Moultonborough, 2006

What a blessing! At the end of July, we spent a week at the Varney/Tingley cabin in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. It was, quite possibly, our best-ever trip there.

We saw two different foxes, a huge heron, and a loon, all at or near the cabin. (My sister saw a bear last year, although we missed it, but we keep hoping and watching.)

(Above) This is the cabin we stay in. It’s not very large, but has running water (from the pond) and a bathroom with a shower and commode, which to me makes the difference between roughing it and really living. I used to vacation here when I was young, and loved it. (The same family still owns the property.) It brings back powerful memories of my childhood, especially time with my parents. So much of the property remains preserved just as I remember it, from the beautiful interior woodwork on the doors and door frames, to the electrical wiring my father did, right down to the way things smell.

When we got there this year, I noticed that the water pump was running nearly constantly. The pump draws water from the pond and pressurizes it in a small tank to provide running water for washing dishes, showers, etc. I checked it out, and you could hear the water rushing back down the pipe after the pump would reach proper pressure, and in a few seconds it would start up again. Thinking the check valve at the bottom of the water line was stuck open, I went out in the Berri Belle 2 (a rowboat), and followed the water line back into the pond, discovering that it had a 3- or 4-inch split in it, though which the water was pouring out. I tried to remove the split section that night, but couldn’t get the coupling apart. The next morning I got a new coupling at the local hardware store, and was able to cut out the damaged section and reattach everything—and I didn’t even need to re-prime the pump. Everything was working perfectly. I was so proud, and kept thinking of all the things my Dad used to fix. (He used to barter projects at the cabin for the price of renting it. In fact, he and my Mom installed the original water system many, many years ago.)

But, I should have kept Proverbs in mind. About 24 hours later, I checked the pump itself, and noticed it was dripping, something it definitely had not been doing the day before. I couldn’t find the source of the leak, so I kept it under observation. By that evening, the leak had become a small spray, and we called the Tingleys. We agreed I could try to patch it, but if it failed, we would have to use buckets for the water. I bought some epoxy-like substance that was used for waterproof applications, and was thrilled that the patch held. It dripped a bit, but that seemed acceptable. Unfortunately, the split in the pump casing was getting bigger, and my first patch blew off the next day. I patched it again, and we ran the pump only when we were actively using it, although I had to prime it several times. The second patch lasted until the day before we were going to leave, at which point I gave up and started carrying buckets. The cowling over the impeller had split at the point it was seamed in manufacture, and would have to be replaced. (I think due to the age of the pump, 25-35 years, they ended up replacing it.) After spending so much time listening for the pump’s operation, I kept “hearing” it running in my imagination for a week after we returned home!

(Above) This is the primary beaver dam that made Berry Pond. There are at least two beaver dams that created Berry Pond. When I explained to NaNi after one of our canoe trips that beavers made the pond, she replied, “Actually, God did.” Never argue theology with a 2-year-old.

One day we drove up to the Kangamangus (or Kancamagus—I’ve seen both spellings) Highway, which runs through the White Mountain National Forest, mostly parallel to the Swift River. To our delight and surprise, Eric and Kate Neville’s path happened to run across ours while we stopped to play in the river and have a picnic. Eric and I worked at MediVation over five years ago, and we’ve stayed in contact, but not seen each other since. What an amazing coincidence, especially considering how little time each of us spent in that particular location! Eric took this picture for us.

Nichelle did almost all the driving all week, including the trip there and back, even at night. She loves driving, and hadn’t been able to do it in a long time, so she was eager to see how much she could do. When I got home, it actually took me a while to get accustomed to driving my car again.

We love Clark’s Trading Post. (Above) Here Naomi and I attack Nichelle, who was standing on the side, from our bumper boat. Naomi hated having other people squirt her, although she very much enjoyed attacking them! Clark’s even has stand-alone motorized squirt guns set up along the sides of the bumper boat pool, so those not in the water can join in the fun.

I can’t quite believe Clark’s charges only $12 for admission. (Above) Isaac tried their climbing wall well over 15 times, something that most places would charge $5 a pop for. He didn’t make it to the top, but really loved it. I tried it too, but couldn’t steel myself to go any higher than Isaac. Next year …

Of course, one of the best things about the whole week was that Nichelle was feeling good for the first time since November, and was able to be active and participate in everything we did all week. What a thrill. It was not many weeks ago that Isaac broke down crying, when he realized (based on her condition for months) that Mom wouldn’t be able to do anything with us on our vacation. We praise God He has allowed Nichelle’s recent good health. It possible that the vitamin D deficiency causes her problems, but we won’t know until many months from now.

(Above) Clark’s has a costume photo studio, and Nichelle and NaNi love it. (The boys weren’t interested, as usual.) This was the first picture of Naomi that Nichelle picked out. Later on, she had me come back to the photo studio because she couldn’t decide if she should have gotten the more serious picture of Naomi. After some haggling, we bought that other one as well, and it has become our favorite.

The boys and NaNi love the paddleboat. (I thought it was great the years we used it as well.) We did almost flip it over once when David, Isaac, and I were all switching places and standing on the back.

(Above) This seaplane landed on the pond while we were there, which surprised me, because it was my understanding that the town prohibited that, which was why motorized craft aren’t allowed on the pond. It took off again as we were packing up to head back home.

We don’t watch television while we’re there, although I was tempted to turn on the TV and demonstrate to the kids what television in a mountainous area without cable is like. When we’re not outside, we read or play board games. Scrabble was very popular this year. Nichelle taught Isaac and David to play. One big difference, though, was that Nichelle, who normally destroys her opponents in Scrabble, lost five games in a row (four of them to me). After years of getting demolished by her, I finally seem to have “caught on” to the game, and was able to score some major victories by strategic word placement.

Inspired by the Seyranyan Family Circus, the kids did some acrobatics of their own in the days following our trip to Clark’s Trading Post. The Seyranyan family, from Moscow, is a must-see performance (they don’t perform on Fridays, so plan your trip accordingly). (Above) The kids invented this four-person pile-up one morning.

NaNi learned to row—sort of. I have a picture like this of me and my Dad, somewhere in a photo album my sister Joyce gave us.

We all spent a lot of time swimming, especially off of the raft that’s placed out in the deeper (about 12 feet) water. Naomi was no exception, swimming for hours at a time with her training ring, and occasionally using just a noodle (with very close supervision) or her lifejacket. She even jumped off the raft a few times.

(Above) David caught his first fish in three years. We discovered that live bait (worms) just can’t be beat for catching sunfish. (I don’t know much about fishing, and the kids have enjoyed learning as we go.) He caught this fish just after introducing himself to one of the families who lives on the pond. They were pulling fish out right and left, and invited him to have a try. I am always impressed with his social skills.

(Above) Naomi caught her first fish this year. She was absolutely thrilled. She caught 17 sunfish in about an hour and a half, all by herself. Isaac and I baited her hook and helped remove the fish. At one point, she turned to me and said, “I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you, Daddy,” and gave me a big hug. She can be so sweet it melts my heart.

(Above) Isaac insisted this was a pike, but it appears to be a pickerel. (He’s not often wrong about biology or zooology—or in this case ichthyology.) It was Isaac’s big catch of the week. Right now it’s at home in our freezer, waiting for Nichelle to prepare it. We let the kids keep one fish each year to eat, although David’s sunfish were not eating-worthy, so he has accepted a single bite of Isaac’s fish when it is ready instead. I am also glad Nichelle is willing and able to gut, clean, and cook the fish, because I’m not sure I have the stomach for it. (If I ever travel in time, I will be sure to go forward, instead of into the past, because I have zero nontechnological skills.)

(Above) This part of the pond, opposite the beaver dam, we hadn’t explored before, although we’d been through many of the channels the beavers keep open to the east of there. The morning I found the dam I went out in the kayak, and got really close to the heron several times. (I wasn’t trying to bother him—he kept flying ahead of me and perching along the route I was taking. Sadly, I hadn’t brought my camera. Herons are huge, and surprisingly graceful in what appears to be a flight in slow-motion.

Berry Pond is absolutely lovely, especially on a clear day or at sunset. We also enjoy going out on the water at night, especially when the bats are out hunting. When it’s clear and one can normally see our own spiral arm of the “Milky Way.” (Personally, I think that’s a stupid name for our galaxy; if I ever travel to another galaxy, I’m going to tell them I’m from Andromeda.)

Several times a week NaNi announces, “I want to go back to the cabin!” as do Isaac and David. It’s a sentiment we all share.