Diary of an Autumn Day

This is like 100 pounds of pumpkins, awkwardly distributed. Hence my face.
October 13, 2013 — The success of some Autumn days hinges on a single event. Maybe a day at the fair. Maybe a night at a haunted house. For other days, success is achieved if you can manage to slip just one minor Autumn-related thing into your busy schedule. Maybe a horror movie on TV. Maybe a pumpkin beer with dinner. Other days are a combination of the two, an amalgamation of small Autumn treats into one giant trick-or-treat haul. That was our Saturday.

More specifically, this was our Saturday:

Note the raven-topped can.

We spent our daylight in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, that wet spot in the middle of the state that has thrived for more than a century as a tourist center during the warmer months. But we didn’t pick the area for that reason. I was booked for an author appearance in a multi-author event at a delightfully quaint bookstore in Center Harbor called Bayswater Books Co.

Marianne O'Conner was there. She wrote Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire. This was the book that turned me on to the B-18 bomber wreckage on Mount Waternomee. Tom D'Agostino and his co-author and wife Arlene Nicholson were there, too. They’ve written a stack of books on New England lore, haunts, and sites. You can’t research New England’s odd side without bruising your shins against their names at some point.

Basically, we just sat at tables on the store’s porch (delightfully quaint, remember?), signing books and talking to whoever came by and then comparing notes during the lulls. Tom and I shared a table, so I got to know him a bit. He was a pretty funny guy, laid back, long black hair graying in places, with silver rings on every finger and a raven-topped cane. Lots of stories.

After the event was over, I wanted to take a spin by the grave of Claude Rains, the actor who played the Invisible Man in the 1933 Universal Studios horror film of the same name. The grave was just 1.5 miles away from the bookstore, and remains one of my favorite sites in the state, even if that was only my second time visiting it.

The way the white fence is reflected in the stone makes the grave look invisible. I'm just saying.
From there, we were on a mission for pumpkins. We hadn’t picked ours for the season yet, and it needed to be done, else everything I’ve experienced and written for this blog so far this year would be for naught. Plus, “Carve a pumpkin” is my advice for everything. I’d suck as a Dear Abbey columnist. Or rule.

We stopped at a place called Beans and Greens Farm since it seemed to have everything we could want from such a place: apples, pumpkins, baked goods, barnyard animals, hayrides, a corn maze, a mummified fisher cat. We skipped the corn maze because of our recent failure in Vermont at solving one. I’m just not ready to get back on that horse. I promise I’ll finally tell you that story this week.

According to a placard beneath this monstrosity,
they found the desiccated corpse while doing some work on the barn.

Then it was time for a late lunch, so we ate at a biker bar. I can’t remember how that happened. I think we looked it up online and it said it had a kids menu. The fact that the menu was labeled “Future Bikers” should’ve tipped us off.

Also, the fact that we were in Laconia at that point, which is one of the country’s major rallying points for bikers.

It was called the Broken Spoke Saloon, and a large banner over the door dubitably called it “The World’s Largest Biker Bar.” In front of the door was a gauntlet of leather-clad folks holding three o’clock beers that I’d have to pass to enter…with my wife and three-year-old child, plush horse in hand.

Somehow, we still weren’t dissuaded. I don’t know. We had pumpkins in the trunk and therefore the confidence of the universe, I guess.

This is all the pics you're getting from the place. I wasn't about to go slinging a camera lens everywhere.

Honestly, other than the fact it was roomy, bright, and I was in there, it’s kind of exactly how I imagined a biker bar to be. Budweiser memorabilia everywhere, classic rock blasting, solidly built women, a high incidence of do-rags (and a low incidence of helmets…we’re the Live Free or Die state). It only hit me later that I could’ve crossed off a bucket list item had I only chosen Tequila on the juke box.

We had some burgers and onion rings, learned that only songs with “rock ‘n roll” in the title get played at biker bars, and then took off. The place was pretty friendly. As thanks, we did not cause a chain reaction of toppled bikes on the way out.

On the drive home, we hit a few shops, made a few random stops, but  by that time we were really ready to get back, show our pumpkins their new home (and murder site), caramelize the apples we bought at the farm, and settle in and watch spooky stuff until the day full of activity caught up to us.

It was a good Autumn day. Exactly what I want from this season that solves all other seasons.