed cauliflower and broccoli.

In L.L. Bean Country

LOCATION: Near Freeport, Maine

WEATHER: Rainy and cool. Highs only in the 60s

CAMPGROUND: Blueberry Pond Campground. Commercial park set in the woods. Full hook-ups. Swimming pool. Wifi. Lousy bathrooms. Muddy sites. Picnic tables and campfire rings. Old and not well-kept. $46/night. 2 stars out of 5. Way, way overpriced. Located down a 1.5 bumpy gravel road.

Since rain was predicted today, we did some of the hooking up last night. We just finished up this morning when it started to rain. Being a Sunday, lots of other campers were leaving, too, and they were going to get soaked.

We drove the Kancamangus Highway across to Maine. It is a National Forest Service highway and is very scenic. Even with the rains and low clouds, we enjoyed the views.

It was only a 3-hour trip, so after we got set up here, we drove into Freeport for lunch and to check it out. It was full of people – mostly shoppers. We found a brewpub for lunch. Although we were able to get seated at the bar quickly, we would have had a one-hour wait for a table. The downtown is mostly L.L. Bean – L.L. Bean Hunting Store, L.L. Bean Home Store, Fishing Store, Retail Store, etc etc. Other shops have joined the bandwagon, and now it is a shopping destination. We wandered around L.L. Bean. The prices seemed very high.

We get a little TV at the campsite so it was nice to watch “Sixty Minutes”. We haven’t had TV for quite awhile.

DINNER: Since we had eaten a late lunch, we wanted something small and simple. I made a pasta with salmon cream cheese, capers, and garbanzo beans. Quite good.

New Hampshire’s Beautiful Lake District

LOCATION: North Woodstock, New Hampshire in central part of state

CAMPGROUND: Lost River. See previous description

WEATHER: Sunny. High mid 70s. Beautiful

The campground is chock-a-block with children and young parents. The kids are so excited to be here. Everything is an adventure – cooking over a campfire, riding bikes all around without supervision, checking out the ping pong room, fishing in the trout stream. We don’t begrudge them at all, even though it makes for a bit crowded and noisy campground. We tend to take it all for granted – the ability to camp where we want, relax in Mother Nature, enjoy a campfire, and the excitement of exploring new territory. These folks probably only have one or two weeks out of the year that they can do this. We can do it all the time! We are so fortunate.

Today’s outing was to New Hampshire’s Lake District. Who knew about this gem? We drove 30 miles south to Lake Winnipesakukee, “Lake of Smiling Waters”. We drove the circumference of the lake, which is about 35 miles long. Each area is different. We started in the bustling, crazy part with shops, restaurants, cruise ship options, marinas, etc. Crazy busy with people. Then, it transitioned to grand, old homes, then to farm land, then back to tourist-land. We stopped for lunch in Wolfeboro, considered to be America’s first summer resort.

In a restaurant overlooking the lake, we met a local guy who kind of attached to us. He was like a George clone – never met a stranger. He lives on an island in the lake. He took us around and led us to a nannobrewery. We checked it out, then drove onward.

The area reminded me of the lake region in northern Minnesota, but even busier. Who knew this was here?

The area is full of mom-and-pop little motels and cabins. Very cute.

We drove by Squam Lake, this one much more sedate, where “On Golden Pond” was filmed. A great day!

DINNER: Another so-so dinner. I’ve been reading about riced cauliflower, a low-cal, low-carb substitute for rice and potatoes. I tried a recipe with it. It was a casserole of hamburger, tomatoes, taco seasoning, sautéed onions and peppers, and riced (diced very tiny) cauliflower. Cheese on top. A little hot sauce helped it, but I probably won’t repeat the recipe.

Traversing the White Mountain Trail

LOCATION: North Woodstock, New Hampshire – in central part of state

CAMPGROUND: Lost River Campground. See previous description

WEATHER: Sunny. High low 80s

Our plan today was to drive the 100-mile White Mountain Trail loop around the mountains. We stopped in several scenic view spots and trailhead stops.

At this stop, we watched this guy trying to decide whether to jump in the pool below or not. He finally did, then couldn’t figure out how to get out…

At the base of Mount Washington, famous for its ruggedness and frigid winds, we considered taking the cog railroad up to the summit, but the $69 per person senior rate deterred us.

We had a nice view of the mountain along with the Mount Washington Inn.

From there, we found a darling mountain town full of ski lodges. We stopped in one and enjoyed an al fresco lunch.

We did a few more short hikes on our way back home.

I had really hoped to see a moose, as our scenic trail map showed several places (wallows) where they likely would be. All we saw was moose poop. Maybe tomorrow.

The campground is chock full of families, arriving from Boston and other urban centers for a long weekend. We talked with one guy who is here with 2 other families. Among the 4 sites, they have 12 children – all under the age of 8. And, they brought LOTS of stuff!

DINNER: Chipotle chili.

Move to New Hampshire?

LOCATION: Near North Woodstock, New Hampshire in north central part of state

CAMPGROUND: Lost River Campground. See previous description

WEATHER: Very nice again. High 70s. Lows at night about 50

The campground is filling up, as we near the weekend. This little girl brought us some firewood as she and her father packed up to leave.

Today’s destination was Hanover, NH, home of Ivy League Dartmouth College. I’ve been thinking that I would like to live in NH in the fall, spring and summer, and then travel in the winter. I’ve been doing some research. NH is another state without state income tax. College towns are very appealing with all they offer in the way of theatre, music, restaurants, shops, good local bus. Hanover did not disappoint. The downside is the cost of real estate. Yikes!

It was about an hour’s trip, through the back roads, and on an empty gas tank without a gas station in sight. We made it on fumes. Dartmouth College dominates the town. The Appalachian Trail runs right through it. We saw a few loaded down, tired looking hikers. We are standing on trail with this view of part of the campus…

We walked around the vibrant downtown and found a good spot for lunch. George is not excited as I am about all of this.

We took another scenic byway (all roads in VT and NH seemed to be marked “scenic byway’) to a cute mountain town. An old grist mill is now the site of a very popular brewery and pizza place

Back in Woodstock, the Hobo Train passed us, taking passengers on a 2-hour ride through the mountains.

We went to one of the ski resorts where they house a small winery. We tasted their fairly good wines with grapes sourced from elsewhere. We chatted with a customer from the Thousand Islands area of New York, where we hope to go later in the summer, and got some tidbits from her.

Back at the campground, George made another good campfire.

Our site backs up to this stream. In the spring, it becomes a raging river.

DINNER: I tried a new recipe that was only so-so. Lentil mushroom stroganoff. Lots of leftovers, I’m afraid.

Climbing in the White Mountains

LOCATION: Near North Woodstock, New Hampshire in central part of state

CAMPGROUND: Lost River Campground. See yesterday’s description. I think I should upgrade it to 3 stars out of 5. What a difference the sun makes – no mud. Also, now in a better site.

WEATHER: Perfect. High 72. Sunny

While we were waiting for the campers to move out of the site that we had to move into, we did laundry and computer work. The new site was also tricky to get into, but not as bad as last night’s. It is also more level, and now no longer muddy. We are right next to the trout stream.

Our plan today was hiking. But first, lunch. We went to a really cute New England inn/restaurant/brewery and had a crab cake. We are pretty sure we were here about 10 years ago, just driving through…

From there we went to Franconia Notch State Park. It is the East Coast version of Yosemite Park, except smaller. Lots and lots of hikers. Many international visitors. We stopped at their welcome center to get trail maps. While there, George asked about trout fishing. Here he is, disappointed that he cannot fish….

We selected a hike that was described as a 1.5 mile loop. That seemed doable. Immediately, it went straight uphill. We climbed and climbed, making our way over and around granite boulders. The view from the top was amazing. Across the valley, on the grassy ski slope, we spotted a mother bear and her two cubs.

I was hoping to see a moose, but this is probably as close as I will get to one.

Then, the downhill bit. It was even harder, straight downhill over rocks. It takes a lot of concentration to decide where to put your feet without tripping. Finally we made it back to the car – about 2 hours later.

Energized, we went into town and did some grocery shopping. Back at the campground, we made a campfire and also fired up the charcoal grill for dinner.

DINNER: Grilled pork chops, baked potatoes, and the last of the farmers’ market Chinese cabbage, sauteed Asian style.

From Vermont’s Green Mountains to the White Mountains of New Hampshire

LOCATION: North Woodstock, New Hampshire in the western White Mountains, in the north central part of the state

CAMPGROUND: Lost River Campground. Although private, its woodsy, rustic appearance and make it seem like a state park. Very wooded. So many trees that it made backing into the site a real ordeal. Dirt sites with electricity (30 amp) and water. Central dumping station. OK showers but cost $.25. How cheap! Wifi at office. Laundry. $36/night. 2 out of 5 stars

WEATHER: Heavy rain in the morning. Overcast with light showers in the PM. Seems strange – thermostat in car stayed at 73 all day

As predicted, it rained during the night, then absolutely poured in the morning. Lots of thunder and lightening. Hail was predicted, so we were concerned. George got stranded in the shower room for about an hour. This “lake” appeared around our front door.

We drove mostly east through the Green Mountains on a Vermont “Scenic Byway” thorough cute New England villages. We stopped at a roadside pullout along a river for a nice picnic lunch.

We originally were going to Portsmouth, on the coast, to a Harvest Host brewery, but realized that it would be about 100 miles of backtracking, so we just drove on to this campground where we already had reservations for tomorrow. They had room for us, but we will have to change sites in the morning.

George said he had a bad premonition while still in the parking lot – muddy and untidy. I don’t think any campers larger than ours could fit in here. Most are pop-ups and tents. Very narrow roads with a lot of trees. However, it is quite pretty with trout streams on either side of the campsites.

It took about an hour to get the camper into the site. George hit a small tree while backing up. There was jut not enough room, even though George is excellent at parking. He likes the camper to be very level, so we tried to put levelers on one side, but they sunk in the mud. What a mess. He finally decided that it was “good enough”.

We will be here 5 nights. Even though the campground is not ideal, it is located in a beautiful spot with a lot to do around here.

DINNER: I REALLY need to go shopping! We ate the final items in the freezer – leftover meatloaf and Lima beans.