Category Archives: New Hampshire

Rhymes with pain

Oh, Maine, with your winding country roads, pebbly beaches and charmingly spaced out bistros.  You’re killing us.

Not very rapidly, but palpably all the same.  To be sure, we probably would have made it as far as Portland or even Freeport before any of our body parts actually started falling off or became ground down to actual nubs.  Depending on the shuttle service.

Anyone observing the way we limped into Biddeford, though, would have wondered why we were walking away from the Southern Maine Medical Center and not directly to the emergency room.

I'm wearing size 10 ladies flip flops and multiple bandages.

I’m wearing size 10 ladies flip flops and multiple bandages.

I had multiple blisters and abrasions on both my feet.  My beloved Keens sandals, which carried me through so much of Central America, were not up to 10-plus miles of hiking a day, particularly in a sandy environment.  Tighten up, leave them loose. It didn’t matter.  I ducked into a pharmacy on Rt. 1 north of Kennebunk and bought a pair of flip flops, just to give the sore parts of my feet a little break.  The best they had were ladies size 10.  They helped moderately.  I didn’t really get relief until we decided to bungle around in circles in a large grassy park in Old Orchard Beach.  But I had to put my shoes back on eventually.

IMG_8626Jen was amazingly brave and resilient in the face of a smattering of pains, the most acute focusing on her right knee.  It was difficult for her to bend the knee so when she walked she kind of had to swing it around.  It wasn’t quite Ministry of Funny Walks, but it didn’t look very comfortable, either.  Add to the top of this the general soreness that comes from walking, and it’s plain to see why we were both grimacing for much of the last few days — especially when standing up again after a brief rest.

You may have noticed that we stopped at a few bars and beer halls along the way.  We were self-medicating.

Actually, each morning of the trip we got up with good energy and positive attitudes.  We’d leave our lodgings feeling better than we did when we booked in the evening before. This, Jen says, is why we’re not hiking the Appalachian Trail.  To walk even the relatively short distance we were covering (AT-wise), and then have to sit down on a rock and cook our own food, and then try to sleep on the ground?  Too much, even for us.

Even as it was blazing our trail in Maine, we would hobble into our next evening retreat feeling a little worse than we did the evening before.   The walking didn’t really get more difficult.  The first day was the worst, with winding Rt. 103 in the morning and the afternoon slog to find accommodations.  After that, I think we were clever in learning from our mistakes.  We booked a room in advance in Ogunquit and found car-free conveyance for good stretches of walking on the next two days.  (Dodging cars takes a lot out of you, trust me.)

Next stop: Adagio Salon, Spa & Wellness Center

Next stop: Adagio Salon, Spa & Wellness Center

But these little maladies accumulate, and we weren’t taking any days off to allow ourselves to heal.  By the time we made it to Saco, we had no trouble making the decision to let Sha-zoom! cover the last five miles of the coast for us.  (We had taken shuttles before during this trip, but mostly it was east-west travel.  The Kennebunk trolleys didn’t really save us much walking,  they just set us up to walk on better trails.)  Once in OOB,  even with the soothing grass of the big park, it didn’t take too much to nudge us into calling it a day.  To be sure, it was evident that the available lodgings we saw would be neither comfortable nor, based on their proximity to the beach, inexpensive.  Also, there were grey skies that evening and predictions of only moderate temperatures the next day (not encouraging for beach time).

Jen’s idea, once we had purchased our train tickets, was to take the money we would have spent on a hotel room on by the beach and get ourselves massages the next day in New Hampshire.

The two miles from the Durham train station and our house were among the most comfortable to walk of the whole trip.

Leg One, Plus a Little Bit

Ready to go in Market Square, about 9:35 am.  Thanks to Charles for the ride into town, and for snapping this photo.

Ready to go in Market Square, about 9:35 am. Thanks to Charles for the ride into town, and for snapping this photo.

Who says you have to go far from home to have an adventure?  Not us. Especially after Jen looked at air fare and decided that we weren’t going to jet anywhere for the girls’ camp weeks.  Instead, we’re self-propelled.

And we’re walking mostly on routes we’ve driven before — in some cases, very often.   One of our working theories is that we’ll see more if we take the time to walk fro m place to place.   We may not see as many places as we would if we were zipping around in the Fit, but we’ll see more of the world around us.

Would we notice the views of the harbor if we drove east along Whipple Road into Kittery Point?  Probably.  But we wouldn’t have noticed the Gundalow saling out with the tide.  Walking, we found a tiny secret beach, got a good view of a submarine at the shipyard, and poked into a funky garden stand near the Kittery/York line (too bad you can’t drink leeks).

Our route brought us past the Portsmouth Post Office, where Jen mailed letters to our campers.

Our route brought us past the Portsmouth Post Office, where Jen mailed letters to our campers.

Also, on a Saturday morning in August, we may have made better time walking through southern Maine than many of the people driving up routes 95 and 1.

Even keeping a steady pace, we ended up needing to propel ourselves a little bit farther than planned because the York Harbor Inn was full (and seems to own all the other inns in its immediate vicinity, and these inns, they told us, were also full).  We walked an extra two miles to Long Sands, saw some hotels with vacancies, inexplicably walked past them, then backtracked to finally secure our lodgings at about 5:30.

It was an adventurous day.

Kittery started here and ended a long time later.

Kittery started here and ended a long time later.

The highlight might have been walking across the Memorial Bridge from Portsmouth into Kittery. After that it seemed like a long time that we were walking in Kittery.  Oh, the joy when we saw a sign that talked about York’s policies towards littering.  We knew we were close to our goal for the day — and also that we were never going to litter in York.

Sometimes the shoulder got a little narrow.

Sometimes the shoulder got a little narrow.

We appreciated the flat, smooth hiking terrain and generally  light traffic. Mostly there was a wide shoulder or at least a flat grassy section to walk on away from the road.  Sometimes there were six inches of pavement between the white line and a cliff.  Sometime there was a whole sidewalk for us.   The weather was nice:  sunny and breezy for most of the day; a bit of clouds while we were stopping for a break at Fort McClary State Park made us wonder what we were going to do if the skies opened up.  The two options we settled on were to wear our raincoats or use them to cover our backpacks, which contain everything else we need for the rest of the trip.    Jen hit her Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps sometime before the noon hour.  We walked on past the Frisbee Market and Cajun Lobster restaurant in Kittery.  Perhaps we should have stopped in for a bite.  There’ s really not much else past there for a while.

The Gundalow and Constitution light as seen from Fort McLary.

The Gundalow and Constitution Light as seen from Fort McLary.

After a long, lonely stretch on Rt. 103, we hit civilization again in York, with the Wiggly Bridge Park (where we had granola bars) and a cool path along the water called the Fisherman’s Walk.  This path led us right to the York Harbor Inn where the clerk said his inn was full and don’t bother asking about any of the other ones on either side of it.  He directed us instead toward York Beach, which is surely what he does to all people who look like they’ve just walked in from Portsmouth.


Barely starting to get tired at Wiggle Bridge Park.

We made it to the beach and wandered for a time, hopeful that some nice place would take us in.  None did, but the place we’re in is good enough — maybe not good enough for $260 a night, but good enough.  We are right across the street from the beach and not too far up from Mimmo’s Restaurant, which I have wanted to try for a while and can now say is worth the visit.

After securing a room and a reservation at Mimmo’s, we went down to the beach and hopped into the ocean.  Sorry, I did that.  Jen sat down in the shallows and chilled her legs down in the cold Maine waters.  She was not interested in chilling the rest of her body.

Mimmo's deson't sell alcohol (or charge for opening a wine bottle you bring in), but they'll give you a shot of amaretto of Mimmo likes you well enough.

Mimmo’s doesn’t sell alcohol (or charge for opening a wine bottle you bring in), but they’ll give you a shot of amaretto if Mimmo likes you well enough.

Then we went back, hopped on the Internet and reserved a room for tomorrow in Ogunquit.   As shorter walk and a little more security, that’s what the next day should bring.




Having slept in the same bed for 46 days in a row now,  I can say that our Central American adventure is pretty firmly in the rear view mirror.  In this case, objects there appear farther away than they really are.   It seems like much more than a month and a half ago that I attempted scary things like speaking Spanish or lowering myself down a 300-foot cliff.

Our lives have not been fully devoid of adventure, mind you.  They’re just not the kinds of things that cause us to rush to the keyboard and pound out a blog post.  For the sake of a little closure, though, I’ll give a little glimpse of what we’ve been up to now that we’re back in the US.

The Internet was practically made for kitten pictures.

The Internet was practically made for kitten pictures.

First and foremost we’ve added two kittens to our family.  They arrived on Mother’s Day.  Ebby and Ivory are sisters, though the family resemblance is minimal.  They like to scamper around all day and pounce around the girls’ bedrooms all night.

Lanie has officially seceded from Zoe’s bedroom, moving into the spare room that frequently houses Grandma when she visits.  Grandma still gets the room when she’s up, and Lanie gets a futon in Zoe’s room

Lanie's new crib.

Lanie’s new crib

Bedroom configurations and re-decorations were very hot topics of conversation during our various hikes last winter/spring.  Until today no paint had been splashed, but lots of furniture has been swapped around and lots of unused items have made their way to the Swap Shop. While there have been a few sleepover parties, the “Welcome Home Pavliks” party we planned to throw ourselves has not yet materialized.   These were the three things that got covered most during our downtime in Central America — bedrooms, sleepovers and picnics.

Thinning the peach tree.

Thinning the peach tree

I, on the other hand, took to plotting my own projects while we hiked.  So far projects #1, fixing up the chicken coop, and #2, re-repairing the chainsaw, have both been accomplished.  Next is drying out and disposing of old paint cans in the garage.  Adventurous stuff, I know.  I’m sure you can’t wait for that blog post.

Just today we painted the basement.

Just today we painted the basement.

Practically the moment we got off the plane, Jen negotiated for and bought a replacement for the beloved Saturn Rocket.  Not only was the clock ticking because she needed a way to get to work on Monday,  she also rigged the trip to end at the end of the month, when the best car deals are available. The new Honda does not have a cool name yet, but it does had bluetooth phone connection and a gauge that tells you what your gas mileage is in real time.  Jen surprised us all by pickings silver over blue.  Sadly, the midnight purple would have required a greater capital outlay.

Everyone folded back rather seamlessly into school and work.

Violin recital went well -- thanks in part to the practicing on the road.

Lanie’s violin recital went well — thanks in part to all the practicing on the road.

There were  a few productive weeks for the girls before the school year began to fizzle out.  We experienced field trips a-plenty to go along with all the places we visited in Central America.

Zoe and the ORMS Jazz Band and Studio Orchestra perform at the Portsmouth Music Hall.

Zoe and the ORMS Jazz Band and Studio Orchestra performed this month at the Portsmouth Music Hall.

In May, Zoe even got  back into an airplane for a trip to Disney World with the rest of her middle school jazz band and studio orchestra. Nadia has been down to Boston twice since we met Sam at the luggage carousel on the second to last day of April.

The girls are looking forward to a new adventure — a two-week sleep-away summer camp at the end of July for all three of them.  I wonder if they’ll blog about it?

Nadia rode in her first big horse show last month.

Nadia rode in her first big horse show last month.

That leaves Jen and me with some time on our hands.  We’ve already got an idea for an outing that might make for interesting reading.  Tune in again in a few weeks for more details.

Time to go home

All our bags are packed.

All our bags are packed.

At various points during our trip, any one of us was likely looking forward to the day we headed back to New Hampshire.  That’s not to say that we didn’t enjoy our time in Central America, but there are many things calling us home: grandparents, friends, our own beds.

Lanie's passport stamps

Lanie’s passport stamps

Regardless of how much we enjoyed our journeys through Belize, Costa Rica and Nicaragua — almost 80 days on the road — it all seemed to revert to distant memories the minute we got onto our airplane in Belize City and headed for Atlanta.

The final moments in Central America

The final moments in Central America

As the day progressed, the reality of home solidified.  We weren’t even distracted much by the confiscation of all our rum in Atlanta. (There’s a whole other security check irrespective of the one we went through in Belize!  Why didn’t anyone tell us?)  Ok, I was a little distracted about that.

Our successful return

Our successful return

And there was a little grumbling going through customs in Atlanta, especially after we got flagged and pulled into a long line of other people who apparently also had contact with farm animals while they were overseas.  (The cows at Cool-M farm were still worth it.)

Sam Brooks found us in the arrivals section only a minute or two after Jen’s pack slid down onto the luggage carousel.  Moments later we were in sight of the Brooks family Suburban and a comfortable trip home.

Sam arrives just in time.

Sam arrives just in time.

We’re still unpacking three days later, and we’re dealing with a home problem or two.  A leaky shower valve — and the effort to find it — has left our kitchen ceiling looking a little more industrial than it usually does.  All of our cordless phones seem to be on the fritz.  The check engine light is on in the Getaway Van.  The purple Kindle is acting funny.

But we’re home, and glorious spring is emerging all around us.  Testimonies from the locals suggest that the snow only really left two weeks ago, but now it’s garden planting time.  I’ve already purchased my beet seeds, and I’m warming up the soil to plant them in time for Tuesday’s rain.

We haven’t had to cook for ourselves yet, thanks to grocery deliveries and  a dinner invitation from my extremely thoughtful sisters and parents.  We’ve also been treated to dinner by our potluck friends and Bagdad Road connections.    Tomorrow, the girls return to school and Jen goes back to work, truly cementing our home lives back in to place and surely making our adventures seem like daydreams

Luckily we have our blog posts and pictures to revisit and re-read.  We still have to come up with our best-of list for Belize — no easy task, that — and I have to dig up a map to display our routes of travel.

So keep checking in.  We’re home, but we’re not done.



Talk about adventure!  This weekend was the most adventurous weekend of the year, our Anniversarymoon trip!  One of us has no idea where we’re going and the other one it’s tough to say.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  We can’t say because don’t want to let the other one in on our thinking.(!)

This year, I can finally announce to the greater populace, our trip was to New Durham/Wolfeboro.  Instead of dropping money on a B&B, with its superficially attractive heat and hot water, I clandestinely arranged for the construction of our outdoor shower (plumbing only, the enclosure will come in the spring) and also a nice rustic sign that the girls and I worked on.  It is not exactly 100-percent legal so I won’t linger on that.

All quiet on deck

All quiet on deck

We stayed on Chalk Pond and even grilled our own dinner Friday night (after dropping our kids off with our wonderful friends on Bagdad Road – I won’t mention their names because we don’t want them to be flooded with similar requests).

Dark clouds over the bike path




The weather almost cooperated completely.  It was not too cold and it only rained for 20 minutes.  That those 20 minutes coincided exactly with the time we were most exposed on the Wolfeboro Recreational Bike Trail did not dampen our spirits nearly as much as it dampened the rest of us.  Happily, two things worked in our favor: Jen was able to find an acceptable –pretty nice, even – dry pair of pants in the consignment store by the lake; and we were spared the hail stones that other people in Wolfeboro told us about as we were walking around downtown after the

Stylish, dry pants (second-hand)

Stylish, dry pants (second-hand)

storm.  On the trail, we only got rain, thunder and lots of backspackle (the Sniglet version, thankfully, and not the Urban Dictionary’s).

Small glasses, multiple samples

Small glasses, multiple samples

Then there was a minimalist microbrewery experience and a nice warm pizza restaurant.  We got a nice fire going back at the place and it wasn’t too bad.


Snowmobile Rt. 22 signpost

Sunday was dedicated to wandering the snow- mobile trails in the hills of the lower Lakes Region.  We found Merrymeeting Lake and a bunch of interesting trails leading in intriguing directions.  For those cold riders in our readership, we stick pretty much to NH Rt. 22, which looks to be in good shape for the winter; but the spur we took to Merrymeeting did require three yards of blatant trespassing (though Jen reasoned that the trespassing signs were most likely intended for snowmobilers).   Plus, we have a topographical map, which is what the man we found peeing in the woods suggested we bring along for our journey.  Maybe for Christmas one of us will get a compass.

Surprise, scofflawing, brewpubs, thrift – these are all major elements for a romantic Anniversarymoon weekend.   And adventure.  Adventure is fun.

On top of Chocorua

IMG_4736Just so that people don’t think we’re saving all the excitement for our big trip south, we ventured the other direction on Columbus Day to tackle Mount Chocorua.   The parents in this family stress physical fitness as a key to getting the most out of our escapades abroad, so the girls are often being asked to test their mettle.  Once they saw Chocorua’s rocky top, they were giddy with glee at the thought of climbing all over it.  Mettle was evident in abundance.

There was the matter of the four miles or so of rather vertical travel to make it to the rocks on the summit, and there were many tempting boulders along the Piper Trail that beckoned the girls to expend energy on the way up.   The hike challenged us all, and people were astonished to see Lanie when she arrived at the top.  There weren’t too many people Nadia’s age there, either.  We were very proud of them.

At the wind-swept summit

At the wind-swept summit

The rock scrambling seemed to provide adequate payoff for those of us who weren’t concerned about being blown into the abyss.  For the rest of us, the fall colors and deep blue sky that smiled down for most of the ascent were worth the trip.  At the top we encountered dark clouds and gusty winds.  These, along with the general altitude and the general and tendency for girls to run in three directions at once, made that part of the journey a little too adventurous for more mature tastes.











We worked our way down, thighs burning, and set a course for pizza on the way home.  By the time we got to the van we had about nine miles under our belts, and, hopefully, some pictures that are worth sharing.


Castle in the Clouds

Sometimes the Getaway Van tackles a trip nearer home.  We wanted to do some hiking in the Lakes region, and a quick google search turned up a suggestion for Castle in the Clouds.  Despite our many years in NH, we’ve never been there, so we decided to give it a try.

Those who know me well (or have spent any time reading this blog) are aware that I am definitely a planner.  Usually, whenever we go somewhere, I am pretty well aware of how to get there, where to park, and what we’ll see.  This is a result of my tendency to want to maximize each experience — I want to make sure we don’t miss anything.  However, on this trip I only had time for items 1 and 2 on that list, and so we parked at the trailhead and set off with no real idea of what we would encounter.

The Falls of Song

We wandered up the path through the forest.  Eventually we began to hear the sounds of rushing water in the distance.  The sounds got louder and louder, and eventually we could see a rushing stream in a ravine far below.  After a mile or two we saw a sharp right turn off the trail labeled, “Lower Brook Walk”.  The kids wanted to take it, and we had no agenda, so we said, “Sure” and headed off.

Bridal Veil Falls

At first this appeared to be a mistake.  We’d spent the past couple of miles climbing, and now we found ourselves undoing all that hard work, sliding down a steep trail that perversely appeared to go not only downhill, but also back the way we’d come from.  However, the trail soon leveled out and curved around again, and we found ourselves alongside an extremely scenic brook, winding through the trees and cascading down rocks as it made its way down the mountain.

For the next hour or so we traveled alongside the brook, with the kids jumping in and out of the cascades and pools.  Every now and then we’d come to a substantial waterfall.  Signs along the trail told us that this used to be a summer resort for the wealthy, and showed pictures of the ornate bridges that used to span many of the falls.

Zeus’s little brother?

Eventually we came out onto the castle grounds on top of the mountain.  These were pretty extensive, with a pond a several buildings.  The pond provided much entertainment, since it was stocked with large trout that would leap up partially out of the water when food was thrown to them.  There was also a stable, which of course was of great interest to Nadia.  When I mentioned Castle in the Clouds the first thing she said was that they had a giant horse there.  I knew nothing about this, but it turned out she was correct — the castle was the former home of Zeus, supposedly the largest horse in the world!  Sadly, at the stable we discovered that Zeus had died this January, but we did see a couple of other massive horses that may have been his relatives.  We made a donation to the Zeus memorial fund.

At this point we set off across the hilltop to find the castle itself.  (At this point I should mention that we did not fork out the $52 that it would take to get a tour of the castle itself.  So if you were hoping for lots of interior photos and detail you are sadly out of luck.)  We saw it in the distance and were remarking on its cool appearance when we arrived to find it was only the carriage house.  We also discovered that we were not in fact on top of the mountain — next to the carriage house was a steep upward path labeled, “No castle access”.

We took the path anyway, hoping for a nice view, and found the sign was rather a lie, since we came out in the castle’s backyard.  We were rewarded for taking the final climb with a sweeping vista of Lake Winnepesaukee and the mountains beyond.

So, I have to admit that the best thing about this day was that we never knew what would be around the next corner.  From the series of waterfalls, to the trout, to the giant horses and the great view — everything was a surprise and made us feel like explorers making new discoveries (even amidst one of the larger tourist attractions in the area).  My takeaway from this trip: Leave the planner behind every now and then.