Sunday, September 11, 2016

Trip to New Hampshire

Last Wednesday morning (Sept. 7th), we took Nancy Tierra to Concord, NH, where she was to meet a friend who would take her to the ferry to Star Island, a retreat center off the coast of  NH, where she was going to be part of a weekend retreat. We met her friend at the Common Man restaurant in Concord, which is right off I-93, and a convenient place to meet someone. All that was done by 11:00a.m., and we had the day before us - so why not have a little outing in New Hampshire? I thought it would be nice to make a little trip up to Lake Winnipesaukee, which is only a half-hour or so north of Concord, so that's what we did.

This was a nostalgic visit for me - Lake Winnipesaukee has an important place in my life. From 1955 to about 1969, I spent a bit of virtually every summer there, and then during the next almost 30 years, visited often. All because Shirley's family went to a cabin there for several weeks every summer for 40 years or so. Their cabin was on what was then called Morrill Beach, on the southern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, in the town of Gilford, NH.  Morrill Beach was a beautiful sandy beach, with 6-7 cabins  on it. The Harris's did not own their cabin, which was called Innisfrae, they rented it, usually for three weeks in August. Her father said those three weeks at the lake were their medical insurance. It was certainly the one time of the year when he truly relaxed. When Shirley and I were married in 1955, her folks gave us the gift of their rental of the cabin for our honeymoon - i.e., they gave up their vacation. Quite a gift! 

This is what Morrill Beach looked like back in the 1930's

The Harris family in front of their cabin, Innesfrae, c. 1939. L. to r, Ladd, Fred, Florence and Shirley
 Sometime in the 1960's, the state of New Hampshire took Morrill Beach by right of eminent domain, with the intention of making it into a state park.  The cabins were all demolished. This was devastating to the Harris's.  All the more so because the state did nothing with the land for a decade or two - it just sat there unused. Her parents found sort of a substitute down the shore a ways at a place called Chanticleer, but it was never the same as Morrill Beach. Finally, in the late '70's, after both of Shirley's parents had died, Ellacoya State Park was created where Morrill Beach had once existed. Shirley and I visited it once, but it was sort of a bittersweet experience for her. However, she did love the lake, and we went a few times to a place called the Graystone Inn, which was a motel with efficiency apartments, and right on the shore, with a view similar to the view from Morrill Beach. My last stay there was in the mid-90's.

So that was our destination. When we got to Ellacoya State Park, we found it deserted - it was closed after Labor Day but you could still drive in, park, and look around. I guess you could swim if you wanted to, but all the facilities were closed. Sort of nice, actually. We had it entirely to ourselves. I showed Ellen where the Harris's cabin had stood, and where I had spent many a lovely time back in the 50's and 60's. 

This is where the cabin, Innesfrae used to stand 

Looking out across Lake Winnipesaukee from what used to be Morrill Beach
 We drove down the shore and found a road called "Chanticleer Shores" which led down to where the Harris' rented a cabin after Morrill Beach had closed - in the later 1960's. But the cabins that they might have rented were all gone and in their place, larger, privately-owned cottages, were sitting cheek-to-jowl. Then we went down the shore farther and found the Graystone Inn. It is still functioning as it used to, the one thing that was relatively unchanged. It still has its lovely view and a nice little private beach where you can swim, and a dock where you can keep a boat. 

The Graystone Inn as it appears today
The view from Graystone Inn
From there we drove to Wiers' Beach, which is about 3 miles or so up the shore toward Meredith. It is an old honkey-tonk amusement park, and also the place where you can board the tour boats on Winnipesaukee - the Mt. Washington, a big boat, and the smaller Sophie C, which functions as a mail boat and stops at the scores of inhabited islands on the lake to deliver the mail (Winnipesaukee is large lake!).  When we got there, the Mt. Washington was just boarding passengers for a 12:30p.m. 2 ½ hour cruise ($30 per person). However, we didn’t do that. I wanted to show Ellen the penny arcade (she loves to play "Ski-Ball" - remember that game?).  But we found that it was closed - Labor Day really ends the season there. There were a couple of shops open where Ellen could get postcards, we had lunch at the one restaurant open -Weathervane - where we got fish sandwiches, and that was it. But it was a beautiful day and it was nice to look around. 

The Mt. Washington tour boat, loading for a cruise

Anthony'e Pier, at Weirs Beach, NH

Ellen looks over the postcards

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