Franconia Notch

From August 8–11 we were camping in Franconia Notch, NH.

Gorgeous scenery, lots of nature, and many, many beautiful waterfalls.

Click for Franconia Notch photos from August 8-11, 2010

Shawn wanted to do a side trip to Six Gun City—we’d never been, and he had wanted to visit there for his birthday in May but they weren’t open for the season yet, so we made the trip this time since we were in the area.

It reminded me of the now-defunct Carson City that my family and I used to visit in the Irish Catskills during our summer vacations when I was kid. Except Carson City employed adult actors to play the sheriff, bank robber, and judge, and used real horses for its carriage rides and chase scenes. Six Gun City seems to be run by 14-year-olds—we didn’t encounter an adult employee (or a real horse) during our visit.

It was a wee bit sad—it opened in 1957 and the upkeep is shabby. The little kids running around were of course having a blast and probably didn’t notice or care about the shabbiness, but from an adult perspective it left me wondering what the owners are doing with the money earned from our steep admission fee.

Click for Six Gun City photos from August 9, 2010

Hot Air Balloon Rally Awesomeness

On Saturday, August 7, we awoke at 3:00 a.m. to see the 5:30 a.m. lift-off of 18 hot air balloons in Pittsfield, NH.

You heard me right. We awoke at three o’clock in the morning for hot air balloons.

When we arrived in Pittsfield, everyone was allowed on the field as the balloons were unloaded and launched. Never thought I’d be so close to hot air balloons or their burners. Uh-mazing.

Here’s video of “our” balloon being launched. I say “our” because this balloon guy’s truck pulled up to where we were standing on the field and unloaded literally at our feet. We chatted with Mr. Balloon Guy and he showed us the basket interior and regaled us with all the technical mumbo-jumbo. After he filled the balloon with regular air (from a regular fan), he started the burners and away they went. The loudspeaker music was fun—Up, Up and Away, the B-52’s Roam, and Seal’s version of Fly Like an Eagle.

While our balloon was still on the ground being filled with regular fan air, Mr. Balloon Guy’s Assistant told me I could take off my sandals and step inside while the fan air was blowing through, but I declined. I wasn’t keen on potentially causing some weirdness to happen to their fabric. Shawn was telling me to do it because it would have made a great photo—me inside a huge balloon with the fan air blowing through. But I wasn’t comfortable with the idea, especially since the invitation came from Mr. Assistant and not from Mr. Balloon Guy Himself (who had stepped away for a moment).

Our balloon turned out to be our favorite balloon of the 18—it was the only balloon with graphics. It was challenging to frame 18 balloons in one photo and I never succeeded. I would have loved a bright blue sky as a backdrop, but you can’t have everything. And I never did get the name of our balloon.

Click for photos from August 7, 2010

Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester

On Sunday, August 1, we visited the Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester, MA.

Odd place—built from 1926–29 by the Hammond Radio guy as a wedding gift to his wife, and in 1930 opened as a museum.

After we paid our admission, the money-taker person said, “Enjoy the museum. See you when you get back next week.” I took this as an omen of weird things to come.

Imagine a medieval castle replica that, since 1930, has never been, um…cleaned.

Imagine wandering through endless mazes of rooms filled with hundreds of dust-filled relics and having to admire the ceiling plaster that’s fallen on top of them.

Imagine taking the spiral staircase to the tower floors, only to find that there’s no ventilation, so 80 years of visitors’ body odor is trapped in the stagnant air. Particularly alluring on a hot August day.

Imagine entering the breathtaking entrance to the Great Hall, only to be greeted by another indistinguishable stench. (And they hold weddings/receptions in that hall. Seriously.)

I can’t detail the museum items in my photos because, well, it seems the museum doesn’t feel the need to describe their items. So we had no idea what we were looking at. And there were no employees to be found anywhere (once you pass the demon money-taker). In one of the rooms, we encountered a medieval tapestry that seemed authentic, but we’ll never know if it was—etc.

Click for photos of Hammond Castle Museum from August 1, 2010

Since the museum is in the Massachusetts fishing town of Gloucester, afterward we traveled wee further south to Manchester-by-the-Sea, a seaside town I’ve always wanted to visit. Before visiting, the only thing I knew about Manchester-by-the-Sea is that parts of the (forgettable) film State and Main were filmed there. And the only reason I knew that is because back in the day I worked on the soundtrack to that (forgettable) film for RCA Victor. After visiting, I now also know that it’s a very quaint and pretty town.

Click for photos of Manchester-by-the-Sea from August 1, 2010

Lakes Region

On Saturday, July 17, we went to the NH lakes region for a crafts fair on Alton Bay and then meandered the outskirts of Lake Winnipesaukee. On the way home we stopped at the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro, a museum devoted to WWII. We’ve driven by the museum before and were always intrigued by the tank storming out of the building facade.

Click for photos from July 17, 2010

New Works Festival

One of my short plays was accepted into the 2010 New Works Festival at NH Theatre Project in Portsmouth. It had nice promotion here, and here.

It ran for one weekend in July, and after the Sunday matinee I joined the other three playwrights for an audience talk-back. I’ve done playwright/audience talk-backs twice before in Nashua, but this was best I’ve participated in—it’s better when the audience is full of people with questions and you’re sharing the stage with other writers rather than flying solo.

And it’s always nice to meander Portsmouth on a beautiful day.

Click for photos from July 11, 2010

Grease Sing-a-Long

The Grease Sing-a-Long was only a two-week run, so the opportunity was grabbed and we headed back into Boston, the only place in my area that it was playing.

A good portion of the audience was me-clones—women my age (who were 11 or 12 years old when it came out), either in groups, or with their husbands. The three-women-in-a-group next to me were having the same blast as me—not only were we singing along, but we still knew every word of dialogue and were talking back to the screen—good example of the brain retaining useless information. I was impressed that I wasn’t the only nut when I was a kid—wish I knew them back then.

Click for photos from July 10, 2010