You may have heard that a Massachusetts woman recently had the online world laughing when her major award on the The price is right the game show hit too close to home.
Catherine Graham, from Marshfield, Mass., traveled to the famed Television City studios in Los Angeles to win a trip to New Hampshire.
“Lucky!” a poster responded on a Boston television station’s Facebook page. “She could drive there, and the toll is only $1.”
Graham, who appears to be a good sportsman, was amused by the not-so-great prize. “I’ve been there a million times,” she says with a smile. “I just wish it was Tahiti or somewhere…a cruise around the world, maybe.”
Well, I’ve never been to Tahiti, which I guess is correct, but I’ve been a resident of the Granite State since 1982. We’ve traveled this little part of the world, lost and otherwise, and a lot of its pleasures remain to be explored. I wouldn’t say it’s on par with Paris, but in a New England context it’s not bad at all, even desirable.
Graham’s transportation included air travel from Los Angeles to our own Manchester. It may not have one of the largest air terminals in the world, but it does provide easy access, which is important when your feet hurt. Next, head to the state capital, where five nights at the Concord Hotel await you. “It looks like a prison sentence,” wrote Smart-aleck Patrick on the Facebook page of the aforementioned television channel.
But a quick check of the hotel’s website reveals that it’s not shabby Motel 6. The Concord “welcomes you…with an ambience of classic elegance paired with modern conveniences. Guests enjoy the serene luxury and thoughtful touches of an independent boutique hotel, conveniently nestled in the heart of downtown. The photos make it look pretty classy, but I’m not the best judge. On family trips, my father extolled the virtues of roadside shacks, which locked five children and two parents in adventurous discomfort for little money.
We drive to Concord once or twice a year when we need a change of scenery. It’s usually one of those days when Dede and I, who have been married for over 40 years, briefly find each other not infinitely fascinating. We jump in the car and look for distractions. Spoiler alert: nothing too crazy.
We visit the Goodwill thrift store, the LL Bean point of sale (we hold for 70% markdowns). We used to meander through Target, before Lebanon grabbed one of their own. Keep Catherine Graham away from the Concord Mall, which was bustling 20 or 30 years ago. We stopped there recently. Three stores were open. You could shoot a zombie movie in its vast void.
As for downtown, there’s a great burrito place and some interesting storefronts – the kind you see on a main street making a brave effort to survive with courage and creativity but could use a few thousand tourists.
But if he had, we’d find it boring, so there you go.
Greater New Hampshire has its charms, which are not limited to the gigantic buildings that have recently sprung up. Egypt had its pyramids; we have state liquor stores. If you love great inland waterways, Lake Winnipesaukee is for you, although we did a three hour cruise last summer and lost interest halfway through. The ferry ride from Portsmouth to Star Island is better – a beautiful old hotel and murder stories await. Hampton Beach offers nearby ocean and cotton candy, tacky T-shirts, and an arcade with Skee-Ball machines. Welcome to the New Hampshire Riviera.
The White Mountains are high and rugged, and conveniently located near the outlets of North Conway. And, of course, there is the Upper Valley, with attractions too numerous to list. Some would say the best thing about being here is that you’re not in Massachusetts, but I think that’s kind of mean.
Others might say the best thing is that you’re almost in Vermont, but that sells New Hampshire short.
If I were governor – a dream and a nightmare at the same time – I would find out when the The price is right winner planned to visit and declare Catherine Graham Day. Escort her everywhere like a presidential primary candidate: restaurants, general stores, rest areas, everything. Give him a gift basket of New Hampshire apples, New Hampshire maple syrup, and a New Hampshire sweatshirt (hopefully not made in China).
A Facebook wag named Keith, presumably also from Massachusetts, wrote this: “As long as she goes, could she pick up a carton of cigarettes for my wife?
If you know New Hampshire, you know there’s no objection.
Dan Mackie lives in western Lebanon. He can be contacted at [email protected]