At the weekend we drove north to New Hampshire for a bit of sightseeing. As we headed up into New Hampshire I noticed two things; the roads got narrower and the area became less heavily settled. Massachusetts has a population density of 858 people per square mile but New Hampshire has just 147 making the Granite State a good place to get away from everyone, except in tourist season of course. The state motto of New Hampshire, seen on every license plate is “Live Free or Die” which always strikes me as needlessly passive aggressive. Also, as far as I’m aware, everybody dies. One thing that always amuses me about crossing the border into New Hampshire is the huge liquor and fireworks stores just across the state line to tempt the puritan residents of Massachusetts into buying cheap alcohol and illicit fireworks. If you ever get the chance to visit New Hampshire then go, its wonderful and I’m not just talking about the cheap alcohol!
The thing that will strike you most about New Hampshire is the amount of trees. In England the tree cover is 8.4%, in New Hampshire it is an incredible 89%; the whole state is one big forest. One of the exciting things about walking in these woods is that there are animals that can kill or injure you (if they don’t kill you outright receiving the hospital bill will finish you off). There are bears, moose, snakes and skunks. The latter won’t hurt you but you won’t receive any dinner party invitations for a while. The truth is of course that most of these animals avoid human contact so you aren’t in much danger, although on our first hike together in the state last year we nearly tripped over a basking timber rattlesnake! This slight element of danger is increased by the fear that you will stray from the trail and get so lost you perish in the woods, or become the slave of a backcountry family that has yet to embrace electricity or marrying people who aren’t relatives.
The other things that you need to be aware of when you take a walk in the woods of New Hampshire are the black flies. Unless you spray yourself with insect repellent as enthusiastically as a teenager sprays deodorant on a first date you will find yourself being swarmed in the woods. New Hampshire has 40 species of black fly and only five of them bite but the other 35 species will still swarm around you as you walk. When we hiked together on our honeymoon we saw a lady wearing beekeeper garb, apparently the best way to protect your body during fly season but she did look pretty funny so I wouldn’t recommend it. The good news that fly season is not all year and apart from the flies, hiking in the woods of New Hampshire is fantastic and you will get some amazing views. On one memorable hike we only saw two other people the whole time; there are more than enough woods for everyone to explore.
The jewel in the crown of New Hampshire in my humble British opinion is the lakes region. Our destination on Saturday was Lake Winnipesaukee, beautifully surrounded by mountains and 21 miles long and up to 9 miles wide. I’m fairly sure there are English counties smaller than that. Sadly we were out of season and all of the attractions were closed but we drove around half the lake and got some amazing views. Large crystal clear lakes are another new thing for me and I would love to come back when the weather is warmer. We found the area nearly deserted much to our delight. Eventually we located an open restaurant and had a Mexican lunch that tasted like we were about as far away from Mexico in the lower 48 states that you could be. Which we were as a matter of fact.
At the end of the day we had to go home, which is something that makes me sad whenever we have to leave New Hampshire because it is one of my favourite US states. The good news is that we will be back, and I’ll probably blog about it too! 🙂