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» Thursday, October 14, 2010The World is a Carousel of Color
Those trees on I-93 heading up to Quechee Gorge were just an appetizer to me. I wanted so much more. They were like spiritual food to a starving soul.
We also wanted a little less strenuous day than yesterday.
So after breakfast we headed back up I-93 to drink in those lovely colors again. I had seen two things in my guidebook that looked promising, something called "America's Stonehenge" and also Robert Frost's farm.
Despite the GPS trying to get us to turn left in someone's driveway which it said was a road, we eventually got turned about and headed into the countryside at Salem, New Hampshire, just a few miles over the Massachusetts line. Again, trees that looked good enough to eat: ones that brought you in mind of hot cider, pumpkin pie, cinnamon rolls, gingerbread, cranberry juice; the sweet, spicy tastes of fall to accompany the colors.
"America's Stonehenge," formerly known as Mystery Hill, contains the remains of an ancient settlement of man-made stone caves and chambers, carbon-dated back to 2000BC (nothing overwhelmingly large like Stonehenge, by the way; it is more a tumble of stone atop a hill). There is evidence that the area was, like Stonehenge, used as a giant astronomical calendar. Uprights mark solstice and equinox lines, and also those for the four major pagan holidays. Some of the fallen rocks have been put back into place by the researchers and restorers, and it's a wonder anything was left because there was a homestead in the area as late as the 1800s. One of the rocks was used as a fireplace and the lady of the homestead planted lilacs in another place.
You see a film before you go in, with a bit of a "woo-woo" factor inserted, complete with eerie music, but the place can be seen as a plain historical site and is too neat for words, especially going there in the fall. You have to walk through a winding path through the woods to get there and return, and that alone was worth the price of admission, just you and the trees and the birds (chickadees calling "dee-dee-dee" constantly), the fallen leaves underfoot, carpeting the earth and the multiple tree roots which often made steps up the slope, and the steady crunch of fallen acorns under shoesoles.
Oh, and one more thing: we kept hearing what sounded like little chirps, but not like little bird chirps. Then one got closer to us as we walked toward the formation, accompanied by a rustling sound, and a little head popped up from between two rocks. The whole place is occupied by chipmunks! While they are wary, they are not starkly afraid; they stood still and posed for photos unless we got too close. So cute!
Once finished there, we headed to Robert Frost's farm, which was only a few miles north in Derry. James drove for a bit so I could film a movie of driving down the road with this fabulous color everywhere. Sadly, the Frost Farm had closed for the season on Columbus Day (I'll say it: "Missed it by thaaaaaat much..."), but we pulled into the parking lot nevertheless, because the site was an entire microcosm of New England fall color. There is a big meadow behind the house and barn, surrounded on three sides by trees, and trees that were at the moment in full, vibrant colors. I took my camera and went crazy, snapping shots in various aspects, getting the gradually clouding sky in some photos, doing artsy things like getting the edge of the white barn next to a glowing red/orange/green maple tree. Zowee, wowee, wow, wow, wow, wow! [insert incoherent superlatives here]
By now it was lunch time, so we stopped at a place we'd seen advertised on television, the "99" (because the original place was on 99 State Street in Boston). Again, informal, rather like a Shoney's or a Friendly's crossed with a steak-house look. In fact, that's what we had, sirloin tips, with real mashed potatoes that would have met the Clay Weaver approval test.
After lunch I told James he "owed" me a cross-stitch store since we skipped all those Christmas shops and bookstores yesterday. :-) So we drove about 40 minutes north to the town of North Hampton and Yankee Cross Stitch. Oh, this was a lovely storethere's not anything like this within driving distance of Atlanta anymore, except for Abecedarius, and I never feel welcome there. The lady here was very welcoming! I bought two small patterns, an autumn band sampler, and a pattern that jokes about starting stitching projects and never finishing them.
On the way to the cross-stitch store, we stopped at Sanborn Candies. I had read in one of my guidebooks that you should try them if you love chocolates, and I never did go by Sweenors for some orange and coffee creams. So I got those here, and also some lime creams, a couple of wintergreen creams, and the rest in peppermint creams (all in dark chocolate, of course). James loves key lime pie, so we tried one of the lime creams on the way to the cross-stitch shop. To quote George Takei: "Oh, myyyy!" LOL. Good taste and even better aftertaste.
On the way out we had to stop at something called The History Store. It was half historical books and half models, both vehicles and figures, and also historical DVDs (fiction and nonfiction) and some magazines and children's history books. Really neat place! James got a magazine, and I found a book about fifth columnists on the American homefront during World War II. It was barcoded at $15, labeled at $10, and he charged me $5. Hey, I like that!
I wanted one more try at the ocean, so took the GPS's advice and was led on a circuitous route through New Hampshire and Massachusetts back roads on 1A, through Seabrook, across the border to Newburyport, Rowley, Ipswich and Essex. At one point it had me get on 128 and then off again. Absolutely bizarre. So we didn't arrive in Gloucester until almost 5 p.m. and had only a few minutes to wander around the Fisherman's Memorial area, with its statue of an oilskinned main steering a ship's wheel and memorial plaques to those from Gloucester killed at sea. The approaching nor'easter had pushed scattered clouds along the sky, highly mackerel-striped, and it was all quite atmospheric.
From there, however, it was just a mile or so from the street we were on to the end of Route 128 (which begs the question why the fripping GPS didn't take us down I-93 to the I-95/128 combination to 128 north, which would have been so much easier). Good thing the scenery on those back roads made up for it; except as you got closer to the shore the trees were still stunning down into Massachusetts.
(And it was so good to be riding 128 again; lots of nice memories of Sunday rides with Mom and Dad to visit Uncle Johnny and Aunty Susie, and Uncle Petey and Aunty Ola. I waved at Northshore as we went byway back when it was still an open-air mall, I got my tricycle there.)
We were back to the hotel in time to attend the Sundowner, which tonight was panini sandwiches, then returned to the car briefly to go to A.C. Moore. (Apparently I have a talent for finding hotels with A.C. Moore stores nearby; unfortunately this doesn't apply to where we live.) There were some lovely little craft things I would have bought had we been driving, like little sleds that could be painted for winter or Christmas. What I was hoping to find were the little painted wooden shapes I have been buying there for years; Michaels has some, but they are mostly generic. Moore has always had them in different holiday themes. Sadly, they don't seem to stock them anymore, or at least don't stock them in this store.
James was feeling a bit off, so we just made a brief stop at Stop'n'Shop for more water (we'd intended to refill the bottles we bought in Rhode Island, but the water here is dreadful) and a couple of chocolate yogurts. I had the strawberry yogurt this morning...it wasn't bad, but was just not the kind of taste I like.