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My Love/Hate Relationship with Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

by Wednesday, June 3, 2015

thewanderlustyogi.netGrowing up as a little girl in Massachusetts, I was brought up taking our traditional summer vacations to the seacoast town of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. This was something all of my family members did growing up, for at least the last three generations.

It was an easy and inexpensive vacation for our family, that the parents and children enjoyed alike. My great-uncle owned a few beach houses on “O Street”, at the south end of Ocean Blvd. (the area was set up with Ocean Blvd. following the coastline and the lettered streets would go in alphabetical order intersecting Ocean Blvd.).  So it was even more fun when my cousins would rent one and we would rent the other on the same week. The more, the merrier!

While I was still small, I loved every single part of this vacation, maybe everything except when it rained, and even then, we had fun playing made up games that my uncle would create.

As I got older I started to have a love/hate relationship with good old Hampton Beach. I loved being with my family and spending time at the ocean, but there were little things I started to notice that I didn’t like very much.


It was kind of cheesy.

You know, the typical beach town with souvenir shops, run down restaurants and low-budget motels? It was like that. Each year I started seeing it from a different perspective. I would think,

“If I had never been here before and had no history with this place, I would view it as a dilapidated beach town that wasn’t worth the visit.”  

It made me wonder why we liked going here. While my friends vacationed on Cape Cod, Myrtle Beach or Ft. Lauderdale, we would go to this run down, dump of a beach town. Maybe I was envious?

The beach house (houses) was old.

No offense to my great-uncle, this is how all beach houses were at Hampton. They were all very old with just the basics.  All the furniture was from my grandmother’s time and there were no televisions, no stereos, and no air-conditioning.  You had to bring all of your linens, blankets, towels sheets and pillows from home. It seemed almost like camping, but we had a bathroom and a shower. This was the closest to “roughing it” you could get. Why couldn’t we stay at a nice timeshare with all the modern essentials you would want? This is when I didn’t realize the cost of things. 

Cat Calling was the norm.

This was  something that was expected at Hampton Beach. I guess you may find this at any area where women are scantily dressed and people are feeling the buzz of a day in the sun, or for other reasons. As young as 12-year-old, while walking down the strip, I can remember getting hollered at and cat called. It was scary at first, then I even liked the attention in my younger teen years, to just literally blocking it out. If you complained about it, the usually response would be, “Hey, you’re  at Hampton Beach, what do you expect? You should be flattered.” I’d often cringe when hearing my alpha male, second cousins, chiming in with their share, to girls walking by, often being egged on by their dad.  It’s just how people were. You either got used to it, or didn’t go there.

The litter.

Not just along the strip and all over the streets, but even on the beach had litter all over it.  People would actually just throw cups, bottles, cans, bags, butts, you name it, right on the beach. I couldn’t believe how awful it got over the years. Did no one care about the ocean, the environment or just for the pure vanity it of it?  It looked gross and you never knew if you would cut your foot on a piece of broken glass, which I have done a few times.


So when you wrap up all those examples in a nice bow, you probably are thinking of why I would love it then?


My family.

I spent many hours with my parents, my siblings, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, that if we didn’t have those beach weeks together, they would have never happened.  The memories of us all being together:

  • laughing, playing in the waves
  • eating meals together
  • watching the fire works while running around with sparklers
  • filling our craving for  Blinks Fry Doe (always with butter and powdered sugar)
  • walking and talking about life along the beach, to the rocks (the jetty)
  • playing charades during a rainy day

These are just some the examples of many fond memories I cherish with my family at Hampton Beach.  I believe that having this quality time with family members that I normally would only see on holidays or special occasions contributed to the strong bonds we have with each other today.thewanderlustyogi.net

The beach house.

Even though the beach house was old and had its creaks and the bed felt more like a board, it was filled with love. And if these walls could talk, it would speak of special family times, and stories that were repeated generation after generation. This house hosted childhood memories and watched as these children grew into young adults. This house didn’t need to beautiful or amazing, because what it held inside was beautiful and amazing.  Maybe my friends with families who had more than us could vacation in Hawaii or Aruba, but I am certain they couldn’t have had the same experience as we did together in our little beach house.

I now try to think of “cat calling” as a right of passage for young boys.

When I visit Hampton Beach now it doesn’t happen as often, I’m old, lucky me! But when I hear it, I try to bring less judgement, especially when its young boys. I try to see it as just a past time and that these boys are expressing their adolescents in this way because they aren’t quite sure of what is happening in their bodies. I will never say or think “cat calling” is appropriate and I never want my son to do it, because I find it disrespectful and a form of sexual harassment, but sadly,  I realize not all kids are raised thinking this is the case. When asking men about this topic, some even think it’s being polite and complimentary. This is something that is starting to be addressed more and more and hopefully future generations will understand that this is harassment, whether your intentions are good or not. I won’t hold my breath though. It also seemed harmless and very mild now to me after visiting India in April. (They take harassment towards women to a whole new level!)

thewanderlustyogi.netHampton Beach is cleaning up (literally)

The littering is still present, but has decreased dramatically. Something else that has been going on for the last few years is the build up of all new condominiums and storefronts. The town of Hampton has put vast amounts of money in updating and cleaning the area to make it a desirable family beach vacation spot.  Seeing the improvements to just the public bath houses was very impressive. They are now so clean with outside showers to rinse off and even have lockers.  If you saw the bathrooms when I was around 14, you would probably rather wet your pants then attempt to go inside. It wasn’t just gross, it was scary!


Still some litter on Hampton Beach, but nothing compared to before

The ocean.

Is there really any reason to elaborate? The ocean is the ocean, whether you are in Thailand, Australia, Russia or  New Hampshire. It’s presence is like an elephant in the room. After all, it’s why we are there. It’s power makes you feel meek and small, but gives you the sense of peace all at once. If you are one who is drawn to the ocean then you understand its magnetic pull.  The sounds of the repetitiveness of its waves and the tides and its resilience, knowing the moon has its back. Being near the ocean can humble you and ground in a way that nothing else in this world can.


“All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea-whether its to sail or to watch it-we are going back from whence we came.” JFK



Being back in Hampton Beach this past weekend evoked feelings of nostalgia.  I got to visit some of the old places that we would frequent as kids, like the Playland Arcade, and even played a few strings of  skee-ball and had a round at a hunting game that has probably been there since the 60’s.  thewanderlustyogi.netWe stopped in at Cinnamon Rainbows, Hampton’s first and only surf shop, started by Todd Walker in 1983 and since owned by Dave Cropper. (I may not be the best surfer, but I did get my SUP there and I am not too bad at it.)  Then, of coarse, there was no way I would miss  the chance to have Hampton Beach’s famous Blinks fried dough, and it was just as delicious as I remember.

thewanderlustyogi.netHampton Beach is getting a Face-lift

I also got to see some of the towns progress, with the building of new condominium and new stores, that will bring new families in to make their own special memories here. I didn’t stay in my great uncles beach house; he sold it years ago and since past, however,  I did stay at an updated condominium that used to be an old rundown hotel. It was very nice and I was so happy they gave it the attention it needed. Seeing all the changes makes me feel old in some ways, but I can only imagine what other changes will take place within the next 30 years. I am glad the place of my childhood memories is being taken care of for future generations.


I may have a love/ hate relationship with Hampton Beach New Hampshire, but this place will be forever engrained in my memories and a part of my life. No matter where I travel in this world,  I know, whenever I go back to that beach on the seacoast in New Hampshire, my home, in that part of the worlds’ ocean, I remember family, and that to me, is priceless.


My daughter and I at Hampton Beach, NH 2015





10 Reasons to know you are from New Hampshire

by Monday, January 19, 2015

10 Reasons How to Know you are from New Hampshire

thewanderlustyogi.netYou can’t start your day without a Dunkin Donuts coffee.

Every New Hampshire resident  knows that Dunkin Donuts coffee is the only coffee you should drink. Any other name, just doesn’t cut it. This opinion is obvious while driving around the state, because you see a Dunkin Donuts at almost every corner, every gas station, and even inside our grocery stores. No matter where you live in this state, even the most rural parts, it is not hard to find a Dunkin Donut close by. It’s pure happiness when you can easily spot it’s orange and pink logo from a distance, while the slogan rings in your head, “it’s time to make the donuts”. It is also quite common to drink iced coffee all year round, even if its 25 degrees in the dead of winter. If you are seen drinking Starbucks, you may be considered snobby or too hoity- toity. Its pretty much frowned upon, so when in New Hampshire, drink Dunkin Donuts, or as we call it, “Dunks” to fit in.

thewanderlustyogi.net“Live Free or Die”  is not only our motto, but our way of life.

Being the only state in the country that doesn’t require wearing seat-belts, except for children, seems ridiculous, but is true. We also don’t require wearing a helmet while driving a motorcycle. “Riding a motorcycle without the wind running through your hair just isn’t the same”, is a common phase said and belief of NH motorcycle enthusiasts. Taking away that freedom to some would be blasphemous.  You can see the popularity of this every year for the last 91 years and running, at the world’s oldest motorcycle rally at Laconia’s Bike week, which starts every Father’s Day weekend. This year  hosting over 430,000 people from all over the country and world.

thewanderlustyogi.net“Leaf peeping” is an annual tradition.
When fall hits we know its that season again, to go for a ride to the White Mountains and admire the eye catching fall foliage that New Hampshire offers. The best time, when the leaves peak, is usually in October around Columbus Day.  This is not only popular to NH residents, but now people come from everywhere to get a glimpse of this picturesque natural beauty.


Old Man on the Mountain, before and after

You were deeply saddened that the face of the Old Man on the mountain fell off on May 3rd, 2003.
The iconic symbol of New Hampshire, the Old Man on the Mountain, or also referred to as, “The Great Stone Face” was on the side of Cannon Mt. at Franconia Notch. This 40 foot-tall natural rock formation that resembled an old man’s face, could be viewed while driving on Interstate 93, about 65 miles north of Concord. It was once New Hampshire’s number 1 tourist attraction, and one on the most recognizable symbols of New Hampshire. The face appeared on the state quarter, our road signs and countless souvenirs and tourist brochures, but now just a memory.


Christa McAuliffe


Alan B. Shepard

You have been to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.
Opening in 1990, as a tribute to what was supposed to be the first teacher in space, Christa McAullife, a Concord, NH teacher died in 1985, in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. It was an honor for her and the entire state of New Hampshire for her to be chosen out of 11,000 applicants to take part in the NASA Teacher in Space Project. As a member of the mission she was planning to conduct experiments and teach 2 lessons from space. If you we old enough to remember that day, it was a very tragic day for America and even more so, for New Hampshire, and her family and friends who lost her. Also, its namesake was for another NH resident, Alan B. Shepard, who was the first American in space in 1961 from Derry, NH. The memory of him in Derry, who has since died in 1998, is still apparent by our post office being named after him, Derry’s nickname, being referred to as, “”Space-town” and the local high school, Pinkerton Academy where he was a graduate, mascot is called the “Astros”.


meteorologist Al Kaprielian

You watch WMUR channel new 9 for local news, but if you want to hear “real news”, you turn to channel 4, 5 or 7 for Boston news channels.
This may sound a bit rude, but if you are a New Hampshire resident, you must admit this is the truth. We also can’t forget our most popular and wacky weatherman Al Kaprielian, a meteorologist, that reported the weather on WNDS channel 50 in Derry, NH for over 25 years. This quirky guy’s distinguishable, high-pitched Boston- accent, squealed out the weather forecast, while doing jumping-jacks, adding props, you name it, was strangely beloved by locals as well as many all over New England. His goofy ways and crazy antics were so popular, he had an almost cult-like following. You never knew what he was going to do, you just watched with curiosity and delight, wondering how he is allowed to do the things he did. I don’t think anyone even cared what the weather was that he was reporting. We just wanted to see what he was going to do next. Even www.funnyordie.com called him one of the craziest weathermen of all time, saying, “he looks like he was allowed to take hard drugs every night before work.”

thewanderlustyogi.netYou go to Lake Winnepesaukee every summer.
Or as New Hampshire folks call it, “ Lake Winnie”. It is he largest lake in New Hampshire and it draws people from all over. This popular summer vacation spot is also loved by many celebrities and was the name inspiration for the Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon’s daughter. He also proposed to his wife there at her family’s lake house. Lake Winnepesaukee was also influenced in films such as On Golden Pond, What about Bob?, and Grown Ups. Although even us locals don’t know how to spell it correctly, we do know how to enjoy lake Winnepesaukee and all of the Lakes region.


Adam Sandler. Oh, and look, he loves Dunks too!

You know where Adam Sandler’s parents live.
Famous comedian Adam Sandler was from Manchester, NH and his parent still live in the same house his was raised in today. New Hampshire residents love sharing that funny man Sandler is from our state.

thewanderlustyogi.netHampton Beach is the beach you most frequent, but most embarrassed to admit.
Although Hampton Beach is the most popular beach to visit on the Atlantic ocean in New Hampshire, it is also looked at as the cheesiest, some would even call it kind of “white trashy”. While just north of it, with beaches like Rye and Jennes State, is considered more classy or more family oriented, Hampton is still the busiest and most visited in New Hampshire. Hampton Beach is known for it’s crowded beaches, loud strip with cars filled with rowdy teens making their rounds, blasting their tunes out their windows, and low-budget souvenir shops. It still has its charm though, with fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night in the summer and it’s Seafood Festival in September. Maybe because we all grew up going there on weekends or staying there for our 4th of July week vacation, we have a nostalgic feeling when we are there. It has, in more recent years, cleaned up a bit, by adding new condominiums, higher end shops and even a casino, with hopes to change it’s reputation and make it a more sophisticated beachside destination.

thewanderlustyogi.netManchester Airport was our best kept secret for travel instead of having to deal with Logan Airport in Boston.
We love how it is so easy to get in and out of our little airport, with cheap parking and easy access to highways, without having to deal with Boston traffic and expensive parking prices at Logan Airport. While it is still very convenient and easier than Logan, with added flights, including even some International flights, we are all secretly scared that it may become just as busy and aggravating as Logan someday, and are annoyed when Massachusetts residents use “our airport” They have their own.

Jessica Griffin

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