Hikes, Coffees and Nudes

Author’s note: Once in awhile someone finds one of my old blogs and it shows on my statistics for the day. I’ve learned a lot about writing in the past two years, so I take the opportunity to re-edit the piece. I’ve also learned titles are important. This was originally called Farewell to New Hampshire. I changed the title and now more people are finding this particular blog. I know coffee is popular but I’m pretty sure it’s the Nudes that are bringing in the readers. Enjoy this with a cup of coffee, maybe lying in bed, pj’s optional on this #ThrowbackThursday.

I grew up in Rhode Island, but that was years ago. I have also lived in Boston, Maine, Colorado and here in New Hampshire for twenty-six years.

The Granite State is to my daughters what Rhode Island is to me, the setting where all your childhood memories take place. The state you feel the strongest connection to, and although you may spend your adult life somewhere else, every time you return to the streets and towns of your childhood, you feel at home.

We lived along the short seventeen miles of New Hampshire seacoast, but my daughters spent a lot of time in the White Mountains. They learned to ski on the icy slopes of Cannon and Gunstock with below zero winds whipping snow and stinging sleet. It’s no surprise they now find the Rocky Mountains of Colorado such a joy to shush-boom down on days when the sun comes out and actually warms things up, instead of just showing up for moral support.

So on this nine degree morning, two days before my younger daughter left the house she grew up in for the last time, we decided to take a ride up to the Kancamagus Highway. We were headed to Franconia Notch, the home of “The Old Man of the Mountain” until 2003 when the jumble of rocks resembling a man’s face fell to the ground in a pile of rubble. Although he is no longer there, we stopped to take a picture. We also stopped at Indian Head, which looks less like an Indian than the Old Man looked like a craggy old New Englander, but I could see a mohawk in the line of trees.

We took a couple of hikes, the first to Sabbaday Falls in Waterville. It was a short, easy walk along a trail of hard packed snow. The wind whistled through the pine trees and we quickened our step when we heard the trees creak. The sun kept slipping behind the clouds, but the rock-strewn creek with mushroom caps of snow on the larger boulders was lovely, and the sound of a gurgling stream filled the crystal clear air, while the falls were frozen in place.

Sabbaday Falls Kancamangus Highway, NH

Sabbaday Falls Kancamangus Highway, NH

We stopped for coffee in North Woodstock at the Cascade Coffee House, a Swiss style alpine cafe advertising specialty coffees and baked goods. It was a warm and inviting place with a bookcase lining one wall, several chairs upholstered in fabric covered with brown bears, and a giant double wide Adirondack rocking chair.

We ordered specialty coffees, a smoothie for my daughter, and pastries. The woman behind the counter was flustered and wrote our order in the tiniest handwriting I had ever seen. Even before I needed reading glasses I don’t think I could have read her writing. She said she was filling in as they were short staffed that morning and she normally worked at the store next door. No problem we said as we took a seat on the couch. My husband went outside to walk through the small town. He wanted to check out the maple syrup museum across the street.

Handmade signs with rules of things you should or should not do lined the walls. “$2.50 to charge your cell phone or computer for 15 minutes. Pay at the register.” “If you are just sitting around using the Internet, give up your seat to paying customers.” On a wire rack with newspapers, a homemade sign had this stern warning: “Pay for newspaper BEFORE picking it up.” I didn’t notice the sign until after I picked up the paper to show my daughter the picture of Maggie Hassan being sworn in as the only woman governor in the country. I hastily put it back on the shelf.

On a basket full of T-shirts hung the sign, “Do not touch until you have purchased.” A sample shirt was tacked to the wall with “Best Buns in Town” printed across the front which I assumed was the coffee shop logo and  seemed a bit incongruous with the rest of the vibe in this place.

But it was when I visited the ladies room that I came across what my husband later jokingly described as “the most disturbing and troubling part of the day.” A photo collection of nude middle aged and elderly people covered  the walls. A woman hiding her breasts with a fan, a man sitting on a porch railing reading a book which covered his private parts. Another man stood on a frozen lake with a gun and a dog, wearing only boots.

Cascade Coffee Shop North Woodstock, NH

Cascade Coffee Shop North Woodstock, NH

I told my daughter to check out the rest room. “I don’t have to go to the bathroom,” she said.

“Just check it out. You’ll be glad you did.”

Thirty minutes after entering this strange little coffee shop, we finally got our Signature coffees and Immune Zoom smoothie and found my husband out by the car. “What took you so long?” he asked  All I could think to say was, only in New Hampshire. Live free or die.


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