Hampton Beach had been a sidelight to a trip to Manchester for my wife's knitting conference and an opportunity to see her brother who lives in Massachusetts. The conference was elsewhere this year and, after we booked the trip anyway, we saw her brother and nephews when they came here for the EAA.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
We left Milwaukee just after dawn and changed planes at Chicago O'Hare for the flight to Boston. The food service was a granola bar but it's better than the airline asking us to chip in for gas. We arrived mid-day, giving us plenty of time to drive the Maine Turnpike to the outlet shopping in Freeport. The big news along the way was that the Turnpike had changed exit numbers from consecutive to mile marker. In Freeport, I managed to find some husband-seating for reading one of the books I'd brought. My wife prevails on me to look in Brooks Brothers little basement store, where I wind up buying a suit ... for $40! We refrain from buying any of the local blueberry wine, but on the way out of town do stop at a roadsign stand for a pint of those tiny sweet wild blueberries.
We arrived in Hampton Beach by evening. We checked into the Ashworth by the Sea, which name always gets that Bobby Darin song running through my head. We wanted a room with a balcony but at a relatively reasonable price, which means a balcony overlooking the kitchen exhuast fans.
The Hampton Beach boardwalk buildings seem largely unchanged from around the 1940s. From the intervening decades, Huey Lewis and the News were on the Hampton Beach Casino marquee for Friday night. More up-to-date, some middle school boys were singing along to some hip-hop music at a storefront pizza shop, passing around a two liter Pepsi to practice for the move up to a forty ounce malt liquor.
Friday, August 19, 2005
We hit the beach, with our beach tarp we'd packed and the new SPF 15 beach umbrella and beach spade we'd bought on the boardwalk the night before. The spade made quick work of constructing a beach chair of sand. I finally conceded that the beach is not the place to try to read stuff like Joyce or Nozick, and instead passed the hours with Heinlein's Starship Troopers.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Cooler and light rain, so we head back to Maine. Not for the outlet shopping of Freeport, but for the outlet shopping of Kittery. It seemed that, since it was not beach weather, everyone else has similar ideas, and we hit several traffic jams on U.S. 1 in the course of the day. After Kittery we stop at Douglas N. Harding Rare Books in Wells. Reasonably priced and one of the neatest and best-organized shops we've seen. Then it's on to Kennebunkport.
After a long search, delayed by traffic and an apparent Maine law against signs for directing visitors to local attractions, we finally find the Seashore Trolley Museum. At the entrance sits a Milwaukee County Transit System bus. The collection includes car 420 of the North Shore Line, a Chicago to Milwaukee interurban line, the main line of which ran behind by childhood home. The restored equipment is in large storage sheds. You can get a close-up view and sometimes board, but you can't see them as if they were in service. Admission includes a trolley ride of several miles though the countryside, a nice contrast after all the traffic on the way here.
For the drive home, we take the Turnpike, which isn't crowded, and make it in time for Mass at St. Patrick's in Hampton Beach. Except for the altar table, the interior is largely as it was throughout the 20th Century, including a communion rail. Some materials on the history of the church tell how it was built to serve the many vacationers in the area, and that it was expanded several time to serve the growing crowds. Tonight attendance is sparse, and we're on the young end of the demographics.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
We leave at dawn for Boston. Having not planned the return trip, we make at least one wrong turn. Back on track, we spot a bus marked for Logan Airport and follow it in. Another airline granola bar breakfast to Chicago, the hop to Milwaukee, and we're home, with a beach spade and another beach umbrella.