visiting new hampshire this weekend has made me realize a part of myself i never knew existed. i never thought i was a small town kind of girl– i don’t drive, i have a short attention span, and i need constant stimulation and change to keep me happy. i have lived in fourteen places in the past four years or less. manhattan, new orleans, toronto, the list goes on– but i have never seen towns (i can’t get myself to call them cities) like i did this weekend. honestly i don’t know if i could really do it– start over and become one of these people– with a waterfront view and a live free or die license plate. but i can sit here and imagine it. and if i can be this happy visiting and dreaming, does that mean i can make it happen?
i guess i should back up here. hi. my name is vanessa vine and i make rash decisions. here’s a summary of the best weekend of my life, a road trip with the dh to new hampshire (and maine. and upstate new york. and a little of mass and vermont).
and, a disclaimer– i’m not writing the following as a play-by-play of our trip, because i know nobody cares. i’m just trying to write a quick review of all the places we went (or had opinions about) for those google searches or anyone questioning visiting one of these shops or towns.
all photos are clickable!
we managed to leave toronto early, with a pretty red toyota (which we managed to get very, very dirty) and nelly, our favorite little gps helper woman, without whom we would still be lost.
our first stop was kingston, on. who knew it was such an adorable little town? we didn’t get to spend a lot of time here, but we did get to catch a bite at the copper penny which was delicious. slow, but delicious. its such a funny little place– it looks like it could be in england, with its little city centre made up of low rise townhouse stores and resturants, surrounded by old churches which have been converted into banks and city halls, and then further bordered by big single family houses and two car garages. there is one big difference, though, and that’s the actual businesses which make up the downtown core. shoppers drug, fabricland, roots– just to name a few. its like toronto but in a different layout. there were still very few independent businesses, which is what really gives towns their charm, so kingston is just like a bizarro small town with big box stores and the same stores as any other suburb in canada.
we spent the night in watertown, ny at the days inn which was… acceptable. nothing more, nothing less. one of the more run-down hotels i’ve stayed in, but the 80’s furniture and vintage finishings were clean enough to not be totally gross. and, of course, its important to have denny’s on your room phone’s speed dial at least twice, so this place fit the bill.
after a long morning of driving through the adirondacks, we got to keene, nh in mid-afternoon. the first stop, of course, was the town LYS, the knitting knook. although the ladies seemed pretty nice, i found the selection sort of disappointing and the lighting very dim. the prices were alright but i couldn’t find much that i actually wanted to buy (lots of scratchy wools and acrylics, in basic colors). aside from the yarn selection, they were also almost sold out of addi turbos, although i did manage to get one in a size i wanted. i bought some bristol yarn gallery buckingham yarn for my next project, the swallowtail shawl, but not the pattern– since every yarn store i’ve visited/called has been sold out of the fall 06 IK.
when we finally made it into town, we grabbed a pie at the local pizza shop (decent– better than toronto, not even close to new york) and then checked out some of the local stores, something we both really missed while living in toronto. creative enounters was a really interesting mix of custom framing store and art store which usually means price gauging on both, but in this case managed to keep prices down. They also offered keene-themed items like notebooks made from old maps and little desk accessories. they weren’t even as expensive as you might think– still cheaper than normal blank books in toronto.
we finished the day by driving into manchester, which was not at all what we expected. instead of a cute little town, it was a post-industrial city, with a small downtown strip with a definite boston feel. the houses around the downtown were all gorgeous but often not well preserved, giving a sort of new orleans feel of a dying city. we grabbed dinner and decided to do what people in dying cities do best: drive out to the suburbs.
we stayed in the hilton garden inn, which was probably the best part of that city. the room was cheap considering how nice it was and even included a delicious breakfast buffet.
in the morning, i ran over to manchester’s only lys, pearl’s yarn shop, which was once again not what i expected. the little shop, only a block away from the main downtown strip, is a packrat’s dream. more like your grandmother’s attic than a yarn store, this little shop had one of every needle you have ever heard of. an entire pegboard carries one of each size circ, each brand, and each cable length. the opposite side has the same with dpns and straight needles. the yarn selections were once again disappointing (lots of standard brands of wool but nothing special), but i found all four sets of turbos that i needed, and for less than msrp. the woman working was very nice but once again, there was no fall 06 IK to be found.
we also took a quick stop at van otis for some fudge. although we bought two boxes (one of fudge and one of hard chocolates) , i found it overpriced and not as incredible as it should be for $12/box.
from here we headed to the coast and explored hampton beach, an absolutely beautiful beach town with gorgeous mansions and what looks like it could be a vibrant boardwalk in the summer. being below freezing, the town was almost empty and we had the entire beach to ourselves. ain’t it picturesque??
we drove up the coast to portsmouth, the last city on our trip, and the one with the biggest impact. first stop was, of course, the lys. the yarn basket is by far the smallest yarn store i have ever seen. only about 40sq ft, if that, and somehow these two women managed to create a perfect yarn store ambience and one of the most amazing selections i have seen. of course, they don’t have a lot– it’s not a warehouse-style shop like romni in toronto. they did, though, manage to pick an amazing selection with variety, beautiful colours, and great prices. it’s the kind of store that you imagine sneaking into during the night and just rolling around in the silk and alpaca yarns. maybe that’s just me. but with all the hanks hanging from the walls it isn’t hard to imagine curling up with them. under the bookshelf on the far wall sat a sale basket with some really amazing deals, although i’m pretty sure everything in the store was msrp or lower anyway. i grabbed some blue sky alpaca organic cotton and some dale of norway stork from the sale, along with some absolutely beautiful handdyed superwash sock yarn from a brand called j. knits. and guess what they had?? FALL 06 INTERWEAVE KNITS! as i embarrassed both myself and DH by freaking out, squealing with pleasure, and stroking yarn after yarn, the women behind the counter noticed my i ❤ ny dk earflap hat. after a short conversation, they offered to sell the pattern for me! a customer, overhearing the conversation (it’s not really overhearing, i suppose, when you’re in such close quarters) asked to buy a few finished hats. i took two business cards and proceeded to skip through the streets of portsmouth, unable to keep the smile off my face.
next was dh’s turn. a music store called bull moose. after only a minute in the store, he ran up to me holding the new incubus dvd for a third what it would have cost in canada. two movies and a tote bag later, we pushed our noses up to the glass of real estate offices, checking out house prices. as we walked to get lunch at the blue mermaid, we passed a japanese restaurant and decided if this town has good sushi too, we just had to move. lunch was only ok by me, but he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. the salad was awful (lemon pepper dressing? try pepper pepper… i couldn’t even eat it) but his salmon sandwich was supposedly very good. we took a short but successful trip to kittery, maine to the pepperidge farms factory outlet store (LOL) and then back to downtown to test the japanese food at sake. it was perfection.
we stayed in a hilton garden inn here, too. we got the same exact room as the one in manchester– still really clean and comfortable
what a long day of driving. not much to review here– cracker barrel in depew, ny was fantastic as always and walmart was as cheap as ever. i’m embarrassed to say we bought 15 boxes of cereal, but i guess it gives me bragging rights to show you the longest receipt i’ve ever seen.
so there you go. the best weekend of my life, condensed into one blog post. my new wip, the swallowtail shawl, is sitting next to me, and i’m searching for art schools in new hampshire. what else could a girl ask for?