Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Boat Tour on Squam Lake
My mother has just left after a very nice visit with us in New England. We didn't do a lot of touristy things; she was very happy hanging out at our house most of the time, playing with Harper and eating all the wonderful food that Lee cooked.
But we did do a couple of fun things, and one of the most enjoyable was a boat tour of Squam Lake, in central new Hampshire. Squam Lake is where the movie On Golden Pond was filmed, and part of the tour would be to show us sites where the movie was made 30 years ago. It had been years since either of us had seen it, so I downloaded it on itunes and we watched it the night before.
Its a very good movie, and although it looks a little 80's in the clothing and hair styles, Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn are absolutely charming. Henry Fonda really is pretty magnificent as the gruff and funny father figure. Jane Fonda is beautiful and earnest in her role as the estranged daughter, and its very odd to see a young Dabney Coleman, playing her nervous fiance.
As it turned out, it was a very good idea to watch the movie before going on the tour, because it made everything we saw on the boat tour much more meaningful. I had called the tour operators a few days before to make sure my mother would be able to get into the boat and they assured me that everything was accessible and that they would be glad to help her. They were so nice and accommodating, I really would recommend them highly!
We drove up to Holderness, New Hampshire, about an hour and a half north of Salem. We parked as instructed in front of Walter's Restaurant in Holderness and carefully made our way down the ramp to the boat. The ramp was pretty steep, but with her walker and me adding a little extra braking power, my mother made it down to the boat without too much trouble.
The boat tour showed us where different scenes from the movie were filmed, and it also explained something about the nature and ecology of Squam Lake. Created by glaciers millions of years ago, Squam lake is fairly shallow and rocky. Navigation channels are clearly marked, and boats are well advised to stay in those channels. Its not a good lake for sailing, or for doing crazy boat-wheelies like Billy does in one scene in the movie. Our tour guide told us that scene was actually filmed on Lake Winnipesaukee, not on Squam.
As we motored through a narrow channel from Little Squam over to Big Squam Lake, the tour guide told us some tidbits about the filming of the movie. There is a scene at the beginning of the movie where Norman and Ethyl (the characters played by Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn) are getting gas in their boat. We passed by the dock where the scene was filmed and the guide told us that at the end of the scene, when Norman guns the motor and zooms off in the boat, well that wasn't really planned, and Henry Fonda, in the process of getting into his character, missed hitting the dock by inches when he took off so suddenly. But it fit into the movie perfectly, so I guess he knew what he was doing.
And the scene where Billy and Norman are fishing in Purgatory Cove and hit a rock and sink the boat? Well those beautiful mahogany boats are really hard to sink, and they couldn't get the one they were using to sink just by hitting a rock. They actually had to put a hydraulic punch inside the boat and have it punch out a hole in the bottom of the boat right when the boat hit the rock, and that's what caused the boat to sink, not the rock! We drove past the cove and saw its rock-strewn interior but didn't go very close. It actually is a very dangerous place to drive a boat.
The best part of the tour was actually all the wildlife we saw. It didn't take us very long into the tour before we saw some loons, and even though my camera has trouble zooming in on wildlife like that I managed to get some pretty good pictures. They were fishing, and kept diving down into the water and then coming back up in a completely different place. They are able to stay under the water for up to a minute at a time. It was hard to be patient until they reappeared!
We also motored over to a small island to see an eagle nest, and actually managed to see some bald eagles too. The baby eagles had left the nest, but they were still flying around under the watchful eye of their parents and we were able to see them very clearly, even better than last year at Bar Harbor.
After the boat tour, we stopped at Kirkland Gardens on our way back home. Kirkland Gardens are a beautiful nature preserve and formal garden. We walked around the garden and snapped some pictures of the flowers and the old house. I wish my Monarda looked this good!
We both enjoyed the boat tour on Squam Lake very much. I'm so glad my friend Lisa suggested this activity because I would never have thought of it myself! And my mom had a great time, which made me very happy.