Re-dos & don’ts Oct25


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Re-dos & don’ts

By chance a friend who lives near Portsmouth, NH was going to be in Freeport, ME for a barbeque the Saturday before Labor Day. Sonja and I were housemates when I first moved to Boston in 1997 and best we could figure it had been about nine years since we’d seen each other. After trading messages it worked out that we could swing by and say hello. We parked at a nearby school, unhitched the car, and headed to a backyard full of people we didn’t know. At least I knew Sonja, but as for Lin we might as well been speaking Swahili. Being the great sport she is, she smiled politely, enjoyed a plate of barbeque and waited for me to cue that it was time to go. It was so nice to see Sonja and meet her daughter, but unfortunately Jim, her husband, was stuck elsewhere finishing up some business. We hugged goodbye and said we should do this again sometime. Like Monday perhaps (since we were headed to Hampton Falls, where Sonja lives).


We arrived at our Hampton Falls, NH campground on the cusp of a storm, which would very soon start dumping on us. Within an hour it was coming down in buckets and our campsite was flooding. Leading us to conclude that driving the following day would be totally undesirable. So we decided to cancel the Newport campground and forgo any refund due to their strict policy. Given this was the first time we’d done that, the economic pain was minimal. Thunderous rain continued which resulted in a three minute discussion to come up with a new plan, a trip to the brewery followed by the movies.


A little background here: years ago we had visited Newport, RI and had a fabulous time, well except for the knot Lin got on her knee after falling onto a rock while hiking along the ocean. I remember going to the pharmacy for supplies and returning with medical goods and champagne, like any good nurse. Once the pain subsided, we randomly chose a bar/restaurant called the Fifth Element and were soon deliciously satisfied. We talked about that meal for years and it became a litmus or standard by which to measure other meals. It wasn’t fancy, just plain ol’ good. Since we had already toured the mansions, the visit back to Newport would have been to re-do that wonderful meal.

IMG_2863Out of town guests who visited me when I lived in Boston would almost always get a tour of Portsmouth, NH. It’s a charming town on the water, easily walkable, nifty shopping, with loads of good beer. My absolute favorite place here is the Portsmouth Brewery. And so this trip would be no different.

We suited up for rain and drove into town and wandered the damp streets, taking cover in shops to browse. We made our way back to the brewery, arriving before it even opened where a crowd was already gathered. The gist of this story is that this particular memory lived up to my expectations. Lin enjoyed the best clam chowda she’s ever had while we sampled many-o-beers and left with our first growler of Barley Wine (10% ABV). This is a prime example of why I can’t let go entirely of my pertinacity of having expectations drive me to achieve some state of supreme happiness. Although I have let loose of these reigns, and I’m much more comfortable letting what is, be, I admit I still have a desire to create the optimum experience. I’m growing, albeit mostly sideways, but certainly in depth too. Mom would be so proud: she worked hard to teach me to manage my expectations so I wouldn’t be so disappointed. Alas, I get it. I’m no expert yet, but not a novice anymore either.

Sonja and Jim invited us to their place for dinner on our new final night in Hampton Falls. I proudly arrived with growler in hand, hoping they were fans of unconventional suds. Yeah, they were. But it was us who was in for a treat. Sonja pulled out all the New England stops and grilled steak, made lobster rolls to order for she and I, and topped it all off with stracciatella ice cream. Knowing this might be my last lobster meal for a while, it was exquisite to go out on top. Sonja and Jim are absolutely lovely people, fantastic hosts and I left hoping it won’t be another nine years before we re-do this again.


The following day we headed out and drove across the entire state of Massachusetts without much event. Our destination was Catskills, NY. Lin spent most of the drive singing songs from Dirty Dancing. The NY Times had recently published an article on the area and it seemed charming, so we plugged it into our plans. Well, charming it wasn’t. In fact the campground was so grungy we almost enacted our agreement that if either of us ‘feels weird’ about a campground, we move on – no questions asked. Neither of us wanted to be the one to say it, so we toughed it out and it was fine, but not re-do worthy.

This picture amuses me because we were crossing a bridge and I managed to snap this shot without getting any of the bridge structure in the picture. Ha.

The Hudson River - taken while crossing a bridge at 60 mph.

The Hudson River – taken while crossing a bridge at 60 mph.

One afternoon we ventured out to the very small and now crusty town of Woodstock. Home of the epic 1969 music festival. Town was much like I imagined, full of old hippies, signs of creativity, but still mostly relying on good ol days gone by. Highlights for us were lunch and the interesting paintings in the restaurant’s bathroom. Drats, this was a re-don’t, more of a been-there-done-that.

Woodstock Love Knot

Woodstock Love Knot

Seriously, a knitted sign post?

Seriously, a knitted sign post?

Woodstock Airforce ;-)

Woodstock Airforce 😉


Even tap water was made interesting

Even tap water was made interesting

Even construction workers are laid back

Laid back, chilled out construction workers

Although we didn’t make it to Newport this time around to redo that experience, all in all the re-dos outnumbered the don’ts 3 to 2.