New Hampshire
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Franconia Notch, New Hampshire

New Hampshire is known as the Granite State due to the abundance of the stuff everywhere, making for some very interesting scenery and state parks. The most famous part of granite in New Hampshire is a cluster of rocks known as the ‘Old Man in the Mountain’. Protruding from the side of a mountain, the way the rocks have settled over the past 200 million years makes then look like a face in profile view from certain spots. Most of New Hampshire is fairly rugged terrain and there isn’t too much else around the place for them to promote, so they really make the most of this feature. It is featured on their state quarter, on all the road signs, on all the car licence plates: everywhere. So it came as a bit of a shock in May 2003 when overnight the entire structure collapsed, instantly turning ‘Old Man in the Mountain’ into ‘Pile of Granite on the Floor’. The largest attraction in the state was gone. Although everyone was understandably upset about this, there are no plans to replace it (it was a natural formation, after all). Imagine how upset people would be if the Eiffel Tower, or indeed the whole of France, disappeared overnight? Okay, so maybe that was a bad example! The people in the ice cream shop next to the ‘Pile of Granite on the Floor’ seemed to be pretty upset as well, mainly because their business was considerably lower than a couple of years ago. All they had left for them was ‘Eagle Rock’, although the fact that the last eagles were spotted there in the 1890s may not bring their trade back up too much.
Warwick's Roadtrip Photo Newhampshire
The Franconia Notch State Park also includes part of the Appalachian Trail; a hike that goes on for thousands of miles through the Appalachian Mountains and finally ends somewhere down in Georgia. It is common for people to spend months hiking the entire trail, often in quite challenging conditions, putting their lives at risk at the same time. Why? You can drive to the pretty bits, have a wander around for a couple of hours to show that you could have hiked the entire trail if you had really wanted to, take your photos, then drive somewhere else without having to camp out overnight and deal with hungry grizzly bears at the crack of dawn. And I don’t want to hear any of that “I hiked it because it was there” nonsense either, these people need to seek professional help.

The park has other interesting places to visit when you’re finished looking at where the Old Main in the Mountain used to be. One place is called ‘The Basin’, a bunch of rocks cut out by a river. The many signs around it saying ‘Do Not Climb Over Railing’ didn’t stop some fat bloke flopping around on the rocks like a drunken sea lion. He seemed to be quite pleased with himself and sat in the middle of The Basin, waving back at the people waving in his direction. Unfortunately, Stupid didn’t realise that everyone was waving at him to get out of the way so they could take photos without some beached whale in the middle of them. After a while he made his way down again without any major injuries, much to everyone’s disappointment.

‘The Flume’ is a trail that follows a river up through the gorge, complete with pools and waterfalls plus pictures from a century ago showing locals enjoying the scenery. The major attraction back then was a huge boulder that was supported by the sides of the gorge. Unfortunately this fell down (I am sensing a pattern here!), but it’s still nice wandering around the place. You can also watch a cheesy video promoting the park, and their motto seems to be ‘This place will never be the same again’. It sounds like they’re expecting something else to collapse at any minute.

Warwick's Roadtrip Photo Newhampshire

Heading out of the park searching for somewhere to eat I hit a town called Plymouth, grabbed some food and beer in a nice underground bar, and looked for something to entertain me on a Sunday evening in the middle of New Hampshire. The town was a small place but that didn’t stop them from having their own old-fashioned cinema, with not one screen but two. Woo hoo! There were a pair of Bill & Ted clones taking entrance fees and selling concessions, but apart from that I was the only person in the entire building. I guess that Sundays aren’t their busiest nights, but it was nice to know that if I had needed to go to the bog during the show then they would have paused the movie for me!

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Franconia Notch, New Hampshire

The Franconia Notch State Park also includes part of the Appalachian Trail; a hike that goes on for thousands of miles through the Appalachian Mountains and finally ends somewhere down in Georgia. It is common for people to spend months hiking the entire trail, often in quite challenging conditions, putting their lives at risk at the same time. Why? You can drive to the pretty bits, have a wander around for a couple of hours to show that you could have hiked the entire trail if you had really wanted to, take your photos, then drive somewhere else without having to camp out overnight and deal with hungry grizzly bears at the crack of dawn. And I don’t want to hear any of that “I hiked it because it was there” nonsense either, these people need to seek professional help.

The park has other interesting places to visit when you’re finished looking at where the Old Main in the Mountain used to be. One place is called ‘The Basin’, a bunch of rocks cut out by a river. The many signs around it saying ‘Do Not Climb Over Railing’ didn’t stop some fat bloke flopping around on the rocks like a drunken sea lion. He seemed to be quite pleased with himself and sat in the middle of The Basin, waving back at the people waving in his direction. Unfortunately, Stupid didn’t realise that everyone was waving at him to get out of the way so they could take photos without some beached whale in the middle of them. After a while he made his way down again without any major injuries, much to everyone’s disappointment.

‘The Flume’ is a trail that follows a river up through the gorge, complete with pools and waterfalls plus pictures from a century ago showing locals enjoying the scenery. The major attraction back then was a huge boulder that was supported by the sides of the gorge. Unfortunately this fell down (I am sensing a pattern here!), but it’s still nice wandering around the place. You can also watch a cheesy video promoting the park, and their motto seems to be ‘This place will never be the same again’. It sounds like they’re expecting something else to collapse at any minute.

Warwick's Roadtrip Photo Newhampshire

Heading out of the park searching for somewhere to eat I hit a town called Plymouth, grabbed some food and beer in a nice underground bar, and looked for something to entertain me on a Sunday evening in the middle of New Hampshire. The town was a small place but that didn’t stop them from having their own old-fashioned cinema, with not one screen but two. Woo hoo! There were a pair of Bill & Ted clones taking entrance fees and selling concessions, but apart from that I was the only person in the entire building. I guess that Sundays aren’t their busiest nights, but it was nice to know that if I had needed to go to the bog during the show then they would have paused the movie for me!

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Manchester, New Hampshire

While the Founding Fathers were sailing across the Atlantic, they must have had some time on their hands. There is only so much you can do to occupy yourself while stuck on a boat, so why on earth didn’t they spend some time thinking up names for where they were going to live that were original, rather than just reusing names from places in England? Occasionally they would throw ‘New’ in front of somewhere, but I had just travelled from Plymouth to Canterbury, and now found myself in Manchester. Portsmouth is just down the road, apparently, although you do have to give them credit for not taking things to extremes and naming a place ‘Scunthorpe’.

Manchester, New Hampshire, has canals and mills just like the real Manchester, and just like the real Manchester they are no longer working and have been converted into small businesses and tourist spots. It’s the biggest city in the state, as you can tell by the top entertainment that they draw here. Although I missed the Moody Blues, I could stay and see Earth, Wind & Fire next week, and even Megadeth next month!

Warwick's Roadtrip Photo Newhampshire

After a brief stroll along the canals in the sweltering heat, it was time to go and see the top baseball team in New Hampshire, errr actually the only baseball team in New Hampshire, the mighty Fisher Cats. On television there was a segment where they interviewed a bunch of local fans in the stands asking them what a Fisher Cat was, and nobody had the foggiest idea. Apparently it’s related to the weasel, so now you know! They were playing the Sea Dogs though, and nobody had any more of a clue what one of those was.

During the game there was a commercial being filmed right behind me, and some annoying woman had to repeat the same line over and over again. This started to interfere with my enjoyment of the game and the antics of the mascot ‘Fungo’. Not so much ‘Fungo the Fisher Cat’ as ‘Fungo the Rabid Hamster’ by the look of him. During one of the inning breaks, they even showed the David Brent dance from the office, although I don’t think that many people in the crowd had a clue what was going on there either. And on the way out, the car parked next to the Dream Machine had a sign on the back advertising ‘Used cows for sale’. What they had been used for I didn’t stop to ask!

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