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» Wednesday, October 21, 2015Can't Leaf It Alone
Today was kind of an odd day.
We were up at eight, breakfasted, and headed north. We both wanted to go back to Hampton, New Hampshire, but for different reasons. Alas, our luck with good weather (cold or warm) was broken today, as we were peppered with rain from Norwood all the way through Peabody. I was looking for a specific landmark as we went up I-95/Route 128 and was surprised when I saw it. When we drove here in the 60s/70s, there was some type of office building with a decorative wall that angled diagonally out from the main wall, and it was covered with yellowish metallic reflective material. I always waited to see if I could catch the reflection of Dad's car in the mirrored surface. Back then it was the only building in that location and set high on the hill, so it looked huge. Well, I did spot it today, but it's so surrounded by even larger buildings now that I nearly missed it. It looks so tiny!
When I-95 splits from old Route 128, it gets a great deal more boring, running between grassy fields and groves of trees but nothing else, past the Topsfield fair grounds, and north to New Hampshire. Very soon it was time for us to exit at Seabrook and run up Route 1 to Sanborn Candies. We went here five years ago and fell in love with the dark-chocolate covered lime creams. This is a lovely candy store with friendly attendants, and they have wonderful stuff. Right now they have fall, Hallowe'en, and Thanksgiving items among the regular candies: chocolate with candy corn trimmings, ghosts and witches, solid chocolate turkeys in dark, milk, and white, and the most wonderful thing, a small cornucopia molded from chocolate (dark or milk) and filled with chocolate "leaves" wrapped in autumn leaf colors. Oh, goodness, but how could one eat it? There was a huge one, too, the size of a big microwave oven, filled with the leaves and other fall-themed candies. Of course they carry maple sugar cakes in multiple shapes like moose and maple leaves, and little souvenir bottles of syrup.
So we bought ourselves a treat for Thanksgiving and Christmas: a quarter pound of the lime creams, another quarter pound of orange creams, then a third quarter of coffee creams for me, and finally mixed lemon creams and peppermint creams for the final quarter of a pound for James. James also got some sugar-free candies.
We completely missed James' destination, The History Store, by looking for it on the wrong side of the road, another place we went five years ago. This is a store that features history books, military figures, and plastic and metal models. They are in a different building now, on the main street of Hampton, in a place that I assume is a lot cheaper in rent than the original place (just a regular little storefront than a fancy new building with clerestory windows). I found a book about the Victorians that I hadn't seen before. Like last time, it was at half price, too! James got an F104 and an X-15, little metal models, and bought the book for me as an anniversary gift.
We had been so delayed by the rain that it was now lunch time, so we drove over the state line via the Piscataqua Bridge and had lunch at the Weathervane in Kittery. James had some sirloin tips and the thinnest, sweetest onion rings ever. My eyes were bigger than my stomach: I ordered steamers and got a small pail full of them. I ate them all, but was reminded why we shared them when we bought them at home: boy, do they fill you up, plump little steamer clams rinsed in salt water and then dipped in clarified butter. Yum! (I'm hoping I don't have problems similar to the lobster roll event, but then I eat Sprouts chowder all the time and that's stuffed with clams.)
I figured James would like to go across the street to the Kittery Trading Post, a huge sporting goods/camping store about the size of a Bass Pro Shop, like last time, but he said he wasn't looking for anything this time round and was feeling a little tired. I thought we could check out a local bookstore, so we headed back over the bridge and found one in downtown Portsmouth, but it didn't have handicapped access. So instead we decided to drop in at Strawbery Banke, remembering the nice gift shop/bookstore they had. Portsmouth is still fixing downtown--we ran into road construction five years ago as well!--and we wound through the narrow streets only to find out they had replaced the gift shop/bookstore in the visitor center with a restaurant! The gifts/books are now in one of the old houses on the Strawbery Banke site, and the attendant gave us a sticker so we could go down to it through the village rather than having to drive around to the opposite side. Alas, this was even less handicapped accessible than the bookstore downtown, so I went in alone to check it out. It was very cute and cozy--all the food gifts in a little ell, and cups, china, books, scarves, jewelry, candy, etc. tucked pell-mell in a narrow little shop floor, with Celtic music playing, but I was able to look through the books and know there wasn't anything of interest.
The one glorious thing about this short visit was the maple trees. The ride north was dotted with lovely spots of fall color from Norwood all the way up to Kittery, but the tree next to the Goodwin House in Strawbery Banke, one tree inside the grounds, and two just down the street were absolutely spectacular. I kept shooting picture of them from different angles and then thinking "this will never look as beautiful on film as it does to my eyes." The Goodwin maple was indescribable, with some leaves perfectly showcasing the full color turn of the leaves from green to yellow to orange to red. It is a fantasy autumn tree come to life.
We headed back to the hotel just as the traffic was getting heavy. As a sop to our disappointing local bookstore attempts, we stopped at the Burlington, MA, Barnes & Noble. Okay, why do everyone else's Barnes & Nobles look better than the ones in Atlanta? The Burlington store is twice as large as the largest Atlanta store, which I believe is Akers Mill. Even the Chattanooga store has more books! Anyway, I found a small New England calendar for the spare bedroom, and bought a copy of "Vermont Magazine," and we both saw books we wanted to buy when we got home and got coupons; I spied a new volume about Sherlock Holmes and a really yummy looking book titled The Santa Claus Man!
Naturally it was still full rush-hour when we got back on the road. We finally took a detour suggested by Waze on my phone and got around the mess on I-95 by cutting through to Route 1 via surface streets. For dinner we stopped at Friendly's. After the steamers, our "small supper" was very generous: I had some wonderful chicken noodle soup with a grilled cheese sandwich and James had a big cheeseburger. We even managed to squeeze some ice cream in, since why would you go to Friendly's, known for their ice cream, without having any? :-) Their coffee ice cream is outstanding!