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Friday, September 30, 2022

Friday Funnies

As hard as we searched, there were no monsters for sale in this store.
Advertising isn't always accurate, but then we never really expected to find any of these. Wording on posters can be fun.

Fall🍁🍂 is here, finally, with much cooler temps. It's good to be back in Nashua, NH, after our road trip to visit family and friends in two states. Thanks for your comments too. It takes a few days to catch up; blog reading will be done this weekend, in between some local events.

Enjoy Your Weekend
We're going to a car show and presentation about the 1919 Molasses flood in Boston

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

We Went "Peopling"

Tis true, we've been off on a(nother) road trip the past week and a half. Unlike previous ones, this trip was to visit with people not to see places. Not just any folks, but the best type — family and long-time friends, many most of whom we hadn't seen in awhile.
Faces of family & friends visited in NJ and PA
We traveled to our home state of NJ, then to Lancaster, PA, and back to NJ before returning to Nashua, NH, this week. 
My brother, Tony and wife, Anita, long-time friend, Margaret, and us in NJ
Our first NJ visit was to long-time friend, Margaret, a neighbor of my late parents. She celebrated her 94th birthday this past June. We spent a wonderful visit at her home before going to lunch with my brother, Anthony (Tony) and sister-in-law, Anita. We also visited with Virginia, shown in the top right collage photo. This lady is an amazing 93 years young and knew my late mom too. She and Margaret are friends who talk twice every evening.
Tony my "baby" brother is three years younger than myself and my only sibling.
Long time NJ friends, Jill & Art
Another NJ visit was with longtime friends Jill and Art. Jill and myself were co-workers over 25 years ago and we have maintained a now long-distance friends. 
Even longer friends, Sara & David in PA
An even longer friendship is that of Sara and David, fellow NJ natives, who now live in New Holland near Lancaster, PA. A highlight of our get togethers is to take a group shot followed by separate photo pairings. It's always fun the next time we see each another to compare pics from the previous time(s). My friendship with Sara predates her marriage to David; we attended high school together in NJ, many years ago.
This PA hotel is a steamboat-type accommodation on land
One of the most unique lodging experiences in Lancaster, PA, is at the Fulton Steamboat Inn, a steamboat environment on land in unique nautical or Victorian themed guest rooms. This was our accommodations thanks to a gift certificate received last holiday season from PA family members.

Why is a steamboat in the middle of Lancaster County, PA?

It's because Robert Fulton, the man credited with developing the idea of propelling boats by steam, was born in 1765 in a small farmhouse a few miles south of this location. 

In 1807, Fulton teamed with another engineer, and they designed and constructed the first successful steam powered ship, The Clermont. Fulton is credited with turning the steamboat into a commercial success and transforming transportation history.
Faces of youngest granddaughter Lilliana in PA
Our PA visit was to spend time with youngest granddaughter Lilliana. While we were looking forward to seeing her play soccer on Saturday morning, she was under the weather with a cold and unable to play.
We shared grandparents time with Lilliana
While this was basically an indoors visit, sometimes those can be fun with lots of game playing, coloring, story reading and a few naps too. 
Lilliana & family in PA
Of course, there's always time for family photos with Lilliana, parents Paulo and Coleen, and the family pet, Lola. Thankfully, it won't be too long before the next family visit. This Christmas, we're all meeting up in RI to spend holiday time with the oldest grands and their mom.

This road trip was a busy one with many visits. As much as we enjoy seeing places new to us, there's really nothing better than spending time with family and friends. We're sure you all agree.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Friday Funnies

As a rule, this blog avoids hot topics, particularly those of a political nature. That said, the question is Why is Grenville posing with an endorsement for two political candidates?

These are not just any two candidates. 
Actually, these aren't even real candidates. 

Some of you may be wondering who are these two candidates? 
Others in our ahem age group may readily recall the names.

Here's a hint, they're were the characters in a popular American TV sit-com that ran for eight seasons from 1960-1968. It followed a small town sheriff and his well-meaning, bumbling deputy in a fictional NC town, modeled after the real hometown of the main actor. Ironically, not a single shot was filmed there; the series was all done in Hollywood, CA.

Did you figure out it was The Andy Griffith Show?

The show was televised on CBS from October 1960 to April 1968. Griffith played Andy Taylor, a widowed sheriff in the fictional town of Mayberry, NC. His deputy, Barney Fife, was played by actor Don Knotts and nip it in the bud became his signature phrase

Ranked by TV Guide as the 9th-best show in American TV history, the series was never lower than seventh in ratings. It ended its final season at number one. 

It's lasting popularity has generated much show-related merchandise, especially in the real town of Mount Airy, NC (which we visited on an earlier road trip). Several gift stores there specialize in everything related to Mayberry. Grenville ordered this t-shirt from one, Mayberry on Main, after he recently saw someone wearing one. 

Sheriff Andy Taylor & Deputy Barney Fife
Deputy Fife used the phrase in many episodes and 
One-Punch Opie is one in particular. This episode in the third season (December 1962) centered around Opie being bullied by a new boy who also encourages other youngsters to do misdeeds.

When Taylor and Fife find out, the deputy is outraged, telling the sheriff that something must be done: I say this calls for action, and now . . . Nip it in the bud! First sign a youngster's going wrong.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane, this YouTube link has deputy Barney Fife saying the infamous catch phrase in that episode.

FYI—this post is the first and last reference to political candidates—fictional or otherwise—that will appear on this blog.

Thanks to all who commented on the previous post about whether to repair or replace items. It seems that most folks would repair an item, if possible. But, sometimes it's not only more costly but hard to do given that some items may have be obsolete by the time a repair is needed.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
🍁Fall has (finally) 🍂arrived in Nashua, NH, with cooler temps
We're visiting family & friends in NJ and PA this week

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Repair or Replace?

Do you repair or replace items (can be anything) ?

The reason for this query is that within the past two weeks, I've done both for two items that were costly when new (one more than the other), but not at all similar.
2007 Jeep Liberty

If that sounds confusing at first read, here's what happened. 

The first repair was more of a replacement, 4 tires for my vehicle, a 2007 Jeep Liberty, I'm the original owner. Yes, I know, this auto is considered old by many, but it suits me perfectly. The mileage is now nearing 111,500 miles and it runs well with regular maintenance. Compared to Grenville's 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee which  has a complicated (to me) onboard computer, this car is easier to operate and maintain. It has the basics — auto transmission, power windows and locks, satellite radio, heater, AC and a CD player (hardly used). 

An unexpected 
flat led to the new tire purchase when a rear tire valve failed to seal after air was put in. Unaware of the air leak, we soon heard the unwelcome thump-thump of a flat — never a good sound. Luckily, we were not in a heavily trafficked area, so we pulled off the road, and called AAA. The flat tire was replaced with the spare and we continued on our road trip. Just to be safe, we took a longer route back home to avoid high-speed highway travel.

Maybe it's happened to you that  what's thought of as bad luck is a blessing. That's because when checking the service records, I saw that the tires were 7 years old with 38K miles, about time for new ones. Before arriving home, I had an appointment with a local Goodyear tire dealer who luckily had 4 of the same tires in stock. The day after our return home, the Jeep had new shoes tires. Total out the door cost with balancing, alignment, tire disposal — little over $800.

The next item was a repair that was much less costly than buying a new one.

Those of you who are iPhone users may already know that Apple unveiled its new lineup of newer and greater phones early last month. (Does anyone else enjoy watching these new product roll-our presentations? They're eye-popping to say the least.)

iPhone 10s
I confess, to have been seriously considering replacement of my older iPhone 10s which, when purchased new, was over $1,000 inc. extra AppleCare protection. After 
3+ years, it wasn't holding a charge well and battery health was at 85%. Apple recommends replacement when the battery gets to 80% and provides more details here. Mine was very close to that point, so...

After considering a couple of BIG ?s, specifically: Do I really want to spend $$$ for a new one and, more importantly, was a new one really needed? The answer was no and no, so a non-issue. 

Instead, there was an easier (and less costly) solution. I went online to the Apple store here in Nashua, NH and made a service appointment for a battery replacement. After answering a few online questions, my time slot was this past Sunday.

Two hours later, not only did my phone have a new battery, but a new speaker as well. It seems the speaker needed removal to replace the battery and would be replaced at no charge—win-win. Total cost was $69 (no sales tax in NH). The battery level is now 100% again, so it's all good !

Within a couple of weeks, I've repaired/replaced two older yet very different items. Amazingly, the total cost of 4 tires plus a new phone battery was less than just the cost of a new iPhone. And, for me, these were good $ saving decisions, especially now. At some pointing the future the car and phone may be replaced, but not in the immediate future.

Your turn—have you replaced, repaired or bought anything new? If so, please share—what and why.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Second Tale of 2 Yachts in ME

This is quite a lengthy post, per my usual ones which focus on historical places and things that attract me to learn more. And, since it's always nice to share knowledge, now you know too.

This post is a continuation of an earlier one about two yachts we saw in Belfast, ME, shipyards during a July visit. That earlier post focused on one of the two yachts in the photo on the right ➨.

This photo was displayed in the previous post along with a question about which one was in better shape. 

And, if you read the previous post (or not) the answer is the top yacht, Cangarda, one of three remaining steam yachts worldwide. 

Both of these vessels are historical, but for different reasons. The bottom one has the most history as it pertains to the U.S. as you will read and see in this post. And, I am not a boat person, when we found out it was in a location we were staying, I had to learn more.
The photos above are of the second yacht as it is today. It's clearly visible, that it's in very rough condition, which doesn't bode well for its former prominence. But then, Cangarda was in the same predicament before complete a restoration which took many years and many $$$. And, this one is in the same situation—time and money can work wonders.

If you haven't figured out the significance of this yacht; its nameplate gives it away, the USS Sequoia. In much better days, it was 
the floating White House from 1931 to 1977. Up to 10 U.S. Presidents have been on board, Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton, (even after the yacht was sold by one of them). No, I didn't know there was a Presidential yacht, but then the yacht preceded the time before a presidential plane. 

Here's a few ways it was used by presidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt had a wheelchair lift installed. Harry Truman made the decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima while onboard. Dwight Eisenhower allowed Queen Elizabeth II to use it during a visit. In 1963, John F. Kennedy celebrated what became his last birthday onboard. Lyndon Johnson watched films considered risqué if in the White House. The most time onboard was spent by Richard Nixon, who played the piano. Reportedly, it was where he decided to resign the presidency.
Sadly, the Sequoia is in such disrepair that it can no longer float on its own. The above photos show it as seen in July on boat stands at the French & Webb boatyard in Belfast, ME. This specialty boatyard has been contracted to bring back the seaworthiness and elegance of this famous vessel. From all that I have read, this will be a long process.

The USS Sequoia, is an impressive sight even in its current state. This 182,000 lb, 104-foot long wooden yacht was one of the largest personal yachts of its time.

Formally decommissioned in December 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it continues to carry its “USS” designation and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Surprisingly, like many things, it has a connection to our home state of New Jersey where it was built in 1925 for a woman raised in NJ who shared the same September 9 birthdate as my late mother (different birth years).
Online sources: Mathis Ship Yard, Camden, NJ, circa 1920s

Emily Roebling
Designed by famed naval architect John Trumpy, the yacht was built by the John H. Mathis & Company Shipbuilders in Camden, NJ. Trumpy, a fourth generation of boat builders was born in Norway. After naval architect training at home and in Germany, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1908 and joined Mathis as a partner in 1910. 

The yacht was designed and built for Emily Roebling Cadwalader. If that name seems familiar, it's because Ms. Roebling was the granddaughter of John Augustus Roebling, the civil engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge. Raised in Trenton, NJ, she was one of the first women to drive her own car there. She married Richard M. Cadwalader, a prominent Philadelphia banker, who shared her interest in large yachts, which luckily they could well afford too.

The Sequoia II, as it was originally named, preceded the 85-foot Sequoia I, which the couple owned before and which was also designed by Trumpy. These handmade wooden vessels, built for the rich and famous, enabled a very comfortable lifestyle. Sequoia's hull was constructed of yellow-leaf pine, the deckhouse was made of mahogany and teak. 
Online source: Vintage ad for Mathis Company lists Sequoia I and II; notice that Emily Roebling's name was not included, only her husband
Built in 1925 at a cost of about $200,000—equal to $3,223,145 now, it was the second of four successively larger yachts built between 1924 and 1931 for the couple. Years ago, luxury boats were the preferred transport for wealthy easterners who wanted to escape winter weather and escape to warmer states, like Florida. Instead of the term yacht that's now used, these luxury boats were called house boats as shown in the vintage ad above for the Mathis Company.
Online source: Sequoia II (as it was known then) in 1926
Sequoia II and its owners parted ways within three years. It was sold to William Dunning, a Houston-based oil executive, who used it for gambling trips to Cuba and business trips along the Mexican coastline. Dunning went bankrupt in the 1929 stock market crash and sold the yacht.

In 1931, the U.S. Department of Commerce bought Sequoia II from Dunning for about $40,000 justifying the cost as it was used as a decoy for rum-runners during Prohibition. Yes, I wondered about that use myself.  It would patrol the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays as a decoy vessel to attract would-be bootleggers who hoped to sell illegal liquor and would come alongside what they assumed was a wealthy owner's yacht, only to be arrested.

Presidential Herbert Hoover 
Then President Herbert Hoover, who had friends with similar yachts, and friends in high places, had the Secretary of the Navy purchase the yacht

In March 1933, the yacht, now known as Sequoia, became the official presidential yacht and was transferred from the Department of Commerce to the Naval Department, gaining its USS status. Hoover used it as the presidential yacht for the last two years of his presidency, including 1931-1933 voyages for business and pleasure cruises. 

Here's a fun twist, according to some sources, Sequoia was decommissioned as an official Navy vessel during WW IIalcoholic beverages were prohibited onboard commissioned naval vessels, so that world leaders, like Winston Churchill, could drink liquor onboard. The problem is that Churchill was never documented as being aboard the yacht. 
Online source: U.S. Navy classification
From 1936 to 1939, the USS Sequoia was used as the yacht of the Secretary of the Navy and from 1939 to 1977, used by the Navy, the President and executive branch officials.
Online sources: U.S. Presidents onboard USS Sequoia, FDR to Nixon
Sequoia was sold by a President
All good things come to an end. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter, decided it wasn't right to spend taxpayers dollars on such a luxury item and ordered Sequoia sold at auction to reduce Federal government spending. Sequoia was costing U.S. taxpayers an estimated $800,000 annually at the time. Later, Carter was said to have regretted his decision as a mistake. 
Online source: Presidential bedroom onboard USS Sequoia (in better days)
A RI contractor, Thomas Malloy, purchased Sequoia from the government at auction in 1977 for the highest bid of  $286,000, then spent $50,000 to turn it into a floating museum. It was anchored in RI at India Point Park. In July 1977, Malloy pulled anchor after only 500 people had visited at $2 each. In a New York Times article, he was quoted as saying that intense summer heat had deterred tourists and he hoped to find cooler air and better business in Newport, R.I. 

Those plans didn't go well. Three months later, Malloy resold the yacht to a partnership for $355,00. It was maintained in Myrtle Beach, SC, then in 1980 again resold for $750,000 to The Ocean Learning Institute of Palm Beach, FL, which used it to entertain potential donors.
Online source: USS Sequoia on Hudson River, in NYC
The non-profit Presidential Yacht Trust acquired Sequoia from the Institute for approximately $1.1 million in 1980 and returned her to Washington, D.C. During 1984, the yacht was taken on an eight-month, 6,000-mile tour of the country. It underwent a $2 million restoration and then participated in the July 1986 centennial for the Statue of Liberty. A year later, Sequoia was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

In the intervening years there were several other owners, including a potential Japanese buyer who wanted to buy and move it yacht to Tokyo.

Years later, it was involved in a lengthy legal battle after it had been hauled to a boatyard in Virginia. According to online accounts, the vessel had been damaged when it was hauled out of the water on a marine railway in 2014. The yacht was neglected and in danger of sinking. 

The dispute was resolved after years of lengthy and complicated legal wrangling. Its current owner is the Equator Capital Group, a portfolio investment firm in Washington, D.C, which bought Sequoia in 2016 for $7.8 million. 
Online sources: USS Sequoia barging and underway
Online source: USS Sequoia on barge in Hudson River, in NYC
In September 2019, Wolfe House & Building Movers barged the yacht for transport from Deltaville, VA, to Cambridge, MD, then to Belfast, ME. You can view an online video of this amazing barging process here. (It's a condensed version of about 3 minutes.)

USS Sequoia arrived in New England in October 2019. A just over 2-minute video showing some of this amazing voyage and arrival in Belfast, ME, can also be viewed online here 

Both videos provide the best overall views of this incredible-looking wooden yacht, especially the top-down images. USS Sequoia was not wrapped until after its arrival in ME.

That's Where It Remains
Since 2019, the 104-year old yacht has remained outdoors at the French and Webb boat yard under wraps. Like with most things, the pandemic delayed the start of restoration. While it seems like no work has been done. It's all been done behind the scenes. 

According to several articles, skilled workers used laser technology to create a three-dimensional model; original design plans couldn't be found. They have also sourced rare wood and materials, including longleaf pine, from the Southeast and white oak from Denmark. No restoration costs have been disclosed.

Strict guidelines must be followed and restoration must be of museum-level archival quality. That's because the yacht is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Sequoia will remain in Belfast for the foreseeable future. Physical restoration is slated to start in the spring of 2023 and expected to take 3-4 years. Plans call for a protective housing to be built that would protect the yacht from the elements. Reportedly, it will have a walkway for the public to view the restoration process. From what we saw, there wasn't a rush on these plans.

After its restoration, the USS Sequoia is expected to return to Washington where it will be used as a venue to support ocean conservation.

We're planning a return to Belfast, ME, within a couple of years to see how the process is going. Of course, any visit will be included in a future post, if the visual work has started by then. 

BIG THANKS to everyone for comments on my recent post with family members. As many noted, it's all good now to share special times after a stretch of not doing so.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Grands and a Birthday

It's been awhile since I've posted some family pics. This post corrects that oversight. Our grandchildren's moms post photos often on social media and, occasionally, send images. Rather than post those, I prefer to wait until we see them (in person) and take a few way too many photos. Here's a few recent ones. 

The youngest granddaughter, Lilliana, who lives in Pennsylvania, started full-time kindergarten this year, much to the joy of her parents. We were not there to witness this milestone. (These photos were sent by her mom, Coleen.)
Youngest granddaughter, Lilliana, in PA
For the first time, she's riding the school bus and, from what we heard, the only person who cried on the first day of school was her mom. We heard that Lilliana was very excited and notice the size of her backpack. Yikes😲, how much schoolwork can a 5-1/2 year old get in kindergarten?
Older grands are Ellie, 11, and Bobby, 15, in RI
The older grandkids, Ellie and Bobby started classes in Rhode Island last week and are in 6th and 10th grade, respectively. Yes, we know, they are growing up fast, even more it seems since we last saw them in June when they visited NH on Father's Day.
Ellie the climber
Ellie is the more adventurous of the RI grands as she showed us this past weekend when she tried this new skill at a local festival.
What's better than a 🎂cake? — 3 of course!
We spent the day in RI to celebrate the birthday of Grenville's daughter, Shannon. Who wouldn't like to have a three-cake birthday fest? The two in the front were bought by Shannon's fiancé, Harlan and the tall one with berries by Grenville. 
Who doesn't like some birthday spending $ too ?
Traditionally, Grenville gives every family member a birthday card with $ enclosed as you can see. What you didn't see was the check that was also in the card.
Family photo taking came before eating cake
Before the desserts were served, there was the usual round of family photos to be taken. Shannon's 
fiancé, Harlan, is in the top right photo and in the selfie group shot below.
Then came the time to eat cake(s)
After the photos were done, it was time to let everyone eat cake. Of course, we all tried a slice of each. There were plenty of leftovers, which we didn't stay to indulge; ours was a one day visit.
Group shots of us, Bobby & Ellie, Shannon and Harlan
Before we left, there was time (always) for a few more group shots. The next time we will see all the grands and their families together will be in December. Everyone will be meeting up in RI for Christmas. In addition, we will be celebrating two birthdays as Lilliana will be 6 and Bobby will be 16 that month.

Next week, we're off on a(nother) road trip to visit Lilliana, and family in PA, and my brother and his family in NJ.

This was to be the year, we were planning to stay at home a bit. Between local excursions and family visits that doesn't seem to be working out.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Losing a Mother . . .

Is never easy, no matter how old you or she were at the time.

Mom's engagement photo
The passing of Queen Elizabeth II brought back memories of my late mother, even though she passed away 8 years ago. She was 92, slightly younger than the queen who was 96.

The queen was a monarch, but a mother too, not only to her immediate family, but to her country and beyond as witnessed by the tributes worldwide.

My mother and the queen shared not only motherhood, but also service to their country service during WW II.

The late queen was a driver and mechanic, despite her father, King George VI, stated opinion that, as a princess, she shouldn't join a women's auxiliary or work in a factory. On turning 18, she signed up becoming the first full time female member of the royal family to sign up for armed forces service. 

My mother also served the war effort, but in a different way. She and her sister worked at an aircraft assembly factory in my home state of NJ. Along with other female workers, they assembled wings on FM-2 Wildcat fighter planes and collectively they were famously known as Rosie the Riveter.

Today, would have been my mother's 100th birthday. Family and friends celebrated at a party on her 90th. Today was spent looking over photos from that event, while the world was remembering another mother. (It's why this post was delayed.) 
Happy 🎂 Birthday, Mom ♥️

Time doesn't dim memories. It makes them more precious. 
Comments are off.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Fall is Here at Home

It's Fall —at our home, at least as the weather here in Nashua, NH, finally is starting to feel and look more autumnal. By the way, that word (autumnal) was in a recent issue of Yankee Magazine, about fall in New England. So, a perfect choice to use here.
Fall decos🎃🌻 went up outside our apt a couple weeks ago before the recent Labor Day weekend, traditionally considered the end of summer. Summer temps were unusually high for New England this year, so thinking cooler was definitely on my mind. Here's the 10-day forecast for Nashua, NH. Maybe wishful thinking helped just a little ?
Temps were still in the high 80s and near 90 when theses all came out of hibernation from a tub in the storage unit, after all, isn't that where seasonal decos go? At least that's where happens here. Thankfully, the storage unit is on the same floor as our apt, just a walk down the hallway. There's no garage storage in the underground parking area.
Of course, regular readers of this blog may already have seen most of these decos in autumn posts for several years. There have been some slight yearly variations, but not many.
My decorating plan was to replace most of these with new decos from the local Dollar Tree, where nearly all were purchased over the years. When, I found out that the taller scarecrows were still being sold, only now cost $1.25 each, the old ones would do just fine, once again. Some of the smaller scarecrows were not even available this year.

So, the old saying, If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It worked for my decorating plans, once again.
Curious about the origin of that ↑ phrase, I did some online sleuthing and found out this idiom has only been documented since 1977, although many believe that it's much older than that.

Pres. Carter & Bert Lance
It's said to have originated in the USA in the 20th century attributed to Thomas Bertram Lance, known as Bert Lance, a close adviser to President Jimmy Carter during his 1976 campaign. Lance was director of the Office of Management and the Budget in Carter's cabinet. In May 1977, he was quoted using the phrase in the newsletter of the US Chamber of Commerce.

While Lance certainly popularized the phrase, it's believed to have originated as a colloquial phrase in southern states years before his celebrated use. However, it began, within a few short years, if it ain't broke, don't fix it became so established as a part of the language that it's become a cliché.

So now you and I, once again know, the rest of the story; you're welcome too.

Your turn—ready for cooler weather in your area?

(If you live in CA and nearby states, hopefully the dual issues of extreme heat and rolling blackouts will be improving soon.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Trains, Bears and Wolfman

Yes, you read that post title right.

We rode two trains and saw bears in NH and a wolfman, all in keeping with our recent trend of getaways close to home.

The first train ride was unique. Many days we have the same question: What’s for dinner? 

That usually means cooking at home. Sometimes, we eat out in a local restaurant. Every now and then, we find something different, like last Thursday night on the Cafe Lafayette dinner train which departs in North Woodstock, NH, some 90 minutes from Nashua.
Cafe Lafayette dinner train in North Woodstock, NH
Dinner trains go back to when passenger railroads connected the nation. In early days, eating on board meant packing a basket or chancing a meal at locomotive stops along the way. As service stops faded, the dining car became popular. When air travel and the Interstate Highway system limited passenger train service, dining cars became obsolete, which made this dining experience unique. 

Dining on the train
Cafe Lafayette is a seasonal operation from mid-May through October. Our plans to ride it 2 years ago were scuttled when, like most other things, it suspended operation during the pandemic. After finding out that
 it was running this season, we made reservations, which fill up quickly. 

This two-hour, 20 mile round trip along the Pemigewasset River Valley in the western region of the White Mountains included travel over 3 trestle bridges. The route goes along a spur of the Boston and Maine Railroad laid in the late 1800s to serve the former historic Grand Hotels of the region. 

The five-course dinner was prepared onboard with a choice of appetizers and entrees. There are three 1950s restored vintage rail cars that comprise the dinner train. The 1952 Pullman Planetarium Car, the Granite Eagle is a unique tri-level car with an upper observation dome and surround windows. It was the first dome car to come to New Hampshire, traveling by rail from Kansas in 1995. The 1953 X-CNR Algonquin, a former Canadian National coach with a spacious and open interior is where we dinedThe Indian Waters is a restored 1924 Pullman Victorian dining coach with brass, stained glass and deep-aged woodwork. 

Views from Cafe Lafayette dinner train
This wasn't an inexpensive excursion, but then running a train is costly too. The cost is $95/person for main level dining (our choice); $120/person for dome level dining.
All seats were near windows with good views.The menu was the same for dome or main level dining, so we economized (a bit). 

We checked out the dome car later and weren't disappointed in our choice as seating was rather limited and a bit cramped there. 

The only downside to this experience was seeing all of the river views with such low levels. There where more rocks than water in most places and no fall foliage just yet.

We enjoyed this unique experience, but will not repeat it. That's because we're always looking for a next new adventure, especially ones within NH.

And, we had a(nother) one the next day in nearby Lincoln, NH, as we stayed overnight in the area after the dinner train excursion. 

It’s not every day you can see trained performing black bears, but we did. Folks often don't visit places within their own state. Despite living inn NH for over 7 years, this was our first visit to Clark’s Bears. This roadside attraction dates to 1928 and is located along the banks of the Pemigewasset River along Route 3 in Lincoln, NH. For over 9 decades, it's been one of the state's best-known family attractions, so we had to see it for ourselves.
Clark's Bears in Lincoln, NH, formerly Clark's Trading Post
Clark's Bears, formerly Clark's Trading Post, is known for its trained bears and for the White Mountain Central Railroad. The attraction's location in Lincoln, NH, is one mile north of the village of North Woodstock, where we rode the dinner train the night before.

Over 90 Years of History
The property was started in 1928 as a roadside stand by Florence and Ed Clark and was known as Ed Clark's Eskimo Sled Dog Ranch. It featured guided sled dog tours for travelers visiting the White Mountains, sold souvenirs and let visitors view the Labrador sled dogs kept on site. 

Within 2 years, the Clarks bought their first NH black bear and began another attraction. Ed and his sons, Edward and Murray, found out that the bears could be trained to perform simple tricks. The bear show started in 1949 and hasn't stopped since. 

This attraction is still very much a family business and generations three through five of the Clark family run it now; 20 of the of 150 employees are Clark family members who work there during the busy summer season. The original Trading Post offered souvenirs, tonic, and maple candy to motorists traveling along Route 3. The four Clark children (Nola, Maureen, Murray, and Andrew) began helping out there; all are now actively involved in the business. 
Meeting bear friends at Clark's bears

Maureen and Murray Clark are the bear trainers, and teach them to drink out of "bear cans" (milk mixed with honey), shoot "bearsketball," balance on a big drum, swing on an oversize swing, and ride scooters and tricycles. Rewards are offered for completion of each task.

The current stars of the bear show are Hildie and Darla, a pair of unrelated 20-month old cubs. The Clarks and their bears entertain and educate audiences with does of wit and humor. During the shows, the bear performers receive constant treats of ice cream, what's not to like?

The attraction will be shutting down for the season within the next couple of weekends. After the show, we spoke with Murray Clark who told us the bears would be relocated to winter quarters before returning next spring. 

Bear shows are held in an enclosed ring and viewers are seated on the lower level in bleacher seating. Trying to photograph through the chain link fence wasn't feasible; however, we posed with bear statues, which was much safer.

The White Mountain Central Railroad
1904 railroad Howe-truss railroad bridge
In the early 1950s, the Clark brothers began salvaging old steam locomotives from the cutting torch and displaying them at the Trading Post. The growing and impressive collection of locomotives, including models by Climax, Heisler, Shay and Porter, led to construction of the White Mountain Central Railroad, a tourist railroad with a standard-gauge track. 

Construction began in 1955 and the first train ride was in July 1958. In 1963, with his two sons and crew, Ed Clark purchased and dismantled a 1904 railroad covered bridge located in East Montpelier, VT, where it spanned the Winooski River and carried trains for the Montpelier and Barre RailroadThe bridge was moved and reassembled to span the Pemigewasset River adjacent to the Trading Post grounds. Today, this bridge is the world's only standing example of a Howe-truss bridge. A truss bridge is one whose load-bearing superstructure is composed of a truss, a structure of connected elements, usually forming triangular units. The Howe truss was invented by William Howe in 1840, and was widely used as a bridge in the mid to late 1800s.

Once you have a bridge what's needed next is a railroad and so began construction of the White Mountain Central Railroad, a purpose-built tourist railroad with a standard-gauge track. Work started in 1955 and the first train ride was three years later in July 1958.
White Mountain Central Railroad passenger cars, station and GE locomotive
The train ride is powered most of the season by a diesel powered 1943 GE 65-ton locomotive which was built in 1943 by the General Electric Company in Schenectady NY. The Clarks bought this locomotive from the Newport Rhode Island Dinner Train.
Climax#6 steam power locomotive is one of only three remaining in the U.S.
On
 weekends during fall foliage season the train uses a steam-powered Climax locomotive built in 1920 at Corry Pennsylvania by the Climax Manufacturing Company. Out of 1,000 built, it's one of only three remaining in operation in the U.S. The 50-ton geared locomotive was built for the Beebe River Lumber Company in Campton, NH, and later sold to the East Branch & Lincoln RR. It was used for hauling lumber and then put in storage until the Clarks bought it in 1951.
Wolfman harrases passengers on White Mountain Central RR train
Wolfman, an angry one-eyed, bearskin-clad wild prospector, races alongside the train, is the main attraction along the 20-minute, 2½ mile train ride. According to legend, he's protecting his mine of unobtainium mineral (think about the name, a second). Wolfman yells and calls train passengers, nothin’ but city-slickin’,  yellow-bellied, long-nosed geezers among other things.

The gig is nothing new and Wolfman has been chasing the train for years and they run several times a day in season. He shoots a rifle (loaded with blank powered shells) trying to scare people away. Passengers are encouraged to yell, Scram you old goat which angers him even more as he gets in his car and chases the train  back to the covered bridge. Passengers are told not to worry as Wolfman won't try to cross the bridge as he's afraid of heights and won't cross below the bridge as he's afraid of water.

Museums at Clark's Bears
It's not all bears and train rides at Clark's Bears. There's lots of other treasures too, along a picturesque Victorian Main Street with shops selling souvenirs and snacks, and featuring exhibits about Clark's history with photos of the Eskimo Dog Ranch and bear lineage. There's many Americana treasures, like yesteryear advertising and products, antique fire engines, Mobil gas pumps, and the world's only surviving Moxie Horsemobile.
Main Street at Clark's Bears, Lincoln, NH
We visited the museums along Main Street at Clark's Bears. Entrance to these buildings are included in the 2022 all-day general admission cost of $30 for ages 4 to 64, $27 for seniors and active military, free for toddlers aged 1-3. Here's what's in them:
Americana Museum
– collections of American historic items including steam and gas engines, early household appliances, advertising and products. This brick museum on Main Street is full of old-time Americana. It contains vintage treasures from America's early electrical, mechanical, and advertising past such as fully-restored nickelodeons, steam and gas engines and early household appliances. The Clark family were also Moxie fans, the subject of an August post after our visit to Maine, home of the beverage.
1884 Pemigewasset Hook and Ladder Fire Station – this building is a tribute to the history and heritage of firefighting with horse-drawn fire engines, wagons and firefighting equipment made in NH by the Amoskeag Company. As a former NJ firefighter, Grenville was especially interested in these displays.
Avery's Garage
 – this replica of a Mobil gas station has a lot of early motoring memorabilia, vintage motorcycles and antique automobiles, including a fully-restored 1931 LaSalle Touring car used as a Moxie Horsemobile.
Florence Murray Museum – includes antique games, guns, swords, souvenir china, vintage camera and typewriters, railroad memorabilia, a two-headed calf (really) and more. 
Clark History Museum – this newest museum highlights the accomplishments and history of the Clark family with a photographic history of Clark's Trading Post. In this collage, the top photo shows Florence Clark with some of her sled dogs. In 1932, she was the first woman to ascend to the summit of Mt. Washington using sled dogs.

As with the dinner train, our visit to Clark's Bears was a one-and-done experience. We had two great pre-holiday excursions on this NH road trip and also avoided Monday's all-day rain. 
Labor Day was a much-needed rainy day in Nashua, NH
This was the weather viewed from our apt on yesterday's Labor Day holiday. It was a day of much-needed rainfall that will continue today. We're home (mostly) until the next getaway to visit family members in NJ and PA later this month.