Sometimes relationships with people from your past are mostly about what you did in your past. Ron Livecchi and I were classmates in high school. We were in the same ”college prep” track classes. Our high school girl friends were best friends and we double dated many times, But, it is in our adult lives that we have become really close friends with Ron and his wife Lynne. We spent some time reminiscing but much more enjoying our present and planning things to do together in the future. We visited Ron and Lynn at their beautiful home in East Aurora New York.
On our first afternoon together, we spent a fair amount of time walking around downtown East Aurora as Ron and Lynne filled us in on the history of the town. There is a huge “Five and Dime” store called Viddlers downtown. It is an old time store with little gadgets and low priced candies and trinkets like the Tildens store in Silver Creek where Ron and I grew up.
We had a very elegant dinner on our first evening together at the Roycroft Inn on the Roycroft campus downtown. Elbert Hubbard was the leader of this community of artists who started the arts and crafts movement in 19th century America. They brought a new artistic and philosophic vision to America and were influential both here and abroad. Lynne's grandmother worked at the Roycroft community as a young woman, so the place has a special meaning to her family. The impact of Hubbard and his movement continues today. The buildings on the campus and many throughout town bear the mark of Roycroft design, There are sayings from Elbert Hubbard prominently displayed all around the downtown area as well
On our second day of spending time together, we visited the Buffalo and Erie County Inland Water Park naval museum The city has built a spectacular waterfront area downtown. COVID has closed many restaurants and shops. But, people were out everywhere enjoying a beautiful summer day. It’s clear the area will regenerate. There are four retired Navy ships permanently moored at this museum including a Cruiser, a PT boat, a Submarine, and a Destroyer. It was a unique experience to be able tour these ships - especially the submarine. The destroyer, The Sullivans, is named after the five brothers who died serving on a single ship that was sunk during combat in WWII, Their deaths caused President Roosevelt to mandate that siblings would no longer be allowed to serve in the same battle group going forward. He then named this Destroyer after their family so no one would forget their sacrifice. Learning their history and the sacrifices of the many other sailors who operated these ships is the kind of thing that makes you proud to be an American.
On the evening of our last day together, the four of us went to the Pellicano Vineyard winery in Hamburg NY. This is part of the Italian Pellicano wine group - a large and established international Italian wine corporation. We sat outside on a veranda, looking at rows of grapes, drinking excellent wine, and listening to live music of a wonderful musical duo that is half of the very popular Western New York band, The Herd. Ron and Lynne attend open air concerts here almost every Sunday. They are well known to the entertainers and other concert goers. They introduced us to their friends and everyone made us feel welcome and at home.
On top of all these adventures, Ron and I spent a couple of hours maintaining our coach, Amelia, and getting her prepared for our trip to Maine. When we were leaving on the morning of Monday, August 9th, it felt as though we had been together for a week instead of only a day and half. Ron and Lynne spend winters at Hilton Head, only a couple of hours drive from our home in The Villages. We look forward to hosting them at our place this winter. We hope you enjoy our pictures. Thanks for riding with us!
We stayed in Moultonborough NH on Lake Winnipesauke with our friends Joan and Wes Fedan-Schurman. We met them over the past year through my Wine and Words club in The Villages. They got involved in the club early and have been instrumental in helping to make it successful over the past year. When they heard about our trip, Wes and Joan invited us to visit them in New Hampshire so they could share some of their favorite places in New Hampshire and Maine with us.
Saying yes was not an easy decision. It meant adding what would be one of the longest stops of our entire trip to our itinerary. It also meant completely restructuring our original itinerary to a full 10.000+ mile experience. The tipping point was our hope that having four and a half days of shared experiences together was a way of strengthening the ties between our two families. In the end, that is exactly what happened. As in so many other times on this trip, fortune favored a bold decision.
We arrived at Joan and Wes's place mid-afternoon on Tuesday, August 10th. Once we got the coach squared away, we went for a ride in Joan and Wes' 28 foot Checkmate LT cigarette style speed boat. We cruised across Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New England and moored at Meredith, NH. Meredith is an incredibly charming New England waterside town. It is full of shops, restaurants, interesting people and high end boats. We went to the Hermit Wood Winery downtown. They make their wines from locally sourced fruits such as crabapple, rhubarb, raspberries, honey berries, blueberries, peaches, and apples - everything but grapes. They use honey instead of sugar. We had a great time in their tasting room which is nationally ranked #5 by USA Today for tasting room experiences.
Wednesday the 10th was our first full day together. We headed to Maine. We started our expedition with a visit to the Nubble Lighthouse at York, Maine. This is the classic lighthouse you think of - reachable only by boat, adjoining house, gleaming white, rocky coastline lapped by ocean waves, beautiful black light room at the top. We got a great history of the lighthouse from one of the local Docents, John. He told us that the lighthouse was occupied by and operated by lighthouse keepers up through 1987. Today the US Coast Guard has converted it to LED lighting and operates it remotely. It is one of the most photographed and visited lighthouses in the US.
After Nubble, we went to Ogunquit ME and walked the Maine Coast along the Marginal Way. This is a gorgeous groomed trail maintained by the town of Ogunquit that takes you along the rugged Maine coast. You see spectacular boulders and rock formations that are the earmark of the Maine seashore. The Maine seashore was a pleasant surprise. My family had visited Maine when I was a young boy. However, on this trip I was seeing it with a new perspective.
The gigantic boulders and fallen sections of coastline showing strong horizontal lines demarking each era of sedimentation were similar in their geological grandeur to the towering mesas, buttes, mountains, and other natural world features that Diane and I had encountered in the West. Diane and I felt again that overpowering sense of the grandness of our land, America, and the finiteness of us, humankind, in the larger scheme of things. No matter who wins our current culture wars, the ocean, the seashore, the rocks will endure long after our presence on the scene is forgotten.
Hungry from our walk, we went to the famed lobster restaurant, Barnacle Billy's in Perkin's Cove West. Barnacle Billy's has two locations: one full service restaurant, and the second, the icon, that serves only lobster and clams. You order at the counter and wait for your number to be called. We sat on a shaded balcony overlooking an inlet with picturesque fishing and tour boats and private yachts as we downed clam chowder, lobster rolls, and steamers. The price of lobster has more than tripled recently, but it was worth it to experience this quintessential New England culinary tradition.
From Ogunquit, we headed up to Freeport ME to the flagship store of LL Bean. We took pictures in front the "Big Boot" and then headed in to shop. We had a ball looking at all the new styles and left not too broke. Hopefully, one day we will be able to wear the fleece we bought at Bean's- maybe once Florida's version of winter comes in the January/February time frane.
On our second full day with Joan and Wes, we went to Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH. Diane and I owned a condo at Loon Mountain in the late 1990's, when we lived in Lexington, MA. We drove to Loon via the famed Kancamagus Highway. This is a thirty-five mile scenic loop that takes you through Conway NH then up and over the White Mountains and finally into Lincoln to the foot of Loon Mountain. Joan and Wes helped up find Rivergreen, our old condominium complex.
Rivergreen is on the banks of the Swift River at the foot of the South Mountain section of Loon. The onsite manager was welcoming and gracious and gave us pass keys so we could tour the new indoor pool and entertainment facilities that were built after we had owned there. She also allowed us to tour a condo that was on the market for sale that was the same model we had owned. The experience brought back a flood of memories of our time there with our daughter, Erin, as she was growing up.
Following our visit to Rivergreen, we toured the small mall that had been in town back when we owned at Loon. We found the site of the former bookstore we had been visiting when we learned of a cat that was available for adoption far out in the countryside at a rustic store called Sugar Hill Sampler. It was a pivotal moment for us that led to our adopting our beloved kitty, Sweetheart. We brought her back to Lexington with us and she become an integral part of our family's life for over 11 years. After visiting Loon, we went to the adjoining town of Woodstock where we had lunch at the Woodstock Inn and Brewery. This is an upscale, charming place to dine. We sat outside and had a great lunch.
After lunch we headed up through Franconia Notch to the White Mountain Hotel at the base of Mount Washington. Mount Washington is the highest mountain peak in the North Eastern United States. It is also where the highest wind velocity gust has been recorded - 231 mph in 1934. This was the site of the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement which created the world financial and banking system we know today. It was at this summit that the nations of the world made the US dollar the reserve currency of the world. Joan was able to fulfill her annual tradition of sitting on the veranda of the hotel overlooking the mountain with Wes and having one of their wonderful Bloody Mary cocktails. These cocktails are almost a foot tall with what looks like a full stalk of celery sticking out of the top. The beautiful weather, the gorgeous furnishings of the hotel, and the wonderful company made this an unforgettable experience.
We completed the long ride home thrilled at all we had been able to see in such a short time after our arrival. On the way, we stopped for pizza at the Fairgrounds restaurant. Their pizzas come piled high with toppings - more than any of us had ever seen at any other pizza place. We ended up with way more pizza than four normal mortals could eat and left full, contented, and with enough leftovers for a subsequent meal.
Our third full day in New Hampshire in the Moultonborough area. was spent mostly on Lake Winnipesaukee. Wes piloted his 28' speed boat across the lake to a very popular sandy cove where scores of boats congregate on warm days. We anchored, jumped into the water to cool off , swam. laughed and talked. We had packed a picnic lunch and ate perched on the stern of the boat; The cove was full of beautiful boats and people enjoying the boating lifestyle. After boating, we went back to the house, cleaned up and headed to Squam Lake. This lake was made famous by the 1980's movie: "On Golden Pond." It is scenic and beautiful and home to the Manor Inn, a stately early 1900's English Manor style home restored and converted to an upscale destination property. We had a wonderful four star dinner in the restaurant and closed out another spectacular day.
Our fourth and final full day with Joan and Wes, we stayed close to home. Wes and I spent the morning working on all the small but necessary maintenance chores required to prepare our coach to leave the next morning. Diane and Joan went to a store called: "The Old Country Market." It is one of those places of days gone bye that seems to have everything you could ever want or need. Diane was able to find small devices for hulling strawberries and a small bacon press. She had been on the lookout for these helpful devices for years but was unable to find anyone who sold them. While Joan and Diane were out shopping, Wes took me for Sea Doo ride.
I have always been interested in Sea Doo's, but never had an opportunity to try one. Wes has a 10 foot three seater with 260 hp. The lake was relatively calm and boat traffic was not too high. We headed for open water and were quickly bouncing through waves. Then, Wes and I carefully switched places and he coached me through about a half an hour Sea Doo driving lesson. It was a ball and Wes said I did a good job. I really enjoyed piloting the Sea Doo, but it was clear to me that it is a very different experience than being in a boat. You could think of the contrast as the difference between riding a small and maneuverable off road dirt bike over rock filled terrain and riding a big Harley touring bike over smooth highway pavement. The Sea Doo bucks like a bronco as you crash through waves and the wakes of passing boats. By comparison, Wes's 28' Checkmate speed boat achieves speed with little drama.
Joan and Wes have deep roots in their community and the boating life style. Wes grew up in the area. The house where Wes and Joan live in Moultonborough is a only about a mile away from the camp where he and his family spent summers when he was growing up. He has boated on Lake Winnipesaukee since he was fourteen years old. He's been a member of the Quayside Yacht Club and has been docking his many boats in the same Quayside club slip for over 37 years. Joan and Wes met when she joined the club 26 years ago. When they were subsequently married, their wedding ceremony was held there. We were delighted that Wes and Joan included us in their weekly gettogether with their fellow yacht club members to watch sunsets from the dock, drink wine, share stories and reminisce about old times. As the sun started going down, we adjourned to the club's dockside pavilion for a cookout which we ended with delicious brownies from Joan and traditional Maine "Whoopie Pie!" from their fiends and fellow yacht club members Geno and Jean who joined us.
The last hours of our time in New Hampshire ended with Joan and 'Wes and Diane and I walking out to the far edge of Quayside's docks for the last time and watching the moon reflect off the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. Once again as we had at so many other points in this trip, Diane and I were humbled by how lucky we were to have such great friends and the chance to share so many wonderful experiences with them in so short a time. We hope you enjoy our pictures. Thanks for riding with us!
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