Reading a NH Memoir – Without a Map

I like reading local titles when I’m somewhere like New Hampshire. Maybe you do too, so here’s a suggested title for you: Without a Map: A Memoir. I’ve read many memoirs about difficult childhoods, but the teen years could be tough too.

In Without a Map, Meredith Hall takes the reader through the events and feelings when a teen pregnancy changes her life forever. At 16, she’s thrown out of school, cast out by her mother, shunned by friends and neighbors and forced to give up the baby for adoption. It’s 1965 and her sheltered childhood in a New Hampshire village left her unprepared for finding her way in the world.

At the same time as her life falls apart, the 1960s bring changes and these affect her as well. Her feelings of shame and loss complicate her life and she drifts in and out of relationships and lifestyles while trying to find safe ground. I found it interesting how she found her footing and established a fairly normal life yet always felt the betrayal of her family and friends.

Book Cover

When her son reunites with her as a young adult, she agonizes further over her own betrayal of him when she surrendered him for adoption. She has to come to terms now knowing that his childhood was marred by an abusive adoptive father.

Reading her literate account of these events is sometimes painful, but the flow of language draws the reader on as her life unfolds.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for the book.

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Buyer Beware – Caravan 12 X 12 Magnum Pro Instant Canopy

Some years ago, we had 2 of these canopies that we put up over our bikes and kayaks. When it started pouring, both collapsed from the weight of the water that pooled on the top. Luckily no one was under them at the time.

In New Hampshire in the summer, all the lake and woods camps use shelters like these for outdoor dining areas or for shelter for their woodpiles and gear.

Caravan Canopy 12 by 12 Magnum Pro Instant Canopy

A sudden rainstorm caused these canopies to collapse (made by Caravan)

I contacted the manufacturer and they said they aren’t for use in the rain. When you read the fine print with the setup instructions, it does say that. Basically useless unless you want it for short-term use on a sunny, windless day. Unfortunately, the warning was not displayed on the box that the shelters come in.

Buyers aren’t aware that these are fair-weather canopies at the time they buy them. Because of this incident and the money we wasted on these useless canopies, I’m never buying another canopy with the Caravan brand name on it.


This happened a number of years ago and we’ve never had that problem with other canopies or gazebos that we’ve had. I see that the company has discontinued these. The reviewers on Amazon all reported the same problem with 67% giving it only 1 star, the lowest you can put.



The bent and useless metal pieces from the Caravan canopies. We did save a few metal parts to use as garden stakes, but most just went to recycling. Sigh…


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Lots of Rocks

They have a lot of rocks in NH. I guess that’s why they call it The Granite State. I made this casual comment on Facebook as I shared the photo below. It shows the jumble of granite boulders and rocks of the Lower Falls at the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. That’s on the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112).


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Photo by Virginia Allain

A friend added the information that “Milford, NH is the Granite Town!”
My sister asked if I picked up the big one for my flower bed. She had some landscaping rocks delivered to her home in Kansas. “It took 3 adults, plus the grandson to help unload it the two truckloads and it was just a small flower bed.” I told her that the area was part of the White Mountain National Forest so I couldn’t take any. I have collected smaller ones around our own place.
She wondered if I used a tool to flip the rocks over before picking them up so I don’t get surprised by a snake. I reassured her that there are hardly any snakes in NH and not poisonous ones as far as I knew.
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Here’s one of my borders that I make with rocks dug from my garden or found on walks.

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Canterbury Shaker Village

Cover Picture

If you like experiencing history by walking in the footsteps of long-ago people, you will love Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire. The national historic landmark includes guided tours, a very informative Ken Burns video on the Shakers, and a chance to wander through buildings steeped in Shaker history.

We visited there two years ago and despite a thunderstorm that left us a bit damp, we enjoyed the informative exhibits. It was a marvelous opportunity to see the rooms and buildings looking like the Shakers just stepped out for a few minutes.

There’s a peaceful feeling throughout so pause in each space from the meeting house, the old school, the infirmary, or the work areas to savor what their life was like.

Admission was $17, but I felt it was well worth the price. The video takes 1 hour. There’s a choice of the regular 1-hour tour or the 1 1/2 hour innovators tour which focuses on the inventions of the Shakers. Three of the buildings can only be seen if you take one of the tours.

I’d recommend setting aside a whole afternoon for exploring the village.

You can take a video tour to pique your interest.


All Photos by Virginia Allain 

More about the Canterbury Shaker Village

The Shaker Kitchen: Over 100 Recipes from Canterbury Shaker VillageThe Shaker Kitchen: Over 100 Recipes from Canterbury Shaker VillageView DetailsNeither Plain nor Simple: New Perspectives on the Canterbury ShakersNeither Plain nor Simple: New Perspectives on the Canterbury ShakersView DetailsA Shaker Family Album: Photographs from the Collection of Canterbury Shaker VillageA Shaker Family Album: Photographs from the Collection of Canterbury Shaker VillageView DetailsHistorical New Hampshire Canterbury Shaker VillageHistorical New Hampshire Canterbury Shaker VillageView Details

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Posted in Architecture, Daytrip, History, Sightseeing

Searching for Ice Cream

Stopping for ice cream is a favorite activity for New Englanders and visitors in the summer. In New Hampshire, a great ice cream cone beckons as you cruise the scenic highways of the state. Slow down going through a town or village so you can spot the ice cream stand or the dairy bar.

Each claims to have the best ice cream of all. It might be their own recipe and even cream from their own dairy or it might be a locally celebrated brand like Shain’s of Maine (started in Sanford, Maine) or Gifford’s famous ice cream.

Summertime in New Hampshire - eating ice cream

The Allains having ice cream at Sebago Lake.

The advertisements are hard to resist. Decadent brownie sundaes. Lusciously thick frappes. You might want to make it a challenge to work on next summer. How many ice cream shops can you visit? Please, come back and tell us which one you think has the best ice cream.

Here are a few in Central NH to get you started: Lone Oak in Rochester, Bly Farm in Wolfeboro, Rockin Ryan’s in Sanbornville, The Pink House in Milton, and Dewey’s Ice Cream Parlor & Cafe in Center Harbor. To make it easier for you, here’s the NH Ice Cream Trail with addresses and maps. The NH Public Radio put out another list which has some different locations for tasty ice cream.

Once you get to the ice cream stand, it can be torture trying to make up your mind. Do you want maple walnut or black cherry or a new flavor just offered that day? Here’s one that tempted me at Lone Oak. Lilac City Pothole…white chocolate, red raspberry and black raspberry ice cream with chocolate cookie dough. I usually go with my old favorite, butter pecan.

I just saw Lone Oak’s fall flavors which are available now.

  • Indian Pudding…molasses, corn meal, cinnamon, ginger and other spices. A New England fall favorite.
  • Pumpkin Caramel Crumble…Salted Caramel and cinnamon oat crumble swirled through pumpkin ice cream!

And they have almond milk non-dairy soft serve flavors…Vanilla / Black Raspberry / Twist.



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Lone Oak Ice Cream stand in Rochester – photos by Virginia Allain


OK, who’s up for the Summer 2018 Ice Cream Challenge? You can even get a head start and try some of the shops this fall.

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I’m Ready for Indian Summer

The last week of August seemed a little cool. My summer was shortened by duties down in Florida that made us miss the first two months of summer. Wearing jeans and a sweatshirt in August made me feel like autumn had sneaked up on us. I feel like my summer was stolen from me.

I checked the weather for the upcoming week. Looks like some very nice days that we can look forward to. First, we need to get through a rainy day-before-Labor-Day that will be a bit chilly.

Wakefield NH 10 Day Forecast Weather Underground 2017

The Weather Underground forecast for Labor Day and the week.

Let’s make the most of the days ahead. I don’t like to complain about a rainy day as I know the plants and big pines, maples, oaks, and beeches depend on the moisture. Perhaps it could save the rain for late evening and overnight.

wet red maple leaf

Photo by Virginia Allain

For anyone closing their camp for the season, it makes it a little tricky to get everything put away for the winter or covered with tarps and tied down. Make the most of the sunny days or those with intermittent showers.

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Another Cottage Available in NH

Some of the most popular posts on my Summer in New Hampshire blog are the ones about cottages for sale. Apparently, a lot of people dream of having a cozy retreat in the woods of NH to spend weekends or the whole summer. I can tell them, from my personal experience, that you will love your time in the New Hampshire woods or on a lake.

lfr park model 2017 summer (3)

Anyway, here’s the most recent park model to come on the market in the Lake Forest RV Resort.

Look at the tall pines, maples, and oaks surrounding this retreat.  You’ll see some of the details below.

lfr park model 2017 summer.jpg

I bet you never dreamed of having a weekend or summer home for less than $50,000. The resort which includes access to a dock and boat ramp on Great East Lake and also has a 9-hole golf course carved out of the woods. It’s perfect for retirees or soon-to-be-retirees.

You can read more about Lake Forest RV Resort on an earlier blog post. As far as I know, there is only one other cottage for sale in the resort at the moment. For those who grew up in the scenic state of New Hampshire, these places are generally called “camps,” but the technical name for them is “park model.” I call them cottages, but no matter what you call your getaway home in NH, you are going to love it.

Here’s a bonus, you can get a boat to go with your cottage. Some Lake Forest residents have caught some lovely lake trout and bass on Great East Lake.

boat for sale

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