New Hampshire (State #27) – Live Free or Die



Great things out of New Hampshire.


I stayed two nights in Manchester at Elizabeth’s former roommates place. Sam and her boyfriend, James, lived in the first floor of a two-story house with their cat, Monster, and their border collie, Moxie.


Elizabeth, who I originally met in Savannah Georgia, knew she was going to be in NH in mid-May, so with minor modification to my route we were able to meet up again. She and Moxie were ecstatic to be reunited, and we went on many walks around the neighborhood. Sam was a fantastic cook, and before I left Thursday morning (5/14/15), James gifted me a half pint of pure maple syrup produced in Loudon, New Hampshire. The honor was not lost on me.


Elizabeth and I split with hopes but no plans to meet up again. I don’t think it will be difficult for us to stay in touch.



I entered White Mountain National Forrest through its southwestern edge via I-93.

White Mountains National Forest.


At James’ persuasion I headed east on Highway 112 to follow the Kancamangus River Valley (Kancamangus rhymes with Orangutan-gus if that helps at all. It’s affectionately referred to as The Kangy by locals). Eager to burn the wood I picked up before Manchester, I settled in at Blackberry Campground around 6:30pm. After allowing for the proper amount of settling-in time, my neighbor from campsite #12 invited me to add to his fire.


JT (John Thompson, 48?) was originally from Massachusetts. He said he drove up from his home in Portsmouth NH to camp out for two reasons. The first reason was to attend the Appalachian Mountain Club’s season kick-off cabin party on Friday, and the second was to pick a small supply of edible fern buds for his mother. His vehicle was his white work van, and the four color splattered aluminum ladders on the roof agreed well when he told me he was a house painter by trade.


JT was a storyteller.


He moved around a lot when he spoke, lifting his rolled bill ball cap only to put it back on crooked again. He would lean forward during the juicy plot points, and recline just before the punch line. He would thumb his nose and aim one eye at me, bringing it nearly closed with out breaking eye contact. He would pull his thumb and middle finger down his face from the corners of his eyes to the tip of his chin. His eyebrows were thick and robust, with enough personality that I began to feel rude for not introducing myself to them separately. He said the word “Hard” the way its inventors must have intended, with a low croaking hAAd “a” sound.


There the three of us sat – the Fire, me, and JT.


We took turns being suspicious of each other’s tall tales. We talked about sand dunes in California and ice fishing in Massachusetts. Anytime the dialogue slowed our mutual friend crackled with laughter or hissed in grinning disbelief before compelling us to clarify the hazy bits of our stories.


Morning in Blackberry Campground, White Mountains National Forest.


The next morning I gave JT the “Well if you ever find yourself in Southern California…” line, and he smiled in appreciation of the gesture. He gave me a handful of fern sprouts, and showed me how to identify an edible, Indian Cucumber.


The Indian cucumber was about the size of my pinky finger.


And that was that.


I incorporated the fern buds (table, center) into dinner later that night. The New Hampshire maple syrup (also table, center) gave me the excuse I was looking for to stuff myself with pancakes.

2 Comments on “New Hampshire (State #27) – Live Free or Die

  1. Jay
    I have to admit that I don’t check you out every day but It is with envy of the marvelous experience that you are having that I follow your fabulous adventure. It is interesting the people that you come in contact with, some you will never forget and some just blow away. Your recollections make easy and very enjoyable reading. Your Mother told me you had your reservations made for the ferry trip to Alaska. That will be a great experience. Before I forget, Put a clothes line in you sleeping bag, it will come in handy to support your protection from the rain. A GI shelter half which you can buy from any
    army Navy store will be a handy thing to have. You undoubtedly have a tarp now. You just can’t believe the number of people who invade the open deck for the trip. We had the end cabin next to theforedeck so we were mightily involved with all the comings and goings of the deck people. Getting late so need to sign off.

    1. Thanks Chuck. Yes, I’m super anxious and exited for Alaska. It will definitely be one of the highlights of my trip. I heard that it’s best to board the ferry as early as possible to steak out a spot for my tent because like you said, there’s a lot of people with my same plan. Between now and then I’ll have to do a little more research on how to be properly prepared. It’s three days of sailing to get to Haines, AK.
      It was good to talk to you last night. Can’t wait to see you and Grandma soon!

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