At the beginning of this adventure, our kids wondered when would see them again. One of them even thought he wouldn't ever see us again. That's when we made a promise, and 264 days later we made good on that promise and arrived back in NH. Our first stop was Alex and Loretta's (Mike's son and daughter-in-law). Everyone knew we were on our way, but no one (except Crystal - my daughter) knew when. While spending our first 11 days back in the area, we enjoyed kids, grandkids, cornhole, softball (Arianna - Mike's granddaughter - is an epic player), and of course there were ribs and deviled eggs.
-Just a little side note here; when I sat down to write today, I did so with a cup of coffee and some naan bread with cream cheese, it was at this point that Stella decided that I needed her help with the cream cheese. And now that both are gone, so is she. Just don't know what I would do without her "help". Anyway....
Our next stop was our friend Allen's house. We are not the first campers to "Moochdock" there and so parking there was a breeze. It was here that I finally got in a visit with Crystal and my grandkids. They were a sight for sore eyes. And yes, I give them a fair bit of crap, but hey...that's my job. To my surprise 2 of them were up for a hot sauce tasting. Both Dante and Ethen held their own and seemed to enjoy it. In the meantime, Caitlynne was all about giving Jeffersen crap, apparently it's her super power, but his super power is putting up with it without giving it back. It's one way to learn patience. And Crystal looks fantastic. She's been working really hard on getting fit and taking care of herself. It's nice to see her realize that she matters too. I'm wildly proud of her, and she has inspired me to do better, and so far I've lost 9 pounds.
As it turns out, I missed digging in the dirt. So with that in mind I set to work in Allen's garden. He took a photo from the roof of his garage and said "It's really great that my migrant laborer speaks English" - to which I replied "Si". And for those wondering....I was planting a variety of peppers.
Time spent with Allen (and Aida) is always special. Not only did we have cribbage night (with more to be put on the schedule), Allen hosted a small gathering of friends that was super fun.
We took the opportunity to take Stella for a visit to Gem Graphics and see her former "Cat Dad" - Steve, and the rest of the gang. As always, it was great to see them, and of course Stella made herself good and comfy.
Being so close to the old neighborhood was perfect for a visit with the Valley Street Gang. As expected, there was much laughter, great food, craft beer and music. It was kinda strange being at Mike and Andrea's and not actually going across the street to our old house, like we had done countless times before. Strange in a good way. We love our life and wouldn't change a thing. When "they" -yeah those people again- say that you can't go home again, I can say "bite me, you most certainly can- and I've got the pictures to prove it"!
With our visit to the east side over, and our visit to the west side scheduled for later, it was time to visit our favorite winery and 2 of the most hard working people I have ever had the privilege of spending time with. We were even able to help crush and press the grapes for a small batch, that coincidentally will be done by the time we get back to NH in 2024. I give you Darren and Judy Horn from The Summit Winery.
This was a small batch, but they told us how a big batch is done and.... damn! A harder working couple would be hard to find. The fact that they are high school sweethearts just makes their story even more special. I hope in my lifetime, that I never let them down.
While our stay here was only a week, it was eventful. We shared an evening dinner down at their fire pit/camp with Judy and Darren. Other happenings were visits from some longtime friends. Stacey came and took us out for lunch at one of our favorite haunts; The Elm City Brewery, then came back for a really great visit back at the winery. We also had a visit from Jeff and Jennie. Although we communicate with some semblance of frequency, we had not seen each other in nearly 3 years...it was good to hug my friend again.
Below are some random photos of this most beautiful winery and other odds and ends. It was a humbling experience watching what this couple does and having been able to "see behind the curtain", I've got just one thing to say- Don't ever complain about paying $20 for a bottle of wine!
So far our time back in NH has been wildly productive -new tires, new house battery, new mattress, new vent covers and a few other odds and ends. It has also been made possible by the above mentioned hosts, and visits to and from some really special people. One that I didn't mention earlier - because I don't have any new photos - is our return to Thirsty Thursdays at Rick and Jackie's, with any luck I'll remember to take some during the next round.... They too, are truly great friends and I am looking forward to more time spent with them.
We are now "on the west side" in Keene, back at our first stop after leaving Valley Street. It's good to be back, and I'm looking forward to sharing our NH visit part 2.... Until then, Be Well, Be Happy and Safe Travels.