never engaged in activities I'd call "hiking" or "backpacking" on Hampton
Beach and the surrounding area, so it's one of those places that encourages
me to consider changing the name of my site from "Hiking and Backpacking"
to "being outdoors and having fun". About all I've ever done on Hampton
Beach is walk around, skip around on big rocks, and watch the surf. The
New England coast seems steeped in old fishing tradition that is quite
apart from the Pacific or Gulf coasts, and I enjoy that feeling of antiquity
whenever I'm there. The first time I ever visited the New Hampshire
coast, and the first time that I can remember ever visiting the Atlantic
coast period (exclusive of the trip to a Rhode Island harbor when I was
less than 4 years old and apparently had no free synapses with which to
make memories on that day), was in late November, 1996, with Mom and Nikki,
our Cocker Spaniel mix who was about 6 at the time, I believe. As the photographs
show, the weather that day was not conducive to swimming in
the waves. The sand was frozen into its dune shapes, and snow patches lay
like wave shadows in the troughs between the dunes. This, of course, did
not stop Nikki from trouncing through the surf, thoroughly soaking her
long, thick coat of fur. She was especially interested in chasing the gulls.
Mom and I drove north along the road that parallelled the beach, and stopped
wherever there seemed like something interesting to look at. At such points
we'd get out and walk up and down the beach, or jump along the rocks, or
stroll out on the jetties. At one stop, we pulled the car into a little
pullout that had a sea wall about 2 feet above the level of the lot. It
was not apparent from the wall what was on the other side since all one
could see was distant ocean. A seagull stood on the wall, and as soon as
we parked, Nikki spotted the bird and grew intent on killing it. Mom and
I laughed, and I reached back and opened the door to let Nikki out before
we got out and scared off the bird. Our mirth turned to genuine terror
when we watched Nikki charge at the bird, leap up on the seawall and disappear
beyond it. Not knowing if it was a thrity foot drop onto sharp ocean-churned
rocks, or a two foot step, we panicked and ran to the wall. Luckily
for all concerned the drop was only 4-5 feet onto soft sand, and we could
see Nikki racing across the sand 50 yards away after a flock of gulls.
We stuck around for 4-5 hours before driving back to Manchester.
The second trip took place almost exactly a year
later in November 1997. This time, Andra was with us. We went to the same
plces, and experienced the same weather. At least it was sunny both times.
One of the memorable points of that trip was when Andra slammed my hand
in the car door (on accident of course...I think). Nikki had a blast, as
usual, chasing birds and wallowing in the surf, despite a water temperature
of about 38 degrees. One of these days I'll have to visit in the summer
when it's warm enough to be like Nikki, for a few minutes at least.