Saturday, September 28, 2013

Purgatory Falls

It doesn't seem to matter how long we have lived here (going on eight years), we always find new and exciting hikes we have never done before.  Two weeks ago that hike was Purgatory Falls (on Purgatory Brook) in Lyndeborough.

We thought we were going to do a six mile round-trip hike which would take us from the Lower Falls near the Southern trailhead all the way to the Upper Falls near the Northern Terminus but the trail between the falls isn't really contiguous.
Rob at Lower Falls
The hike from the trailhead to the Lower Falls isn't really a hike, its more of a nice walk since it is relatively flat and well traveled.  The falls are about twenty five feet high and have a lot of character.  You can get real close to the falls near the base as I did in the picture above or you can climb around and stand at the top looking down from the edge.  We came during a drier season and although the falls were flowing and beautiful, it was obvious to us they usually handle a lot more water flow.

After passing the Lower Falls, we hiked on for about another mile following the brook all the way.  It was very nice but the trail started to get less well traveled and we decided to turn back and simply drive around to the Upper Falls trailhead.
Upper Falls
From the second traihead, we hiked down to the Upper and Middle Falls, we had to climb down into a steep ravine and again although the water was not "rushing" it was clear these would be some spectacular falls when flowing!

Anyone looking for an easy hike with waterfall features, this hike (both of them) are a recommend!

Friday, September 20, 2013

LaBelle WInery and America's Stonhenge

It was one of those days that was just too beautiful to stay inside, so we decided to head out and explore!  Our first stop was LaBelle Winery in Amherst.  At the tasting room, café, and shop, we were greeted and introduced to the winery and our options for tours and tasting.  Instead of a tour, we opted for a wine tasting and light lunch.  For the tasting ($8 for 5 selections or $13 for 10). we received a card with descriptions of all the wines available and places to check-off our choices.  The options included whites, reds, and fruit wines, including dry, sweet, dessert and cooking wines.  Since Rob is not much of a red wine drinker, we tried mostly whites… selecting a few ourselves, and asking our server for suggestions on others.

Our selections included:
Dry Apple – described as being a good choice for Pinot Grigio drinkers, made from all NH-grown apples... it was very light tasting
Dry Riesling – made in the Alsatian style… it was good, but not exciting
Corazon – a blend of Seyval Blanc and Red Raspberry wine, described by our server as a rose, but not too sweet… this one was definitely on the sweeter side, but would be a nice picnic wine
Granite State Red – a red grape wine aged in oak with a touch of blueberry… pretty good
Dulce – a spiced dessert wine enhanced with maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla… think Christmas!

With lunch, we also decided to try the Seyval and a second wine described as a Dry Seyval.  The Seyval was good, but a little on the sweet side, however the Dry Seyval, labeled as Winemaker’s Reserve Seyval Blanc and described as being bottled and aged two years, was excellent (and the variety we decided to buy a bottle of to bring home).  The café itself is very casual with tables available inside the tasting room and outside on the terrace and a menu that included soups, salads, small plates, cheese slates, and sandwiches.  Since it was such a beautiful day, we opted for the terrace and picked a small cheese plate for our lunch – a combination of cheeses, crackers, dried fruits, and nuts.  Tasty, and just right.  (Note: LaBelle Winery is located on the main route between Peterborough and the Manchester Airport - about 40 minutes from the B&B, 20 minutes from the airport.  It would make for a nice, casual place to relax is you find yourself with extra time in your travels.)

Rock formations at America's Stonehenge

Our next stop was America’s Stonehenge in Salem. (Not to be confused with our own "Stonehenge" just up the road in Peterborough - photo at end of blog... just for fun.)  We really didn’t know much about the location in Salem, so we thought we’d check it out for ourselves.  The drive from the winery took only about 35 minutes, but we were a little surprised to find the site tucked in an unremarkable, wooded, residential neighborhood.  Neither one of us has been to Stonehenge in England, but the name sets up expectations of a large ring of enormous stones.  America’s Stonehenge is NOT that, but it does have archaeological significance dating back over 4000 years.  The site is mostly a series of man-made chambers and ceremonial sites… more underground than above.  (The site’s original name was Mystery Hill Caves.)  What the Salem site does have in common with its English namesake are stones with significant astronomical alignment… corresponding to sunrises and sunsets on various solstice, equinox, and other dates.  All-in-all, the Visitors’ Center, informational video, and tour markers are a little dated, and at $11 per person the attraction was a little pricey, but it was interesting and we were glad we went.

Astronomical Chart

Looking out in the direction of the Summer Solstice and August 1 sunsets

And finally, since we just can't pass up ice cream, we were happy to make a stop at Moo’s Place in North Salem.  Although I had never heard of it, Rob had just seen a list of the Top 25 ice cream places in NH and Moo’s Place was #11, simply reinforcing our need to stop.  To our delight, they make their own ice cream (not at this location, but at their other shop in Derry) and had some interesting flavors.  I had to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge and Rob got…ummmm… something else.  The ice cream was creamy and delicious!  A sweet end to a great day!

Moo :P
Teixeira Park - Peterborough's "Stonehenge" :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Back to (Book) School

Back to school is not just for the kids!  Local artist Erin Sweeney recently held her ninth annual Book School at her studio on Main Street in Peterborough.  Described on her website as a "week-long book arts extravaganza", this year's workshop began with the creation of beautiful hand-printed paste paper and continued with its transformation into books of all types - Spider book, traditional album, Long Stitch on tapes, Hinged Box Book, Coptic, and variations. 

Artist Erin Sweeney teaching Book School

Hands at work - Stitching the Spider book

We were lucky enough to be introduced to Erin through one of our guests.  This guest has returned to stay with us for Erin's Book School for four years now!  A treat for me is the Show-and-Tell portion of her stay when she lets me see what she has been working on!

More work on the Spider book
Flag book

Now I must say, I am a lover of art, craft, and all-things-paper, so I am drawn to Erin's work.  The colors, the textures, the creativity... and the results!  Beautiful!

For more information about Erin's work and workshops, see her Lovely in the Home Press website or facebook page.  Her work is featured in the current exhibit at the Sharon Arts Center, Main Gallery in Peterborough. The exhibit, titled (con)TEXT, focuses on text incorporated in art.  The exhibit runs now through October 25, with a Curator's Talk on September 19 from 5 to 6:30 PM.  Erin is also part of a group that presented a "Minis on Main" exhibit and sale of petite artwork this past May.  The group, with 40 artists now participating, will be presenting another exhibit and sale in November, on the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Held at the studios on the second floor at 30 Main Street, the exhibit will be held on November 29 and 30th, from 10 AM to 6 PM each day.

Lovely in the Home Press studio at 30 Main Street

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hiking the back side of Crotched Mountain

It appears fall is rapidly approaching as the overnight temperatures dipped into the low 40s last night at Little River B&B but today was a gorgeous sunny in the mid 60s.  In other words...a perfect day to get outside and enjoy some nature.  With our friends visiting from Ohio, we set out for a hike we had never done before on the back side of Crotched Mountain Ski Area.
Starting our hike by crossing a stream on an interesting bridge
Although we had no problems finding the trail head, there is a distinct lack of parking.  No worries, that just meant we had the entire trail to ourselves not seeing a single other person the entire hike up or down.  SOLITUDE!!!  The trail 2.5 miles long (round trip) and climbs a little over 1000 feet from the base crossing a creek, following some stone walls and passing some enormous boulders.  We also stopped on two occasions to find geocaches (found both...yeah).
Rob excited about his geocache find :)
Finally at the top, we were rewarded with expansive views of the countryside.  To our Southeast was the Wapack Ridge (North Pack, South Pack and Temple Mountain all the way down to Mt Watatic in Massachusetts).  In our foreground were Otter Lake and Powder Mill Pond while to the Southwest we had some of the best views of Mount Monadnock we have ever seen.  To the west we could pick out some of the peaks in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

There's also a picnic table at the top of the trail so bringing a picnic lunch or just some snacks so you have an excuse to linger for awhile.  It's also a great landmark to know you are there.
What a view from the picnic table, could have stayed here all day!

Being this is also September which is "hawk migration" time of year, we spotted three hawks circling overhead who were certainly starting to make their way down South for the winter.  We have heard Crotched Mountain is a great place from which to spot hawks and today did not disappoint!
Hawk circling overhead

Another hawk circling overhead

This could quickly become one of our favorite hikes in the area.  When you stay with us, ask for details on how to find this great hike and copies of the trail map!
The hike back down...really great hike and sad to leave