On New Hampshire

Jun 25, 2013 | 3 minutes read

Tags: blog


Over the course of the past few months, I’ve made several trips to New Hampshire. Crossing the state line into the state, drivers are greeted with two pieces of surprising automotive legislation. First, every car on the highway slows right down to 65 – Massachusetts is very lenient on speed limits, not so in NH. Second, signs instruct drivers to ensure occupants under the age of 18 are buckled up.
Does this mean drivers who have entered adulthood are free to avail of their vehicle’s installed safety equipment only if they so wish?
Cue images of proud New Hampshirites who upon crossing the border release their seatbelt, and pronounce a proud incantation of their state motto – “Live Free or Die” {..young?}

The landscape doesn’t change much either, and miles of gently undulating freeway persist for some time. Towns fly past of little consequence, some with funny names.

One of particular remark is Derry, and it’s neighbour Londonderry. That’s right, separate towns.
For those of you blissfully unaware, it’s time for a history lesson. Some time in the 17th Century, English colonisers decided the name of the City of Derry did not uphold the required standards of unbridled patriotism demanded by the crown. It was decided that the city should be renamed from the succinct, concise and meaningful ‘Derry’ to a much more cumbersome ‘Londonderry’ – a bit of a cartographic folly, the legacy of which remains to this day. Interestingly, the Republic of Ireland still refuses to recognise the name ‘Londonderry’, and the name is the cause of much contention.
For this reason, it’s particularly strange to see the name adopted for two towns so close together in NH – I wonder if the residents realise the significance?

Town of Manchester
Town of Manchester

Continuing north from Derry on I95, we come to the town of Manchester. Technically the largest city of NH, it feels comparatively dwarf by Massachusetts standards. Alike it’s English counterpart, Manchester was traditionally an industrious mill city, which has since modernised. It still has much of a small town feel, lacking the metropolitan charm of a larger city. Yuppies be warned – it has neither a Wholefoods or a Trader Joe’s. It is home to the best Ceaser Wrap I’ve ever had, mind. [1]

North still from Manchester, continuing for another 60 miles or so, the scenery eventually changes for the better. Gone are the wooded flatlands, and enter the wooded..
..er, not so flat lands?

The Basin
The Basin
While certainly lacking any majestic alpine-like peaks, the scenery in the White Mountains is a welcome break from the “scenically challenged” Massachusetts. The hills provide an excellent skiing destination by winter in the form of the wonderful Loon Mountain, and by summer once the snow thaws,  lush greenery is revealed.
The hiking trails that form a part of the Appalachian Trail reward hard slog with stunning vistas inaccessible by road, and the natural pothole formation of The Basin is equal parts geological wonder and photographer’s dream.
Crossing the White Mountains through Loon and over the Kancamagus Highway eastbound, the wonder continues until the road’s end, where the traveller is unapologetically dumped into Hicksville, NH.


From here, the coastal city of Portland, Maine is just a short jaunt away – some 60 or so miles. I’ll leave my accounts of this city for another day. Having only spent a few hours there, I haven’t had the chance to build a sufficient picture of the city – but it interested me enough to want to go back. Soon, perhaps!

[1] http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-bridge-cafe-manchester