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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New England Seacoast Trip... 01 of 02

We are apart from Alex again =( The good news is we are here in NH with family. My sister is having her first baby so Lexi and I flew in so I could throw the baby shower and be here for the birth! While we are here I've been doing as much as I can to keep Lexi busy and entertained. And we're taking advantage of the opportunites to see all the local sights! Yesterday we did a 7 hr seacoast trip with Opa (my dad). We left at noon from southern NH (where my family lives) and drove up the 101 to the seacoast. We started in Hampton Beach, a popular hangout for all of NH. They've certainly been sprucing up the area. The parking lots have all been marked with huge sails with the corresponding lot numbers on them (I'm sure it's easy to forget where you parked there!!). And they've completely rebuilt the pavillion and put in new, nice and large facilities! Very nice! I'm thinking the state was behind that to bring in the tourism from MA =) As we drove along Rt 1A the waves were crashing so hard agains the wall, the sidewalk and street were getting splashed! Dad thinks it's due to the proximity of the 'super' moon and the gravitational pull. Here is a pic of us posing on the wall (a passerby was kind enough to offer to take a photo of the three of us) and you can see in the far background some of the waves crashing. But that was nothing! There were times when we had to duck to not get wet! Our next stop was to enjoy our picnic lunches at Rye Marina. Out of nowhere a golden retriever showed up and stole what was left of Lexi's lunch. We thought he was coming up to be patted.. surprise surprise he stole our lunch! haha. It was actually only the bread left over since Lexi likes to eat the meat and cheese from her sandwiches. His owner came running soon after saying 'dugie, no!' haha. But he was a sweet ol' guy! Here we pose in front of the nautical decor on the marina

After Rye Beach we drove up to Odiorne Point. Used as a bunker during WWII it is now a NH state park

"This reinforced concrete structure covered with earth, was built in the 1940's as part of Fort Dearborn. It was one of several coastal defense installations built to protect Portsmouth Harbor and the naval shipyard during World War II. The structure was a typical World War II intermediate range harbor defense battery. Its fire power consisted of two six-inch guns placed 210 feet apart that had a range of 15 miles. They were mounted facing the Atlantic on the circular concrete bases seen at each end of the structure. Powder and shells were stored deep at this Battery 204. In addition to a 17- foot square reinforced concrete fire control center located on the roof, the fortification consisted of thirteen rooms of various sizes buried under enough concrete and steel to withstand direct aerial and naval bombardment. This photo shows a conceptual sketch of the interior of Battery 204 showing thirteen rooms."
"Look closely at the hill in front of you. During World War II bunkers like this one were constructed to house large guns and then camoflauged to look like natural hills. Fort Dearborn located here on Odiorne Point played an active role in the Portsmouth Harbor and the naval shipyard. Following the war the inside of this one was equipped as a civil defense shelter and a rotating radar was placed on top. In 1959, Fort Dearborn was declared surplus property and was acquired by the State of New Hampshire for use as a state park."

Here Lexi sits in front of one of the bunker doors. Located in the front are the shells from the six inch guns. Inscribed on the side of the shell all the way to the right (look closely)it says 'These six inch shells were shot from this bunker 204"

On top of the bunker was this tree that must have been knocked down but is still growing strong w/ its roots still in the ground.

It made a perfect photo op =)

After Rye we headed further north along the 1A to Portsmouth. But we have been there so many times and Lexi fell asleep for a nap so we just drove through. We'll be headed back up there to Strawberry Banke for some plays in the park this summer anyway =)

After driving through beautiful seaside Portsmouth we kept heading north and turned off into New Castle which has a US Coast Guard base and some more bunkers left over from WWII. We didn't try to get on the base but viewed the bunkers from outside the gate.

Also notable, in New Castle, NH, is Wentworth by the sea. An old victorian hotel that was built in 1874 and has quite an interesting history, including in 1905 housing of Russian and Japenese delegations for the peace talks and eventual signing of the peace treaty ending the Russo-Japenese War. Theodore Roosevelt suggested these peace talks and won the Nobel Peace Prize because of them. The negotiations were done at the nearby naval base but the signing was done at the hotel. How's that for neat history! Also noteworthy history of the hotel, is for many years it was vacant and was due to be demolished (but it landed on America's most endangered places list and then was aired on the History Channel's show 'America's most endangered.' Then it was picked up and restored and is absolutely beautiful today! But while it sat empty, the victorian hotel, in its forlorn and vacant state was used for the haunted place in the movie 'In Dreams' starring Robert Downey Jr and Annette Benning!

Next we headed over to the naval base. Now interesting story about the naval base - it is disputed what state it's in!! It pays Maine taxes but the dispute is it's actually in New Hampshire property. Now previously, the bridge from Portsmouth would take you right across the Piscataqua River to get to the naval base, but just last month they tore the old 1920's bridge down. So, to get there from portsmouth you have to go across the I95 bridge or the Rt1 bridge and both take you (shortly) through Maine to get back to the naval base. So right now... it's hard to say it's ours. HAHA!

Either way, on our way there I saw this amazing looking building across the water of the Piscataqua River! (pictured below) My dad told me that was a federal prison back in the day. In fact, my Uncle Jack, back when he was in the marines, had to 'escort' someone up to that prison from VA once. When we entered the base I showed my ID and they asked no questions and let us on, but we asked them if there was a museum, they said 'no' so we inquired about the building. They said you can't trespass near it and you can't go in it b/c of asbestos and I'm not allowed to take photos on the base. Well of course I found this RIDICULOUS considering I had just used my zoom lens and gotten a great shot of the place from right outside the base! So silly! But it is a sub base so I guess the 'no photos' thing is security for that. But what if you lived there? You can't take photos? And they even have an old sub for display... you can't take a pic in front of it??? Man.. people are funny when you've got a camera in hand! Can you tell which pics I took from outside the base and which ones on the base? If you can't tell I'm not going to =)~

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