Day 4 – Colebrook to North Stratford (cont.)
The Grand Ole Lodge is a bed and breakfast located about a mile from the center of North Stratford. The owner Cathy, had heard about our walk and had offered to put us up for the night. In order To get to the lodge, you have to drive (or in our case – walk) up an unpaved road lined by brooks and filled with frogs and apple trees. Unpaved is quaint, but we had to be careful to not turn our ankles on the loose rocks.
The Grand Ole Lodge sits at the top of the hill overlooking the distant mountains. From the outside the building looks like a large dark wooded, multi-windowed rectangular house, in fact we weren’t even sure we were at the lodge even when we were standing in front of it.
“Are you sure Google is right?” I asked Griffin, still leery of internet directions from when we got lost in Vermont.
‘Yes, mom. It’s right here.”
We knocked on the door and when no one answered, cautiously opened it and peered inside.
The Grand Ole Lodge welcomes you into a small and absolutely charming sitting area filled with doilies, stuffed chairs, and knick-knacks that would feel at home in Grandma’s house. ATV trails run in the back of the Lodges’s property making it a favorite for the ATV and snowmobile crowd. It’s got a homey, no-frills camp feel to it – a place where you’d want to drop your gear and warm up at the end of a snowy winter day.
Cathy was preparing for a weekend wedding at the Lodge (we arrived on a Friday) and so was understandably busy. “You have room 11,” she had told me earlier in a phone message.
We never signed anything, we never even checked in – we went up the stairs found room 11 and lay on the beds.
Such is the incredible hospitality that you find up north. No questions asked. Welcome to our home.
After our feet had calmed down a bit, Griffin and I laced our shoes back up and headed into town for a dinner at the same place we had had lunch (really, there was no place else )but this time we went to the “pub part” behind the store/Deli. Although I longed for a cold beer, I didn’t dare combine it with the amount of Motrin I was taking. My liver and I are good friends and we want to travel for many, many years with each other. I ordered lemonade.
Neither Griffin nor I were incredibly hungry as our bodies were still working off the large lunch we had had, but well aware of the food rule (eat when you have the chance) we ordered sandwiches (best chicken salad ever) and a serving of poutine which is a French dish consisting of fries covered in brown gravy and cheese curds – trust me, it tastes much better than it sounds.
As we were leaving the pub we found that a Friday night music event was being held in the town square. Musicians played, there were games for kids, and people had honey, jams, and crafts for sale.
All in the view of the town’s darling public library which was built to look like a train station by the train tracks that crossed through the town. Libraries, I had come to discover were essential up north – a place with not much personal money to spend on books and no place to buy them if you could. Thus far, the only place we had found where you could buy books, was the paperback book selection at the pharmacy we had gone to earlier in the day. Rite Aid is a nice store, but it ain’t no Barnes and Noble.
More than once Griffin commented “Thank God these guys have Amazon.” But to order on Amazon requires internet and some people didn’t even have that.
In our town many people (based on a poll done a few years ago) don’t use our public library. Quite frankly many of us past the age of having small children don’t need to. We have the funds to buy books in bookstores or online, or if we want to, we download books onto our Kindles.
We don’t need to go to our library for reference because we can find out things using Google. Want to know what’s going on in town? Go to the town or local police Facebook page. For Goodness sake, go to any weekend yard sale and you’ll be able to pick up tons of books for a quarter each.
But in the north, libraries take on a more important role. They are the lifeblood of the town, the providers of books and town information. They provide a path to the world in a place where that pathway is sometimes blocked.
Money creates access to information, lack of money impedes it.
Griffin and I slowly walked through the town square listening to an indie rendition of a Simon and Garfunkel song. We looked at the items for sale knowing that no matter how good the local honey or jams must taste, we weren’t willing to carry the weight in our packs to give them a try.
“Hey, look at that.” I heard a man say. I turned to see him craning his neck looking at the sky.
Overhead a large bird flew silhouetted against the darkening evening rain clouds.
“A turkey buzzard?” someone near him asked.
“Nope, that’s no turkey buzzard, see the way he’s flapping his wings? That’s an eagle.”
Griffin and I stood in awe as the massive Bald Eagle continued his flight over our heads and then watched as turned to fly toward his home in the mountains.
(For whatever reason, I can’t upload a new photo right now, will add one later)
(Here’s some information on why we took this trip.)
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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