It only took me half a century to realize it.
In his final Editor’s Note for New Hampshire Magazine, Rick Broussard recalled his Louisiana roots and how he spent the next three decades touting the wonders of his adopted state.
My story couldn’t be more different.
When I came of age, all I wanted to do was live somewhere else. Cue The Animals: “We gotta get out of this place. If it’s the last thing we ever do.”
It wasn’t New Hampshire’s fault — blame it on youthful rebellion, the circumstances of my upbringing and the gritty city I called home.
Raised by a single mom taking care of four kids, I seldom had the chance to experience the New Hampshire that local chambers of commerce touted to visitors. We didn’t have a car for most of my childhood. I navigated the world on buses and bikes. Little red school houses nestled in the woods was not the New Hampshire I knew.
Only when uncles and aunts and cousins came to town did my siblings and I experience White Lake and Hampton Beach. How many adults and kids can you squeeze into a station wagon?
I lived in Manchester, which in the 1970s and early ‘80s was a has-been factory town that showed little promise. It’s hard to come back from being the biggest textile operation in the world after you lose it all.
Rock guitarist Peter Frampton spent his entire career chasing the success of “Frampton Comes Alive,” which had become the best-selling live album of all time. He endured, and so did Manchester, which over the decades ahead would finally repopulate those giant Millyard buildings.
For a time, both were nearly written off for dead.
Talk about comebacks. Frampton, who is battling a degenerative muscle disease, brought his “Never Say Never” tour to the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford this summer and turned in a mighty performance. And Manchester is shooting for world domination once again through the biotech work underway in the Millyard spearheaded by inventor Dean Kamen. (More about that next month.)
Until my wife and I climbed Mount Osceola several years ago, the only 4,000-footer in New Hampshire I had ever summited was Mount Washington (a trek I made with three high school friends back when we were old enough to drive but not old enough to celebrate with a beer afterward).
When I lived in Colorado, the only 14,000-footer I climbed — there are 58 of them out there —was Mount Bierstadt in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The roundtrip journey takes five to seven hours.
Fast forward several years. The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester hosted an exhibit in 2016 about Mount Washington featuring paintings by the Hudson River artists of the mid-19th century, including German immigrant Albert Bierstadt.
His name sounded familiar to me because the landscape artist headed out West and earned a namesake mountain after he made its first recorded summit in 1863. That connection helped me better appreciate the White Mountains (which also offer a better supply of oxygen at the summit than those Colorado 14’ers do after you reach 12,000 feet).
This late in the year in New Hampshire, experts remind climbers to take precautions since the days are shorter and the weather less forgiving. But the November day my wife and I climbed Mount Osceola in 2016, warmer temps had snuck in for a rare taste of summer — hitting 70 degrees in much of the state.
The weather at the base of Mount Osceola was a balmy 60 degrees. And for that, we were truly thankful.