High tide of summer

Here is North Church, here is its steeple,
Portsmouth in summer has lots of people. Especially on a Saturday night.

Date Night in our favorite small city.

We lucked into the last two seats at the bar at Jumpin’ Jays Fish Cafe. John, keeping it local, ordered a Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale. Savoring summer and fresh seafood ahead, I ordered a glass of Portuguese vinho verde. Light, faintly effervescent and delicious! (I forget the name – I’d better go back.)

Then we shared a couple of appetizers for our meal.

Steamed PEI Mussels (House Specialty)
With a ginger saffron cream, lemongrass, scallions, jalapeños, tomatoes, garlic, shallots & fines herbs.  12-

Crispy Fried Oysters
Oysters tossed in Panko, lightly seasoned & fried. Served over dressed greens with a tomato wasabi remoulade.  10-

Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Jumpin’ Jays is justifiably popular with foodie locals. Rates as a Taste of the Seacoast Top Ten this month, and most months.

A walk back along Market Street, pausing with scores of other city saunterers at Pleasant Street for some free outdoor music – Summer in the Street – courtesy of Pro Portsmouth. Children danced and ran around in front of a small band playing Texas swing type music. Nice!

For dessert, a pint of beer each standing up near the bar at the pleasantly yet not unbearably crowded Ri Ra Irish Pub, where “football”  was on the telly. “More soccer?!” said John, exasperatedly, but then got into a cheery conversation about it with the bartender. Apparently teams like Manchester United and the Celtic Football Club are playing in the States right now, and attracting lots of fans.

There is almost too many kinds of delicious beer on tap at Ri Ra, but it’s the roasty red ale Smithwick’s for me when I’m in an Irish beer mood and it’s available.

Then we walked a downtown loop past shops and restaurants, with the great steeple of North Church illuminated and popping into view here and there, and more music coming from the Deck behind the Portsmouth Gaslight and a few surreptitious street performers. A walk by the river back to our car, at a garage near the bridge, then a drive the long way home, past the ocean on quiet Route 1A.

Windows open, it began to rain lightly. We saw the full moon behind ragged clouds. We noticed that the tide was up. And I had an amazing revelation.

“I know the moon makes the tides, but it wasn’t until just this moment in my long and reasonably well-educated life that I really just understood that the moon location tells you the tide, and vice versa.”

“You just figured that out?”

“So, when we go to watch the full moon rise over the water, the tide is ALWAYS going to be also rising. And when the moon is overhead, the tide is high. Well, maybe with some lag time.”

“You are seriously just realizing this? You have a degree in Geography.”

“I know I ‘knew’ it, officially, in words on paper, but I never really knew it. Till now.”

Moon in sky, we cruised over the low bridge that separates Rye Harbor from the great, green Awcomin Marsh and we could smell and hear and see and feel the flood of briny ocean coming in. Magical, really.

Who wants my jellyfish?

The Terror of Wallis Sands (Wikipedia photo)

Seacoast Online: 100-plus stung by jellyfish at Wallis Sands beach
30-year beach employee: “I’ve never seen anything like this”

Park manager Ken Loughlin said the jellyfish was spotted by lifeguards and was believed to have been the size of a “turkey platter.”

“The thing was probably 50 pounds,” he said.

Lifeguards working to capture the creature determined it was dead and then used a pitchfork to pull it out of the water, said Loughlin.

In the process of pulling it to shore, remnants and tentacles of the jellyfish spread throughout the water, he said.

Loughlin said, shortly thereafter, dozens of children began running to shore, screaming and complaining of stinging sensations in their legs.

Union Leader: Large jellyfish stings Wallis Sands beachgoers

Seacoast Science Center Aquarist Robert Royer said the creature was likely a Lion’s Mane jellyfish, which can have a bell as large as six feet wide with tentacles that can stretch to 100 feet. The tentacles can sting even when detached from the bell.

Royer said the jellyfish are in the Gulf of Maine, but rarely come ashore. He said the jellyfish likely was dead when it washed toward the shore.

“They can still sting you after the jellyfish is dead,” Royers said of the tentacles.

Loughlin said yesterday’s jellyfish appeared to be a “unique event,” but officials plan to be on the lookout more closely from now on.

WMUR: Beach to reopen after 150 stung by a jellyfish (with video)

Wikipedia: Lion’s mane jellyfish

At 120 feet in length, the largest known specimen was longer than a Blue Whale and is generally considered the longest known animal in the world.

The Jellyfish – Ogden Nash

Who wants my jellyfish?
I’m not sellyfish!

Ultra light

Men standing around watching things fly.

We dropped by the 19th Annual Yankee Ultralight Fly-In on Sunday, at Sanderson Field in Greenland. It really is a field, a big open field, and if you want shade you have to fly in your own…

This is one of the more normal looking things that fly that we saw that day.

The spirit of invention and adventure is alive and well among the experimental aviation crowd.

This contraption also mows your lawn. Just kidding.

My husband calls ultralights “flying lawnchairs.”

But I think this looks more like a motorcycle sidecar suspended from a large kite.

Ultralights and other experimental class aircraft are a cheap way to get yourself high. In the sky.

Here is a two-seater.

Have wing, will fly.

There wasn’t really a schedule – people just flew in and out as they liked. Some people got to go for rides if they were loitering in the right place at the right time.

Three in a row, taxing back after landing.

Motor off, this pilot pulls his ultralight off the grass landing strip and onto the just plain grass.

His t-shirt said “CIA: Crow Island Aviation.”

This was John’s favorite ultralight, and he was sulking for a while that afternoon because we don’t have one.

“Sell the house, buy a plane,” I said, but he did not take me up on my offer.

These two had fun flying low, fast and loud over the grass strip before landing.

Plane-watching.

I do have a private pilot’s license, but I don’t even bother to keep it in my wallet anymore. It’s in a file with other memorabilia.

More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination.  – Wilbur Wright

Staycation: Seabrook Harbor

What can I say, I'm a cheap date.

Hot dogs: $2.50 each.

Diet cokes: $1 each.

Bag of bbq chips: 50 cents.

Seabrook Harbor

View from the back of the pickup truck while having our picnic lunch: FREE because parking is free.

Next time we do this, I think we’ll wear our bathing suits for a dip to wash off the mustard and relish.

Richie's Hot Dogs

Right there on the side of Route 1A, in the free parking lot overlooking Seabrook Harbor. I think that’s “Richie” in the plaid shirt and cap.

Some days there’s another hot dog guy a little further north in the parking lot. Richie said he doesn’t mind the competition, “It’s good for everybody.”

The good life, Seabrook style

People were fishing and swimming here yesterday, a warm Friday in July, but not too many people. It’s an overlooked spot, we think.

Husband was home from a trip to Venezuela and Honduras, with Miami in between. He appreciates our New England seaside summer.

One party boat came in and another went out while we were there.

Recreational fishing boat

We walked around and out on a short town pier and looked back at Seabrook Harbor Beach.

There is a boat ramp right here and we learned (by asking some guys hauling out their boat) that it’s a free ramp. Parking in the lot next to the ramp is only for town residents, but you can park your truck and trailer over by the harbor beach in the free parking.

We will try this soon!

Mm, beer.

Right where the party boats come in is Eastman’s Dockside Dining, featuring the Tuna Striker Pub. John went for a domestic ($3.50) and I had a foreign ($4) beer. Lunch date no longer quite so cheap, but certainly tasty.

At the bar, we had a conversation about inflation. A sign over the bar said, “Beer, it’s what’s for dinner.”

The bartender said the lights of the nuclear power plant across the marsh are pretty at night. “It looks like Epcot.”

The Shelley Marie

“Check out how this guy color-coordinates with his boat,” I said.

“It’s probably not on purpose,” said John.

The battle for beach parking: tourists v. townies

Oceanfront property: The North Hampton Beach parking permit is available to North Hampton residents for $20 a year.

Hampton Union: Residents protect their turf
Parking spots at a premium

NORTH HAMPTON – One of the most coveted pieces of real estate on the Seacoast is approximately 9 feet wide and 20 feet long — it’s a parking spot at the beach.

But some spots are for “Residents Only” and on a hot day the battle for beach parking can pit scofflaw (or simply confused) tourists against turf-protecting town residents.

North Hampton Beach is a crescent of sand adjacent to busy Route 1A. There are 106 parking spaces bumping up against the sea wall. Eighty-six are metered; 20 belong to North Hampton residents who fork over $20 a season for the privilege of first-come, first-serve parking.

The town leases these 20 spots from the state park system for $8,500 a year and sells nearly 800 resident parking stickers a year. Of course, visitors who dare to park in one of these protected spots may not realize just how valuable this piece of parking real estate is to residents. That is, until a member of the posse arrives.

“If I see someone without a sticker parking in one of our spots, I nicely remind them,” said Jen Lermer, a longtime resident of North Hampton. “Sometimes they get indignant. It can be frustrating.”

“I have called the police,” said Joanne Seaton, a North Hampton business owner who practically raised her kids at the beach and still tries to take time each day to visit the sand and surf. “But they just get a ticket, I’ve never seen them towed. So I still don’t have a space.

“It’s a small beach, it’s close to home,” she added. “I wait all year for this, and summer only lasts so long.”

Seaton admits that the signs designating the leased spaces with the words “Tow Area” are sometimes confusing to visitors.

“People ask me, ‘what does it mean? Can I go to the town and get a permit for the day?'” she said.

No parking sign is partially obstructed at Plaice Cove.

Mark Eaton of Salisbury Beach, Mass., is a visitor who blames signs — and the lack of them — for his parking violation at Plaice Cove in Hampton.

In June, he and his wife had driven north to purchase tickets for a Casino Ballroom show and then decided to take a walk at a beach Eaton remembered fondly from his childhood.

North Side Park is a beach access point with a gravel-and-sand parking lot tucked off the beaten track on Ancient Way, and owned by the town of Hampton. There are three small signs that say “Permit Parking Only,” one of which is overgrown with vegetation, and Eaton and his wife did not notice them. Other signs reminded walkers about picking up after their dogs.

“The impression I got was that we could go there. It seemed very welcoming,” Eaton said. “My wife and I had a wonderful time, we met some elderly walkers, and when we got back I had a $100 ticket.”

Eaton paid his ticket immediately, but he was angry.

“To me, that’s way too much,” he said. “Hampton should be ashamed.”

Fines for beach permit parking violations are $30 in North Hampton and $50 in Seabrook, and they are not just reserved for out-of-towners.

Residents of Seabrook and Hampton can pick up resident beach parking permits when they register motor vehicles with their town clerks. There is no fee — other than property taxes. Seabrook permits are good for all roads near the beach in Seabrook. Hampton has designated permit lots, with maps available at the town clerk’s office.

“Parking is at a premium when the season is busiest,” said Johanna Rangel who, on a recent balmy evening, was enjoying one of the benefits of Hampton residence.

Rangel and six other Hampton women were celebrating summer with a picnic dinner recently at the far north end of North Beach, across from High Street.

The location is perfect, the friends agreed. It is a clean beach with soft sand, picnic tables, unobstructed sea views … and 21 resident-only parking spots.

“It makes living with Hampton Beach, downtown and all the craziness in summer bearable,” Rangel said.

Residents enjoying the north end of North Beach, Hampton.

Petey’s

Along Route 1A/ Ocean Boulevard in Rye Beach is a small and tasteful sign announcing a favorite local seafood spot. It’s hard to miss.

Petey’s Summertime Seafood Restaurant.

Eat in, eat out, or take out.

Inside, diners have a choice of two bars – upstairs and downstairs – and one restaurant.

These picnic tables have a view of the marsh. Across the road are some houses, then the broad blue ocean.

Takeout menu. Lobster and lobster rolls, clams and clam strips, fried haddock, shrimp, scallops, three kinds of chowder and much more.

Menu online.

The seafood chowder is my favorite. It is creamy and medium-thick, with small cubes of potato, sweet chunks of white fish, scallops, shrimp and other stuff o’ the sea.

Voted Best Fried Seafood and Best Lobster Roll 2009, by Taste of the Seacoast.

Location.