Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and a Minke Whale…

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We sure enjoyed our last few days in sunny New England. A couple of afternoons we took off to explore Hampton Beach NH and the coastline going south. Hampton Beach is quite large and nice but certainly has some pricey parking for visitors who wish to spend some time there. Fortunately it is off season so we found a lot of state parks along the coast which have no fees for entering at this time of year.

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We stopped at several of the state parks north of Hampton Beach such as Rye Harbor State Park, Cable Beach and North Hampton Beach. The rocky shoreline along this part of New England is quite scenic and fun to explore especially during low tide. Our driving days started out overcast but ended up exceptionally nice as the day wore on.

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The best encounter was at Seabrook Town Beach in Massachusetts as we saw a whale not far from the shore. A fellow we spoke with said there had been sightings of a Humpback Whale and that is why he came hoping to see it. I am pretty sure that is what I saw rolling in the sea since it was large and greyish like the many humpbacks I have seen before in Antarctic waters in my past travels…

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A while later we spotted a Northern Minke whale actively feeding really close to the shoreline. I was able to snap a few photos although they aren’t great. However, if you click on them to enlarge them you can see some of the fish scattering as it breached to feed on them. How super cool it was to see my first ever Northern Minke!!! We happily watched through our binoculars until the whale turned out to sea.  Awesome.

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South of Seabrook MA we stopped to explore the really cool little town of Newburyport MA. It turned out to be a really neat little historic town with several old buildings to explore. We also browsed a consignment shop called Oldies which had several interesting antiques. One table I would have surely bought if we had a house,  whew… close call!

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After exploring Newburyport we drove further south over to Plum Island. On the far south end of Plum Island is the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. What an absolutely beautiful, pristine and natural beach we found on the southernmost tip of the refuge.

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There was a beautiful flat sandy beach on the point  and a small hill adjacent to it.  It was near this hill where we found a fabulous rocky beach. The rocks along the beach which are normally underwater were exposed due to low tide and made the rocky beach profoundly interesting and surreal. We simply loved seeing this cool beach on the wildlife refuge.

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After finishing up our drive we of course had to go back to Smuttynose Brewery near our RV park to have one more of their delicious craft beers. We also stocked up on our favorite Rhye IPA  which lucky for us was on sale for $10 per six pack. We now have more beer in our RV than we have ever had but I will be sure not to let it go past its peak freshness date…

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NOTE: We decided to put some miles between us and Hurricane Jose since it will likely impact any fun we wanted to have along the Massachusetts coastline so we have scooted about 600 miles south over the last three days to Virginia…

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Exploring Around Exeter and Portsmouth NH…

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We sure enjoyed our brief stay in Maine but the leaves have begun to change signaling us it is time to turn the bus south.. Since we are still enjoying the changing colors we moved only an hour south for one last stop in New Hampshire. We pulled into a large park with over 400 sites called Wakeda Campground.

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Wakeda is mostly a summer retreat for seasonal campers but they honor Passport America. Staying at half price is great, especially in the Northeastern USA where we have found parks to be more expensive than usual. We are in a nice large site with full hookups for $25 per night. The trees are large and beautiful in the park and although we like our site ok, there are certainly some better ones in this large park we might have preferred. However the price is right so we are happy. 

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Not far from our site is the historical town of Exeter NH. Exeter is a small town founded in the early to mid 1600’s. There are lots of historic buildings still standing and it is home to the Phillips Exeter Academy a private grades 9 through 12 prep-school.  Exeter was named after a historic city in Devon, England and was a nice little town for a stroll…

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We also drove a loop drive that took us up to Portsmouth NH, another interesting historical seaport on the Atlantic shore. Settled in the 1630’s this city is full of interesting history. Notable was the famous ride by Paul Revere in 1774 as he rode to Portsmouth warning that the “British were coming”, with warships to subdue the port. However, the truth is he never said that. Since his ride was in secrecy what he actually said was “The Regulars are coming out” later interpreted as what we all believe to be true.

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We really enjoyed walking around this very interesting town filled with historical buildings many of which were built in the 1700’s. How cool is that!  The town also has a bit of or a sordid past as it was part of the Triangle Trade. The trade was of slaves and Portsmouth made significant profits from it. During our walk we found a park dedicated to the African burying ground. A very beautiful poignant sculpture adorns its entrance and gave us pause....Later we read more about the park at http://www.africanburyinggroundnh.org/summary.html

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On the way back we stopped off in Durham NH where we walked around yet another neat little town. This town is also home to the University of New Hampshire that we also toured while we were there. Checking out their iconic buildings and watching a little field hockey practice by the lady Wildcats. We had never seen this game played before and found it quite fascinating.

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During our stay we also discovered our very favorite Northeastern brewery called Smuttynose Brewery.  It is named after one the nine islands that form the Isles of Shoals, a small, rugged archipelago that lies seven miles off the craggy New Hampshire coast. Through our 4 sample tastings each offered at the tasting, we discovered this brewery produces an excellent array of beers. We came away feeling they make a great beer no matter which style, from lagers to IPA’s, a true Road Treat! I also had some fun with a photo op at the tasting room with cutouts of one of their labels of their Finest Kind IPA which features two older gents… we sure got some laughs out of the pictures taken…

NOTE: We are still in Exeter NH and will head south tomorrow, not sure where as we will be running from Jose most likely…