Monday, February 2, 2009

The Road Not Taken, or Maybe Taken (8/3/08)

Participants: Angel, Caro, Jesse, Jason & Andrew

Date: August 3, 2008
Distance: 46 miles
Location: Haverhill, MA; Salem, NH; Derry, NH; Hampstead, NH
Sights: America's Stonehenge, The Taylor Sawmill & The Robert Frost Farm (Frost Farm planned, but not executed)
Difficulty: Hilly, moderate

Sunday, August 3, 2008 we set out on the ride I put together as a tune-up for the "Hub on Wheels" ride coming up on Sun September 21. 5 of us made the ride, myself, Jason, Andew, Caro and Angel.
We all caught the commuter rail at Boston's North Station and took it up to Haverhill, MA.
While really ready to roll, we ran ran into a few problems. First Andrew
had issues staying on his bike:

Then, like any good Massachusetts city, Haverhill has virtually no street signs, so we immediately became deviated from our route. So, in the interest of adventure, Andrew determined that 97 did go to Salem so we might as well follow that. We did hoping to run into something that would get us back o
n the route. Soon enough, like manna from heaven, A lone green sign that said "America's Stonehenge." And sure enough that got us back onto the route I had mapped out.

After a brief stop at Wheeler Dam, which according to the guide book was "an impressive site" (it wasn't). We rode around Arlington Lake in Salem and then to America's Stonehenge. America's Stonehenge is an odd supposedly pre-Columbian complex. There are many stones obviously placed to align it with the rising and setting suns and moons on important dates. The estimate of age is 4000 years old, but like the one at Salisbury Plain, we know nothing of the builders or the site's ritual uses. The also have a herd(?) of alpacas on the grounds.
One of said Alpacas

Angel coming out of one of the caves at America's Stonehenge

Some of the Chambers were extremely dark.
After America's Stonehenge, we rode another four or so miles into the Ballard State Forest. Lunch was planned at the pond next to the Taylor Sawmill (New England's oldest "up-down saw mill"). The forester was kind enough to open the mill and give us a tour. He got the paddle wheel running for us; and, although he couldn't get the mill running, I now know more about saw mills than I ever did.

The forester who showed us around; outside the mill; and, Angel with an ax

We then sat by the pond and ate our bagged lunch. Resting we talked with others who had made the trip, including a fisherman and an older couple with an odd tandem bike. Our next stop was to be the Robert Frost Farm. But, we decided to skip that stop as the rain was coming in and we would have been rushed through the tour. We then rode through a huge thunderstorm that may have drenched our clothes, but did not dampen our spirits. The miles of up and down the glacier carved hills of Southern New Hampshire did begin to wear on some of the riders. If the ride was 10 miles shorter it would have been better.
Jason enjoying a beer at The Tap, in Haverhill at the end of the ride.

Map of ride can be found here:

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