Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hanging Out on Moose Alley

Last year Lee read an article in the NYT about going to Northern NH and looking for moose. Ever since he read that article he's been pining away to do that very thing. The only way things like that happen is if we schedule them, so that's just what we have done, and now, here we are!

The very northern tip of New Hampshire consists of a few small towns, and a lot of empty woods. Empty of people that is, the woods up here seem to be teeming with wildlife. Several of the towns get together every year and have a Moose Festival. It's basically a street fair that moves from one town to the next over the weekend but it's also a good time to try to find a moose.

On Friday we drop the dogs off at Diane's and head north. We stopped for lunch at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Campton, New Hampshire. We enjoy fish sandwiches and french fries and a nice view of mountains and a babbling brook.

By 2 pm we are in Colebrook, the location of the Moose Festivities for this date. We walked up and down the street, looking at various handicrafts, talking to people about seeing moose. We get a map of likely moose-viewing locations, and varying recommendations on moose sign and the best time of day to find them. Early morning and late at night are popular, but how early and how late are debatable.

Then it's on the Pittsburg, NH and The Cabins at Lopstick Pines where we will be staying for the next two nights. Our cabin overlooks a lake. It has a porch and a fire pit so we are set.

By now it's close to 6 pm and time to look for Moose on Moose Alley, the moniker given to the portion of Hwy 3 that runs from our cabin north to the Canadian border. We drive slowly for about three miles and BOOM! There he is our first moose. I madly snap pictures and get a few good ones. No other moose tonight but we're happy.

I failed to make dinner reservations for tonight, thinking they would not be necessary in the north country but it turns out I was mistaken. All the good restaurants are fully booked so we end up buying a bagged Caesar salad and Stouffer's lasagna for our dinner. After dinner we try to light a fire in the pit but the wood doesn't want to catch. There is a nice full moon though, glimmering over the lake.

We wake up early to go on another moose hunting expedition Saturday morning. No more moose, but we do see a bear bounding across the road. He's pretty far away though and by the time we drive up to the place where he entered the woods he is long gone. I still think it's pretty cool even if I didn't get a picture to prove it.

Back to the cabin for some breakfast and then off we go for a hike on the Moose Alley trail. 4 miles through woods, moss, ferns and mushrooms. Its very quiet and peaceful with no wildlife to speak of, just birds. We meet a guy that maintains the trail and except for some other people we meet at the very end of the hike that's the only other people we see.

Then we drive to Garfield Falls for a picnic lunch. its a beautiful falls but it seems crowded after the peace and quiet on the trail. Some people have three golden retrievers and one is reactive, barking at other hikers. At one point and exclaim crossly when the dog barks at me (yes I'm hungry I know!) and the woman says "they're dogs they bark!" I'm furious but don't say anything, knowing I won't say anything polite but Lee defends me. "Actually we have three dogs, and they WONT bark on a hiking trail, because they are trained!" I love that man!

We eat our lunch on a rock by the falls and then go back to the cabin for a stretching a shower and some ice cream. We end up being totally lazy the rest of the afternoon. We try dinner at Murphy’s Steakhouse, which is one of the restaurants we were unable to book on Friday. Although the Inn where it is located gets mixed reviews the steakhouse itself is a nice restaurant with a homey flair.

Sunday morning its time to get up early and go for a run. Once again I’m running on the main road, toward the town center of Pittsburgh and back. I’m doing 800 meter repeats and its pretty hilly so my times are all over the place. I feel like I’ve gotten a good workout!

We pack up and get ready to head home. I have to go to the front desk and get us checked out. Since its Sunday there’s a bit of a line in front of me. The people at the desk are telling quite a story. “There was a fly in our cabin, and my husband was trying to kill it, and he did! But he broke this thing….” She proceeds to show the nonplused manager at the desk a picture on her phone. “We want to pay to have it repaired or replaced, of course.” The manager looks at the handyman, who just happens to be in the office. The handyman has an amused expression on his face, but doesn’t say a word. The lady trying to check out keeps babbling on: “I just can’t stand flies and my husband was just trying to help.” The husband doesn’t say anything either. The handyman, looking like he’s trying very hard not to burst into laughter says “don’t have any idea what that costs….”. The lady continues “well you have our name, and phone number, and hey! You have my credit card! You can just charge the repair to me.” Finally the manager says “we’ll let you know” and the lady and her silent husband go on their way. Everyone in line by then is trying not to laugh.

After checking out we have breakfast at The Happy Corner Cafe. I have their famous pancakes and Lee has an omelet. Its all very delicious, and filling. No need to stop for lunch on our way home.

We enjoyed the northern tip of New Hampshire. I’d go back there, but not necessarily for the Moose Festival. I bet the moose are out even when they aren’t being celebrated.

Since I’ve told several people about this adventure they’ve said “oh we used to see moose right in our backyard”! This includes locations in Candia, right outside of Manchester, and even on our very own street, before the nearby subdivisions were built!

I doubt that there are any moose still living around Arlington Pond. If I saw one on one of my early morning runs I think I would give him a wide berth. They are gentle creatures, most of the time, but they sure are big!

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