• Breaking The Curse?

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

     

    I was recently asked if I thought “The Curse Of The Flatlander” would ever be broken.
    I had to stop in my tracks. It had been a longtime since I had been reminded of it. I had even written about it to some degree on these pages many years ago.
    Since then, it has been kept quiet; not many of us like to be reminded of it. With the Chicago Cubs breaking the 108 year “Curse of the Goat” last year, it seems like it is the only “curse” still lingering in the minds of some here in New Hampshire.
    Flatlanders especially.
    If you don’t know the story of the curse, it goes like this.
    Back in the 1930s it is believed that the first “Flatlander” from the urban New York City area moved to New Hampshire. (Some dispute this claim, but I have yet to see hard evidence.)
    The legend goes that many thought he wouldn’t have what it takes to survive in the Granite State. Sure, in the summers – a time when so many like him came to visit – things were easy. It was the winter and the off season where he would be tested to limit.
    Despite all the odds, and the lack of sympathy from natives who were anxious to see him fail, he stood his ground. He adapted nicely and actually flourished; he was no average Flatlander.
    His abilities in chopping wood, shoveling (yes shoveling) his roof and showing great courage and proficiency in accomplishing many other winter feats far outshone his neighbors. In fact, his expertise with a shovel, both on the ground and upon his roof, after a vicious snowstorm, earned him the nickname “The Grande Espatula” which was Spanish for “The Grand Shoveler”. (Many question this fact as no one can figure out who the heck in Central New Hampshire in the 1930s would ever come up with such a name.)
    It was apparent to natives and Flatlanders alike that this one individual was blazing the trail for others to come after him. He was setting a standard for all to follow. Respect would be immediate.
    Of course, this was not to be.
    The local factory where the Flatlander worked during the week was remortgaged by the owner who needed cash to finance a summer stock production so as to give his wife a chance at becoming a great actress and eventually find her way to Broadway.
    The show was a bomb, as was his wife. The show closed abruptly, the mortgage got behind and the factory eventually closed.
    Finding it hard to find other opportunities for work, the Flatlander took a new job in Maine where he moved, along with his exceptional skills.
    The legend goes that no Flatlander since that time who has moved to New Hampshire has been able to flourish in quite the same way.
    At the same time, it is no secret, that Flatlanders moving to Maine have been much more proficient and continue to succeed by leaps and bounds.
    Is this all just coincidence, or is it really a curse?
    Many scoff at the very idea, dismissing the ineptness of Flatlanders like myself as a curse. Some point to rare examples of some who have actually succeeded. But have they ever reached that pinnacle that legend describes?
    Believers in the curse, like the gentleman who reminded me of this the other day, feel that no matter how well they perform in their new homeland, they will never be able to reach the top of the ladder and be accepted as a true New Hampshireite until the curse is lifted.
    Now that the Cubs have removed themselves from their curse, many feel it is our turn. That this coming winter one Flatlander will rise above the rest and flourish beyond all expectations and finally succeed where so many before him (or her) has failed before.
    Will this be the year? Will one of us shine and put to rest the scorn and futility? To shut down the noise? Will one of us finally some up to par with those Flatlanders from Maine?
    I know one thing for sure.
    It’s not going to be me.
    ********

    Join Brendan as “Real Stories North Of Concord” hosts its second StorySlam at Pitman’s Freight Room in Laconia on Thursday, August 24th. Up to twelve storytellers will be picked to tell their 6-minute story based on the theme “Brush With Fame.” The slam starts at 7:30 and admission is $20 with all net proceeds going to benefit Camp Resilience.


  • Owl’s Head – In the Middle Of The Pemi Wilderness

    Yours truly, Sharon LaVigne and Sarah McCann on the summit of Owl’s Head. Owl’s Head is the only mountain on the AMC’s New Hampshire 4,000 footer list that doesn’t have a recognized trail to its summit.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The golfing gals, Sharon and Sarah, have put their hiking boots back on!
    They began collecting 4,000 footers 7 years ago and last summer they didn’t even go hiking once. There were too many reasons their boots stayed in the closet—moving, weddings, golf matches and other fun stuff and not so fun stuff.

    Sharon LaVigne of New London on the Owl’s Head slide with a big view of the Franconia Ridge and close-up view of the Lincoln Slide.

    I confess I was surprised they didn’t get one date to work last summer. After all, the previous summer they hit the trails hard. Mt. Isolation, Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams were among the peaks that they last checked off and leaving them only 9 peaks left to finish the 4,000 footer list.
    We decided to go to the top of Owl’s Head for their first hike this summer. My friends are healthy and strong and it is a long hike (usual route is over 18 miles) to get to that little peak and back. Owl’s Head ranks #43/48 at elevation 4,025’ and its wooded summit offers only obstructed views.
    Owl’s Head is the only peak on the Appalachian Mountain Club’s New Hampshire 4,000 footer list that doesn’t have an official trail to its summit. The well-worn path follows an old very steep slide up from the Lincoln Brook Trail.
    Owl’s Head is in the middle of the 1984 federally designated Pemigewasset Wilderness, east of Mount Liberty and west of the Bonds and far from any roads. The trails in federally designated wilderness areas are often referred to as primitive but mostly they are unmaintained and the trail blazes have been removed. The trails are only brushed, if at all, just three feet wide and trees that blow down across the trail are not removed if they can be stepped over.
    The Lincoln Woods parking area is right on the Kancamagus Highway, Rte 112 and east of the Loon Mountain Resort. The parking lot was half full, even on a Wednesday morning; a day parking pass is $5. We crossed over the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River on the suspension bridge to the Lincoln Woods Trail at 7:30 am.
    Our plan was to think of the hike as four different hikes. The Lincoln Woods Trail, the Black Pond Trail and bushwhack, the Lincoln Brook Trail and then the slide to the summit.
    For 2.6 miles we walked up the old logging railroad bed above the bank of the river that is the Lincoln Woods Trail. Many old railroad ties still remain and it isn’t easy walking over them so on both ends of the ties muddy paths have formed.

    Mid-day on a Wednesday afternoon even the slide on Owl’s Head is crowded! There were six of us going up at the same time and at least no falling rocks hit anyone. We met at least a dozen people out on the trails and passed by three occupied tent sites on our way in and out of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

    At the junction of the Black Pond Trail, I stashed two bottles of PowerAde in a tree just off the trail. Losing those four pounds sure made my pack feel lighter and we’d be happy to have those bottles to drink on our way back.
    The well blazed one mile trail to Black Pond was in excellent condition through pretty woods. At the pond the view of the Bonds and a nice peek at Owl’s Head was lovely and exciting. I decided to lead the bushwhack route for two reasons: to avoid the Franconia and Lincoln Brook crossings and to make the hike two miles shorter turning a usual 18 miles hike into 16 miles. Plus, the less used Black Pond Trail and the woods are much nicer than the trails.
    Near the end of the pond we did our best to get around the mud. We followed my compass north and in a few minutes we hit a path and the path became more obvious.
    If you do not know how to use a compass and map do not attempt to take this route. Don’t count on being able to find or being able to stay on it. A simple fallen tree could hide the way for you. Jokingly, Sharon asked me if I was lost yet. (I cross country skied this route last February.)

    Welcome to the Lincoln Brook Trail! The trail has many mud pits to cross and trees to step over along the un-blazed (no trail markers) trail.

    A big mud pit greeted at the Lincoln Brook Trail and three men backpacking were there too. They said they had used the bushwhack and path but somehow got headed too far east and bumped into the brook and ended up crossing it and then crossing it again on the Lincoln Brook Trail. That didn’t sound like much fun.
    The Lincoln Brook Trail has no blazes and is a muddy mess that follows along the bank of the brook. The stream crossing were all rock hop-able and we kept our feet dry. The cold water of the fast flowing brook kept the air rather comfortable and cool. We were surprised that there were only a few vexing deer flies.
    The upper crossing of Lincoln Brook was rock hop-able too. Sharon and Sarah didn’t miss a beat and the crossing took little time and effort.

    To reach the summit of Owl’s Head you’ll have to cross brooks.

    At the bottom of the slide there are two small rock cairns and a birch tree lying alongside the trail that made for a perfect bench. The three took a seat and ate an early lunch before we tackled the hard last mile climb up the slide and along the ridge to Owl’s Head’s summit.
    By the time we finished eating and put our packs back on the three men that we had met earlier had caught up to us. They followed us right up the slide. They were too close but they wouldn’t go by even when we encouraged them. They were nice guys but it felt too crowded.
    The middle of the rocky slide is open and we could see the mountains of the Franconia Ridge and Lincoln Slide. Here we sat down to enjoy the view and to let the men go on their way. To our chagrin they went a few more minutes before they sat down too.
    We got tired of waiting for them to get a move on so we headed up the trail and passed them and they tailgated us to the summit.
    A small rock cairn and “the top” carved into a tree is what is at end of the herd path at the summit. We snapped a photo and turned around and headed back down.

    The clear afternoon reflection of the Bonds on the waters of Black Pond was a lovely sight.

    Going down the slide is harder than going up it. We took our time and many careful little steps until we reached the bottom.
    We followed back down the Lincoln Brook Trail the best we could. Only once did I lead us off the trail to a dead end at a camp site and it took a minute to find the trail again. I blamed trying to go around mud.
    From Lincoln Brook to the bushwhack “path” it was much easier to follow the trail but nearing Black Pond I lost it again. But I had a good idea where I was and we walked out nearly the same way we had come in.
    We had all drained our water bottles and we were happy to have the drink I had stashed away and we were thirsty the last 2.6 miles.
    We made it back to the car just before 5:30 pm. We’d been out nearly 10 hours and 16 miles of hiking. Now the golfing gals only have 8 peaks left on their 4k lists.

    —Have Fun.

    Sarah and Sharon are back from Owl’s Head, on the suspension bridge over the East Branch at the Pemigewasset River at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead. Happy Hikers, happy to be finished after nearly ten hours and 16 miles on the trails.

  • Lockes Hill ~ Kimball Wildlife Forest, Gilford

    On the Lakeview Trail, Yours truly enjoying the grand vista–I feel like a Queen sitting on my stone throne.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The Belknap Mountains offer many opportunities for hiking. Mount Major is certainly one of the most popular peaks to hike in New Hampshire due to its wide ledgy summit and sweeping lake and mountain panorama.
    To reach Major’s summit it requires hiking 3 miles and climbing over a thousand feet of elevation. Lots of people of all ages and abilities do it and I hope someday you might get the chance.
    But there is another fine perch that is shorter and less challenging to reach. It’s not far from Mount Major and it offers a splendid vista of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipees and the White Mountains too. That’s Lockes Hill—a miniature Mount Major!

    The view from “The Glade” on the Lakeview Trail on Lockes Hill over Lake Winnipesaukee to the Ossipee and White Mountains is grand. Lockes Hill is a miniature Mount Major!

     

    Pick up a map and trail guide from the mailbox near the Lakeview Trailhead.

    Lockes Hill was the 280 acre estate of Boston and Montreal Railroad President Benjamin Kimball. In 1897 he built a castle overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee on the property. His heirs established a trust for the study and enjoyment of wildlife habitat and the Town of Gilford was appointed the trustee. The public does not have access to the castle, it is privately owned.
    The Lockes Hill trailhead right off of Route 11 in Gilford about 3 miles east of the Laconia Airport. The parking lot entrance is marked with a brown hiker icon highway sign.
    Charlie and I knew we would be driving by the Lockes Hill so we planned to do the short hike. We decided to make a 1.8 mile counter-clockwise loop by going up the Lakeview Trail and coming down the Quarry Trail.
    The Lakeview Trail begins on the right just as you enter the parking lot. There is a sign and be sure to take a trail guide from the mailbox here. The Lakeview Trail switchbacks as the trail climbs up the slope, there are many rock steps. Along the trails are interpretive stations that are fun to read to learn about the Kimball Wildlife Forest and its inhabitants.
    Nearing the top of the hill we reached “The Glade” –a cleared area for wildlife habitat and to open the vista. We had only hiked half a mile with less than 500 vertical feet of climbing and we were wowed by the view. Plus the area just off the trail is rocky and people have stacked the rocks to make chairs or maybe I should call them stone thrones.
    We looked down at the Big Lake and over its broad water and islands to the mountains. There is a distance viewer mounted here and Charlie and I used it to peek at boats on the water. Hiking to just here and back would be a worthy outing.
    We continued to the top and there was a spur path to a distance viewer and another fine vista. This perch allowed us to see further to the west.

     

    Charlie looking at mountains, houses and boats using the distance viewer on Lockes Hill.

     

    The Lakeview and Quarry Trails are well marked with blue blazes and are easy to follow.

    The Lakeview Trail meets the Quarry trail at the Lockes Hill beacon, a light on top of a utility pole for the benefit of warning airplanes headed to the Laconia Airport. We poked around the top and found yet a third distance viewer at an opening with a good view of Gunstock and Belknap Mountains.
    We headed down the Quarry Trail and it was less rocky and had a softer footbed. The hemlock forest turned into a hardwoods as we got off the ridge. We passed by an area that had been recently logged and we decided to leave the trail and check out the view from newly opened area. We looked west and could see a hazy view of Mount Cardigan.
    We descended some rock steps and went across stepping stones past a pool that was part of the old quarry site where the stones were cut for the Kimball’s castle.
    From here we followed an old logging road back to the parking area.
    The trails are well marked with blue blazes and are easy to follow.
    This was a super hike and Lockes Hill is treasure.
    Have Fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • UN Secretary General Decries Rising Tide of Refugees

    John Metzler

    by John J. Metzler
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    UNITED NATIONS – In an impassioned appeal to the media, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres decried the rising tide of refugees worldwide, but advised that ultimately political solutions to the crises remain the key to stem the tide creating chaotic human displacements.
    While more than 65 million people around the world are victims of a score of conflicts, both humanitarian assistance and preventive diplomacy to solve these calamities are needed now.
    “Now we are witnessing the largest number of refugees ever,” the Secretary General stated glumly while adding that while developed countries have carried an enormous burden to aid the ongoing humanitarian emergencies, it was largely overlooked that smaller and poorer states have carried a disproportionate burden.
    Secretary General Guterres is painfully aware of this expanding crisis having served nearly a decade as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees and earlier Portugal’s Prime Minister.
    Sadly we know the conflicts: Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
    Significantly the Secretary General stressed that countries of first asylum, namely states bordering a particular crisis, now host 80 percent of the refugees. In Lebanon one third of the population are fleeing Syrians. Turkey and the Kingdom of Jordan host huge numbers too.
    In 2015, Uganda hosted a half million refugees; today the small Central African state has 1.3 million mostly from South Sudan. Kenya and Ethiopia house large numbers too from Somalia. These are societies, “that are poor, that lack resources, that have huge development gaps and huge development problems.”
    Guterres is appalled that “global political populism, Xenophobia, racism in which refugees become a target.” He advised that while refugees are often accused of promoting terrorism, refugees “are the first victims of terror, they are fleeing terror; that is why they are refugees.” Continue reading  Post ID 2918


  • Left-Hand, Left Behind

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Has somebody ever said something to you that hit you full in the face like the wind coming off a freshly manured field? I experienced that sensation last week while attending a local “Town Hall on Education,” hosted by Reaching Higher NH.
    The meeting started off as expected. Though it claims to be nonpartisan, from their “About Us” webpage, it’s clear that Reaching Higher is left-of-center. But the host presented an even-handed summary of recent state and federal education legislation. When the two panelists were introduced, however, the meeting lurched noticeably to the Left.

    I didn’t mind the recently-passed bill funding all-day-kindergarten being referred to derisively as “Keno-garten” (as if a funding mechanism based on voluntary contributions is worse than one based on forced taxation), or even the state being criticized for “downshifting” education costs to taxpayers, as if Concord gets its revenue from magic elves. But when a Democrat state representative insisted on calling our education scholarship program a “voucher” system that (cue the ominous music) gives tax dollars to religious schools, I knew I was behind enemy lines.
    After an hour of being told how wonderful but underfunded – or at least, inequitably funded – our public school system is, I asked the two panelists what the drop-out and non-proficiency rates were for the Laconia system. They didn’t know. I asked because those students are being poorly served by a system that pours nearly $15,000 a year into preparing them for the adult world. The latest data for Laconia: 10.9% drop out; non-proficiency rates for 11th graders in reading, writing, and math are 24%, 37%, and 75%, respectively.
    The focus on and testing for college- and career-readiness ignores the needs of a sizable number of students. When I asked a panelist about those students whose academic abilities place them well to the left on the bell curve, I received the odoriferous answer: He didn’t believe in the bell curve. This educator didn’t believe in applying the “normal” distribution, a well-established concept in statistics, to students. His “all students can succeed” claptrap may make him feel better, but ignoring inherent limitations is cruel.
    I haven’t been in the dream-crushing business since my days as a Navy officer. When a sailor’s sense of self interfered with the ship’s mission, a personal recalibration was in order. While teachers should be inspirational, encouraging students to reach higher, that encouragement should not ignore the real world, where failure to “make the grade” is not only an option, for some it is a probability. Expectations matter, but so does ability.
    Academically, most of us occupy the middle of the bell curve, but some are further to the left, closer to the break-point between success and failure in life. By focusing so much on standards a sizable percentage of students can’t meet, our public education system is failing to provide them with the skills needed to live independently, make a living at an attainable job, pay the bills, and participate in their communities.
    Public schools produce many young adults who earn only debt, not a degree, from their college experience. Some must pay for remedial courses to learn high school-level material. Some newly-minted college grads first encounter real-world standards during the interview for the job they didn’t get. But the kids our system truly leaves behind are the ones represented by the dropout and non-proficiency rates.
    For a variety of reasons – IQ, socio-economic, family stresses – some students will never meet college- or career-ready standards. That’s not a moral judgement; it’s simply a fact. It’s time to take those kids out of the current curricula and testing regimen. Some of the 115 out of 152 students who started 11th grade in Laconia in 2013 unable to demonstrate proficiency in mathematics could be better served with a program aimed at providing them with the basic body of knowledge for independent living. Relevant proficiency is more valuable than irrelevant non-proficiency.
    The academics of this program would be built around key life skills, such as a basic understanding of civics, current events, and history; the mathematics required for personal finance and trade-skill jobs; fundamental scientific concepts; home economics; law and order; and society’s expectations for adults.
    Teaching and testing at levels some kids can’t reach, covering material they will never use, is a waste of time and resources. Worse, the kids know it. They vote with their feet by dropping out or tuning out. Encouraging students to reach higher is the right thing to do, but only if what they are reaching for is meaningful to their lives and realistically within their grasp.

    Ken can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com


  • My Plans For The Fourth

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    Time to get out my walking shoes.
    I realize that it would make sense to wait until Independence Day next year, but desperate times take desperate measures.
    As you may or may not know, I am facing a serious challenge next year in my run to be the Flatlander Party’s gubernatorial nominee (which, as I often have to explain to folks, means I am running for governor, not guber).
    I don’t usually have any competition for the nomination, but this year I may find myself in the fight of my life for the job. The party hasn’t done well in elections over the years, so the grumbling inside is that there needs to be a change. Seeing that I’m the only one from the party that has run for office over the years then, of course, all the blame falls in my lap.
    A lot of people forget that it was me that started the Flatlander Party, right here on these pages years ago. It’s been me that has suffered the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and took the losses in elections humbly.
    I knew it would take years until we would be properly recognized and I was the one who took on that struggle, knowing that someday we would finally be a force to reckoned with.
    Now, just as we are finally breaking through (I did get seventy-five votes this last election) others want to step from behind the embarrassment curtain they have been hiding behind all these years and now step out into the glory.
    Like the story of the Little Red Hen I read in grammar school, I did all the work while others claimed to have too many other things to do in order help. Now, as our star begins to rise, others want to just step in and eat the bread.
    Still, this is politics and I should have seen it coming. I shouldn’t have expected anything less.
    So, I have some work to do and I need to do it early.
    The Flatlander Party doesn’t have the numbers of the other two major parties, but we do have enough to make a difference. The problem in getting their attention for the primary vote is that they are spread far and wide across the state.
    So, I am kicking it into gear early to get their attention.
    What better way than to march in some Fourth of July parades in some of the cities and towns in New Hampshire.
    I realize I will only make a few of the parades considering travel and timing, but I have hired a few surrogates to march in some others holding signs with my name on it.
    Of course, this all works on the element of surprise and not only will it put me in front of some members of the Flatlander Party early, but it may also get me some much needed, free media coverage.
    No one attending Fourth of July parades this year will be expecting it. On off election years, parade goers line the streets waiting to see the local high school bands march and play, some brave veterans walk by, maybe local police and firefighters, some folks from local organizations that do good around town and even guys in funny hats driving little cars. No one will be expecting a smiley politician to show up.
    Advantage me.
    I’m sure some will be shocked as they see me walk by, waving as if I care. Some will react with boos I’m sure. Maybe a few polite ones wiell give me a smattering of applause.
    One things is for sure though, I will stick out like the sorest of thumbs and I will be noticed. Even my surrogates will make some waves. The media will love it, especially the boos, I’m sure to get free air time out of it.
    Of course, I haven’t been invited, but I’ll make sure to pull off my best Rosie Ruiz and slip into the parades as they turn a corner, my campaign sign ticked neatly into the elastic waist band of my shorts (which come in very handy for more than just an ever-expanding waistline).
    So, if you see me marching in your Fourth Of July Parade, remember I have no choice. A desperate man has to do what a desperate man must do.
    I know you’ll understand.

    ********

    I hope you will join me on July 13th at Pitman’s Freight Room in Laconia for a StorySlam to benefit the NH Humane Society. If you have a story to tell based on the theme “It Seemed Like A Good Idea” please come and put your name in the hat (of course, you’ll need a ticket. After all this is a fundraiser.) For more information see the ad on page 44. Visit “Real Stories North Of Concord” on Facebook or email to realstoriesnoc@gmail.

     

     


  • BIKES AND BEARS – Franconia Notch Recreation Path, Clark’s Trading Post

    Yours truly and Becca visiting the Basin while riding our bicycles on the Franconia Notch Recreational Path. The path travels nearly ten miles through Franconia Notch between The Flume and the Skookumchuck Trailhead.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Becca and I met mid-morning in the Flume Visitor Center. The Flume was a happening place and we were not able to park in the north lot nearest the beginning of the Franconia Notch Recreation Path but there was still plenty of room in the lower lots.
    The clouds were still low and the ground was wet from the previous evening’s rain storm but the air was warm and comfortable. A few years have passed by since the last time either one of us had taken our bicycles for a spin on this path. We both joked that the nearly 10 mile long path was uphill in both directions but actually the elevation gain from the southern terminus at the Flume to the northern terminus at the Skookumchuck Trailhead climbs 800 feet in elevation.

    At the edge of Profile Lake in Franconia Notch, Becca is standing in the middle of the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza. The Profilers behind her can be lined up and viewed to re-recreate his face on the mountain.

    The Franconia Notch Recreation Path isn’t what many expect to find in a bicycle path. There are steep uphills and downhills and though I am not sure the exact width of the pavement but when meeting approaching cyclists it sometimes feels quite narrow. Plus there are walkers and hikers using the path to reach attractions and trailheads too.
    But what it lacks as a bicycle super highway it more than makes up with grand scenery that should be enjoyed at a slower pace. I do recommend parents lead their children and set a safe slower pace during descents.
    We pedaled steadily for a couple miles up the path before stopping to view the Basin. Here there were lots of visitors walking from the parking area to the Basin. It was a lovely sight to see the high water swirling around the natural granite bowl.
    For our next stop we took a slight detour off the path to the Lafayette Place Campground headquarters and camp store. The camp store is well stocked with all the provisions to keep campers happy—from foam sleeping pads to bug-dope.
    From the campground the path continues to climb and passes near the scree field below the mighty mile long Cannon Cliff. The clouds were rising and we could see rock climbers making their way up the cliff’s steep bare face. We also enjoyed views of Eagle Cliff on the east wall of the Notch.
    The path crosses under the Parkway when it reaches Profile Lake because the Parkway tightly hugs its shore. Now on the other side we pedaled past the small wayside that was once a popular viewing site to see the Old Man of the Mountain. In a short distance the path goes back under the Parkway and intersects with the path to the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza.
    The plaza has granite benches, engraved pavers sponsored by supporters of the Old Man Legacy Fund and steel “profilers” that recreate the visage of the Old Man high above Profile Lake on the north edge of the Cannon Cliff. It is a pretty place and it’s worth it to take the time to visit the historic site.
    Becca and I wished we could put the old Man back up on Mountain. Fiberglass, plastic or even a big balloon might do the trick. Looking at where he used to be doesn’t bring him back.
    We rode past the Cannon Mountain Tramway and the New England Ski Museum, not enough time to do everything in one day! The path continues past Echo Lake and people were out enjoying the paddleboats that they rent at the State Park breach.
    The downhill after passing under Route 18 requires caution because it is long and steep. Right above there are good glimpses of Artist’s Bluff Cliff. Then there is a sharp turn and a big uphill that goes right under Interstate 93 and tops out at the Old Route 3 and the Governor Gallen Memorial and the Sunset Bridge.
    From here it is less than two miles of near flat pedaling to the Skookumchuck Trail parking area. This would be a swell place to have a short easy out and back bicycle ride between the Galllen Memorial and the Skookumchuck Trailhead. Very good riding for people that want to avoid hills.

    Becca is trying to take off in the Wolfman’s doodlebug! There are many wonderful curious things to see at Clark’s Trading Post.

     

    You’ll bear-ly believe your eyes! Echo the bear is in a barrel. Clark’s Trading Post’s world famous bear show will delight one and all! Siblings Murray and Maureen Clark continue the family tradition of training black bears with kindness and the occasional reward of a lick of vanilla ice cream.

    We turned around and rode straight back to the Flume, yes it was more downhill and a lot of fun. But the day was only half over. We threw our bicycles in the car and drove a few miles down the Notch and pulled into the Clark’s Trading Post.
    We bought out tickets and the ticket taker stamped a black bear paw print on the back of our hands. It was nearly 2 o’clock and we rushed to the show ring to watch the acrobats. The agility and strength of these people were a sight to behold. You won’t think of hula hoops, handstands or how to squeeze into a tight place the same way ever again!
    The Conductor called “ All aboard” for the train ride and reassured us we’d be back in time for the Bear Show at 3pm. We made our way to the train with the crowd and took our seats. Yes, both of us have made the journey into Wolfman’s claim and yelled “Scram you old goat”! We were delighted by the small children’s reactions to the Wolfman.
    We did get back in time for standing room only on the upper part of the Show Ring for the main attraction, the bear show. Echo and Tula performed a wonderful show and the Clark’s continue the family tradition of peppering the show with sweet corny bear puns. The show starts with the raising of the Flag, a bit of recycling, getting the mail and a good game of Bearsketball.
    Echo and Tula are stars and the Clark’s gentle loving care just glows as they encourage their bears during their performance. A good serving of education about New Hampshire’s black bear population is squeezed in between all the fun too.
    After the bear show Becca and I decided to visit the Museums—old typewriters and a stuffed two headed calf caught our attention. Next inside Merlin’s Mystical Mansion and we enjoyed the benefits of not aging and some loud music.
    We skipped the water boats and the Old Man Climbing Tower (maybe Clark’s could put the Old Man back?) but we did ride Wolfie’s White Mountain Wheelin’ Segways. This is your chance to ride the self-balancing Segway scooters and at no additional charge.
    New for this season is the renovation of the Tuttle’s homestead into the Tuttle’s Shootin’ Gallery, this is a pay to play ($3 for 20 shots or all you can shoot in 1 minute). We decided to try the laser-guns and we blasted away more than 20 shots in a minute at the Tuttle’s possessions! It is a nice addition but of course I wish it was included in the admission price as is nearly everything else at Clark’s.
    We saved taking the plunge on the Anaconda Escape Water Raft Ride for last. We climbed the stairs to the top and got into the raft and we were launched down the rapids inside the big snake. It was exciting and yes we got wet but we didn’t care since the day had turned sunny and hot.
    The fun days of summer go by too fast. Round up your family and together.
    Have Fun.

    The Wolfman is willing to do anything to keep the passengers of the White Mountain Central Railroad from stealing his claim of Unobtainium!

  • The Celtics And The Draft

    Mike Moffett

     by Mike Moffett
    Weirs Times Columnist

    The 2017 NBA draft is a week from today—June 22—and for the first time since 1950 the Boston Celtics have the top pick. The burning question is: What will Celtic General Manager Danny Ainge do with the pick? With the Celtics a young and deep team that was one of the NBA’s “Final 3” this season, perhaps they could trade the pick for an established star who could help them to the next level—the NBA Finals.
    (As this is being written well in advance, if Danny has already traded the pick, you’ll have to excuse me.)
    The names of several stars have been bandied about, including that of Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant. Would you trade the pick for rights to someone like Durant?
    Actually Durant will be a free agent so the Celtics could just make him a great offer and sign him directly and trade the pick for LeBron James.
    This scenario is not entirely implausible. The 28-year-old Durant expressed interest in Boston before heading to Golden State. Having just won a title with the Warriors, he may need a new challenge.
    The notion of the Cavaliers trading LeBron—an Ohio native—might seem fantastical, but it would make great sense for Cleveland from a business perspective. A 14-year NBA veteran, James will soon be 33 years old. He’s a big guy whose knees and ankles have taken a terrific pounding. He may only have a year or two left.
    There’s a place for sentiment in sports, but the NBA is a business. The Celtics kept the “Big Three” (Bird, McHale, Parish) around until they all declined about the same time—like the One-Hoss Shay. The team was then non-competitive for 15 years.
    The Cavaliers would be smart to get a first pick for the aging LeBron. While there are no guarantees regarding top picks (see below), theoretically they’d be giving up LeBron’s last two years for a potential superstar with a 10-12 year future.
    Such a deal would create a short-term firestorm in Cleveland, but eventually it could pay off handsomely. Loyalty has its place but don’t forget that LeBron bugged out of Cleveland in 2011 in search of title rings—which he acquired in Miami.
    A year or two of LeBron and Durant in Boston would create a media sensation, incredible expectations, and major “chemistry” questions. It’s unlikely to happen, but fun to consider.

    Continue reading  Post ID 2918


  • Space Cake Double IPA By Clown Shoes Beer

    Heading_WickedBrew

    If you ask any child (at least the level-headed ones), they will tell you they are very afraid of clowns, especially under their bed. Where the heck any of this concept stems from is well beyond my comprehension. But sometimes clowns can bring us fun and laughter. Been to a circus in your life? I bet you giggled at clowns racing around the the big top. Missed that moment, sorry; you should have been there. Well, we have all of that and more in our focus beer today courtesy of Clown Shoes.
    Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, MA, brews all of Clown Shoes’ offerings. Owner Greg Berman quips on their website about coming up with the company name. They wanted to be set apart from the other brewing companies and they must have succeeded with this iconic idea. Clown Shoes has at least 60 different offerings that have landed on shelves around New England since 2012. Some are current, others are one-offs and 58 are already retired. And their label art is just amazing! Find out more about Clown Shoes at https://www.clownshoesbeer.com.


    A brilliant golden yellow hue and an antique white head generously greet you at the first pour of Space Cake. This head sticks around quite a while and laces your glass as you partake. The nose or aroma at the rim of the glass speaks of toasted bread, maybe some caramel malt, pine and citrus. With a medium mouthfeel, this tasty double IPA barks hop flavor in your first encounter. Floral and spicy notes join in the celebration of this wonderful brew. Silky smooth, malty as a double should be and a subtle hop bite are your final thoughts when you complete your journey. Among the many Double IPA’s out there, this is one that is a ‘Must Have’ in your collection.
    This 9% ABV beverage drinks like a 6.5% since you are concentrating on the hop goodness and not the booziness that can happen with larger beers. True to form, character and style, Clown Shoes hits this one out of the park. But then again, all of their offerings are this way!
    BeerAdvocate.com has officially rated Space Cake DIPA as ‘Outstanding’ and awards it a 91 out of 100. Many out there adding their favored votes have put it as high as 5 out of 5 which is quite a feat!
    You will find it at Case-n-Keg in Meredith (I saw at least 5 bottles there recently) as well as other fine beer providers. Clown Shoes has a bunch of great offerings so try them all when you get the chance… and I’m not clowning around!

    Jim MacMillan is the owner of WonByOne Design of Meredith, NH, and is an avid imbiber of craft brews and a home brewer as well. Send him your recommendations and brew news to wickedbrews@weirs.com


  • May Day For Britain’s Theresa May

    John Metzler

    by John J. Metzler
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    NEW YORK—It’s political May Day for Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May after what appeared as a massive miscalculation in calling a general election which she narrowly won.
    Though the ruling Conservative party gained the largest share of seats and votes in the 650 seat Parliament, the party fell sadly short of a majority, thus causing the “Hung Parliament” in which a coalition must again be formed.
    Theresa May’s roll of the political dice to call for early elections were based on her gamble to win a powerful majority strong unified government which was needed in the wake of last year’s still reverberating BREXIT vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. BREXIT talks on the UK/EU separation begins in mid-June amid an uneasy instability in London.
    As May predicted prior to the vote, “Now more than ever, Britain needs a strong and stable government to get the best deal for our country.” Indeed, but now there’s more confusion both in Britain and throughout the European Union concerning the complicated pattern of EU separation.
    Tragically Theresa May’s snap election was shadowed by the specter of terrorism, both the appalling attacks in Manchester and London in which Islamist jihadi terrorists hit soft, civilian targets killing 30. Concerning the terrorists she said, “They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism…Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time.” Continue reading  Post ID 2918


  • Graduate Advice

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    My wife and I live in “the projects.” That’s how I refer to our 18th century farmhouse; a lovely property but one that requires near-constant maintenance and remodeling. This home has sheltered nine generations of my family, and I joke that the smart ones moved away. I got stuck with this labor of love.
    Our contractor is finishing up the last of our roofing projects. Over the past ten years he’s re-roofed the other sections of the house, as well as our barn and garage. We saved the kitchen section for last. It was the most challenging due to the unusual way my relatives built the structure. The post-and-beam construction has held up for 200 years, but the back wall is out of plumb more than a foot and the sag in the middle made the roof look a bit like a hammock. Few local contractors were willing to touch it, but ours came up with a solid and affordable plan. I wish we could keep this young man on retainer.


    Unfortunately for us, his services are in-demand. And why not? He’s able, reliable, and affordable. The main limiting factor to growing his business is the difficulty he’s had hiring and retaining good employees. He told me that he started last summer with six new hires, but none of them lasted. Some were unable to do the work; some unwilling to work. Some showed up drunk or high; after a while some failed to show up at all.
    I thought about his employee experience while reading an article in the June issue of Business NH Magazine. Written by Ray Carbone, “Construction Trades Struggle to Draw Next Gen Workers” lays out the case that as a state we are failing to provide young people with the skills they need to start a career that could quickly put themselves on a path toward self-sufficiency. (Another article in the same edition showed, from 2005-2015, a 10 percent decrease in the number of Millennials living independently, balanced by a 9 percent increase in those living with their parents and 1 percent living with roommates.)
    The movie The Graduate turns 50 this year, and with it one of the most well-known pieces of advice to a graduate: “Plastics.” Back then, that advice to Dustin Hoffman’s Ben Braddock was seen as representing everything artificial and soul-crushing about the modern working world. This year, Bill Gates provided his career advice to new graduates: artificial intelligence. For some, getting into a field that will ultimately displace millions of workers will be lucrative and fulfilling. It will also be limiting, not just because it will be open only to those with high academic abilities, but also because most of those jobs will be concentrated in larger urban areas.
    What about those with average academics who want to live in our state’s more suburban/rural mix? My advice for high school graduates is: the trades. I say this as a former white-collar worker who now owns a trade-skill franchise. I’m my own boss and my only employee, which was one of the requirements I gave to the franchise broker who helped me find this business. I didn’t want the headaches that come with employees, headaches that my contractor friend knows all too well.
    In his article, Mr. Carbone describes the struggles those in the trades are having to attract workers, despite solid pay and on-the-job training. The trades suffer from a lack of status in a labor market more attuned to “sexy” high tech. Few young people are exposed to the joys of building things, either at home or in school. Millennials prefer virtual reality to reality in their leisure activities. But even with all those news stories about mounting college loan debt, high drop-out rates, and the number of new graduates not finding jobs in their degree field, our high schools are not offering the vocational education and training programs they used to.
    The focus on STEM in our high schools should not come at the expense of the trades. A good tradesman can earn enough to raise a family in New Hampshire, and won’t start off under the burden of college loans. If we truly want to attract and retain young workers, we should teach the virtues of blue-collar career fields, targeting potential candidates in middle and high school with curricula aligned to certification programs in fields like construction, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.
    Since many people in the trades are self-employed or work for small businesses, we must also make it easier to start and operate a small business in this state. With our Republican governor and majorities in the legislature, there is no reason why New Hampshire couldn’t be the most small-business-friendly state in the nation.

    Ken can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com


  • Last Race At Belknap Was The Greatest

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    It was at the end of the 99th lap of the 100 Mile National Championship Motorcycle Race at the Belknap Recreation Area in Gilford, New Hampshire, and 19 year old Jody Nicholas, who started strong and had led all but two of the laps around the race track, and was still up front when suddenly “…his machine slid from under him and he was spread-eagled on the pavement…” and his veteran racing opponent George Roeder, who had been closely pursuing him throughout the race, sped by him to become the leader.
    This event was the last national championship motorcycle race to be held at the Belknap Recreation Area and, in the opinion of my Dad, Ray Smith, who wrote about the 1963 race in a June, 1964 article, it was the greatest race ever run there.
    The motorcyclists have come to the area as part of the organized Gypsy Tours in 1917 and the races began at the Belknap Area in 1938 and continued until that last one in 1963.

     

    Jody Nicholas led the 1963 race all but two of the laps around the race track, and was still up front when suddenly “…his machine slid from under him and he was spread-eagled on the pavement…” Nicholas was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, returned to racing afterwards, wrote for motorcycle magazines, and was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.

    I wasn’t there for the first or the last of those championship races, but did attend a few in between. I remember being in the car with family members as my Dad drove up to the entrance to the recreation area on race day and we approached the ticket sellers, and the sense of satisfaction, and perhaps privilege by association, as my Dad revealed his “press card” as a reporter of the event and we were allowed to enter without paying.
    I didn’t know the drivers or much about motorcycles in general or the rules of the race, but there was excitement in the air with the sound of roaring engines and the thrill of seeing the racers zoom around the track in their effort to travel faster than anyone else.
    The 1938 race was 200 miles in length, while the 1963 one was 100 miles. That first national championship in 1938 was won by Ed Kretz. But what was it about the last race at the Belknap Area that made it so great? According to my Dad , “It had everything.” The weather was perfect with millions of acres of sunshine, the temperature was neither too hot nor too cold, and the wind blew briskly from the west. People came out in numbers large enough to make it the largest crowd ever with 20,000 viewing the 100 mile race and a total attendance at all events of 32,000. It was a safe race with no accidents requiring the use of ambulances on the race track or in the area as a whole. It was also the greatest of all the races because of who was in attendance, again, according to my Dad, “They were all there.”
    Former Laconia Mayor and publisher of The Laconia Evening Citizen, E.J. Gallagher, who was involved in bringing the national championship motorcycle race to the area in 1938 was there, as was Fritzie Baer, manager of the Belknap Area, and easily recognized in his red hat. County Commissioner Joe Smith was there, of whom it was said that without him there would have been no Belknap Recreation area. Big names in motorcycle racing like Hank Miller and Floyd Cramer were there, along with many sportswriters and photographers.
    I am going to give some special attention to a motorcycle man who was there in 1963 who obviously had gained great respect from those who knew him. His name is Bill Schietinger, the president of the New England Motorcycle Dealers Association, and described in the 1964 news article as “quiet, modest Bill Schietinger, bellweather of New England cycle fans under whose guidance a quarter-century of racing history was written at Belknap.” Bill was also present at the initial race at the invitation of the then Mayor of Laconia, E.J. Gallagher in 1938 and at each one through that 1963 competition. Continue reading  Post ID 2918


  • My Least Favorite Week

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    I know I shouldn’t say it, but I dread this week.
    I realize that this week will always arrive; not much I can do about it. I also realize that it is my own fault, my lack of preparation that makes it harder than it has to be.
    Yes, it is the second week in June here in the Lakes Region and that means only one thing: it’s time to put the air conditioners in the windows again.
    This yearly struggle is nothing I ever look forward to. I put it in the back of my head until the inevitable moment comes when I turn on the TV and hear the frightening news: “It’s going to be a beautiful weekend with temperatures in the 80s and possibly hitting the 90s.”
    I sit and stare at the TV. I’m not surprised, just unnerved a bit. It seems that only last week it was in the 50s and summer heat would never arrive. After all, it is a short season. Maybe, I thought, I’ll get lucky this year and we will have a cold, rainy summer.
    But, like my hopes for a New York Jets Super Bowl victory, it only takes a few weeks into the real season to realize that those hopes will once again be dashed.
    In fairness to me, I did do a bit of preparation ahead of time. I went to a local hardware store and bought some insulation as well as the tiny screws to hold the air conditioners in place that I can never find the day of the actual installation.


    Still, the thought that I would never have to use them crossed my mind. That would have been fine; there is always next year.
    Of course, that wasn’t to be and the bad news from the weatherman with the overbearing smile confirmed to me it was time.
    The windows in our house are wooden and a bit old. They have a series of ancient screens and storm windows on runners that one can spend hours trying to get to open and close correctly. That one being me. Continue reading  Post ID 2918


  • Franconia Notch Artist’s Bluff & Bald Mountain

    From the top of Artist’s Bluff cliff the grand vista over the parkway of Mount Lafayette looming large above the ridge of Eagle Cliff is a fine sight to behold. Here people like to picnic and don’t be surprised if you see people wearing helmets and carrying ropes because the south facing cliff is a favorite place for spring rock climbing.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    At the top of Franconia Notch and high above the west side of the Parkway are Bald Mountain and Artist’s Bluff. A hike up one or both make for a wonderful outing with the reward of big mountain views for a modest effort.
    Interstate 93 turns into the Franconia Notch Parkway as the road enters the narrow notch. Franconia Notch is just packed with interesting places to see and fun things to do: the Flume Gorge, Cannon Cliff, Lafayette Place Campground, the Old Man of the Mountain historic site, Profile Lake, Cannon Mountain’s Tramway & the New England Ski Museum, Echo Lake and more. These are places every New Hampshirite should visit and take their out of town friends with them too.

    Almost to the top Artist’s Bluff when you reach this big rock! Turn right for the spur trail to Artist’s Bluff Ledges and go left to make the loop to the spur trail for Bald Mountain. The Trailwrights, volunteer trail maintainers, did spring clean up, painted blazes and built many nice rock steps.

    Exit 34C is the last Parkway exit at the north end of Franconia Notch and the exit you must take to reach the hiking trails to Artist’s Bluff and Bald Mountain. Turn west on Route 18 to Echo Lake for the east trailhead – 6/10ths of a mile roundtrip to Artist’s Bluff or to Cannon’s Peabody Lodge for the west trailhead – 8/10ths of a mile roundtrip to Bald Mountain. Or make a loop over the two peaks and back to your car is about 2 miles.
    I like visiting both peaks and I don’t think it makes much difference whether you choose to hike the loop clockwise or counter clockwise. But one thing I like to do is to park my car where I am planning to end my hike. I prefer to warm up hiking the lower portion of the loop trail first.
    This day I parked my car at the Peabody Lodge because I wanted to hike Artist’s Bluff first and then Bald Mountain.
    The west trailhead is across from the Cannon Peabody Lodge entrance on the far side of the north parking lot, this is the parking lot that is blocked off to cars during the summer months. There is room for a few cars to park alongside the road at its blocked entrance or and there is plenty of parking at the ski area.
    This past mid-May the Trailwrights, a volunteer group of trail maintainers, cleared the trails and did basic spring clean-up. You will find the trails in good condition and well blazed.
    I started up the trail and turned right on the Loop Trail, marked with red blazes. The trail goes gently downhill and intersects with the trail that leads up to Artist’s Bluff. This is nicer than walking the road between the two trailheads.

    From the top of Artist’s Bluff’s ledges there is an excellent view over Echo Lake to Cannon Mountain’s front ski trails and down the narrow Franconia Notch.

    I turned left and headed up the short and steep trail. The steepest sections have nice rock stairways. This is the most popular hike; it may be steep but it is short. The bare cliffs of the bluff are a favorite for early spring rock climbing because they dry out quickly. A couple of groups were rock climbing and taking advantage of this rare sunny dry spring day!
    I wasn’t surprised to find dozens of people sitting on top of Artist’s Bluff. A few were eating picnic lunches and others were just relaxing in the sunshine on the bare ledges.
    A man asked me to confirm that the big peak to the west was Lafayette. I spent a few minutes with him and his family pointing out and naming the nearby peaks. Another man close by chimed in that he had hiked Lafayette when he was young man.
    I hiked back down to the trail and turned right and continued up hill. There are some good wildflowers to see along the way between the peaks. Trilliums were on their way out and the Pink Lady Slippers were just starting to bloom. There are a few rock outcroppings just off the trail that offer grand vistas too.

    Wildflowers on the trail.

    Up and over and then down until I reached the Bald Mountain spur and I headed up. This trail up to the top is more difficult. This peak is a true mini-mountain. Near the bare ledgy summit you might have to scramble on all fours. Even though the distance is short it truly feels like you reached a big bald mountaintop.

    I gather that most people skip visiting this fine peak. While there were dozens and dozens on Artist’s Bluff there were only a few people up here. I find that this is usually the case.
    There are still a few iron pieces here and there bolted into the ledge. A reminder from a time long ago when there no cars flying up the parkway, no ski trails on Cannon Mountain and there was a large hotel, the Profile House standing near where the Tramway is today. These iron pieces might have held in place a handrail or a viewing platform to delight the guests of the hotel.

    Mount Lafayette and Echo Lake, from the summit of Bald Mountain.

    When the Profile House burned, the owners decided not to rebuild but to sell Franconia Notch to the State of New Hampshire. Franconia Notch State Park was born in 1928.
    From the top of Bald Mountain this is the best place to study Cannon’s ski trails and to look for bears foraging on its grassy slopes.
    When I finished the loop I only had a short walk across the parking lot to get back to my car.
    Have Fun!


  • S’muttonator by Smuttynose Brewing Co.

    Heading_WickedBrew

    When you think of New Hampshire brewers, what companies come to mind? Well of course, we have a Bud plant in Merrimack and Sam Adams is everywhere. And there are now over 60 breweries of all sizes around the state. But one of the more popular beers you’ll find on the shelves or in restaurants and bars has a friendly-faced logo on every label.
    Of course, I am speaking about Smuttynose Brewing Company at 105 Towle Farm Road, in Hampton, NH. The address is important because they have finished a major renovation to their new brewing headquarters. They have free tours which is probably the most informative in the entire state. And of course at the end of the tour, you can taste their lovely creations… a lot! It is definitely worth a visit to the Towle Farm facility. You can find out more about their offerings on www.facebook.com/Smuttynose or at their website smuttynose.com

    S’muttonator (Heritage Series) brings the great taste of the 22 oz bottled version of this historically great beer to 12 oz four packs. Through the years S’muttonator has had different alcohol percentages but this year, they settled at 8.5% ABV. So what is this S’muttonator you might ask? It’s style is a Double (or Doppel in German) Bock which is a stronger amber ale. Bock is German for goat or ram so the label has this image emblazoned on it. Generally speaking, a double bock has a fuller maltiness profile. The other piece you will notice is the term ‘Double Decocted’ which is a brewing process that helps to derive particular flavors out of the grains. This is why this beer is so amazing. Continue reading  Post ID 2918