The next day we decided to do some lighthouse hopping on our way down to Portsmouth, NH. Katie found a few spots along our route that looked easy to get to, but we found out quickly that the presence of a lighthouse does not always mean the presence of a parking lot. Our first directions took us to the waterside next to Southern Maine Community College, which was under heavy construction. After some frantic U-turns, we parked hastily in an “employees only” spot and scampered off to snap a photo before we got a ticket.
Further down in our journey, we found a lighthouse in the snow-covered Fort Williams Park, with beautiful ocean views. It was totally abandoned except for a lone dog walker, which made me officially fall in love with off-season park visits.
We made it into Portsmouth by lunchtime, and dug into a huge bowl of savory steamed mussels and a few pints of beer at Portsmouth Brewery. Portsmouth has a special place in my heart, because it’s the place my family always stayed the night before going to Star Island, a week-long summer Unitarian Universalist retreat. Star Island is one of my favorite places in the world—anything that’s plaguing my life on the mainland seems to evaporate on that island. Some of my best friends in the world (and just genuinely awesome human beings) were made on those retreats. It’s been a shocking 4 years since I’ve been there, thanks to the financial constraints of my friends and I and a lack of ability to coordinate a trip back together. We’ve had reunions all up and down the east coast, but stepping back into that dock would be like coming home. This summer, I vow to change that—seeing the boat that goes to Star docked in Portsmouth and all the usual haunts in downtown is stirring the pot for me.
That night we wanted to have dinner at one of the waterside restaurants we’d been to years back, but being off-season, we were extremely disappointed to see that nearly all of them were closed. We settled on a quiet looking wine bar on a back street called The Black Trumpet, and got an unexpected water view from our table upstairs. Sipping wine and looking at the boats bobbing in the dark seawater was settling and nostalgic. Afterward, we wandered into Spring Hill Tavern where we had seen live music 4 years before, and were amazed that it was full of people on a Monday night. We sat at the bar as boisterous jazz players lit up the room with their instruments and patrons tapped their feet against the old wooden barstools.
The next day, we bid goodbye to our spontaneous road trip, but not before attempting to visit a travel-themed store in downtown called “Wanderlust”, because it seemed to be calling for us. Unfortunately, the sign on the door said that they were closed every Monday and Tuesday except “by chance” (also that they close for the day at “7-ish”). I guess they went road-tripping too…
I hope that NYC has dug its way out of snowpocalypse by now. Or maybe not, because it would be a good enough reason to hit the road again 🙂