New Hamster Wheelin’

October 12, 2011— I’ve become a big proponent of exploring the state where one lives. Mainly because I’ve failed to do it quite a few times in my earlier life in the various states where I’ve filed my taxes, and I completely regret it. Whether you’ve lived your whole life in a single state or jaunt from state to state every few years, either path is a huge opportunity to see some pretty cool stuff, all well within the reach of a single tank of gas. That, combined with the advent of DVRs, means we really have no excuse not to be using our weekends to explore the wonders of our home states.

Take my current home base of New Hampshire. Fortunately, it just so happens that I live in a state that many believe is worth visiting at this time of year when trees slough their Earth-green leaves and take on more Martian hues. And that’s just judging by the range of license plates I saw this past weekend stuck mere inches from each other on the crowded, yet scenic, Kancamagus Highway, that 35-mile stretch of byway that cuts through the White Mountains in the center of the state.

I’ve lived in New Hampshire for three or four years now. In talking to my Massachusetts friends, they seem to consider the state a complete wilderness and willfully refuse to acknowledge the existence of any population centers here. Now, I certainly won’t argue that in naming the six New England states, New Hampshire is probably the one you’ll miss. But that’s not because it’s not a fascinating place. Every state is a fascinating place if you know where to look. It’s just that New Hampshire is a state with very little baggage, and that’s kind of the reason I chose to live here over, say, Massachusetts, which has more baggage than a corrupt airline employee.

On Sunday, we trekked an almost 300-mile loop of this state that only clamors for attention during elections and in that relatively small bit of area saw the grave of an astronaut, clambered through polar caves, saw an officially sanctioned UFO site, and drove across a mountain range at peak foliage. And that was only really half of our itinerary. New Hampshire really just needs a better PR agent. Here’s the proof:

Navigating a 2-year-old through tight
and often extremely vertical crevices
is harrowing work, but nobody warned me.

I'm sure I'll dig into all those sites more deeply on some future O.T.I.S. post, but as I mentioned, the above pics were only half the day we planned. According to our schedule, we were supposed to take a roundabout way home, with stops at sites connected with an insane asylum fire, an Indian curse, and the home of a famous poet.

Instead, while in the town of North Conway pushing through two dozen rooms of Christmas at the Christmas Loft to see the one Halloween room they had, we decided to take the quickest route home to save time, which we then invested in martinis and horror movies in the warm glow of our own personal Halloween decorations. It was a great way to end an 11-hour day trip in a captivating state.


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