2004-06-16 Christine Lopez and Seth Cohn:Our visit to the Shire
Our visit to the Shire
by Christine Lopez and Seth Cohn 6/16/04
I guess we were both very excited & we woke up at 3 a.m. in January of 2004. We left Yonkers NY by 5 & were in Keene NH by 9 a.m. Being as it was Sunday morning, the streets were all but empty. Keene has a very small but quaint downtown square & we enjoyed walking around & then stopping into a cafe for coffee & a game of chess. I even happened upon my totem animal, a hawk, who was feeding down a side street from where we were walking.
As it turns out, Keene was having its bridal show this afternoon, so of course, we had to check it out! It was cool because we got some ideas for our wedding & we met some local people who are in my line of work.
The Carriage Barn was cute & comfortable. The owner was more than willing to offer conversation as well as serve some delicious muffins.
Later that evening we met with some people from the Free State Project for some food & my first real glimpse as to what I was getting myself into. My impressions were very favorable & I began to feel a strong sense of community.
The next day we drove to Manchester, but not before taking a few pictures of Keene during its "rush hour." It just doesn't get too awfully bad in a small town, but it is a college town & on Monday @ 9 a.m., you're going to see some cars moving around the square. We also stopped in Peterborough which I had read was a very arts-minded community. Well, it seems more of an artsy-fartsy community. It will probably be more of a nice place to come to to see a good show & get some culture.
Before our next meeting with some more FSP friends at the hotel, we went out to check out Manchester & Nashua. This is definitely the most populace area of the state, but it doesn't take very long to be back into the forest. So, it seems very possible that wherever I can find a job, it won't be difficult to have a house in the country.
As soon as we got back to the hotel, our new friends were waiting for us. We got to know each other for a little while before heading over to dinner at Spatts restaurant. Wow & Yum! I'm so glad that we went off the diet for this vacation! I had fried shrimp with a baked sweet potato & Seth had a stuffed fish fillet that was nutty & delicious. Our new friends with the FSP were warm & open and we had much more to talk about than just politics. I asked about mud & black fly season & Don Gorman assured me that they are short lived. As far as the snow & cold go, I'll probably need to just bundle up & have fun, you know, make snowmen & maybe get involved in some winter sports.
This was one of the best times I had on our trip. I really enjoyed the company, conversation & food. We stayed long after our meals were done & I truly felt like I was taking part in something important.
Then next day Don wanted to take us to Portsmouth for lunch & adventure. Before leaving Manchester though, I went ahead & followed a lead that Don's partner Marianne had given me for the Holiday Inn. They are the main conference center in the Shire & even though they didn't have anything available in management at this time, it was interesting to see what they had available as far as meeting rooms & personality. It's going to be hard leaving the Hilton Eugene. This is where all my friends are & I feel that I've really grown up here...
Don wanted us to see the "seedy" part of town before our drive to the coast. It wasn't very bad & if that's the worst it gets, I think we'll be able to find a nice little place to start a family. From here I saw snow on the beach for the first time & it was very cold without my hat & gloves on! It's winter! Portsmouth is another artsy community that is made for tourists. Don't get me wrong, I liked it well enough, but the housing is very expensive & unless I find a really good job here, it will be expensive to live here.
So on we went to Dover & the best lobster ever at Newicks Restaurant. It was juicy & tender & even came with a bib. Seth got a huge plate of fried seafood & the scallops were phenomenal. Oh, we can't forget the huge plate of steamer clams that still had the tails on them. Yum!
Having had my little adventure, I had a little nap in the backseat on the way home. This gave Seth & Don some more time to talk politics & when I woke up, all I could see were beautifully frosted trees. It's definitely a winter wonderland here.
From Manchester we drove to Lebanon with a drive thru Concord. Here we had an interesting experience on our way to dinner. We encountered a road stop & when we had our turn the officer peeked in & asked if we were American citizens. "That was weird." We both said. The funny thing was that we had actually taken a wrong turn & were in Vermont & had to turn around to get back to the Shire. From then on we had a nice night in with pizza and VH1.
The next day we had to head back to NY, but we had plenty of time, so we stopped in a few other NH towns along the way. Since we were so close, we made a quick stop in Hanover & took some pictures of Dartmouth college.
This day was the coldest we had experienced in our visit. It got UP to 13 degrees f. Although the air was brisk, the countryside we drove thru was spectacular. The trees are all dotted with snow & frost & I had to take many, many pictures.
You can see these pictures and more here.