......finding a new home for lutefisk lovers.

(ok we don't love it. or even like it. but we're supposed to.)

20 October 2010


I am a daytripper. I love the daytrip. Liam, coincidentally, is learning to play Daytripper on the guitar. And New England is daytrip country. Mostly because of an alternative scale of proximity. Everything here is less than a day's drive. If you put your hands around the borders of Minnesota and squeezed it down to the size of Shakopee, squishing all of its contents/communities/points of interest closer together, you'd have the New England experience. Think of it; what if you could go to Grand Marais for the day? Have lunch at Chez Jude, buy some art and come home? Or have a picnic at the headwaters of the Mississippi and be home for dinner? Or maybe you want to go canoeing in the Boundary Waters for the day......stop at the Hockey Hall of Fame and then grab some caramel rolls at Tobie's on the way home. That's New England in a nutshell (pun intended. hee hee).

Our destination this weekend was the Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire, home of the Guinness World Record for the largest number of carved pumpkins lit at one time. I may have mentioned previously that one of Liam's weird obsessions is superlatives. Previous inquiries include: What's the sharpest thing you've ever seen? How many bandits are there in the whole world? and What's the scariest thing you've ever seen? He asks this one almost daily so he either doesn't believe us or he thinks we see scarier and scarier things every day. So anyway, we thought witnessing a real live world record in the making might make him a willing daytripper. Instead of whiny baggage that begs to go home every 30 seconds.

We stop in Peterborough for lunch, the real-life setting of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" (for those of you who were in the theater crowd in high school). Peterborough is celebrating "A Peak at Peterborough" on this fall day so the streets and shops are crawling with leaf peepers. Liam and Mike listen to a bluegrass/oom pah band while I browse in a shop called Red Chair Antiques. Generally, antiques make me wheeze but these were repurposed finds from Sweden and France; chock full of linens and duvets and shiny trinkets (like jewelry made out of buttons).

When we finally reach Keene, we stroll along the long, long, long, long line up of carved pumpkins that snaked through the town..........admiring each and every design and picking out our favorites. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see a series of pumpkins displaying a fragment of the phrase "Will You Marry Me." I didn't even see this when I was taking the picture; the next day, I heard the story of the couple who met years earlier at the Pumpkin Festival and, this year, Mr. Pumpkin Festival decided to use the Pumpkin Festival to ask Ms. Pumpkin Festival to marry him. And, voila, my camera decided to document the event without telling me!
It cracks me up how people take pictures of individual pumpkins. Picture after picture of individual pumpkins. I wonder if they'll put them in photo albums and look at them when they're old. Or, god forbid, show them to their friends. Like "oh would you like to see my photos of the pumpkin festival? Let's see.....these are from 1999. This one is scary. And this one has a mad face. And this one looks surprised! And this is my favorite - they put a hat on it!"

Here's the highlight of the day for Liam: the New Hampshire equivalent of the pronto pup is "Fried Dough." It is just like it sounds: dough that is fried. That's it. To me, it sounds a little lacking in ingenuity. What's it dipped in? Where's the stick? It's just dough. Fried. On a paper plate. But he ate that fried dough like it was his last meal. And the smell of the fried......well, everything.......gave us the Minnesota State Fair fix that we missed this year because of our move. Which no one ever brings up because the pain is too great.......how long can one go without Sweet Martha's cookies?????? Instead, I stalked my friends via cell phone during the fair, shouting from New Hampshire "What are you eating now? How about now? What are you eating next? WHAT'S NEXT?"

As the sun started to set, hundreds of volunteers rushed to light thousands and thousands of jack o'lanterns as we all watched and waited with cameras poised. Crowds of people, standing still, snapping and snapping and snapping like it was the Eiffel Tower on fire. We also waited for the final count. Will it be another world record? The answer......drumroll please..........is:
22, 949

Holy Balls! When they said a world record I thought it would be like 400!
Way to go, Keene, New Hampshire.

Once we got our picture, we climbed back in the car for our 2 hour drive home. This could be painful, I think, with Maniac Magee in the backseat, overtired and hopped up on fried dough. But that beautiful child sat quietly in the back seat mainlining digital media, leaving us to have uninterrupted conversations and admire the fall colors and the winding New England roads. It was a rare treat for those of us who have spent the last eight years answering a perpetual assault of questions, most of them from the backseat during heavy traffic. It was like date night.

To reward him for being our ideal child, we tracked down a Famous Dave's restaurant an hour out of town. Famous Dave's is Liam's favorite restaurant; it was a short walk from our old house in Minneapolis and he was on a first-name basis with many of the workers.

When we arrived, he was silent. But smiling. I thought he might cry. And when the waitress came over to our table and said "welcome to famous dave's i'm famous sabrina how are you doing tonight can i start you out with some of our famous onion strings?" Liam whispered, "It's not as good without Nancy but I still like it."

So if any of you happen to go to the Famous Dave's in Linden Hills, please tell Nancy that Liam says hi.

A great ending to a great daytrip.
Keep on daytrippin'.

1 comment:

Paige said...

Sounds like a good time. I really feel your pain in missing MN. I have been away for long stretches at a time, but am always back in time for the Great Minnesota Get Together. This is the best home-base a person could hope for, if you ask me. Keep up your blogging, it makes a very good read while I sit here elevating my sprained ankle. I can't wait to read your sprained/fractured ankle stories - Hal told me about this blog at our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. We were sure disappointed your folks and Jennifer couldn't make it for dessert. Stay well and stay feisty!