This is a busy time in New Hampshire. Winter finally appears
to be over and the state is happily preparing for the onslaught of tourists
that will soon invade our beautiful world.
It is lush green here now, especially after three days of
heavy rain. Our colleges are graduating students who think the rest of the
country is just as idyllic as our campuses and where professors fill their
minds with irrelevant clichés and pretend they have the answers to everyone’s
problems. These ex-students are headed out hoping to find places where evil
businesses will offer to distribute another kind of green in large quantities.
If not, some may move back in with their parents and advise them on how to live
and what they learned at college. Others will go on to additional explorations
of the mind in hopes of prolonging these golden years forever.
But as they depart to their fates we have many others
arriving. Many visitors will flock here for vacations, ready to endure anything
we throw at them, as long as it is a significant change of pace from what they
do the other 48-50 weeks of the year.
And in June we have large numbers of alumni(ae) returning
for various reunions. My college is Dartmouth. It is a picturesque place, well
known for its beautiful campus and the quality of its education. I must admit
that I love going back and walking the grounds. This year I am celebrating my
reunion which I guess is pretty special because most of us aren’t
going to be around for the next large round number.
I am honored that the College is going to include a copy of
my book Granite Grumblings: Life in
the “Live Free or Die State”
in the welcome bags. This will be a very
useful book for those who have not returned to New Hampshire for the last fifty
years. Many of them are leaders of the world and have seen many changes in the
last half century. They will not be prepared to deal with our state. It will
take much adjustment to settle back into our environment and realize that nothing has really changed
. Oh yeah, we
have traffic lights in Hanover and more forested acreage than when we left. And
too many escapees from Massachusetts have moved here without realizing what
they did to screw up that state. But basically we have survived the onrush of
technology and are living just as deep in the metaphorical woods as ever. As
they read my book they will be able to readjust to the true “real” world of
life in our fair state and will once again become whole with the universe.
I am including a piece from that book on our tourist
population. I hope you have some
fun with it.
It’s tourist season again in New Hampshire. Or as we like to
think of it, the chance to get people from somewhere else to help us pay all
the bills that we can never figure out how to pay ourselves. Tourists are God’s
great gift to New Hampshire. They come here for our beautiful scenery,
picturesque towns and quaint ways, and we find picturesque and quaint ways to
take their money.
Many of these visitors say they come here because we’re
different. They want to experience life like it used to be, before the world
was corrupted by things like reality television, concrete jungles and traffic
jams. There is a certain disconnect in this of course. Many of them then check
in to motels with satellite TV and swimming pools and video game rooms. And
they all seem to flock to the same traffic-clogged, “scenic” highways and seek
out places like Santa’s Village.
Fortunately, we do still provide some opportunities for the
hardier souls to return to the days when things were different. We have a
fairly wide assortment of those cute little roadside cabins where people can
see what it was like to live in a closet, and maybe meet some of our famous New
Hampshire wildlife. (Ever wonder why many of those cabins are up on blocks?) We
also have all sorts of colorful old antique shops where, if our visitors are
tough enough to survive the dust and 1930’s elevator music, they can buy back
all the stuff they threw away twenty years ago. And for the truly
adventuresome, we have attractions like the 139-year-old cog railway that
climbs Mount Washington. In many ways this has not changed much since the
1800’s. It provides tourists with a ride powered by authentic, coal-fired,
smoke-spouting, steam engines (and one wimpy bio-diesel engine), that will take
them to perhaps the only place in New England where they can freeze their tail
off in the middle of the summer.
Many of these tourists will also visit the wide variety of
souvenir shops that are placed almost everywhere for their enjoyment. We are
truly appreciative of their support, because without their amazing lack of
taste, we would be stuck with all this stuff forever.
Other attractions that seem irresistible to tourists are the
outlet malls that are scattered around the state. We provide a rustic ambience
that induces people to buy clothes that went out of style five years ago in the
rest of the country. They know they can get away with wearing it here because
everyone gets away with wearing anything here. And when you throw in the
special bonus of no sales tax on top of the discounts, we unload a lot of
Finally, for those tourists who are certifiable, and there
seem to be a lot of them, we have our ocean beaches, where the water will turn
their legs blue and their minds numb.
All things considered, we have good reason to love our
tourists and welcome them back to our fine state. Just don’t get yourself
caught between them and the portable toilets on the Kangamangus Highway.