I spent last week on the East Coast in Massachusetts for my annual pilgrimage to visit family. It was one of the best trips out there for quite a few reasons. One, my mom didn’t have to work and my aunt and uncle from Sacramento were also there (though my uncle did have to work). And two, this was the first time we managed to see the entire family in the few short days we were there without a funeral being involved. Unfortunately, a full schedule didn’t allow me to visit with any fellow bloggers and I’m still disappointed about that, but I’m sure they’ll understand the whole “family comes first” sentiment and I will always be back again next year.
Normally, I stay fairly close to the family, but this time, we stayed in Andover in the Northern part of the state and a mere two miles from New Hampshire. The moment I found out we would be so close to New Hampshire, I made everyone aware that I wanted to visit. The response: “Why?” My answer: “Why not?”
There was nothing in New Hampshire that I was dying to see, but I still wanted to say that I had been there. It’s a lot like counting stamps on a passport; even though you may only be in a place for a small amount of time, you can still say you’ve been there.
You can imagine how excited I was when the first full day we were in Andover, we had nothing on the agenda. And it was St. Patrick’s Day.
After breakfast at the Irish Cottage where the Guinness flowed freely at 10am, we dropped my uncle back at the hotel where he had to go to a work function and my mom, aunt, and I made plans to visit the Granite State. We pulled out our iPhones and, with Siri’s help, we found a website identifying 101 things to do in New Hampshire. A lot of the activities were seasonal, but a few items down the list, I knew what we were going to do.
We were going to visit a sugar shack.
A sugar shack is a place where you can buy locally made products infused with maple syrup. They have everything from popcorn to barbecue sauce to coffee to candies. If you can put maple syrup on it or in it, it can probably be found at a sugar shack. We scrolled through the list of shacks and settled on one that was close to us with great reviews: Ben’s Sugar Shack in Temple, New Hampshire.
And off we went.
Entering New Hampshire, we passed a sign that welcomed us into the state as well as the official motto: Live free or die. Kinda harsh if you ask me, but the three of us laughed about its severity as we drove along the countryside. We passed farms with open spaces blanketed with snow and marveled at how beautiful everything was. The trees, the creek that flowed along the road, the clean air. Everything was so different from the suburbs of California where we call home.
We were greeted at the sugar shack by the boss, a furry little dog named Axl who instantly showered us with affectionate kisses. After a thorough sniff-down proved we weren’t going to hurt anyone, Axl led us inside the sugar shack.
It was small and eclectic. Hell, it was downright cute. The gal at the cash register was just as nice as could be and the three of us wasted no time selected maple syrup goodies to take back home. We grabbed a variety of treats and the lack of sales tax made it all the sweeter.
Outside, Axl brought his friend Roxy over to say hello and we got a quick lesson in maple syrup harvesting from one of the workers. I had no idea so much work went into collecting maple syrup, but it’s quite the process.
And one I’ll be enjoying.