PORTSMOUTH, NH

Our New Hampshire adventure continued as we headed out of the mountains and over towards the coastline. Since the first days of planning this trip we have been talking about visiting Portsmouth, and I am so glad we did. It is a beautiful city on the seacoast, full of historic buildings, great food, craft beer, and a lively nightlife. We parked outside of town, just over the Maine border in Kittery, in the big parking lot behind the Trading Post store (giant outdoor store). As we pulled around the back of the building to find a parking spot we cruised by a couple other RV’s parked along the far end of the lot. Being the curious and friendly travelers we are, after parking the bus we moseyed over to say hello. We met two of the nicest retired couples, they loved the bus and had lots of questions and suggestions for the rest of our New England travels. They were all from Vermont and upstate New York, so they had plenty of advice for the rest of our time here. We chatted with them for a while and of course we ended up with a bottle of fresh Vermont maple syrup from their family sugar house. Meeting wonderful people like them is a big part of what makes this trip so much fun.

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Starting off the day with some farm fresh eggs

Earlier in the day, before we reached our parking space for the night, we wanted to stop at the Smuttynose Brewery and check it out. Smuttynose is just outside Portsmouth, on an old farm they recently bought. The brewing facility is brand new, and is so beautiful. The entire building is an amazing mixture of classic New England farm style and modern sustainable technology. Lindsey and I rolled into the parking lot in the bus and had the attention of everyone in sight. It’s not everyday you see a big ass antique Blue Bird bus come gliding into the lot and park in the back. We had just set the brakes and were putting together a quick lunch before going into the brewery when we noticed one of the employees walking toward us across the tarmac. We were worried that he was going to ask us to move or leave,  but we were pleasantly surprised when he popped his head in the front door and told us how much he loved the bus. Of course we invited him in, and showed him around our little space. Ben introduced himself as the head tour host at Smuttynose, and shared stories with us about his own experience traveling the country in an RV with his wife. He was so accommodating, when he found out we were going to make lunch before heading inside he offered us some beer, and of course we didn’t turn him down. He disappeared into the building and returned a minute later with two big cups full of their latest specialty beer, a Farmhouse Ale, that they were just releasing that afternoon. It was the nicest way to be greeted! After we had a quick lunch we headed into the building and were waiting in the store for the next tour to start when Ben found us again. He had us follow him out into the brewery, and gave us our own personal tour of the facility. We spent at at least an hour getting the full rundown of their brewing and packaging process. We even got to climb up into the walkways looking into the giant vessels where the brewing takes place. We felt so important as we hiked around the tall catwalk, way above the rest of the crowd down below. At the end of our tour Ben set us up with their other hosts at the tasting counter, and had them take extra special care of us. Lindsey and I had a great time visiting with them and trying all of their outstanding brews. The staff was so friendly and excited to hear about our traveling adventures, it was an amazing experience. When we finally pulled ourselves away from the tasting counter we were in the store picking out a couple souvenirs to take with us when Ben found us once more, this time offering up a big bottle of the Farmhouse Ale on the house, saying it was a gift for our trip. I can’t express how great our experience was there, the staff was so nice and all the special treatment really made for an amazing time. Smuttynose isn’t very easy to find out west, but the beer is incredible and well worth the search.

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Getting the rundown on the brewing process at Smutty

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Peeking into the giant brewing vessels

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Enjoying the tasting counter and the awesome Smuttynose employees

 

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Showing off my awesome Smutty shirt

 

After our time at Smutty we headed out to find our parking space for the night. Since Kittery is just over the border from New Hampshire it was a great chance to take the motorcycle into Portsmouth for the evening to check it out. We never realized that it was such a lively city, as we rode down the main drag there were a ton of people out and about dressed for a night out on the town. Eventually we found ourselves at the Portsmouth Brewery, the sister company to Smuttynose. It was a busy restaurant, but we managed to find a space in the back where we could setup our computers and do some blogging and research for the next leg of our trip. When we were at Smutty earlier in the day they gave us some free beer voucher cards to use at Portsmouth Brewery, so we definitely used those to our advantage. We had a great time at the brewery and seeing the city at night was very interesting. Heading back over the border into Maine for the night was so pretty, with all the lights on in Portsmouth and the bridge all lit up. We made it back to our bus and had a great nights sleep.

The next morning we packed up the bus and drove back into Portsmouth, we had found a large church parking lot just outside the downtown area to park in for part of the day. We left the bus along the back edge of the lot and hiked into town. The first place we stopped once we got into town was Don Gorvett’s art studio where he makes amazing wood block relief prints. Lindsey and I were so in love with the artwork, if we had a bigger budget for the trip we definitely would have ended up with a couple large prints to take home. Since our budget is very small, we settled for a couple of postcards to remember the place by. We spent the rest of the morning enjoying the sights and sounds of the city, walking along the bay, and loving the historic buildings and architecture. Of course we stopped in at the Portsmouth Brewery again to use up some more of the free drink cards we had. Portsmouth was such an enjoyable little city, it would be a great place to visit again in the future. Maybe one day we will be lucky enough to come back through and experience it again.

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Don’s studio

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Portsmouth Brewing

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ALSTEAD, NH

New Hampshire has been in the back of my mind for quite a while now, it is such an intriguing state and we are both so excited to finally be here.  I had even thought seriously about moving here for a while, that’s how much I enjoy their attitude. Their state motto “Live Free Or Die” says it all; compared to the rest of New England, New Hampshire is a haven for live and let live type folks. So far in our visit we have learned about how vigorously the locals try to keep it that way.

After leaving our last spot just outside Hartford we traveled up into the NE corner of Connecticut and spent a night camped at Fort Hills Farm. Fort Hills was an awesome place to stay, it is a 1200 acre, 500 head organic dairy farm, with their own milk label (The Farmers Cow) and fresh made ice cream. Needless to say we definitely enjoyed consuming more ice cream than we should have. Kristin, the owner, was an excellent host, letting us park in the field for the night and chatting with us about the farm history and operation.

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We left Fort Hills Thursday morning, pointing the bus north and heading for Alstead. We really wanted to visit Boston, but after spending time in DC and New York we were done with the big cities for a while.  Since New England states are all fairly small we have really had to adjust our trip planning. What looks like a 4-5 hour drive on the map might only take 2 hours in the bus, which is sure nice compared to driving through Florida where you have to drive 6 hours to get anywhere. Rolling through all the small towns we really enjoyed seeing all the old historic buildings and beautiful scenery.  New Hampshire is a very pretty state.

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Winding through some narrow back roads up into the hills we managed to find our next destination, Jon and Christy’s beautiful property hiding back at the end of a long gravel drive. We also found them through the Boondockers Welcome website, which we have been using with great success so far. They are very friendly hosts and enjoyed seeing our bus, as well as showing us around their place and sharing stories about their own RV travels.  It was so fun to watch their chickens wandering the yard constantly pecking and making happy chicken noises. We actually ended up with a few cartons of fresh eggs since they have more than they can use, we were happy to bring them aboard. Lindsey and I really enjoyed sitting around the campfire with them into the wee hours of the morning, telling stories and enjoying a couple bottles of their home grown and home made hard apple cider. Part of their income comes from their metal sign business, using a CNC plasma cutter they design and cut out all sorts of decorative signs and machine parts. They surprised us with a custom made sign of our New Oregon Trail logo! Such an amazing gift, it is a better souvenir than we could have found anywhere else. If you are ever in the market for custom signs or shooting targets look them up!  You can find their work at www.metalmazing.com.

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Since we were camped here for a couple days, we rolled the motorcycle off the carrier and went for a little ride through the beautiful, winding back roads eventually leading us to Keene, NH. Keene is a great little town, we had a lot of fun walking around and enjoying the beautiful old buildings and great weather. We enjoyed taking a break at Brewbakers, the local bread bakery and coffee shop. Next we headed to the market down the road to load up on some groceries for the night. While we were relaxing at Brewbakers using their wifi, Lindsey noticed a location tag for a place close by called Belgian Mare Brewery. We were immediately interested, especially since we hadn’t seen it come up in any other searches of the area. After looking at their Facebook page we discovered that they were right along the little road we were taking to get back to Jon and Christy’s place, so of course we had to stop in on our way back to the bus.

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We found the awesome wood fired brewery hiding back from the road on Tim and Tracey’s farm, and immediately loved it. The brewing operation and store is housed in a small hand built barn, with trellised hops growing out front and chickens pecking around outside. We found Tim (the owner, operator, and head brewer) hanging out in the tasting room and spent the next two hours sharing stories with him and his wife, and learning about how the wood fired brewing process works. We really enjoyed tasting a few of his fine beers, as well as meeting Aggie, the big Belgian draft horse that the brewery is named after. Finding this small, off grid brewery and its awesome owner was a great end to our day exploring in New Hampshire. After we said our goodbyes we saddled up on the little Yamaha and headed back home, to enjoy a nice chilly night sleeping in our awesome bus.