Learn to cross-country ski and improve your skiing


This past January was "Learn to Ski and Snowboard" Month at downhill and cross-country areas. Although the month is over, most areas still offer inexpensive "learn to ski" packages as part of their regular offerings. These include trail passes or lift tickets, equipment rentals, and a lesson. It's a great way to try something new without investing lots of money in equipment or suffering the frustration of teaching yourself. You'll learn faster and have more fun.
Things to consider when learning to cross-country ski:
1. Start young – It's much easier to learn a new motor skill when you're young. Your body is more flexible, your balance better, your center of gravity lower. The earlier you can get kids on skis, the more naturally it'll come to them.
When should children take lessons? Once kids are in school, they are more receptive to instruction. They listen better, are more coordinated, and get more out of the lesson. Children can take lessons in a family group or by themselves.
2. You're Never Too Old – You might not be a "spring chicken," but if you are ambulatory, you can learn to ski. An instructor can help you work on your balance and coordination and show you how to be comfortable and efficient on skis. A group lesson will teach you the basics of moving on the flats and, when you're ready, the hills. A private lesson will give you a tailor-made lesson for your skills and comfort level. Both options are well worth the money to help you enjoy cross-country skiing.

3. Find a professional – Most cross country ski areas have instructors on staff who know how to teach you the skills you need to have a good time on skis. Many of them are PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) certified. Lessons are structured to teach you skills one at a time and answer your questions about equipment, trail recommendations and etiquette, and techniques.

4. Pick a good day – Learning to ski will be easier if you pick a day when you're rested, the snow conditions are good, and the weather isn't too brutal.

5. Take a friend – It's easier to try something new if you have a friend along. You can encourage each other and share the learning experience. When you're done with your lesson, try out your new skills together on the trails.

Experienced cross-country skiers can benefit from lessons, too. They can tune up their skills if they're rusty, improve their techniques for better skiing, or try new gear and ski styles. Just because a skier knows the basics doesn't mean they can't learn something new. Old dogs can learn new tricks.
This winter, take advantage of the lessons local cross-country centers offer to learn to ski, improve your technique, fix bad habits, or try a new style of skiing. Your cross country experience will be so much better when you have new confidence and skills.


Jackson Ski Touring Foundation instructor teaches a five year old student how to have fun on skis.

Jackson Ski Touring Foundation instructor teaches a 5-year-old student how to have fun on skis. (Sally McMurdo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

This older couple signed up for a lesson to learn how to use their new equipment and have fun in the snow.

This older couple signed up for a lesson to learn how to use their new equipment and have fun in the snow. (Sally McMurdo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Mom and kids get ready for a family lesson.

Mom and kids get ready for a family lesson. (Sally McMurdo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)


photos are 02-26 learn to ski 1,2,3

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Lakes Region Profiles — The little lakes of the Lakes Region

By Mary O'Neill

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


Most people visiting or living in the Lakes Region are familiar with the big lakes - Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Squam, Newfound - but they are not so familiar with the location and characteristics of some of the smaller lakes. I complied a list and quizzed a long-time resident as to the location of a number of the smaller lakes. Out of a list of 24, he was only able to name the location of 11. More surprising, he had not heard of several even though they were within 20 miles of his residence. Quiz yourself and see how you do in comparison. Where are the following lakes: Crystal, Suncook, Manning, Sunset, Halfmoon, Merrymeeting, Wentworth, Crescent, Kingswood, Mirror, Duncan, Ossipee, Silver, White, Kanasatka, Wicwas, Waukewan, Winona, Hermit, Pemigewasset, Opechee, Webster and Sawyer?

How did you do? Some of the lakes unheard of by my anonymous resident are actually good-sized lakes. Crystal Lake, in Gilmanton, for instance, covers 440 acres and is only 4 miles as the crow flies from Alton Bay. In the same area are the little known lakes of Manning and Sunset. Although smaller in size at 201 and 206 acres, respectively, they are only a 10 to 15 minute drive to the Alton docks. Much of Manning Lake is undeveloped, half of the shoreline being an official Boy Scouts camp for the Daniel Webster Council since 1945.

Less than 5 miles south of Crystal Lake are 160-acre Locke Lake and 362-acre Suncook Lake, both in Barnstead, and 253-acre Halfmoon Lake, which straddles the Alton and Barnstead town line. Halfmoon Lake has a unique history in that one of its beaches, called Hollywood Beach, was owned by Hollywood director Gordon Bennett. Actor Spencer Tracy was known to be a regular visitor there along with other movie stars.

A 15 minute drive from Alton Bay to the west is Merrymeeting Lake, located in New Durham, with 10.8 miles of shoreline and covering 1,111 acres. Merrymeeting Lake is regularly ranked among the cleanest lakes in the country. Local residents work hard to maintain this record. There is only one marina and public boat launch which means the lake stays uncrowded and provides ideal conditions for sailing, kayaking, swimming and smooth water skiing. Currently, you can purchase a home with lake access or waterfront for $180,000 to $450,000.

Further north, Lake Wentworth contributes to Wolfeboro being known as the oldest summer resort in America. Royally-appointed colonial governor John Wentworth had a summer mansion on the shores of the lake before the Revolutionary War. Lake Wentworth is the seventh largest lake in New Hampshire at 3,100 acres. Connected to it via the Smith River is 184-acre Crescent Lake, which is just a half mile north of downtown Wolfeboro. Two miles east of Lake Wentworth is Kingswood Lake in Brookfield. Heading west from Wolfeboro into Tuftonboro is Mirror Lake. The lake itself is only a few hundred feet from the shores of Winnipesuakee's Winter Harbor. Ten miles north of downtown Wolfeboro is Duncan Lake. This picturesque water body has 1.7 miles of shoreline and is 117 acres. Seven miles further north is 3,300 acre Ossipee Lake and another three miles north is Silver Lake. In the same vicinity is 126-acre White Lake. This lake is well known for its state park. Within the park is a National Natural Landmark. National Landmark Properties are registered to illustrate some aspect of America's diversified natural resources. In this case, there is a 72 acre stand of Northern Pitch-Pines. It is believed that colonial settlers used this durable, water-repellent, and decay-resistant wood for mill wheels and fence posts. The White Lake State Park's stand contains trees which are unusually tall for the species.

Heading west to Moultonborough brings you to the unspoiled waters of Lake Kanasatka, spreading out over 375 acres. This lake was once named Red Hill Pond after the hills behind its northern shore. Property for sale on Lake Kanasatka is one example of how you can purchase lakefront real estate for less than something comparable on one of the bigger lakes. For example, a current listing offers a home with 2 bedrooms, 150 feet of shoreline, and more than half an acre for $339,000.

In the area between Winnipesaukee and Newfound there are several stunning lakes. Lake Wicwas in Meredith covers 328 acres and is surrounded by forested conservation land. Wicwas attracts many kayakers and canoers who like to navigate around its many islands. Lake Waukewan in Meredith and New Hampton has 8.1 miles of shoreline and covers 912 acres. This striking lake serves as Meredith's water supply and flows into Winnipesaukee's Meredith Bay at the Inn at Mills Falls in downtown Meredith. Lake Winona in New Hampton and Center Harbor has 3.1 miles of shoreline and covers 154 acres. Also in this area are Hermit Lake (176 acres) and Pemigewasset Lake (241 acres).

If you continue south from Meredith you will come to Lake Opechee. This lake was the site of the 1954 National Waterski Championship. With its placid waters nestled among the hills of Laconia, Opechee's 426 acres remain a popular waterski spot. As with the other smaller lakes, waterfront living is possible at lower price points. For instance, a well-appointed three bedroom/four bath home with 227 feet of shorefront and a private beach located in one of the best neighborhoods is currently listed for $599,000. Other lakefront and lake-access homes on Opechee are available starting in the low $200,000 range.

In the Tilton, Belmont, and Franklin area are Webster Lake (612 acres) and Silver Lake (216 acres). The Winnipesaukee River flows into Silver Lake from Lake Winnisquam. At one time, an important Native American village was located at this juncture and served as a gathering place to capture eel and shad. About eight miles east of Silver Lake is 79-acre Sawyer Lake in Gilmanton. Sawyer Lake is popular for its comfortable and reasonably-priced homes and camps that give homeowners access to five association beaches. Current listings in this area range from about $80,000 to $230,000. Another eight miles west of Sawyer Lake brings you back to Crystal Lake in Gilmanton, where we began our tour of the smaller lakes.

These lakes are just a few of the 273 lakes, ponds, and rivers in the Lakes Region. American scientist Loren Eiseley once said, "If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." If the cost of a property on one of the bigger lakes is beyond your means, it is still possible to enjoy waterfront living on one of the smaller lakes.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. rocherealty.com

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Roy Sanborn - Patriots Day

Patriots Day


There were just 61 residential home sales in January 2016 in the 12 communities covered by this Lakes Region Real Estate Market Report. That's kind of a slow start for the New Year, but it is still a lot better than the 50 posted last January. The average sales price came in at $338,936 and the median price point was $231,500.

Monday was Presidents Day. If I was in the car business, I would write about the successful blow-out holiday sales that we just had. But, since I am in the real estate business, and we don't have Presidents Day house sales, I guess I can write about a president's house instead. There aren't any for sale that I know of right now although the White House is currently underwater by a mere $19 trillion so it could be coming up as a foreclosure sale shortly.

Which president's home would you buy if you could? Obviously, the one that might cause the most hype would be old George's house. No, not George H. Bush's house in Kennebunkport. I mean the home of our first president and original New England Patriots coach, General George Washington. Although, now that I think of it, Kennebunkport would be a pretty nice place to hang out.

Mount Vernon is located on the banks of the Potomac in Fairfax County, Virginia, and is a pretty classy place. It would bring a pretty fair price if it were ever put on the market although I am not sure about the bathroom situation from what I can find on the Internet – none were mentioned. But, it has got great curb appeal, sits on the river on a 500-acre lot, and is in a prime location. But in order to market it, the agent would have to learn a lot of new terms with regard to the architecture of the home in order to properly describe it. Right off the bat, this is not a New Englander or split level. It is a Palladian-style home which was constructed in stages starting in 1758 continuing through 1778. A Palladian-style home is based on the formal temple style architecture of the ancient Romans and Greeks. Things were really different back in the waterfront market in those days. This was obviously built before Adirondack-style waterfront homes became so popular.

The main part of the home is called the "corps de logis." I have never once used that term in my MLS descriptions. On the first level, this section houses the main living areas; the central passage, a couple of parlors, a small dining room, a study, a small bedchamber, a butler's pantry and the all important and grandest room; the New Room. This was the forerunners of today's great room. This room is two stories tall, has a grand fireplace, lavish ornamental woodwork, and decorated in bright bold colors and wallpaper. This room served many purposes from receiving and impressing guests to large formal dinner parties. In another era, George would have watched the New England Patriots in the comfort of this room, rather than out in the cold at Valley Forge.

The central passage was the main entry to the home and extended from the front to the back of the home. This is a grand room and was also used to entertain guests. This space provides the proverbial money shot with views of the Potomac and Maryland shoreline on the back side and pastoral fields out the front. The back door leads out to a two story "piazza," which is a fancy word for covered porch, which is the main distinctive feature of the home. Can you just imagine George and Lafayette posturing on the piazza, pondering the Potomac, while eating pizza and pontificating about the Patriots?

On the second level, you'll find all the bedchambers. No en suites here, unfortunately. On the third level, there are additional bedchambers, a china closet, a cupola and the "lumber rooms." Lumber rooms were not there to store lumber but were rooms for excess furniture that was not used all the time and had to be tucked away out of sight. I am sure the servants got sick of lugging that Birdseye maple table up and down all those flights of stairs.

On either side of the main house are "colonnades," or covered walkways (forerunners of breezeways), that lead out to single-story buildings used as servants' quarters and a kitchen. This layout formed the "cour d'honneur" which is another really fancy word for a three-sided courtyard. I have to work that term in to my next listing somehow. I Googled "red neck cour d'honneur "and nothing came up so it may be a bit of a stretch around here.

So here's a test for those that actually remember some of the history you learned in school. Match the follow presidents with the names of their residences. I threw in a couple easy ones for you. No answers. You can Google them, too!

Thomas Jefferson                   Rancho del Cielo
George H Bush                       Springwood
Calvin Coolidge                      Monticello
Andrew Jackson                     Andrew Johnson Home
Teddy Roosevelt                     Rancho Mirage
Ronald Reagan                       The Hermitage
Richard Nixon                         The Beeches
Franklin Delano Roosevelt        La Casa Pacifica
Gerald Ford                            Sagamore Hill
Andrew Johnson                     Walkers Point

Mount Vernon, George Washington's home on the Potomac River in Virginia, offers features not found in today's real estate listings. (Courtesy www.mountvernon.org)

Mount Vernon, George Washington's home on the Potomac River in Virginia, offers features not found in today's real estate listings. (Courtesy www.mountvernon.org)

Pl​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 2/16/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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Hightower – How Big Pharma is trying to improve its image

Big news, people! Especially for those of you upset by the skyrocketing prices of the essential prescription medicines you take — including thousands of patients who were hit last year with a 5,000 percent price increase for one lifesaving drug!

Determined to do something about those despised price hikes, drugmakers themselves have reached into their corporate toolbox for the two most effective means they have to fix their price problem. Of course, putting more corporate cash into research to produce new medicines would be one of those tools, and a renewed commitment to honest competition would be the other, right?

Right! But Big Pharma gave up years ago on doing right, turning to two other corporate tools that have reliably generated a gusher of profits for them: advertising and lobbying. So here they come, wielding bigger-than-ever ad-and-lobbying budgets to deal with that pesky matter of public anger at price gouging.

If you wonder why Congress keeps ignoring what the people want it to do — while doing things that people don't want it doing — take a peek at the unique PR campaign now being run by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. PhRMA is America's largest pharmaceutical lobbying group and represents Eli Lilly, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co and about three dozen other drug manufactures.

The intent of PhRMA's multimillion-dollar PR blitz and intensified offensive in Congress is not to restrain the gouging but to improve the industry's image in hopes of restraining lawmakers from taking steps to rein in prescription costs. Of course, the ads dishonestly fail to mention the selfish intent of being allowed to keep ripping off patients, instead pitching drugmakers as selfless saviors of humanity. They feature soft scenes of drug researchers in white lab coats urgently trying to find new cures, scripted testimonials from patients and of course scenes of drugmakers altruistically aiding poor people.
The American public is dismayed and disgusted by the flagrant greed of drugmakers that are shamefully zooming the prices of medicines into the stratosphere, turning necessities into unaffordable luxuries. As a result, there is a growing demand for Congress to take action to stop the industry's out-of-control gouging.

Hoping to counter this demand for action, drug companies have launched their massive advertising campaign, not only running radio and print ads but also placing ads on Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites. Yet it's not likely that you've seen or heard any of them. That's because drug chieftains don't care what you and I think. Moreover, they know they couldn't possibly persuade us to let them keep jacking up our prices. So, their "public" relations effort has made the odd and seemingly counterproductive move of sidestepping the actual public, instead narrowly targeting a very tiny audience.

As one CEO arrogantly put it: "We've identified 7,000 Americans who matter," thus dismissing the other 330 million of us as nobodies. "We're focusing on those in policy positions ... to fight structural issues," he sniffed. By "structural issues," he means convincing Congress to take no action to reform the present pricing structure of monopolistic drugmakers, whose guiding corporate ethic is: "Bleed 'em for all they've got."

So this is a surreptitious PR campaign meant to reach only the eyes and ears of policy elites. The goal is to have Congress — once again — ignore what the people want it to do, thus allowing the corporate few "who matter" to keep fleecing the many. The word for this is "plutocracy." The industry is spending millions on this corporate medicine show not to protect its notorious profiteering but to protect you from public officials who might try to stop them from overcharging you. It's enough to make you sick.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

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DuBois — Katahdin, 'The Greatest Mountain'

By Gordon DuBois


In September, 1846, Henry David Thoreau climbed to the summit of Mount Katahdin. When he reached the summit, now known as Baxter Peak, it was enshrouded with clouds and he had limited views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. He referred to the mountain as a "cloud factory", and later wrote in The Maine Woods, "The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there. Their tops are sacred and mysterious tracts never visited by them. Pamola is always angry with those who climb to the summit of Ktaadn [this was Thoreau's spelling of the mountain]." Pamola is a legendary bird spirit of Abenaki mythology. Pamola is said to be the God of Thunder and protector of the mountain. Native people describe him as having the head of a moose, the body of a man and the wings and feet of an eagle. Pamola was both feared and respected by the native people and to climb Katahdin was considered taboo. Katahdin is derived from the Penobscot word which means, "The Greatest Mountain."

On Sunday, Feb. 21, I'll be hiking into Baxter State Park, attempting to climb Baxter Peak on Mt. Katahdin, the very same peak that Thoreau summited in 1846, and the same peak where Pamola resides. This will be my fourth attempt in winter to summit the highest peak in Maine, which stands at 5,270 feet. Several years ago, on my first attempt, a few days before I was to leave for Maine, I became terribly sick and had to cancel my plans. Two years ago, with three friends, I hiked into the Abol Campsite planning to climb the Abol Slide, the shortest route to the summit. The climb was aborted when a quick moving storm moved in. We found ourselves in thick clouds, wind gusts and snow and we returned to our campsite. With the predicted storm moving in quickly, we made the decision to return to Abol Bridge, where our cars were parked and we headed for home. Last year, at the end of January, I once again headed into Baxter for my third attempt at a winter climb of Katahdin. This time, with six other well experienced climbers. We did summit Hamlin Peak, a sub peak of Katahdin, but failed yet again to summit Baxter Peak. We were turned back by fierce winds, blowing snow and clouds that prevented us from seeing beyond a few feet. Pamola made his presence felt and perhaps the Penobscots were right, this is a forbidden mountain not to be climbed.

However, I have climbed Katahdin four times during the fall months. When my daughter Meghan was a student at University of Maine, we would make an annual pilgrimage to Baxter. It was always an unforgettable experience filled with wonderful adventures. I also climbed Katahdin in September, 2007 on the final day of my north bound journey on the Appalachian Trail. As I summited, cheers rang out from my trail pals, as this was the culmination of our journey on the AT. As I stood at the summit I made up my mind to climb Katahdin during winter and experience this mountain during the harshest time of the year. So, my quest began on the mountain that has turned me back three different times.

Katahdin is a massive, a geological term meaning a large mountain mass, with several dominant peaks that form an independent range. It lies totally in Baxter State Park and is the crown jewel of Maine. The first recorded climb to the summit was by Massachusetts surveyors Zackery Audley and Charles Turner Jr. in August, 1804. In the 1930s, Gov. Percival Baxter began to acquire land and before his death deeded more than 200,000 acres to the State of Maine for a park. Gov. Baxter's expressed desires were that this park "shall forever be retained and used for state forest, public park and public recreational purposes ... shall forever be kept and remain in the natural wild state ... shall forever be kept and remain as a sanctuary for beasts and birds." This has been the mission of the Baxter Park Authority since its inception.

Next week I will once again be heading into Baxter with seven other experienced winter hikers. We'll begin our journey by driving to Millinocket, Maine, staying overnight in the "Magic City" once home to two large paper mills. The next day we'll head into the park, carrying our clothing, gear, food and other sundries on sleds for the four day stay at the Chimney Pond Cabin, 19 miles from the start of our hike at Abol Bridge, which is just east of the park on the Golden Road. Once at the Cabin we'll lay out plans for the tramp to the summit. The cabin lies at the base of a cirque on a pristine pond which will serve as our water source, given we can punch through the ice with an ice ax. The view from the pond is spectacular as you look up toward the mountain summit. I have a feeling that Pamola will be looking down at us and I wonder, will the legendary bird spirit of the mountain will allow us to reach Baxter Peak? My next installment in two weeks will provide the answer.

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