Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: Stopping by the Woods...in New Hampshire OLA

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stopping by the Woods...in New Hampshire OLA


The USS Albacore, first in a teardrop-shaped design,
now in exhibit at Portsmouth Harbor where it was built
If you add ‘on a snowy evening’, you will have the complete title of the most popular poem of four-time Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, Robert Frost (1874-1963). The most memorable lines are:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

It is evocative of feelings Bill and I normally experience during those times we still have to travel great distances but pause before continuing because of the beauty we have suddenly found.  I have always loved to dabble in writing poetry since high school when I was a nerdy teenager, socially misplaced in the American School in the Philippines, only able to express suppressed feelings in writing, in poems.

Home of Robert Frost in Derry, New Hampshire
Thus I was ecstatic to discover that Frost’s home was in Derry, New Hampshire, just a few miles southeast of Concord, the state capital. We had just brought the RV to Chichester, several miles northeast of Concord, where a Camping World branch is located. We needed to have our water heater and furnace checked. So I was simply searching the web for places to see in to while away the wait.

Although he was born in San Francisco, California, his grandfather brought his family back to Lawrence, Massachusetts. Before marrying his wife Elinor, he gave Frost the piece of land known today as the Frost Farm in Derry. He was unsuccessful as a farmer though. He relocated to Great Britain until the breakout of WWI when he bought another property fondly called the Frost Place, in Franconia, New Hampshire, up in the beautiful White Mountains. Frost wrote much of his poetry in these two homes.

the rescued barred owl at the Silk Farm Wildlife Sanctuary and Audubon Center
Fishway Learning Center in Concord, New Hampshire
New Hampshire is the 5th smallest and 9th least populous of the 50 U.S. states. But her land is 80% forest so it is beautiful, especially in fall. Birds thrive in this environment so it was not surprising that we found a Silk Farm Wild Life Sanctuary and Audubon Center in Concord where we met a cute owl. There was also the Amoskeag Fishway Learning and Visitor Center where a big fish ladder invites fish to make their annual runs. There are actually six such centers throughout the state.

Scouting Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire
This is also probably why the scouting movement is extensive in New Hampshire. We found a Scouting Museum, first such find in our travels. Unfortunately it was closed.  Bill was a scout master for 6 years when he watched a number of young men in the troop achieve the rank of Eagle, including his son Jim. So this was quite a discovery for him!

coming out or going in, the sub doors are small!
With only 18 miles of coastline, it was also surprising to discover that the Portsmouth Harbor played an important role in the maritime industry and naval history of the US.  For the first time in my life, I was finally able to see a submarine up close and to inspect the cramped interior for its 55-member crew. Although the USS Albacore was not a big, weapons carrying submarine, it was the first to be constructed, at the Portsmouth shipyard, with today’s tear-shaped design as an experiment. 

Home of John Paul Jones in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
But even in earlier years, we found out that the shipyard was used to build the ships for the newly created Continental Navy for the American Revolution.  John Paul Jones, first American sea warrior and famous for the phrase, ‘I have not even begun to fight’, lived in Portsmouth for a while, supervising the construction of the frigate Alfred, his ship, as a 1st lieutenant and commander. The house is now a museum.

Portsmouth Light at the Portsmouth Harbor in New Hampshire
 We also had a chance to find two lighthouses, the Portsmouth Light and the Whalebeck Light. The latter is reputed to be the ugliest lighthouse in the East Coast. It is unpainted and lies in a very small islet on the harbor. Bill and I found it to have its own charm, seemingly brave, alone in the midst of the wide blue sea, saving many a soul from disaster.

Whalebeck Light off the Portsmouth Harbor in New Hampshire
Home of Franklin Pierce, 14th president of the US,
in Concord, New Hampshire
Finally, it was interesting to find out that New Hampshire produced the 14th president of the US (1853-1857) preceding Lincoln and the Civil War, Franklin Pierce. We went to the Pierce Manse, his home in Concord. Unfortunately again, the museum was closed. Even the American Stonehenge, supposed to be 4,000 years old was closed. Thus we could not verify the claim (as if we could, anyway.. From the brochure, it looked like just a collection of stones, an interesting tourist attraction.

Our visit to New Hampshire, though short, was replete with interesting discoveries.  Frost and the submarine were the highlights for me. We stopped by the woods. We also stopped by the seas. And we stopped by the giant fish of the sea. But we have miles to go before we sleep. And miles to go before we sleep!