Hampton Beach
Nikki and Mom at Hampton BeachI've never engaged in activities I'd call "hiking" or "backpacking" on Hampton Beach and the surrounding area, so it's one of those places that encourages me to consider changing the name of my site from "Hiking and Backpacking" to "being outdoors and having fun". About all I've ever done on Hampton Beach is walk around, skip around on big rocks, and watch the surf. The New England coast seems steeped in old fishing tradition that is quite apart from the Pacific or Gulf coasts, and I enjoy that feeling of antiquity whenever I'm there.  The first time I ever visited the New Hampshire coast, and the first time that I can remember ever visiting the Atlantic coast period (exclusive of the trip to a Rhode Island harbor when I was less than 4 years old and apparently had no free synapses with which to make memories on that day), was in late November, 1996, with Mom and Nikki, our Cocker Spaniel mix who was about 6 at the time, I believe. As the photographs show, the weather that day was not conducive to swimming Hampton Beachin the waves. The sand was frozen into its dune shapes, and snow patches lay like wave shadows in the troughs between the dunes. This, of course, did not stop Nikki from trouncing through the surf, thoroughly soaking her long, thick coat of fur. She was especially interested in chasing the gulls. Mom and I drove north along the road that parallelled the beach, and stopped wherever there seemed like something interesting to look at. At such points we'd get out and walk up and down the beach, or jump along the rocks, or stroll out on the jetties. At one stop, we pulled the car into a little pullout that had a sea wall about 2 feet above the level of the lot. It was not apparent from the wall what was on the other side since all one could see was distant ocean. A seagull stood on the wall, and as soon as we parked, Nikki spotted the bird and grew intent on killing it. Mom and I laughed, and I reached back and opened the door to let Nikki out before we got out and scared off the bird. Our mirth turned to genuine terror when we watched Nikki charge at the bird, leap up on the seawall and disappear beyond it. Not knowing if it was a thrity foot drop onto sharp ocean-churned rocks, or a two foot step,  we panicked and ran to the wall. Luckily for all concerned the drop was only 4-5 feet onto soft sand, and we could see Nikki racing across the sand 50 yards away after a flock of gulls. We stuck around for 4-5 hours before driving back to Manchester.
Mom at the beach, 1996.
Nikki at Hampton Beach, 1996.
The second trip took place almost exactly a year later in November 1997. This time, Andra was with us. We went to the same plces, and experienced the same weather. At least it was sunny both times. One of the memorable points of that trip was when Andra slammed my hand in the car door (on accident of course...I think). Nikki had a blast, as usual, chasing birds and wallowing in the surf, despite a water temperature of about 38 degrees. One of these days I'll have to visit in the summer when it's warm enough to be like Nikki, for a few minutes at least.
Andra and I at the beach, 1997.

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