Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, is a sunny, sandy spot where Derek’s family traveled to a time or two when he was young. If you know Grand Bend, imagine its main drag opposite the beach and about 10 times as long. That’s Hampton Beach, which is beautiful and pristine and popular.
The drive to New Hampshire through New York and Vermont is pretty but at times it’s also bleak. There are so many abandoned homes in rural areas. Others that are still occupied are crumbling. Paint must be awfully expensive because the countryside is littered with houses that could sure use a coat or two. And then you arrive at a seaside town that oozes wealth. You’d have to be awfully unaware to not notice the polarity.
We find that traveling shows us the advantage of being early risers. It gives us time to soak up the scenery before the rest of the world wakes up. Hampton Beach was no exception. It was so crowded when we arrived on Sunday afternoon but most of the umbrella-toting, kid-dragging, bathing-suit-tugging masses had moved out by the evening. It actually turned a little overcast and cool, and when we decided to go for a dip on Monday afternoon, the water was far too chilly. So we walked and walked and ate ice cream for fuel before walking some more.
We were delighted to discover that Farr’s Chicken restaurant – a favourite of Derek’s bike-riding pals on a previous trip – also served breakfast. That gave us an excuse to walk halfway down the beach in the morning for bacon and eggs (Derek) and delicious oatmeal (moi!). Accomodations run the gamut from opulent to ordinary to downright dumps. We stayed at the wonderfully average Sea Spiral because of history, and for the view. The motel beside it is vacant and for sale. Like any dreamers, we thought about becoming innkeepers for half a minute, and then carried on.
We drove all over the place. Route 1A winds its way along the coast and takes you through beautiful little towns. We aimed for Kennebunkport, Derek doing his best Kennedy impression the whole way, stopping at the occasional antique shop to poke around. There are no signs, of course, and no one actually says the words, but it’s obvious when you arrive at the Kennedy compound. Or should I say, across from it. (UPDATE: Astute reader Cavan Kelly pointed out that this is the Bush family compound, not the Kennedy’s, which is in Hyannis Port.)
That’s about one-third of it. It continues along the private swatch of land, with several large homes that we assume are for guests and, at times, Secret Service officers.
If our first destination was designed for the tourist trade, our second went out of its way to make sure it didn’t depend on something it could lose. I’ll explain tomorrow.