If the point of travel is to delve into new experiences, then Newbury, New Hampshire lives up to its purpose.
Here at Lake Todd in Newbury, the house we rented is on a road unlike any other on which I have lived. Turn off highway 103 onto Alsubet Court, and you find yourself bumping down an unpaved dirt and gravel path hidden by tall trees. This single fact could be my greatest elation with our choice of accommodation.
But equal to that, and also a new experience for us, is the rope swing on one of the three islands in the middle of the lake. After I worked up my courage to try it, seven-year-old Emmett proclaimed with joy, “Now our whole family loves it!” Rowing our boat out to the island, to launch ourselves into the lake was the highlight of our week by far.
- House rental tip: We have VacationRentals.com to thank for helping us find this house. Sure, we had to rely on photos and the owner’s description, but she represented it fairly. (Wish we could say the same for the apartment in Boston we found through Craigslist, which appears to have been a scam costing us a week’s rent. Ouch! Craigslist does warn against renting a place unless you can see it in person in advance and meet the owner. Now I know why.) We’ve also found excellent houses and apartments offered on VRBO.com, alternative lodging (e.g. a room in a house) on www.airbnb.com, and longer term rentals on SabbaticalHomes.com.
- Laundry tip: Not every house offers a washer and dryer, and this was one of those houses. I discovered the joy of a local laundromat. Spend some time talking to a local, ask them about their life and town. You’ll get to know the place through someone else’s eyes. That said, when you’re in a big city, it just may pay to have the local laundry wash, dry and fold your clothes for you, which we did when we were in NYC. Easiest laundry day I’ve ever had.
During our meandering travels, I often find myself comparing each new town to my home, asking myself which place here is most like it, looking for the common ground.
This week New London, New Hampshire (Est. 1779) wears that mantle, complete with abundant hair salons and upscale women’s clothing stores, and a handful of restaurants. New London is a 15 minute ride from our off-the-beaten-path house, and we wanted to see the “big town” in the area. For dinner we chose Peter Christian’s Tavern by its name, because to me it conjured up an old fashioned colonial place. Instead we got a bar food menu, from which my L.A. kid selected nachos – I mean, nachos in New Hampshire – what’s the point? Another night I followed suit, enjoying chicken quesadillas at Ellie’s Cafe, which boasted a more creative menu, BYOB, and elegant casual comfort.
Continuing along Main Street, we passed the town’s small liberal arts college located next to a large grassy field with a white wooden gazebo in its center. A sign announced that this was the Haddad Bandstand, site of Friday evening concerts in the summer. Our luck, we’d made it for the final concert. We alternated between playing Frisbee on the field and singing along to the Music Man, watching the sun set over Mount Sunapee in the distance. It reminded me of our town’s Saturday night movies in the park, with picnic-ing families, kids running around, and community spirit prevailing.
Finally heading home after the concert, we passed the New London Barn Playhouse, which was presenting the musical Chicago. Being a musical theatre geek, I lingered. But I didn’t think I should hear a small town community theatre take on one of my favorite shows. We could hear strains of the opening number coming from the windows and the sound stopped me. This was the real deal. Eleven-year-old Aaron was desperate to see it, and I was tempted, so we asked about tickets. The ticket lady looked at me and my husband like we were idiots: “You know, this is a pretty adult show.” Adultery, jealousy, murder, prison and slick criminal defense lawyers. Yeah, we know. We’re from L.A., ma’am. We can handle it.
FamilyGal Laura Diamond of Southern California is in the midst of a two-month adventure on the East Coast with her husband and two sons, ages 7 and 11. This is her sixth installment; she and her family went to Six Flags Wild Animal Safari in New Jersey, floated down the Delaware River, reveled in history in Philadelphia, traipsed all over New York City and played in the lake in New Hampshire. Next up? Vermont!