Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sightseeing in Portsmouth, NH

Like I said yesterday, I ended up with an extra day in Portsmouth, NH.  Sunday we were supposed to go home, but all travel to and from the Northeast was shut down.  It would turn out that Irene went west into Vermont once it got close to us.  However, Portsmouth was prepared just in case.  The entire town shut down.  Late Sunday afternoon, we became stir-crazy in our hotel room. It was still pretty windy, but the rain was down to a drizzle, so we took a walk.

*Again, all pics in this post were taken using an iPhone 3.  Please forgive unreliable quality.

We stumbled onto the home office (below).  Not what we expected, but still cool to see...

As is typically the case after any display of Mother Nature's wrath, the day after is beautiful. On Monday, Aug 29th, mom and I had a scheduled flight home in the evening. So we took advantage of the day to really explore the town and it's beauty.

We took a Harbor Cruise from the Piscataqua River into Portsmouth Harbor.  OMG, I am so glad we did, too!  It was amazing!  Let me say yet again that I love New England!
Historic Fort Constitution in New Castle, NH
Whaleback Lighthouse in Kittery, Maine
The lighthouse above is one of many lighthouses that were also used as lookout points protecting the Harbor from enemies throughout history.  Our tour guide / ship captain told the story of how when the lighthouse was manned, a person would go out there for 2 weeks before being relieved.  However, during bad weather or frozen water, his shift would sometimes last a month or longer before someone could navigate out to trade shifts. 
Wood Island Lifesaving Station in Kittery, Maine
The United States Lifesaving Service (above) was established in 1871 to aid those in danger at sea. The sole purpose of a lifesaving station was to send men and boats out, usually smack in the middle of a horrifying storm, to save the lives of those whose ships were in distress. Their motto was “You have to go out, but you don't have to come back”. In 1915, the Lifesaving Service was merged with the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and was re-named the United States Coast Guard. (source)

These waters are the home of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, built in 1800.  It is one of the oldest still-operating shipyards in the country.
But what's even cooler is the neighboring Naval and Marine Corps prison.  It's knows as the "Alcatraz of the East" and I can see why!  It's quite erie in appearance and I'm certain it must be haunted.

It operated from 1901 until 1975 and now it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  There was never a successful escape from here.  One reason why no one ever escaped would surely be because of the rule stating if a prisoner escaped, the guard on duty would have to serve out the rest of that prisoner's sentence.  We heard a story about a young guard who successfully fought violently to prevent an escape.  The guard received a nasty cut on his lip which eventually scarred noticeably.  He was still considered handsome, though.  He was Humphrey Bogart!
A look at the Sheridan Portsmouth Harbourside Hotel from the Piscataqua River
Portsmouth, NH waterfront businesses
Home of William Whipple (signer of the Declaration of Independence)
It was time to pack up and head back to Boston-Logan airport.  However, there was time for one more sight to see...for those of you who don't know, I'm proud of my Italian heritage. And look at this lovely sitting bench we found just outside our hotel:

And, with no further ado, it was time to head back to the South!  I love Alabama with my whole heart, but don't worry, New England.  I'll see you again someday!  For sure!

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