Granite State Ambassador Volunteer
Recommendations & Tidbits

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  • 04 Jan 2018 11:50 AM | Kelly Bryer (Administrator)

    by GSA Sue Greenbaum, Currier Museum of Art Class of 2010

    Twenty-one GSAs drove up to Lincoln one cold and snowy afternoon in December and turned into elves.  

    They really did, and it was a truly magical experience. That is how the GSA "elves" who participated in the Journey to the North Pole described it. They were right, of course.

    The elves, who were told ahead of time to come up with their own "elf name", were asked to arrive at the North Pole Theater Tent early to change into their costumes. They were provided with Elf hats, red mittens, red jackets, green pants, (all in fleece and organized by size) and later put on brown elf coverings over their shoes. Before the show, the elves were given explicit and humorous instructions complete with role playing by the staff, and all felt confident in their roles. The staff couldn't have been more professional, supportive or enthusiastic, as they reviewed exactly what to expect, and how to help with the performance. 

    Meanwhile, the families were boarding the Journey to the North Pole train and departing on a 15 minute ride to the North Pole. On the ride the adults and pajama-clad children were served delicious hot cocoa by magical chefs. 

    All the elves were given lanterns and then walked a short distance down the hill to the train tracks to await the families. They spread out along the tracks and swung their lanterns as the train pulled up. The real magic started as the children spotted the elves welcoming them. Some couldn't wait to get off the train and were pulling the windows open, leaning out, and excitedly greeting the elves. 

    The families disembarked the train and were escorted by elves to the North Pole Theater. During the walk some pretty entertaining conversations took place.  Emma, our own Executive Director's teenage daughter, had the cutest interaction with 2 little girls, about age 4 and 6. First they came up to her and asked her name. When Emma said "Twinkle Spice", the girls were thrilled, because they had met Twinkle last year. Of course it was another Twinkle last year, but Em didn't miss a beat. She asked the girls their names, told them she remembered them, and commented on how much they had grown and how nice they were. After the show, the girls ran up to her again with big hugs, and said that they missed her and would see her again next year. Em was pretty excited that she was able to make their experience extra special with just one comment.

    Many children wanted to know if the elves knew their "Elf on the Shelf" at home. Of course they did, responded Elf Happy (AKA Betsy Booth)! She worked in Santa's Post Office, and loved the children who really didn't want to let go of their letters to Santa. It usually worked to send them to the mailbox across the way.

    As the families entered the large tent, the elves stayed outside, handing their lanterns back to staff and forming 2 lines. They waited for the signal to enter, and then skipping with enthusiasm, entered the tent while singing a Christmas song, and headed past the audience to the brightly lit stage. As the show began with a classic reading of the poem "The Night Before Christmas" the elves were having some fun of their own. Elf MoMo (AKA Moe Demers) grabbed a broom and was sweeping the stage. One little girl in the front row was so fascinated by his curled up feet, she just had to reach out and feel them. Was it perhaps to see if they were really curly? When the show concluded one parent called him "The Friendly Elf", probably from trying to engage the children in the first few rows.

    Back on stage, other elves were picking up props and having fun incorporating them into the act. One naughty elf, Susy Snowflake (AKA Sue Greenbaum) was lifting each elf's arms and whisking their armpits clean. Other elves were pretending to paint or hammer toys, or string bells, among other things. Each elf was asked what was his name, age and job. The elves proudly announced "I feed the Reindeer!" or "I paint stripes on the toy Tigers" or "I sew clothes for the Dolls!" or "I make Trucks!", and most seemed to be around 500 to 600 years old. All the elves joined in singing the Christmas carols, and by carefully watching the staff in the back of the room, were able to mimic their motions and act out the Twelve Days of Christmas. While this was going on, Santa was making the rounds in the the audience, speaking to each and every enchanted child, and shaking their hands.

    Finally the show ended, the elves left the stage singing and grabbed their lanterns again. They waited outside and escorted the families back to the train. After many  exclamations of "Merry Christmas!" and "Thank you for coming!", the families boarded the train. As it slowly went down the track, the elves waved goodbye with their lanterns lighting up the dark. On board, each child received a special gift as they rode back to New Hampshire.

    There was a second show about an hour later. During this down time, the staff fed us lots of pizza and water. They had way more pizza than than they needed as another group of Elves didn't show up as arranged. The GSA elves professionally and proudly carried on the show all by themselves. It was a great night to be an Elf!

    Some of the elves drove back home that night, and some opted to stay over. Wine, cheese and other snacks flowed in at least one motel room, and old friendships were stoked while new ones were ignited. More than a few GSA elves are already eagerly awaiting next December to join in the fun again. 

    A big shout out to Elf Okey Dokey (AKA Sue Geyer) for arranging this volunteer excursion. We had a blast!

    This 2 hour adventure takes place in Lincoln as well as North Conway, New Hampshire. Net proceeds from the Journey to the North Pole Event fund Literacy Programs of The Believe in Books Literacy Foundation, a Charitable 501(c) non-profit organization.

    41 Observatory Way, P.O. Box 1800, Intervale, NH 03845  (603) 356-9980

  • 03 Nov 2017 2:33 PM | Kelly Bryer (Administrator)

    by GSA Rose Shajenko, St. Mary's Bank - America's Credit Union Museum Class of 2008

    You found your family once you go to the Mid – Week Getaway for Adults at The Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, NH.

    The adventure begins on Sunday. I was asked if I would be arriving for Lunch or Dinner.   My plans were to hike beautiful Mount Monadnock. It was a sunny glorious day for the hike up the mountain. Arrived at the Inn before dinner and was given my schedule with activities for the week.

    My first impression was how do all these people know each other. Everyone was sitting at the family style long table were chatting away. After dinner, everyone moved to the comfortable living room to catch up with each other.

    Starting on Monday, activities were twice a day at 10:00 and 2:00. During our crafting session with Jane, I layered fudge brownie mix ingredients in a mason jar, decorate the jar, and then attached the recipe card.

    Everyone at the getaway had been coming for years. Some had been coming to the Inn with their families for 44, 46 years, and someone new this would be there third year. I was the newbie of the group being my first time except for my one day Granite State Ambassador tour I participated in.

    There is so much to do or if you like then just rest and relaxation.  You partake in activates as much as you like. On my second day I fell into the routine, breakfast from 8-9. But before breakfast I’d like to hang out in the dining room to check my emails for the day.   

    Fresh coffee is always waiting for you. There is no way to explain how good the food is. My first morning I served myself from the cart / table that’s set up every morning with oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, fruit etc. After I was full from this I found out it was now time to order from the specials for breakfast. Then I ordered one of the specials, then tried one of their freshly baked muffins. By the second day you realize you don’t need to order a special because this Inn is so accommodating you order whatever you like, eggs, toast and I had bacon every day. At the end of breakfast, after hearing your lunch choices, then you place your order. Always there is desert after lunch & dinner, with one choice being locally homemade ice cream. You never go hungry during the day either. There are two huge cookie jars filled with homemade treats, like cookies or muffins. Many of the meals are family style, served on platters that you take as much as you like and pass it down. Near the end of the week I would already be planning what I’d order for breakfast the next day.

    The weather for the three days of the week was rainy but that didn’t dampen our moods. One morning at 9:00 I went out to the barn to milk a goat. Then went to the chicken coop to look for eggs. Only found one that time. I don’t know any other vacation that you leave with eggs. By the end of the week I had a half dozen to take home.

    I can’t say enough about the staff at the Inn. Everyone had worked there for years, I never in my life felt the warmth like I did there. The farm has been passed to the second generation to run. But the staff feel like part of that family. Since so many of our group have been going here so long, the staff make the extra effort, knowing their names, asking about families so much caring. You can tell it isn’t just a job. I loved hanging out in the dining room between meals to be part of the interactions that were taking place.  Even the handyman introduced himself to me because I didn’t look familiar but he knew everyone else and wanted to be of service to me during my stay if I needed anything.

    There were a lot of laughs and silliness during my stay. Two nights we broke up into teams and played Family Feud. My team won the first night. Our prize was cozies to keep your soda cold in. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much that Nora found more questions and there was a rematch the second night. Our team ended up losing. I participated in yoga with Cindy, book club with Connie, intuitive readings and domino games.

    Our last night our Gretchen came to the Inn, to have the group share travel tales.  My only regret is that I hadn’t brought a pen & paper to write down travel destinations and helpful hints.

    Friday morning, Maribeth and I had a trail ride. Perry led us around.  A few of the group came out to watch us. Hadn’t been on a horse in decades. Some were staying on for lunch, I said my goodbyes and headed home.

    When I got home, I set on the table my Fudge Brownie Mix, 3-d Felt Reggae man I made instead of the Nome, Two Monadnock Oils, I purchased, Cinnamon Raisin Bead I made, half dozen eggs, pictures I colored, book I finished reading and finds from local antiquing. I have met some wonderful men and women, shared so many laughs and told many stories. I’m left with the sadness of saying goodbye. Thursday night our last evening, everyone was talking about when they planned to come to the Inn again, many are coming for the April Get-a- way.

    The next day after my vacation, I made French toast with the bread and eggs. Still have the farm in my head, until we meet again.

    photos: East Hill Farm

  • 03 Nov 2017 2:29 PM | Kelly Bryer (Administrator)

    We had such an incredible day with our friends Colleen & Matt of the White Mountain National Forest. Not only am I a local to the WMNF, I have been on every single tour we have done, every single year -- you would think that this annual tour would be old-hat by now. NEVER! Every year, I learn more and more. This year, they took us on roads I had never been on, and furthermore, didn't even realize existed.  Here are what some of our GSAs had to say about our adventure.

     Click here for photo album

    For me, The morning started off with a bit of rain, some light fog, and with me wondering if, like the forecast has said, the sun would actually be making an appearance.
    That feeling dissipated the further north I got on my drive to the White Mountain visitors center where we were meeting. While the sun was peaking through the clouds, it was still a bit on the cool side but not a cools as it might have been for a New Hampshire October morning.
    After checking in, we headed for our cars and headed even further north for our tour.
    We made several stops throughout the tour and discussed what was available for the visitors to those specific areas.
    At Boise Rock we learned about both Franconia Iron and the Rock itself and how, during a major snowstorm, a teamster was able to survive the storm under the ledge. Not a place I’d want to spend a night, even in the middle of the summer!
    Trail heads and there kiosks, filled with information, including with warning about the danger you might run into, and information on the type of gear you should be carrying (or wearing!) were prevalent. It’s surprising, for me anyway, that people that go out to climb mountains, sometimes don’t realize that the weather can be quite different up above tree line and so in many cases don’t have warm clothing, even in July. The one sign I remembered clearly pointed out the ‘Many have died above timberline from exposure’. One comment made, almost in jest, was that you also needed to be wearing proper footwear. Most people would expect this would go without saying BUT even I have seen people out mountain climbing in flip-flops!
    Campsites, and open tenting areas as well as fee’s that were collected for parking in different lots was discussed. The need for these fees, and uses was also covered. While you might be surprised at how little they were, when you heard what they were used for you might ask why they weren’t higher.
    One thing that surprised me was that this area of the state was already past peak foliage season. At home in Nashua, most of the trees hadn’t even started to show signs of change but, while there was still spots of good color, the vibrant reds and oranges that I see most years was already dulled a bit. Well, winter does come a bit earlier in the mountains so I guess it should be expected that the falling leaves do also.
    It was a wonderful tour and I would highly recommend any and all GSA’s that haven’t done a tour in this area join one when next available.
    Tim A


    Participating in the White Mountain Certification Training is an inspiring experience. This year Matt and Colleen shared places that I did not know existed. You know those places you drive by when you are in the mountains but have never ventured into. They shared areas where the camping is free to first come first served near trails accessible by foot or by Appalachian Mountain bussing service. Views that I had never seen before and now will ensure I visit again. And, of course, waterfalls that are just a short jaunt off the road. Did you know there is a wonderful babbling river in Crawfords Purchase not far from the Cog Railway? Both this one and the one near Crawford Connector Trailhead provide views and a perfect place to picnic and enjoy mother nature. The White Mountains are a hiker’s dream but what this tour reinforced is that there is much to see a little off the beaten path. White Mountains National Forest experiences a huge influx of visitors during peak seasons such as leaf peeping. They reminded us that our visitors need to be prepared when they visit with the appropriate equipment and be ready for any weather situation. It is so beautiful there that some of us forge into the wilderness without thoroughly planning for what may lie ahead. I am now a certified WMNF person but there is no way that 2 trainings even scratches what they have to offer. I look forward to participating in another one next year. Thank you White Mountain National Forest for bringing us up to speed on what you have to offer.
    GSA Kathryn S


    What a wonderful White Mountain National Forest Tour we had. The weather started out cool and crisp and blossomed into an amazing day. Every so often we caught a glimpse of the Mt Washington summit and it was as clear as could be.
    I thought of this as the ‘road less traveled’ view of the area. We traveled into areas I hadn’t seen or experienced before. Instead of the more known attractions we were able to see more of the areas that hikers and naturalists are interested in. It was absolutely beautiful. One take away was that when speaking to folks headed north, we should definitely steer them to talk to some of the folks from the White Mountain National Forest.

    They also told us about the Weeks Act Legacy driving trail and it looks fabulous. I can’t wait to try it. Sue G


    The WMNF tour on October 12 was so interesting. Living right here, I also learned a lot that I did not know. In Franconia Notch, I was not aware of the large parking area at the base of the Bridal Path trail, nor was I aware that there was such a nice picnic area at Boise Rock! Often when travelling home from Seabrook on Friday nights I have stopped at the Boise Rock area, but had never seen the small sign for the picnic area.
    The large camping area off of Route 3 in Twin Mountain also surprised me. I always thought that it was an entrance to a parking area for the gale river. Taking the back road across from Base Road to Crawford notch blew me away. I had to make a return trip the next day to see that fantastic view of the back of the Omni Mount Washington Resort! It was great to see and learn about these places and the difference between the paid camping sites and the free camping sites and the amenities that are offered at each type. I was also a little shocked at how much $ is brought in by the Fee tubes. I've debated on purchasing the license plates and always decide that it's just as easy to put money in an envelope to park at places like Glen Ellis Falls and Dianas Bath.
    Angie C


    This was my 2nd White Mountain National Forest Tour and it continues to impress me with how many unknown places there are. Matt and Colleen are so enthusiastic about the WM you cannot help but want to share the information with everyone. Was very pleased that they are looking into handling the large number of tourists without just adding more parking lots. The shuttle is such a great idea.
    The lunch spot was perfect, best foliage I have seen so far. The Crawford Path, local swimming hole and the "secret road" was just plain fun! Looking forward to next years adventure.
    Maureen W


    I loved the Clinton Road, it was like four wheeling. Besides it was awesome to see the Mt. Washington Hotel from a different side. I learned about how they are taking care of our forest, hikes that are free and hikes that you need a tag for. I learned about the parking problems, I never realized it, I for one am guilty of parking on the side of the road at Mt. Major. I now know not to park on the road, especially a highway. (not sure why I didn't think before hand). Anyway, our tour guides were so's amazing how much there is to know about our great state and all it's forest. I was very impressed with them both. Thank you all for a great informative tour.
    Linda D


    Dear Matt, The GSA group thanks you for the wonderful day in the woods you gave us. As I volunteer at Exit 32 I was particularly happy to learn about some new places to send hikers. To test them out we took a hike on Middle Sugarloaf the next week and today I went to see both Lower and Upper Ammonoosuc River Falls. With all the rain we have had they were both terrific! I sent several groups there this past weekend.
    Thanks Colleen for spending time with us GSAs in the White Mountains. We loved the day and were especially happy to learn about some new places to send hikers when we volunteer at Exit 32. I sent several groups to both Upper and Lower Ammonoosuc Falls this past weekend. With the recent rains, they are spectacular!
    Jane A


    I just want to thank you all for a wonderful tour in the White Mtns last week. I usually work at the airport and countless times I have been asked what can I do or see. One time I actually had some folks who were meeting up with others to hike part of the Appalachian trail. They came in early and wanted to hike something else while they killed time. I would have loved to tell them about what I just learned. I have lived in NH for 19 years now and am still learning to be a "tourist". This is my 2nd White Mtns tour and I look forward to more in the future. I'm sure we have just dented the surface.
    Sue C

    Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 3.54.33 PM.pngCongratulations to our GSAs earning their White Mountain National Forest GSA Certification! Pictured above with previously certified GSAs are: Tim Adams, Jane Anderson, Susan Caprio, Rose Marie Cusson, Bruce Flegal, Sue Geyer, Connie Loken, Patty Mason, Diane Miner, Mary O’Brien, Joe Reisert, Kathryn Segreti, Marty Wagner, Maureen Walsh, & Liz Ziegler.


    Weeks Act Legacy Trail -

    Recreational passes:

    Website -

    Franconia Notch – Old Bridle Path – parking alternatives

    Dispersed tent camping – we visited Gale River

    Upper Falls:

    Alerts, notices, restrictions:

    Clinton Road is what we traveled from Upper Falls area to Crawford Path

    Highland Center:

    Cherry Mountain (Fabyan Cabin)

    Hiking trail pdf’s:

    Day hiking areas:

    WMNF Wilderness Areas

      * Caribou-Speckled Mountain
        14, 000 acres designated by the 1990 Maine Wilderness Act.
      * Great Gulf
        Approximately 5,552 acres, designated by the 1964 Wilderness Act.
      * Pemigewasset
        45,000 acres designated by the 1984 New Hampshire Wilderness Act.
      * Presidential Range - Dry River
        29,000 acres designated by the 1975 Eastern Wilderness Act and
        expanded in the 1984 New Hampshire Wilderness Act.
      * Sandwich Range
        35,800 acres: 25,000 designated by the 1984 New Hampshire Wilderness
        Act and 10,800 designated by the 2006 New England Wilderness Act.
      * Wild River
        23,700 acres designated by the 2006 New England Wilderness Act.

  • 01 Oct 2017 2:30 PM | Kelly Bryer (Administrator)

    by GSA Marty Wagner, Comfort Inn Concord Class of 2011

    When the first pieces of the interstate highway system were built in the 1950s, no one could have imagined the number of vehicles that would take to the roads nor the number of people that would travel to New Hampshire by automobile.  On holiday weekends, and some summer weekends, as many as 600,000 of our closest friends cross our borders to enjoy all NH has to offer.  I feel like I’ve met at least half of them at the State Welcome Centers.  This article is intended to tell you more about being a volunteer at these Centers, and perhaps meeting some of these nice folk yourselves.

    I volunteer regularly at the Hooksett North and Canterbury Welcome Centers, and have also put in shifts at the Hooksett South and Seabrook Welcome Centers.  Whenever I’ve mentioned my volunteering history to other GSAs, there have always been questions about my experiences.  Below are some FAQs which I have been asked by other GSAs in my 6 years of volunteering at these Centers.

    What do GSAs do, and what does the staff do?

    In each of the Welcome Centers, the staff and I seem to have worked out a rhythm of who does what.  The GSA’s job is generally to cover the brochure racks or general area and approach people to see if they need help.  If they’re looking at brochures or looking around a bit aimlessly, it’s time to take the initiative and speak first.  Often when I ask visitors if they need help finding something, they first say ‘no’ and then immediately follow that up with questions.  At that point, the conversation has begun, and another fun experience as a GSA is underway.

    The staff generally operates from behind the desk.  At the centers where they have printers, it is the staff who researches things online based on a question they’ve received from a visitor or the GSA on duty.  They often print out that type of information as well as driving directions when asked for those.  Staff in Hooksett are also responsible for issuing various licenses, but GSAs are not involved in that task at all.

    Staff at other State Welcome Centers are responsible for maintaining the facility which sometimes means that the GSA is the one covering the front counter area alone for short periods of time during the shift.  However, if something comes up which requires their help, they are nearby and easily accessible.

    I’d like to think that the staff and I are backup for each other since we all bring various knowledge to the centers.  I’ve gotten to know some of the staff so we know each other’s specialties and interests, which only helps the visitors overall.  Many times visitors benefit from a discussion with two of us for ideas and recommendations.

    By the way, how each center keeps GSA records may vary slightly from place to place; it’s clicker counters in Hooksett and marking the tick sheets in Canterbury.  My rule is ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans.’  It’s their ‘house’; I’m the temporary visitor so I follow their rules.

    When is the best time to volunteer?

     I volunteer year-round at the State Centers, although I go less frequently during the quieter winter months and more often during NH’s high season from Memorial Day through the end of October, followed by the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  Their shifts are generally Thursday through Saturday at northbound centers, and Sunday and Monday on southbound centers.  To pick a time that will suit you, just think about when the traffic jams occur on the highways.  The norms change with weather forecasts and holidays, of course, but generally, the busy times, particularly from Memorial Day through Labor Day and then during foliage season, are:

    Thursday afternoons when people get a head start on the weekend. (northbound)

    Fridays from noon until about 9 p.m. (northbound)

    Saturdays from 9 a.m. to about 3 p.m. (northbound)

    Sunday from early afternoon to 9 p.m. (southbound)

    Monday mornings when people travel to avoid Sunday travel (southbound)

    Is there a place for GSAs to sit?

    The short answer is that yes, there are places for GSAs to sit at the State Welcome Centers.  However, in order to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of their computer systems, the State prefers that only employees be behind the counter.  That does not preclude GSAs from finding a nearby bench or chair to sit on between helping visitors.  During busy times, I never have enough time to sit, but the option is always available to me if I need it no matter how many people are passing through the centers.

    What types of questions or interactions can you expect?

    I could write a book in answer to this question, as could any GSA about the places where they volunteer.  The short response is expect anything and everything from…… where are the bathrooms to…. the lakes really freeze enough here in winter so people can walk on them?  It was February, and when I told this particular man about bob houses, ice hockey tournaments and car racing on Winnipesaukee, he wanted directions to go there that very day.  He was from Egypt and had never seen a frozen pond or lake.  How cool is that?  I didn’t believe it two years later when I had a similar conversation with another visitor, this one from Brazil.

    At all four State Welcome Centers where I’ve worked, there are always people who are just planning for their next vacation to NH.  They’re looking for ideas and brochures to back up those ideas, whenever possible.  Another constant is lost people trying to find the way to their destination or the way back to where they started.  One of my favorite questions related to directions was:  “Can you tell me the difference between Hampton and New Hampton?  I’m supposed to be at one of them, but I’m not sure which one.”  He laughed heartily, as we stood in Hooksett, not particularly close to either place.  We asked a few questions and decided Hampton Beach was his destination.  Staff printed directions for him and he was gone.

    During our snowless winter of 2015-2016 when there was no skiing, many of the February vacationers still came to NH, but they were looking for recommendations to help keep themselves busy during their stays.  Being in snow country with no snow is a challenge, but we came up with some ideas.

    In May of this year, the Canterbury Welcome Center helped a busload of Romanian visitors.  Only one or two spoke English, but we offered them maps and brochures, and they were appreciative .  Then the guide himself, also from Romania, asked for ideas of where to stop in the White Mountains as they drove to Quebec.  We made a couple suggestions, he seemed happy with the options, and off they went.

    Beautiful Saturday afternoons in summer are likely to bring out people who have decided it’s a good day for a ride, and they now want to see as much as they can.  I once spoke with a woman who wanted to walk the Flume, drive across the Kanc, visit Diana’s Bath, and do some shopping in North Conway.  It was a great plan but it was also 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and she was headed back to Boston for the evening.  I estimated the travel time for her, and when she saw the difficulty, I helped with an alternative plan.

    In the Fall, questions are mostly about finding the red leaves, of course.  I’ve developed a couple routes people might take depending on the traffic and how adventuresome they are.  I loved it when one man came up to the counter one day and said, “I only want to go on back roads with my camera.”  He was a professional photographer, and we found him roads that were just grey lines on the map.  Another visitor, while not a professional, was every bit as serious about her photography craft.  “I’d like to take a foliage picture reflected in a lake.”  Staff and I put our heads together to give her some ideas which had an added challenge because it was about two weeks prior to the peak season.  As you all know, finding red trees is not an exact science.

    It was in late Fall when a woman and her husband appeared with all kinds of questions about what they might see and do in the White Mountains.  We had been discussing it for a while when she added that they wanted to take the Cog that day, too.  “That’s great,” I said as I looked at her flip-flops and her husband’s shorts.  “You might want warmer clothing though since it’s currently 23 degrees at the top and only 12 degrees with the wind chill factor.”  Unfortunately, they didn’t have any warm clothes with them, but there were still lots of other alternatives for them to pursue.

    I, of course, have also had some questions that stump me although I always provide the best answer I can.  At the top of that list was one asked on the Friday night of Columbus Day weekend:  “Why is there so much traffic tonight?”  Tough one.

    Do the State employees want us as the State Centers?

    I was reluctant to include this question, but since I’ve been asked this at least twice, I decided to just put it in black and white.  The State employees at the Centers have always welcomed me to their Centers, and treated me kindly.  We’ve gotten to know each other a bit and share stories like anyone you work with.  It’s neat, too, that almost all of them have been through GSA training now, so they really understand how our mission fits into theirs.  Pictured below are part of the Hooksett crew:  on the left is Meaghan, Hooksett North and South supervisor, standing with Andrew who works on the northbound side of the highway.

    More Questions?

    I hope this little bit of information about the State Welcome Centers gives you better insight about volunteering there.  Those of us that do it, really love it.  Choosing a time to volunteer is key, so keep in mind……traffic jam time usually means plenty of action, and lots of variety.  The other most important thing is to be ready to approach people in the Centers to offer your assistance.

    If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or any of the Centers.  They’re waiting to meet you, as are some of those 600,00 closest friends arriving here by car!

  • 22 Sep 2017 10:49 AM | Claire Moorhead (Administrator)

    The New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival (NHHG&F) is one of the largest and most diverse Highland Games held in North America and the largest cultural event. This celebration of Scottish heritage is held the third Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of September each year at Loon Mountain Resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

    GSAs were invited to experience the Highland Games on Friday, September 15th or Sunday, September 17 as a thank you for all we do for the tourism industry and to help generate referrals for the games. Here are some impressions and photographs from those who attended this year:

    There was music for everyone from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pipe Band to the Red Hot Chilli Pipers!    -Yvonne G

    Yvonne G. and I had a great time yesterday at the Highland Games...  I wore my GSA shirt, and Yvonne carried a light backpack with the GSA logo.   I particularly enjoyed listening to the various musical groups including the Brigadoon's who played a mix of Scottish folk songs. Their group featured many instruments including a fiddle. The energy of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, an inter-generational group from Scotland, was contagious, and played to a full crown in the concert tent.  Hand clapping and dancing, cheering and sing-along had everyone involved with this energetic group which included amazing drummers, a variety of other instruments besides the showcasing of 3 bagpipers. Meanwhile the sheep were herded through many obstacles on the hillside by amazing dogs, who circled, crouched, and used eye contact with the sheep to control and direct them. The weather was predicted to be a bit overcast with a threat of scattered showers, but the day cleared, and was warm and sunny for the most part.   Shuttle buses were frequent and efficient, making access to the festival very easy.   Thank you!    - Jean S.

     What a fun time it is to go to the Highland Games. I went with another GSA and our husbands. The Highland Games are a very well organized event from the shuttles to the layout of the land where all the festivities occur.  The shuttles run regularly and we didn’t have to wait.  Once we got to the games it was an effortless process to pick up my ticket and my husband purchased his on the way in.

    We had the opportunity to witness and enjoy many events, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pipe Band and Dancers and watch the Sheep dog trials; both were very entertaining. We walked around the Clan tents and got to talk to a few interesting people.  It was hot and humid and I wondered how those people in the wool kilts were keeping cool but they didn’t seem to mind the heat. We sampled some of the Scottish food which was delicious. My favorite thing was listening to the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.  They were loud, jumping and energetic.  It was so much fun! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend and enjoy the festivities. - Maryellen M.

    Last Friday, Irene and I attended our first NH Highland Games at Loon Mountain. When we checked into the Will Call booth, I gave my name and was asked was that MacMullen? We knew then that we were in for a fun time.
    We couldn't find the Clan Mullen tent; probably because I'm Irish, so we started to take in the multitude of activities offered.
    Just to give you a brief inkling of what we thought were some of the highlights among the highlights:
    1. Red Hot Chilli Pipers - a 9-member Scottish ensemble of bagpipers, guitarists, keyboard and drummers. They were a very lively band that really got the crowd rocking with their songs and performance.
    2. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pipe Band and Dancers - a moving performance from this world renown bagpipe and drum band.
    3. Charlie Zahm - a singer and guitarist of Scottish folk songs performed for what seemed for hours.  He was terrific.
    4. And the Sheep Dog Trials - sheep dogs trying to corral sheep thru obstacles in a very large area. They were certainly entertaining.
    Thanks for providing the tickets so we could attend. It was fun! -   - Irene and Bob M.


    My husband and I really had an enjoyable experience at the Highland games.  We went with another GSA (Maryellen McG and her husband) and they were hoping to pick up some tips from my husband who was born in Scotland.  When we got there, we went directly to see some of the regimented pipe bands.  They perform their routine with military precision.  We were pleased to see the Royal Canadian Mounted Pipe Band perform.  After some pipe band performances, we went to the Sheep Dog trials.  The dogs and the trainers are amazing!  We can't get over how difficult it must be to train the dogs.  They are so well trained and so responsive to their trainers.  We unfortunately missed an earlier team that had a perfect run however, the dogs we saw were still enjoyable to watch.  It's fun to hear about where the trainers and dogs are from.  So many towns in New Hampshire are represented.  

    When the Sheep Dog trials took a lunch break, we also thought that would be a good idea.  There were so many places to have lunch and of course there was an opportunity to try some traditional fare such as Haggis!  The weather was really hot so I decided to have a "Shandy".  I also talked Maryellen into trying a Shandy.  She was not sure if she would like it since she is not a beer drinker but she found she enjoyed the drink.  A Shandy is a drink made with beer and lemonade but here in the US it is usually made with Lemon Lime soda such as Sprite.  This is something I have had many times when in Scotland with my husband and his family. 

    After lunch, we wandered around and listened to some music. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are from Glasgow, Scotland and were great.  They are not the traditional pipe band that you would expect, they give a new meaning to pipe music!  They were really rocking the house down.  We did hear traditional Celtic music both performed by bands as well as by a single vocalist.  Going through the different tents and seeing all the different clans was fun.  Of course, we tried to identify the tartan of my husband's family.  

    I would suggest a couple of things to make the experience more enjoyable.  One is that most of the food (except the lodge) is cash so having cash on hand is helpful.  Another suggestion is to make sure anyone going is aware that it can get very hot so dress for the heat and bring sun block!

    Thank you for the opportunity to experience this great festival.  -           - Nancy S.


    Yesterday Leo and I went to the Highland Games at Loon.  Even though there were forecasts of rain, we ventured out.  It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day all day.

    What a well-organized event it is!!!  We learned so much about the history of many of the plaids and names.  Mac at the beginning of the last name means, "Son of".

    We delighted in seeing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pipe Band perform, the sheep dog competition, Highland Fling dance instructions, and numerous vocal performers and bands performing all throughout the grounds.  Have never been before, but plan to return again next year!!!

    - Rita G. - Inaugural Class of 1996



  • 15 Sep 2017 3:40 PM | Claire Moorhead (Administrator)

    Contributed by: Pam Lorimer,  Museum of NH History Class of 2003

    Autumn is a time of harvest and abundance. Such is the case for the adventurer in the Monadnock Region. There are many exciting events and activities to choose from as you explore the natural beauty that is Monadnock in the fall.  


    Make your plans now to enjoy early foliage and BEER! The 15th Annual Schnitzelfest in Hillsborough brings authentic German food, Oompah entertainment, drink and more to their “Bier Garten” on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23, Noon – 5pm. 

     Monadnock Fall Festival 

    The following weekend celebrate music, food, crafts and kid fun Monadnock Style at the Monadnock Fall Festival in Keene on Sept. 30. From 10am – 4pm

    Candlelight Open House

    October 6 is a special opportunity to step into the past, when two house museums in Keene hold a joint Candlelight Open House on Main Street. Just a few blocks apart, experience the Historical Society of Cheshire County’s Revolutionary era Wyman Tavern and the 19th century Horatio Colony House as they were before electricity – by candlelight! Re-enactors and colonial gaming enliven your time at this free event from 7:00-8:30 pm.

    Open Studio Arts Tours are an amazing chance to see an artist’s personal work space. Artists in many disciplines open their private studio space for you to view, allowing you insights into their inspirations and methods. With several tours going on Columbus Day weekend, you can choose to explore by town, type of art, or happenstance as you drive the back roads enjoying the foliage. Each tour has its own map detailing locations and each open studio will have signs leading you in.

    Yes it is the 22nd year for this Monadnock Arts Event. Maps can be obtained at any stop, or by clicking here Also check out this great video about the art Tour experience. Oct. 7-8-9, 10am-5pm

    The Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour, has artist information on their website as well as a map for this year’s participants. Oct. 7-8-9    10am-5pm

    The 34th Annual Wool Arts Tour features a great variety of vendors at four sites in Hillsborough County. Oct. 7 9am-5pmOct. 8, 9am-4pm

    Pumpkin Festival

     What better way to round out the season than with pumpkins?! The Monadnock Pumpkin Festival gets back to the roots of this annual celebration with an emphasis on family fun and agriculture. Head on down onto the Cheshire Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 21, Noon-8pm and don’t forget to bring your carved pumpkin to add to the display.

    And keep in mind – any visit to the Monadnock Region in the Autumn is a feast for the senses as you mosey along two lane highways among trees ablaze with fall color, listen for the call of the Canada Geese as they migrate, maybe even stick a toe in a quickly cooling lake, pond or river!

    This Monadnock Region fall update was brought to you by Granite State Ambassador Pam Lorimer from the Jack Daniels Motor Inn in Peterborough.

  • 30 Aug 2017 3:52 PM | Kelly Bryer (Administrator)

    Portsmouth Peace Treaty
     The people of New Hampshire were ambassadors for the world when they hosted the Russian and Japanese delegations to the peace conference in Portsmouth that concluded with the signing of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty on September 5th. Here, the parade welcoming the diplomats to Portsmouth.
    Portsmouth, New Hampshire (August 30, 2017) -- The State of New Hampshire celebrates Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day on September 5th with the ringing (for three minutes) of church bells, school bells and the sounding of the shofar (traditional ram’s horn) at Portsmouth’s Temple Israel.

    A salute at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard takes place at 3:47 pm, the exact moment the Treaty signing was announced by a Marine at the Shipyard on September 5, 1905. The PNSY whistle is the signal for church bells throughout the city to ring.

    Among those scheduled to ring their bells this year are: North Church in Market Square, Middle Street Baptist Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Second Christian Congregational United Church of Christ, Christ Episcopal Church and First Congregational Church. South Church, which usually participates in the commemoration is unable to this year as the clapper in their church bell is broken.

    In Market Square (near the historic marker in front of Piscataqua Savings Bank), citizens will gather at 3:30 pm to hear Mayor Jack Blalock read the 2017 Governor’s Proclamation of Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day. Established by unanimous vote by the NH Legislature in 2010, the official state observance recognizes that in 1905 “an uncommon commitment to peace became a common virtue” and encourages citizens statewide to commemorate four key ideas:  1) the Portsmouth Peace Treaty ended the Russo-Japanese War, with at that time, the largest land and sea battles ever fought; 2) that President Theodore Roosevelt chose Portsmouth as the site for the peace conference because of the Shipyard and the welcoming atmosphere of the Governor and people of NH; 3) Citizen diplomacy -- the involvement of local people -- significantly contributed to the favorable outcome of the negotiations that earned President Roosevelt the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize; and 4) New Hampshire is the sole example of a state honoring its citizens for the active role they played in fostering successful international negotiations.

    Elsewhere in the state, citizens gather a Portsmouth Peace Treaty Living Memorial cherry tree sites in Dublin, Hanover, Lancaster, Littleton, Manchester, Meredith and Milford to participate in the bell-ringing.

  • 25 Aug 2017 9:03 AM | Claire Moorhead (Administrator)

    The Big E’s official app is all-new and now available for download from the App Store and Google Play! With so much do to at The Big E, the updated app helps fairgoers navigate the grounds with ease, plan their trip and be aware of important news, updates and special giveaways happening on the grounds.

    2017 Features:

    • Tickets – Get in the gates faster! Purchase admission, concert and Midway tickets without waiting in line.
    • Map – Need an emergency Cream Puff or can’t find the Avenue ShowPlace? Check out the grounds map to find your way around.
    • Schedule – View the event lineup and create a customized schedule of must-see acts, performances and shows that take place over the 17-day extravaganza.
    • Attractions – All the best things to do and see on the grounds…The Giant Slide, Avenue of States, Mardi Gras Parade, Storrowton Village and much, much more.
    • Eat & Drink – Find out what’s new on the menu, as well as a list of vegetarian and gluten free options.
    • Shop – Treat yourself! Browse unique handmade crafts, unique items from international vendors, plus the latest and greatest products to hit the shelves.
    • News & Social – Stay engaged and up-to-date with what’s happening on the grounds! In this section, you can find out about the fun as soon as it is announced and join in on the conversations with #BigEMoments.
    • Big E Info – What do you need to know? We have it here.

    Be sure to enable push notifications to get cool offers and participate in giveaways while on the grounds.

    Start planning your trip today! The Big E app is available for iPhone and Android devices. To download, search the App Store and Google Play for “The Big E” app or use the link below.

    The Fair takes place Sept. 15 – Oct. 1 and will be jam-packed with food, entertainment, and so much more! For up-to-date information on fun-filled activities and events happening throughout the Fair, visit, connect with us on social media and check out our app for the latest info, contests and more!

  • 18 Aug 2017 4:33 PM | Claire Moorhead (Administrator)
    This year’s Fair has it all: great entertainment, vintage cars, and deep-fried burgers! Walk around and take a big bite out of a variety of sweet and salty pleasures or sit down and chow down in one of our restaurants. Walk the Avenue of States for a specialty dish unique to each state or go big and try something new to this year’s Fair. Save room for dessert and dive into a Big E Cream Puff or Éclair. Picky eaters and foodies alike will get their fill of incredible Fair food; The Big E has the best selection of Fair cuisine on the East Coast.

    Don’t know where to start? Download the Big E App and check out the hours of operation and locations of your favorite restaurants and concession stands. Plan a schedule to make the most of your special day and grab yourself some goodies on the way!


    2017 NEW FOODS

    No matter what the craving, the Big E has your plate covered with great meal combinations and mouthwatering new foods.

    If you can’t decide which you love more, breakfast or dessert, then Amy’s Sweet Treats is offering a perfect combination just for you: the Belgian Waffle Sandwich – two thin waffles served hot and fresh with Neapolitan Hard Ice Cream in the middle. If dinner and dessert is more your style then take a walk to Porky’s to feast on their new BBQ Brisket Sundae.

    Hofbrau Joe’s is offering crowds two new creations. At their Oktoberfest Biergarten, take a big bite out of the fully loaded Burger Bomb – a five-ounce burger patty topped with cheese, bacon, onions and sauerkraut before being wrapped in a pastry dough, deep fried and served in a pool of goulash. Hofbrau Joe’s Clam Box is serving up two fried Shrimp Tacos with diced onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese and chipotle mayo served in a soft corn tortilla shell. Find both locations in the Food Court.

    If you’re looking for an adventure, head to the West Springfield Lions Club to try their dangerously delicious Flatliner Burger. With two layers of a cheeseburger and chili, topped with French fries, cheese sauce and bacon, this new burger is a risk too good to miss.

    Enjoy Sweet Pepper Bacon at the Burgundy Brook Café, Waffle Chicken Bites from The Deep South Company, or Deluca’s new Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich. If you’re craving something sweet, Pop ‘N Fresh welcomes fall with a new and trendy take on a classic fair food: Pumpkin Pie Funnel Cake. Need more dessert? Stop by the Coffee Break for their Deep Fried Holy Cannoli served with chocolate chip ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, cinnamon, sugar and whipped cream.


    No one can resist coming to The Big E without sinking their teeth into a massive Big E Cream Puff. Early morning and late-night Cream Puff cravers can visit our take-out window. The Big Éclair smothered with a layer of smooth chocolate is another crowd pleaser, handmade every day of the Fair and just as rich in flavor. Both desserts are made fresh on location at The Big E Cream Puff Bakery in the New England Center, but can also be found in the Food Court.

    If someone brings up The Big E, chances are the Craz-E Burger is soon to follow! The Fair’s signature sandwich made its debut in 2009 and has been a major hit ever since. Make sure there’s room in your stomach for a mouthwatering bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between two halves of a grilled glazed donut.


    Doughcos - Anna’s Fried Dough

    Blueberry Pierogi Sundae - Moolicious

    Ultimate Cowboy Nachos - The Ultimate BBQ - The Food Court

    Roast Beef Sandwich on a Kimmelweck Roll - Jim’s Concessions

    Deep Fried Oreos - Marion’s Fried Dough

    Poutine - at Poutine Gourmet

    Cinnamon Caramel Apple Gourmet Mini Donuts – The Donut Family

    From new ‘gourmet’ experiences, to tried and true favorites, there truly is something for everyone to fill their plate with at the fair! While some of these foods are attractions in their own right, you can still find plenty of traditional salads, fruits, sandwiches and snacks that aren’t quite as adventurous! Whatever you fill your plate with….. ENJOY!

    To see what else goes on at the Big E visit:


  • 28 Jul 2017 9:07 AM | Kelly Bryer (Administrator)
    As an avid kayaker on the Pemi, I was excited to accept Ski Fanatics / Paddle the Pemi's invitation to bring some GSAs for a paddle excursion. If you haven't been on the Pemi paddle, the river winds through the countryside and forests of Thornton and Campton. There are only a few glimpses of homes along the way, making the river look wild and natural with no shortage of swim and picnic spots.

    Paddlers generally have two choices. To be shuttled and dropped off at Robin's Nest (intersection of Cross Road & Route 3 - under the bridge) like we were (6 miles - 3-4 hours) or they can make a day of it and go into the river in Woodstock (10 miles - 5-6 hours). Those who want to tube, go in at the Gilcrest Cottages.

    Our section of the river had Class 1 rapids which were pretty light and fun.  The trip we took would have been $40pp and included the boat rental, shuttle (to and from), paddles, and life preservers. If guests have their own boat, it's $20 for the shuttle only.
    Ski Fanatics/Paddle the Pemi also rent canoes, double kayaks, paddleboards and tubes. They are easy to find right off the I-93, Exit 28 exit in Campton on Vintinner Road.

    In the winter months, they are  full-service winter sports shop with sales and rentals. If you are a regular, you can even rent gear for the entire season.

    This is only the second time that I have been kayaking so I was initially a little nervous. This time of year, the river was higher than normal because of all the rain so that made it easier to navigate through the low water parts. The staff at Ski Fanatics were professional, friendly and knowledgeable. They bring you to the drop off, and then pick you up at another designated spot. We waited very little time for them to pick us up as they run shuttles every 15 minutes. We stopped for lunch/a snack along the way which was quite a challenge for this newbie getting in and out of the kayak. I am happy to say that I did manage to keep my kayak upright which was not the case for everyone.  We now have a couple of GSAs that have joined the “I like to get wet club and experience the coolness of the river first hand.”  I also got to meet a few new GSAs or at least they were new to me and we shared a few of our experiences of being a Granite State Ambassador. It was a fun day.

    This is a fun activity for the whole family and I would highly recommend using Ski Fanatics for your rental and excursions.
    ~ Maryellen McG

    July 12 and the weather was sunny in NH, perfect for my very first Kayaking trip on the beautiful Pemigewasset River.  Our group of 8 Granite State Ambassadors and our fearless leader, Kelly, met at Ski Fanatics in Campton where we were fitted out with life jackets and kayaks.  Everything loaded up, we were off on a short ride to Robbins Nest where we "put in."  Though this was my first kayak experience, most of the others were experienced and capable kayakers.

    I was a little jiggly at first, but got some great tips from Roz and soon got the hang of it. I really enjoyed the beautiful river views, ducks, geese, and a few little rapids here and there along this 6-7 mile journey.  We encountered a few groups of tubers along the way, but otherwise we had the river to ourselves.

    Ron, trying to avoid a large rock at one of the rapids, became our first casualty.  Kelly rescued him quickly and efficiently and his spirits were not dampened, though the rest of him was.  

    We had a short rest stop and some of us were able to get out of their kayak for a stretch.  I, however, decided to stay in my kayak as I had not yet quite figured out how I was ever going to get out of it

    I soon found out - as we rounded a bend in the river, a little too close to some downed trees, I was caught in some branches - oops, I was OUT and the kayak was filling with water - eek!  Once again, Kelly to the rescue.  We disentangled the kayak from the tree branches and off it floated!  Fortunately, Ron was prepared downriver a bit and was able to grab it and drag it to shore.  Kelly helped me into her kayak and she floated down the river under Kelly power to Ron, and we resumed the trip.

    We finally arrived at the debarkation point to rejoin the rest of our group - who were wondering where the heck we were.   The Shuttle was there waiting for us and when we were all accounted for we were delivered back to Ski Fanatics.  No GSA's were lost!  My shoes (and other things) were full of mud, but I did not get my hair wet!  What Happens at the River, Stays at the River!

    We all had a great time and I can't wait to tell NH visitors how much fun it is to go kayaking with Ski Fanatics.
    ~Vicki H

    A fun time had by all. The folks at Ski Fanatics were so friendly and accommodating and the weather was great! We learned a lot and got to know each other a little better. We learned that Kelly is adept at "herding canoes", thanks Kelly!  Four newbies hit the river and besides a couple of snags we did well!
    ~Liz W

    The time I spent on the river was much appreciated and was a definite workout for muscles that have not seen that much continuous work in a long time!  Especially memorable was the magnetic rock that drew my kayak to it despite my frantic paddling to stay away from it; my boat was capsized!  Fortunately, the water was knee deep.
    ~Ron L

    Everyone was so nice and efficient at Ski Fanatics.  I would have not known about them had I not been exposed through the Ambassadors.  I am very grateful. I will definitely recommend them as the summer and winter destination point for our visitors as I volunteer at the airport in Manchester, and to my friends.
    ~Rosemarie C

    I had truly had a wonderful time and will enthusiastically recommend the experience to anyone heading up to the White Mountains for the day or for a longer vacation.  I have already mentioned it to some kayaking friends in the community I live in and encouraged them to try it out.  We couldn't have had a better experience!
    ~Nancy S

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