Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Moose Crossings and Church Preservation in the White Mountains

On Saturday morning, we went with Austin to his last Little League game of the season. Each player got a trophy, there was a free BBQ, and the parents played a game against the kids. Dave and Austin both had a fun time. At one point Dave stole (literally picked up and ran with) first base, getting a good laugh and some rule explanations from chorus of young voices. Some of the kids were really incredible athletes already and it was great to see all the kids having fun and learning about sportsmanship at the same time. 

After the baseball game and a quick dip in the community pool to cool off, Dave and I started the 3 hour trip North to Berlin, New Hampshire, where we were going to kayak with Dave's brother, Jesse, and his wife and kids. 

The sky was darkening as we drove, and as we got higher in the mountains, the fog began to roll in the valley below us. 

This was a rare occasion when we actually used a highway, which ended up working out for the best because we got these awesome views of the foggy valley from a scenic pull-off area along the interstate. 

In the amount of time it took us to snap a few photos, the fog became this much thicker.

After driving on the highway for a while longer, we got off an exit to spend the rest of the trip on roads less traveled. Though it was close to getting dark, we couldn't resist stopping at this beautiful old church. 

When we were taking pictures, the neighbors in the house next door said "Hello," and we struck up a conversation. Turns out the church, named the Ivie Memorial Protestant Episcopal Church of the Messiah, was built in 1930 by a man as a memorial for his daughter, Ivie, who died young and unexpectedly. The church seems to have quite a history in the community. Long ago decommissioned, a developer bought the property the church sits on and announced his plans to tear it down to build a road for a planned housing community. A friend of the church's neighbors, who was there to tell us this story personally, helped preserve the church and save it from being razed by the developer. The developer still owns the property the church is sitting on, but is now prohibited from tearing it down. The developer is quoted as saying he will just wait till the church rots away, but we have news for him: that church will most likely outlive him! Its sturdy stone construction is showing no signs of decay, and, thankfully, it will be there for years and years to come. 

Decaying churches and barns are something we've noticed consistently in our travels, and something we discussed with the church's neighbors. While there are many individuals and groups working hard for historical preservation, America is much less focused on preserving old structures, like churches and barns, than European countries, which have healthy numbers of old structures providing a link to their countries pasts. It is difficult to get people to rally behind historical preservation, and we applaud the individuals who do so. Thank you for preserving America's history! We sincerely appreciate your work. 

The neighboring house to the Ivie Memorial Church. 

As we continued North into the White Mountains, we began seeing Moose Crossing signs every few miles. I really wanted to see a moose on this journey, and Dave and I talked about how neat it would be to see a moose crossing the road like a deer. In a completely surreal moment, around dusk, a moose appeared out of the woods and proceeded to cross the two-lane road we were on. Unlike deer, which are jolty and jumpy, the moose was the most graceful creature I've ever seen. He was a full grown bull moose with a complete early summer rack on his head. He must have been trotting, but appeared to float across the road with the grace of a ballerina. Dave has always told me how moose disappear amazingly fast into the woods, and this moose proved that. Despite his giant size, when he reached the other side of the road, he vanished into the woods like a magician. It was a magical first moose sighting experience for me, and I couldn't be more grateful! 


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