Home in lovely New Hampshire! We’ve got about five weeks at home to get whatever needs doing done before we head out on the road again. A lot of that doing is in the chore category – it comes with the territory. If you go on vacation for five months, you’ve got a five-month stack of life you’ve left behind that needs tending to.
The first chore is to unpack the car. Five months’ worth of life on the road, and Dexy is filled to the brim. Among all the things in our future we’re looking forward to, one is being able to see out the back window again.
And with that out of the way, here’s what the next five weeks hold in store:
1. Get last year’s income taxes done. The less said the better, but it had to be done.
2. And while I’m at it, get the road trip expenses done. Out of the shoebox and onto the spreadsheet.
3. Go through the stack of mail that’s accumulated while I’ve been away. Bills, bills and more bills.
4. Play in my gardens. Well, not actually play, but it does involve getting my hands and knees dirty. And weeds. But the results are nice.
5. Explore New Hampshire. I’ve got a hankering to see some water, so one sunny Saturday afternoon, my good friend Linda and I headed north on an antiques shopping-cum-sightseeing drive through the Lakes Region in the central part of the state. The largest of New Hampshire’s lakes – and the one that draws most of the tourists and the fun-in-the-summer crowd – is Lake Winnipesaukee. And once a year, for a week, it draws bikers from all over. We landed right in the middle of it.
We drive with the bikers all day, and our antiquing drops us in the town of Laconia first and a visit to the Laconia Antiques Center, complete with its old-fashioned soda fountain …
North to the town of Meredith on the northwestern edge of Winnipesaukee, a cute little resort town complete with more antique shops, and today, the roar of bikes. The townies are nonplussed. As we head farther north, we don’t exactly lose the bikes, but traffic does thin out some after we leave Center Harbor, and all Linda and I have to look at on the way to Center Sandwich is the forests and the trees, with brief glimpses of Squam Lake on our left.
This is the lake where they filmed “On Golden Pond,” an oasis off the beaten track. We head up its eastern shore, around the top end and back down the western shore, stopping in at Holderness, at the junction of Squam Lake and Little Squam Lake.
Talking of wilderness and the beauty thereof … the main reason we’ve come back to New Hampshire for a few weeks:
6. Go to Porcfest
Short for Porcupine Freedom Festival, Porcfest is the annual and ultimate camping trip put on by the Free State Project. The 2012 edition is my fourth year and Bridget’s third. In the four years I’ve attended, it’s been held at Rogers Campground in Lancaster, New Hampshire, in the northern part of the state. The entire campground is turned over to us, and for one week it’s a sea of freedom thinkers and liberty lovers. With a whole lot of peace, love and understanding, the campground is full of libertarians, voluntaryists, humanists, individualists, anarchists, non-ists (the “we hate labels” crowd) and hyphenated-ists (the “I am bigger than one word” group) all come together from around the world to enjoy the company of like-minded folks – the folks who think the state is the problem, not the solution.
We set up our tent and hang out our sign in Agora Valley – a half-dozen rows of sites that comprise the makeshift “downtown” area of the campground, where those who want to set up shop can do so, selling everything from unregulated food and drink to toothpaste, T-shirts and massages. We’ve got coffee and bagels on offer, along with an assortment of this and that at the Avalon Café.
If your fancy turns to speakers, head down to the Pavilion and the roster there will keep you all day, every day. I managed to get down there to hear Kirk McNeil, of Common Sense, bringing us up to date on the progress of the medical marijuana bill recently vetoed for the second time in four years by Gov. Lynch but now has a chance to survive if the House and the Senate could only muster up a majority of votes to override the veto. I’m afraid I don’t follow the politics of it all, so you’ll have to search elsewhere for details.
Music is all over the place, including at the Avalon Café … all Bridget has to do is start playing her violin/fiddle and it draws a crowd, including a threesome from Denmark who are over here traveling the Appalachian Trail with their bluegrass music. Where better to start than the top end in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
It wouldn’t be Porcfest if it didn’t rain at some point. Beautiful all week, on Saturday the skies let loose. Everyone ducked for cover, and I took the opportunity to head indoors for a session called “Flash Fiction,” where contestants were given three words and a person’s name, all which had to be included in our piece, and it had to be written in 20 minutes. It was a good exercise, and while I thought my piece was both witty and brilliant, it failed to win over the judges (including F. Paul Wilson, the science fiction writer). Better luck next time.
Dashing around between outbursts of rain, I stopped in at the AltExpo tent and caught the last half of a talk given by Ben Stone, who dubs himself a bad Quaker, making a mental note to check out his site at, you guessed it, badquaker.com. Perhaps not for everyone, his free spirit and positive and humorous approach to life resonated with me in our mutual repudiation of the State. I see he’s got a picture of noted libertarian economist and historian Murray Rothbard at the top of his homepage, and that’s good enough for me.
Then it was time for the traditional group photo, an exercise akin to herding cows, but it always works, and this year it was no different – sitting in the wet grass waiting for 4:20 and, for those who remembered, lighting up.
And immediately after the photo shoot, the rain that had been heavy all afternoon came down in torrents and we ran for cover.
The final night is always reserved for Soap Box Idol, where contestants come out on stage and rant (and sometimes rave) on whatever topic suits their fancy (anti-state rants are crowd favorites) and are subsequently judged by a panel. It was a lot less raucous this year than in years past; hands down, the highlight of the night was the Wheel of Fortune break in the show, where John Bush had his girlfriend, Cat Bleish, calling out letters that, when revealed, spelled out “Will You Marry Me?”
She said yes. I’m not sure, but the couple might have agreed to hold their wedding ceremony at Porcfest next year. I’ll be there!