Rain, rain and more rain. The whole of New England seems to be under siege from the skies at present. Time for us to check out again, but given the state out there and the fact that our next stop, Concord across the border from Maine in New Hampshire is only 2 hours away from Portland, we had a long and lazy morning.
We stopped at a diner in a small town called Northwood for an early lunch, having passed up on a mid morning cuppa. We really like the diners and will surely miss those when we leave the US.
Here are a number of "royalties" in popular culture; Elvis, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen and Di... Di?
Unfortunately, this particular diner failed to live up to the high standards that we found in most other diners. It was pretty average food (in fact Di was left feeling quite unwell). Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
We drive into Concord in New Hampshire not long after 1pm, and yes, they did allow us to check in early at the Holiday Inn. All good.
The rain had now stopped and since we are on North Main Street, I.e. smack in the middle of town where we can see the New Hampshire State Capitol building from our motel window, we decide to take a wander to see what's doing.
First stop is obviously the State Capitol building. Here is Hans outside its grounds...
Again, we are amazed with the lack of security in these northern states. We just wander in through the front door of the State Capitol building (where a couple of trades people are changing door handles and locks). We are both carrying backpacks and nobody raises an eyelid. We didn't see a single police officer or security guard during our visit. A whole new standard of laid back security.
The New Hampshire State Capitol building has 3 stories and along each corridor there are portraits, portraits and more portraits. You may even see Di in the distance in this photo, in front of a portrait of Alan Shepherd, first US man in space. Alan Shepherd was born and also died in NH.
Now, the State Capitol building looks all flash from the front, but as you can walk through it, you can see that it has been extended towards the back and the extensions were nowhere near as good looking as the original building. The building has an open courtyard in its centre and from the back you see the quality of the extension.
We wander into the spectator area for the House of Representatives. It appeared that some school group or similar was visiting as there were a whole bunch of young people down on the floor. A tad rowdy let's say. Perhaps not that different from a normal political session...
These old buildings look good, but there must be cumbersome to work in these cramped conditions and stale air, built in a different era. Interesting to visit, of course, including these doors that we found inside of the second floor. Reminded us of an old bank. Westpac on 341 George Street / Martin Place anyone...?
We wandered out of the State Capitol next door to the New Hampshire State Library. Outside the library is this sign about the presidential primary, always a big deal leading up to every presidential election because New Hampshire voters go first and the result here is traditionally a strong indicator of who will win overall.
Inside the library, it is a different world again. In fact, we thought that it looked better inside there than inside the State Capitol.
We found this summary of the American Bill of Rights. We always find it amazing that many pro gun lobbyists refer to the 2nd amendment as a right to wear arms. Now, the 2nd amendment of course states "A well regulated militia..." which is a world away from any individual having a right to carry weapon just because he or she wants to.
We went upstairs to see a little photo exhibition and then continued down North Main Street to see whether we can find somewhere to give us both a decent haircut, long overdue.
We see a hairdresser's salon down the street that looks casual (not posh) and offers $14.95 haircuts, called Hair Biz Salon. That will do.
The hairdresser was a man of our age so we felt confident with his skills and he had no other customers so was not rushed. He introduced himself as David and gave Hans a clipper cut first, a 3, 2, 1, meaning number 3 on top, number 2 in the middle and number 1 above the ears and at the very back. Hans has found it too bloody hard to try to explain the way he wants it, the way that Amir in Manly does his haircut. That will probably do for each subsequent haircut too during our trip.
We start asking David about all the charity cheques to The Autism Society we saw on the wall of the salon. David told us his story of the $400 haircut challenge. Back in October 2007 a democrat politician, John Edwards, was subject to a media storm as he admitted that he paid $400 for his hair cut.
Our entrepreneurial hairdresser David offered a challenge to other politicians to pay him $400 for a haircut, of which he donated 100% to the Autism research charity. Mike Huckabee took up the offer, great media coverage and the footage is on YouTube. The idea seemed to have gained some following because there were lots of copies of cheques for $400 to the charity on his wall. Great story. We saw the YouTube clip afterwards. And yes, John Edwards had been here too.
Hairdresser to the policitians, David, working on Di.
Hans looks sharp with his military style clip outside the salon. Or is it just the outcome from an economy haircut? You will be the judge... However, another haircut should not be required for a while...
Back to our Holiday Inn where we sample the indoor pool and spa. The pool was way too warm and the spa was too hot. We didn't stay long.
After having a break in our room, we did the local Friday night thing pretty much anywhere in the Western world, that is, going to the pub. Barley House is less than a block away from our motel and it is rated highly in TripAdviser so why not?
Barley House had great karma. Busy, diverse range of punters, a long list of draft beer, good menu. Hans tried All Day IPA beer from Grand Rapids, MI (twice was nice) and a burger of 3 kinds of meat - hamburger, smoked brisket and bacon.
Di had a Guinness beef stew and washed it down with a few ciders. All yummy.
When we left the pub, the skies were grey, grey, grey, but the rain was still holding back.
We wander back to the motel to watch the movie "Red" on TV - action with Bruce Willis and a whole heap of other "senior actors". Good action, but hardly memorable.
A pretty quiet day, good night.
P.S. We took a closeup photo of Hans' economy haircut. Looks good!