Tag Archives: new hampshire

27th Annual Gingerbread House Contest (Portsmouth, NH)

Date Of Visit: December 17, 2017

Location: Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street
Portsmouth NH 03801

Hours: Open March 18, through December 23, 2017, 9:30-5, Daily and First Fridays until 8pm for Art ‘Round Town

Cost: Free

Parking: There are several parking lots in the Portsmouth area.  The closest lot to the exhibit is on Bridge St (enter 1 Bridge St in your GPS).  It is literally across the street from Discover Portsmouth

Handicapped Accessible:

Website:2017 Gingerbread Houses

Highlights: Gingerbread houses


  • The Gingerbread Houses are on display from Dec.1 until Dec. 23 each year
  • Most parking lots in the area don’t start charging until 12 p.m. on Sunday, although you can park there by 9 or 10 and park for free until noon time


Each Christmas the Portsmouth Historical Society sponsors a Gingerbread House competition.  Besides being delicious looking, the gingerbread houses on display

The houses ranged from the elaborate to basic.  Most of the houses were created by children.  But there were some adult, non profit, business and family entries as well.

Some of the gingerbread houses already had winning ribbons on them.

Below are all of the gingerbread houses on display before Christmas.  They are no longer on display, at least not until next year’s competition.


St. Nichols – Family Entry


The Candy Factory – Youth Group


Candy Factory Restaurant – Youth Group


The Ox Cart Man _ Youth Group


Candy Land – Family Entry


Winter Lighthouse – Youth Group entry


Holiday Lighthouse – Youth Group entry



The Holiday barn – Youth group entry


The Yummy House _ Youth Group entry


John Paul Jones House (a replica of the landmark house on the same street as the historical society) – Adult Entry


The Ice House – Adult Entry


Cottage Christmas – Youth Group entry


Lost In The Snow – Family Entry


Montessori Magic On Dover’s 6th Street – Adult Entry


Home Sweet Home – Youth Group


Surf Shop – Youth Group Entry


Candyland Palace – Youth Group


The Skating Snowflake Lodge – Youth Group


The Year Santa Got Stuck – Adult Entry


Frozen Wonderland – Family Entry


Day After The Storm – Youth Group


Fisher Cat Express – Youth Group


We Fish You A Merry Xmas – Family Entry


Panda Christmas – Family Entry


The Elves Garden – Youth Group


The Island Villa – Youth Group


Cindy Lou Who Gets An IPhone – Adult Entry


Gingerbread Council – Organization Entry


Gingerbread Mouse – Family Entry


The Moffatt-Ladd House – Business Entry


Bright Lights And Nothing But Blue Skies


Stained Glass Cathedral – Adult Entry



The Winter House – Youth Group


The Christmas Barn – Youth Group


Winter Camping – Youth Group


Easy Peasy Winter Breezy – Youth Group


Mushroom Castle – Youth Group


Snowy Cottage – Youth Group


Winter In Paradise Falls – Youth Group

The Ginga Ninja’s of New Castle – Youth Group


Sweet Holiday – Adult Entry


Madi’s House – Youth Group


Harborside Christmas – Youth Group


Candy Village – Family Entry


Bunny School – Youth Group


Snowy Land Stadium – Youth Group


Arrested For Breaking And Entering – Adult Entry


Winter House – Youth Group


Pink Wonderland – Youth Group


Santa’s Snow Coaster – Family Entry


The Lonely Lodge – Youth Group


Winter Wonderland – Youth Group


Sweet Shack – Youth Group


Christmas In Gillette – Business Entry


Emmet’s House – Youth Group


The Candy House – Family Entry



Celebrating Together Because Families Come First – Nonprofit Entry


Halloween Hut – Youth Group


Elf Village _ Youth Group


Hansel & Gretel’s Mansion – Youth Group


Hurricane Irma – Youth Group


Troop Club House – Youth Group


Snowmobile – Youth Group


The House Of Candy Past – Family Entry


California Garden – Family Entry


The Three Disney Eers – Youth Group


Fort Constitution – Youth Group


Hoping For A White Christmas (and their wish came true) – Family Entry


Temple Israel In Honor Of Rabbi Senter – Adult Entry


The Village – Youth Group


Santa’s Coming – Adult Entry


Castle Byers – Youth Group


Christmas House – Youth Group


The Babysitting Palace – Youth Group


Merrily We Go Around – Business/Non-Profit Entry


Little Harbor Chapel – Adult Entry


Polar Pond – Youth Group


Igloo Oasis – Youth Group


The Crusher – Youth Group


Meowy Christmas – Family Entry


Cutts Mansion – Adult Entry

Looking at all of those gingerbread houses can make you hungry.  Not to worry.  The historical society has your back.  Cans of loose candy are scattered throughout the displays.

The historical society was decorated tastefully for the holiday event.

After viewing the gingerbread houses, visitors were given the opportunity to build their own gingerbread houses on the second floor of the historical society.


Which gingerbread house(s) did you like best?

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and successful 2018!

Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Newington, NH)

Date Of Visit: September 23, 2017

Location: Arboretum Drive West, Newington, New Hampshire

Hours: open daily, dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, some trails have boardwalks and are not too steep or difficult

Parking: There are about 40 parking spaces in the main parking area (people do park on the side of the road when the spaces fill up)

Website: Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Trail Map: Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge Trail Map

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1,000 acres, easy to moderate trails

Highlights: easy trails, scenic views, boardwalks, wildlife


  • mosquitoes, ticks and poison ivy are a common issue at the refuge
  • bald eagles, especially during the winter, are a common sight there


One of the more overlooked parks in New Hampshire, Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of wildlife, pretty flowers (when in bloom) and scenic views.

Great Bay has a boardwalk with an overlook at the main trail at the parking area.

Across from the main parking area is a fenced off area that was once used to be used as a weapons storage area for the nearby Pease Air Force Base.

The trails at Great Bay are fairly easy with a few very moderate inclines.

There is a bridge along the trail as well as an overlook with a view of the bay.

When I went to visit there were still lots of flowers in bloom.

There were lots of chipmunks and squirrels scurrying around gathering acorns for the upcoming winter.  I saw this little critter while I was walking along the boardwalk.  If you look closely, you can see what looks like a cut or injury to his or her head just above his or her left eye.  It is a sign of how unyielding and harsh nature can be.  But, it is also a sign of how resilient and hardy animals are regardless of their size.  I have to admit I wanted to take this little fella home and nurse the chipmunk back to health.  But, as you can see from the photo, wildlife has a way of healing and surviving.



Chipmunks aren’t the only animals at the refuge.  There are birds, turkeys and turtles as well as other types of wildlife and insects there.

The one downside of Great Bay, for me at least, is that dogs are not allowed there.  However, I did see some evidence of them and I do think they visit from time to time, although I did not see any during my visit.



Five Days Of Foliage Day #5 – Mine Falls Park (Nashua, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 22, 2017

Location: 9 Stadium Dr, Nashua, NH, Whipple St, Nashua, NH

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There is free parking available at both the Whipple St and Stadium Dr entrances.  But the Stadium Drive entrance has more parking spots

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, some parts of the park are handicapped accessible but many of the trails are too steep and rocky

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Mine Falls Park

Original Post: Mine Falls Park (Nashua, NH)

Highlights: ball fields, fishing, boating, running and hiking trails


The fifth and final day of my Five Days Of Foliage series.  I hope you have enjoyed looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed taking these photos!

For my last installment of my foliage photos I chose one of my favorite parks, Mine Falls Park in Manchester, NH.

I didn’t get to stay very long.  There is so much to see at Mine Falls and I missed the biggest attraction there; the dam.

The 325 acre park has a total of 6 miles of trails that follow the Nashua Canal Trail.  There are also ball fields, soccer fields and a football field is adjacent to the park.  When I got there at sunrise, the warm weather had mixed with the cold, damp weather from the evening creating some misty shots from the ball fields.

The name “Mine Falls” dates from the 18th century, when low-quality lead was supposedly mined from the island below the falls. It has come along since then.

There are two main entrances to the park.  I would suggest parking by the entrance at Stadium Drive because there is more parking spaces and it is easier to get to.  I parked at the entrance at Whipple St.  There were much less parking spaces (about a dozen) and I had a hard time finding the street.  In any event I did find the entrance eventually.  I hope you enjoy the photos I took there!

I had visited Mine Falls previously in March of 2016.  You can find the link to my original post above.

I enjoyed posting this series of photos and I think it is something I may do some other types of themed photo series in the future.

You can find additional photos from my visit here


Five Days Of Foliage Day #1 – Dorrs Pond (Livingston Park, Manchester, NH)

Date of Visit: October 22, 2017

Location: Dorrs Pond, Livingston Park, 244 Hooksett Rd, Manchester, NH

Cost: Free

Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset

Dog Friendly: Yes

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Original Post: Dorrs Pond (Manchester, NH)


Over the past few weeks, I have been visiting some of the more colorful parts of the New England area.

I am going to post one short blog post with a photo from each place I have visited with a link to my Facebook page where you can find the additional photos from my visits.  Please consider following me on Facebook!

I have dubbed this series, “Five Days Of Foliage.”   I am also posting a link to the original post in the top part of the blog post.

I will post the “best” photo from my visit  and post the additional photos from my visits on Facebook.  I didn’t spend as much time as I usually do when I photograph a destination because I had already posted about most of them already.  I just wanted to capture the highlights of the foliage season.

One of my favorite places to visit is Dorrs Pond at Livingston Park in Manchester, New Hampshire.  It’s a relative easy walk or run with a mainly smooth, level one mile loop and, as an added bonus, it’s just over an hour’s drive for me.  There is usually lots of activity in the pond, especially during the spring and summer, and the trees provide for pretty colors as you can see above.

One of the things I liked best about the foliage at Dorrs Pond was the various colors.  The green from the pine and other trees whose leaves do not change blended beautifully with the red, brown, yellow and orange of the trees in full foliage.  I managed to make it to Dorrs Pond at peak or near peak foliage conditions.  I hope you enjoy.

Read more here…

Halloween Decorations (Kittery, ME, Portsmouth, NH & Salem, MA)

Date Of Visits: Throughout October, 2017

Locations: Kittery, ME, Portsmouth, NH & Salem, MA

Over the years, businesses and people have both embraced Halloween as being much more than just a day to pull pranks and dress up in crazy costumes.

Halloween has become a season rather than a day and there may be better place to experience the spirit of the Halloween season than in New England.

Below are just a few of the Halloween decorations I have seen in my travels in New England these past few weeks.

Every year during the Halloween season, the owner of this house on Derby St decorates his or her home.  The decorator also has a place to donate money to the Lion’s Club.

When I stopped by October 1st, there was only a few decorations up.

However, the next time I visited, the following week, there were a lot more decorations up.  This home is another staple of the Halloween season.  Frankly, it would feel weird walking past the home this time of the year without seeing the elaborate display.  The bugs really creep me out!

To see the display from last year, you can click on my blog post from last year.

There was a special visitor in the yard during my visit.  A neighbor was walking her cat in the yard.


This house on Hawthorne Blvd always has some interesting decorations and nick knacks on it property.  This tree was decorated with a variety of bird feeders.

Many of the homes in Salem get into the Halloween spirit.  These are a few historic homes and private residences that were decorated for Halloween.

Many of the businesses in Salem decorate for the busiest season of the year.

Witch’s Brew Cafe (156 Derby St) decorates their windows each year with different popular horror characters.

Mercy Tavern (148 Derby St) also had some fun artwork on their windows.

Dave Engs Flowers ( 136 1/2 Derby St,) put some spooky statues on his building.

These customers at Rockafella’s (231 Essex St,) must have been waiting a very long time for a table.

Witch Tees ( 172 Essex Street Suite 127) had a very useful mirror.

The Purple Scorpion Body Piercing & Tattoo (140 Derby St) dressed up their shop for the holidays.

I am actually not sure if Fivehands Curiousity Shoppe dressed up their store storefront for the season or if it always looks like this.

So, contrary to some people’s opinion.  I am not a vampire.  The person that looked in the mirror before me, though!

You might expect people and businesses in Salem to decorate their homes and buildings.  But, Salem isn’t the only place people like to decorate.

Of course, it’s hard to pull over some places to take photos of decorations and it’s not usually worth it if you’re in a hurry.

But, I was able to pull over to the side of the ride on a quiet road in Kittery, Maine.

Cause nothing says “Happy Halloween” like creepy dolls that look like zombie children.

These creative “pumpkin people” were on display throughout Portsmouth, NH.I found these particular decorations on State St in Portsmouth.

At least they look very happy.

I also noticed this witch on a telephone pole in Salem, MA.  It’s one of my favorites but I think it’s up all year long.


This lucky dog, Dolly, got carried around the mall!

African Burying Ground Memorial Park (Portsmouth, NH)

Date Of Visit: October 7, 2017

Location: 386 State St, Portsmouth, NH

Hours: open daily, 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: There is not a parking lot for the memorial but there is limited metered parking on State St (free before 8 a.m.)

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: African Burying Ground Memorial Park

Highlights: sculptures, memorial, historical


  • street parking is free before 8 a.m.
  • the entrance to the park is on State St, although it is often listed as Chestnut St.
  • don’t forget to read the signs placed throughout the memorial for more background information about the memorials

It’s not common knowledge, or it’s a conveniently forgotten fact, that Africans and other people were brought to the northern states as slaves.  It was not just something that plagued the south.

The first known slave that was sent to Portsmouth was a man from Guinea who was brought there in 1645.  He was not the only either.  Soon, hundreds of other slaves would follow.  In fact, during the Colonial Era, Portsmouth had the largest number of slaves in the colony.  Up to 4 percent of the population of the town were slaves, according to a 1767 census.  By 1810, there were virtually no slaves in the area.  However, rumors of the “Negro Burying Yard” persisted.

The site, referenced in town records as, “the Negro Burying Yard” was paved over, built upon and dismissed.  That is, until 2015.

Years and years passed with these bodies buried unceremoniously in an unmarked gravesite until a work crew excavating the area found wooden coffins with human remains buried under the pavement.  DNA analysis and other tests confirmed the individuals exhumed as being African.  In 2008, 8 bodies and coffins were dug up in the area.  There were roughly 200 bodies buried there.  After much debate, the town decided to re-inter the bodies in their original resting place.  In 2015, the remains were buried and the memorial was built and dedicated to them.

At the entrance to the park there is a memorial of two people on a slab facing  opposite directions.  This was meant to embody the separation and uncertainty experienced by those brought here as captives as well as their perserverance.  The gap between their fingertips is meant to be a reminder of their forced separation and the divisions of past injustice.


The sculptures of the people are called The Entry Figures.  The male figure in the group stands for the first enslaved Africans that were brought to Portsmouth and those that followed.


The woman on the other side of the represents Mother Africa.  She is endlessly straining past the obstacles that keep her from her children of the Diaspora.


The pain etched on their faces is undeniable.

As you enter the park, you may notice words etched on the ground.  These words are the “petition line.”  The petition line is a collection of phrases from the Freedom Petition that 20 men who were purchased as slaves had filed with the New Hampshire legislature to gain their freedom.  (see video below to see the Petition Line).

Roughly in the middle of the park is a design under which the burial vault is located.  The Adinkra Figure “Sankofa” meaning “Return and Get It – Learn From The Past” forms a shield and cover for the burial vault.  The re-interred bodies rest beneath this this shield never to be disturbed again.


The life-sized bronze silhouettes, known as the “community figures”, represent the collective community of Portsmouth.  They are meant to symbolize the people who fought to acknowledge, pay tribute to and defend the souls whose remains were recovered there.  Each of the figures has a line from a poem by the memorial’s designer  and sculptor, Jerome Meadows.

Encircling the figures on the railing are designs based on African kente cloth motif.  The shapes of the designs are meant to represent boat paddles.  The ceramic tiles were created by students from the Portsmouth Public Schools.  Having the children of the area create these decorative tiles was meant to be a gesture to those buried there.  The younger generation were able to contribute to the memorial and possibly, in some small way, pay tribute to the people buried there.  One of the videos below shows the tiles in their entirety.

The park is a peaceful place for reflection.  I was a relief and heart warming, though, to see children (you may hear them in one of the videos), playing and enjoying their time at the park, unaware of the tragedy that occurred there.  I think those buried there would be happy to know others are able to enjoy the park despite the sadness attached to it.

I also think it is important to try to find light and not only learn from these memorials but also find inspiration there.

These videos below show the railing and petition line at the park.





Great Island Common (New Castle, NH)

Date Of Visit: September 23, 2017

Location: 301 Wentworth Rd. (Route 1B), New Castle, NH,  (1 hour northeast of Boston, MA, 1 hour southeast of Concord, NH)

Hours: Open daily 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.


New Castle Residents:
– No admission charge if vehicle has current resident sticker.
– Residents may invite up to 25 guests at no charge – Over 25 guests, admission fees apply.
– Resident must be present for all guests.
– Admission charged from May to the end of September.
General Admission Fees
– Individuals:
0-5 yrs old free
6 to 65 years old $4.00
65 and older $2.00
Handicapped $1.00

Parking: There are about 50 or more parking spots available in the parking area

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes, seasonally (pets are not allowed in the park or on the beach from May 15 to September 15)

Website: Great Island Common

Highlights: lighthouses, beach, places to grill, pavilions


  • When you enter the park, you must turn right.  The parking area is at the end of the circular paved road
  • If you want to use a pavilion, you may have to call ahead and reserve the area



No other name than Great Common Island may be more apt for this park.  Except it’s not really an island.  But, it is great.

The park, with attached beach, sits on the shore of New Castle ( a small town of 968 according to their 2010 census) just outside of Portsmouth, NH).  The park and beach area are only 32 acres.  But what it lacks in area it makes up for in beauty and charm.

The park offers some great views of the water.  It is a good place to watch the waves crash against the rocks, although the waves weren’t too strong during my visit.

Great Island Common is popular with fishing enthusiasts, boaters and the occasional bird.

You can view two lighthouses from Great Island Common.

Whaleback Lighthouse was established in 1830.  The granite lighthouse that stands there now was built in 1872 and it was automated in 1963.


Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, just down the road from the park, is also visible from Great Island Common.  During the summer, there are open houses at the lighthouse on Sundays from mid May to late October from 1-5.  Since I was visiting on a Saturday I was not able to attend the open house.  Next to the lighthouse (to the left of the lighthouse in the photo above) is Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor and Fort Constitution.  In the distance, past the lighthouse, you can see the foliage has just started to begin.

Wood Island Life Saving Station in Kittery, Maine, is also visible from the park. In 1827, Wood Island was given to the federal government so the U.S. Navy could build barracks.  However, it would eventually be used to quarantine Spanish-American War prisoners who had Yellow Fever.  It is presently not in use.


One of the biggest attractions at the park is a sculpture of a painter by an easel working on the scenic skyline.


Pretty good painting of me.  It looks so life-like.


Great Island Common is not just a park.  A beach is also attached to the park.

The park is spacious for kids to play in with lots of big trees for shade.

Erected in 1984, the memorial honors all of the people of New Castle who have served the country in all wars and conflicts.  Two benches sit next to the memorial, one on each side of it.


Great Island Common is dog friendly except from May 15 to September 15.  Luckily, I was able to visit the week after ban ended.  It was a picture perfect day with a calm breeze.  So, it was a great day to bring your dog out!

Miley is a 8 year old Yorkie Poodle.

Tuck is a 6 month Cocka Poo (Cocker Spaniel & Poodle mix)


Remy (on the left) is a 10 year old Puggle and Phoebe (On the right) is a 1 and a half year old Puggle.


Jaelo (pronounced “J Lo”)is a 10 year old Puggle.

Below is a video by the shore of Great Island Common.

Posted below is a drone video of the Great Island Common area on Paul Moore’s YouTube page