06 November 2014

Live Free or Die

Live free or die is the state motto of New Hampshire. My husband and I (and our dog, of course) moved here at the end of July, and I'm still discovering new and quirky things about the area that differentiate it from other places I've lived. We're enjoying it here so far and are cautiously waiting for our first New England winter. There are lots of things that I find awesome, weird, funny, or otherwise interesting about my new home, and I thought I'd share some of those with you.

Welcome to New Hampshire...


... where grocery stores close at 9pm during the week and 7pm on Sunday. What? I'm used to at least one 24-hour grocer nearby!

... where autumn is freaking gorgeous. There are trees everywhere, and they burst into the most glorious colors.

... where Dunkin' Donuts is king. This is true of New England in general, apparently. I grew up with Dunkin' on a much less intense level, so it's not that they were completely new to me. But it's practically a religion here. Cream and sugar in your coffee is "regular" here, whereas if you ask for it that way somewhere else, like in New York, as my husband recently discovered, they might look at you like you're nuts.

... where drivers don't know how to merge or yield. Yes, this is a sweeping generalization, but it has held up in my experiences so far. Many merge points around here are also much shorter than I'm used to. But they're twice as wide, meaning you can practically drive right next to the car you need to merge behind for a good 200 feet before you really need to merge. So it evens out, right? Granted, I've only been driving for three and a half years, and all of that in Pennsylvania, so perhaps my experience is different than most. I've also been told this experience is unique to my particular area, but I've seen it in some of my cross-state drives as well. 

... where the accent makes me giggle. I lived in Pittsburgh (PA, I've learned to stipulate, as there is also a Pittsburgh, NH!) for three years and that accent made me smile. I got used to it, though. Pittsburghese is sort of a midwestern and southern mash-up of accents, and the vernacular can be interesting, too. Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I'm accustomed to a bit of twang, so maybe that's why Pittsburgh's dialect didn't feel quite as foreign. But the New England accent is something that I'm not sure will ever not make me laugh inside. Not because I'm making fun of it, but just because it's such a peculiarity to my ear. I suppose to a lot of people here, I'm the one with the accent.

"Hampton Beach, New Hampshire 2004"
... where the beaches sparkle, the water is freezing, and seaweed is unavoidable. We arrived in late July and within two weeks we made sure to hit the beach. Technically we went to Maine and Massachusetts and didn't get a chance to visit the NH coastline before it got too cold. But I'm fairly certain this observation will hold up when we get to test it next summer. The sand sparkles like I've never seen before. I'm guessing it's because of the quartz and other mineral content, but I have no idea. I just know it's freaking awesome. The water is colder than I'm used to, but still refreshing. It's clear to a greater depth than I ever encountered in my mid-Atlantic beach-going experience, and it doesn't taste quite as salty. No, I'm not drinking it, but it's difficult not to taste it while swimming in the ocean. New England beaches have climbed to the top of my favorites list, despite the need to fish out bits of seaweed from unmentionable places afterward...

... where you can buy beer at Wal-Mart! This may not seem so strange to some, unless you've lived in Pennsylvania or another place with bizarre liquor laws. After needing to practically jump through hoops in PA to be able to buy a six-pack of beer, it was a shock to the system to see it all over the place in stores here.

... where the speed limit is just a suggestion. I'll admit to having a bit of a lead foot, so I love to see the 65 mph speed limit on stretches of highway near me. Usually that means I'm doing 70. And yet people still speed past me quite often. And when it drops down to 55 mph after that exit? Nah, the flow of traffic is still going 70. When we first moved, we had movers to bring boxes off the truck and into our apartment. They were super nice guys and talked to us about the area and asked about my husband's job (which is the reason we moved) and gave us a word of caution about police being sticklers for the speed limit in his experience. Sadly, I think his experience may have been more a symptom of driving while brown, as I've seen many police cars monitoring traffic who don't seem to bat an eye at everyone traveling at least 5 mph above the posted limit. They do pull people over, but I wonder just how fast you have to be going or how erratically you have to be driving for them to actually stop you. I don't think I'll try to find out, though.

... where everyone is SO. FREAKING. NICE. There are nice people everywhere, of course, but I've never
encountered so much genuine friendliness in other places. Perhaps it has to do with it being a smaller city? I don't know. I live in the largest city in the state, but when you look at population density, it's the smallest place I've ever lived with the exception of perhaps my hometown. When we explored downtown, we stopped in the tiny little visitor's center to grab some brochures and the woman there talked to us at length about the area and welcomed us several times before we went on our way. Even in the grocery store, if I mentioned I was new to the area, people went out of their way to welcome me and ask about where I was from and how I liked the area. Today I had a physical with a new primary care physician and went for blood work immediately after and even there they were all smiling, friendly, welcoming, and enthusiastic. Having worked in retail for many years, I think I've learned the difference between genuine personality and a customer service facade (which isn't necessarily a bad thing to have perfected, of course). Everyone has been wonderfully genuine and authentic, and I've never felt like anyone was putting on a good show for the sake of their job.

"Old Man of the Mountain 4-26-03"
So thanks, New Hampshire, for being so dang cool. As an introvert, the abundance of friendliness can make me feel a little awkward and uncomfortable at times (I'm like OMG somebody is TALKING to me!) but at the same time it can be a blessing in disguise because it takes the pressure off me to be the one to initiate conversation in new social environments, like the choir I joined as soon as I got here. I don't know how long we'll be here, but I will certainly enjoy every moment of it! Now, bring on the snow! I mean... er... be gentle with me, Old Man Winter!

Tell me something quirky about where you live!


  1. What a fabulous post! I live in New England (CT) and have always thought autumn was the most magnificent season because of all the colors. So glad you enjoyed it in NH. So fun to learn about New Hampshire and the things you are finding unique about it. I am not sure if this is just a CT thing- or if it is a New England thing- but we can the liquor store- the package store. :)

  2. Hi, Jess! Thanks for stopping by and reading. We really are liking it here (still... even after our 2-day Thanksgiving power outage haha). I haven't heard "package store" yet, but I haven't really spoken to anyone about the liquor store lol. I'll keep my ears open for it!


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