When my family and I moved to the Lakes Region in 1977 I gave little thought to hiking locally. I was drawn north to the White Mountains to hike the many trails located in the National Forest. It wasn't until a few years ago that I became acquainted with the mountain range located almost in my back yard. A hiking friend asked me if I wanted to attend a meeting of the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders), a group of volunteers who maintain many of the trails located in the Belknap Range. I agreed to attend and signed on as a trail maintainer with my hiking partner Steve Zimmer. From that point forward I became enamored of not only the trail system, but the history and geography of the region known as the Belknap Mountain Range.
The Belknap Mountain Range is a prominent mountainous ridge that runs west of Lake Winnipesaukee in the towns of Gilford, Gilmanton, and Alton, N.H. It is comprised of several prominent peaks including Piper (2,044 feet), Gunstock (2,250), Belknap (2,382) and Major (1,786). A fire tower on Belknap and the cleared summit of Gunstock, as well as numerous scattered ledges on all the peaks, provide fine views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipee and Sandwich Range, and Mt. Washington. The range was named for Jeremy Belknap (1744-1796) who in 1784 published the first volume of the History of New Hampshire and in 1792 completed the work. The Belknap Range is part of a volcanic complex that surrounds Lake Winnipesaukee and includes Red Hill, the Belknap Range, the Ossipee Mountains and Merrymeeting Mountain. They were created during the Mesozoic Era and the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent. If you are interested in more information on the formation of the Belknap Range read "Stepping-Stones Across New Hampshire: A Geological Story of the Belknap Mountains." by Jay Long, 2005.
Several trails are ideal for the beginner hiker or a family with small children and serve as a wonderful introduction to the Belknaps. I would recommend the Mt. Major trail, the Piper Trail or the Gunstock Mountain Trail. One of my favorite trails is a section of the Fire Road/Round Pond Trail. It can be accessed from Bickford Road, which runs off of Rt. 11A. There is a small parking area at the end of the road and the trail starts immediately from the parking lot. It climbs gradually on a recently reconstructed fire road, with some fine viewing areas toward Belknap Mountain. At about one mile the fire road merges with the Round Pond Trail which starts at the Gunstock Mountain Ski Area parking lot. This trail is marked with red blazes. Continue on the Round Pond Trail, until it merges with the Piper Link Trail blazed in lime green. Stay to the left, continuing to climb gradually to the height of land. The trial then leads down to Round Pond and around its northern and eastern shore line. Round Pond is a beautiful mountain pond occupied by a very active beaver colony. The trail had to be relocated last year and moved to higher ground due to beavers building an extensive dam at the far end of the pond.
The trail continues along the eastern side of the pond to a clearing at the southern end of the pond. This area has been used often for camping and picnicking. The Daniel Webster Boy Scout Council owns much of the land near and around the pond and uses it for numerous activities in the summer. Here is a great spot for a rest in the sun, a snack and if you are brave, a dip in the pond. When you are ready to head back to the parking lot simply reverse direction and follow the trail back.
If you have the energy, the time and an adventurous spirit you can choose to climb Mt. Clem and Mt. Mack, as both mountains are accessible off the Round Pond trail. Watch for the BRT sign (Belknap Range Trail) that will take you up to the summits of both mountains. Since there are a number of other trails in the area you should have the Belknap Range Trail map with you, along with a compass (and the ability to use the compass) to ensure that you can return to the Round Pond Trail. Trail maps are available at the libraries in Gilford, Gilmanton, Laconia, Barnstead, Meredith, Center Tuftonboro and Sanbornton. You also can download or print the 11″ X 17″ map at http://belknaprangetrails.org/belknap-range-trail-map/.
I hope you take the opportunity to get to know the Belknap Range, just as I have done over the past several years. The range is a jewel in our "backyard" and provide wonderful opportunities for numerous days of hiking pleasure. You can learn more about the trails by going to www.belknaprangetrails.org
Gordon DuBois has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles) hiking north from North Adams, Mass. to Mt Katahdin, Maine in 2007 and in 2011 hiking south from Mass. to Springer Mt. in Georgia. He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vt., The International AT in Quebec, Canada and the John Muir Trail in California. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest, 98 of these in winter. He spends many days hiking locally and in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben. He especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be found often exploring the many hiking trails in the area.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 July 2015 08:02
When you look around the Lakes Region, the economic pulse of the area is often felt by the construction activity that's taking place. Since the downturn of our economy in 2007 it's been an uphill struggle in the construction industry to regain the positive activity we experienced prior. Contractors and developers take on a tremendous amount of financial risk and are always gambling on which direction the wind is heading in our local economy. It's always encouraging to see these individuals plowing forward and creating demand under difficult circumstances. It's such a positive step that we benefit from here in the Lakes Region. If surveyors, contractors, home builders and improvement stores are busy, it means the cash registers are ringing and jobs are being created, which helps all of us thrive.
Romeo Lacasse is a local developer/builder who has taken big strides in the Lakes Region over the years. He and his partners, Ralph and Bob Meissner have created some interesting and successful communities all over New Hampshire. The most recent being Willow Pond at Long Bay and Nature's View in Laconia, until this past Friday when they unveiled their newest community to the public, The Lakes Houses at Christmas Island.
Born and raised in Berlin, N.H., Romeo married his high school sweetheart and they've been together for 41 years. They raised two children and now have four grandchildren. Starting off in 1977 the economy was depressed in Berlin, at the time Romeo was managing the local lumberyard. They wanted to live somewhere with a little more activity, so they soon decided to move to Manchester, N.H. so he could work for Diamond Lumber. He later started his own lumberyard, Merrimack Building Supply in Merrimack, N.H.
Romeo and Jeanne would take the family camping in Moultonborough. "We had a boat at Harilla Yacht Club and absolutely loved exploring the lake and all its islands. We knew we eventually wanted to live here. We looked around the lake for a couple of year for the right opportunity but the prices seemed too high at the time."
Romeo decided to break out of the lumberyard business and by 1983 he was constructing homes full time. "I started the business as 'Custom Craft Homebuilders' and built many spec homes throughout Merrimack, Manchester, Bedford and Nashua. I started my first subdivision in 1987, where I built ten homes in Manchester." That was quite the experience for Romeo, having to go through the planning processes of surveying, planning board approvals and then creating the infrastructure, roads, water/sewer etc. When the market was good, he was 'spec'ing' 6-7 homes a year, and selling them all.
Goffstown, N.H. 1987; he started another project combining eight pieces of land to total 110 acres. Finally, in 1992 this project was approved for a 45 lot subdivision with 3 roads. Unfortunately timing was not on his side. The N.H. Savings & Loan Crisis occurred, where five of the largest N.H. banks were in trouble. The project completely stalled. "There I was with just my approvals, I needed to find some partners to help me through it". He met with two brothers, Ralph and Bob Meissner from Bedford, N.H. whom he partnered with and has worked with ever since. "We've become close friends, but even more like brothers after 22 years," Romeo said. Together they were able to set up "Chestnut Street Trust" and sell all 45 homes during the relatively slow market. "We were the no-profit builders then".
No-profit no more! Fast forward a few years, they developed a 23 lot subdivision in Hudson which sold out in a year and a half. They developed 45 condo-duplexes in Hollis called "Runnell's Landing" during a depressed economy triggered by the aftermath of 9/11/2001. "It took a full year before we sold the first unit and then by March 2004 we finally sold out."
Romeo and his family finally bought a couple pieces of land in South Down Shores/Long Bay in 2003. "My family and I had a big desire to get back to Lake Winnipesaukee. I built a spec house to sell and our own home on the other. I remember I was working on a subdivision in Somersworth, coming home after a long day I would drive through the South Down gate and right away get that feeling like I was on vacation again, but I was just coming home. We love this community."
In 2006, Romeo and his partners acquired Nature's View in Laconia, completing the infrastructure, roadways and developing 51 single family homes geared to semi-retirement living. Today there are only 2 homes left for sale, which is impressive considering the sales were made in a difficult economy. 2008, he took another project, Willow Pond at Long Bay and with very interesting architectural designs, sold 23 spec homes and 5 custom homes and has built an additional 6 spec homes and 5 more custom homes throughout Long Bay and South Down Shores.
Their most recent project is The Lake Houses at Christmas Island. After planning board approvals, sewer/water & road infrastructure was completed with the first duplex building finished this past week for its grand opening. This community features approx. 1,000 feet of shorefront on Paugus Bay of Lake Winnipesaukee with individual boat slips for each individual home. It has great westerly exposure, sandy beaches, city water and sewer and direct waterfrontage.
Romeo and his wife are all about strong family ties; they enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren. His son Ben has been working by Romeo's side since he was 19. Now at 31 years old, Ben pretty much runs some of the projects. The family loves boating on Lake Winnipesaukee and going to all the quaint lakeside restaurants all over Winnipesaukee. "The grandkids love it here, it's so much quieter here with less traffic, there's plenty to do and the people so are friendly."
It's been a very successful 32 years for the Lacasses, dozens of subdivision and hundreds of homes built but most importantly it's the Lakes Region lifestyle that's been the most rewarding for their family.
The Lakes Region is lucky to have individuals like Romeo and company, creating that strong economic vibe that's so important to the vitality of our region.
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group, Inc. in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.
Last Updated on Friday, 26 June 2015 07:53
"Semi-retirement"—I've always conveyed that the Lakes Region is like a magnet which attracts individuals looking toward semi-retirement. The demographic is huge, 77 million "Boomers" approaching that magical age we work so hard to achieve in life.
Lake Winnipesaukee was rated the #1 retirement place in the country in MacMillan Travel's fifth edition of Retirement Places Rated, under the category "leisure living for recreational and cultural opportunities." Additionally, N.H. was picked the #1 state for retirement in the country, according to moneyrates.com. This ranking was based on the cost of living, unemployment rate, tax burden, average climate, violent and property crime rates, and life expectancy.
Let me introduce Andrew and Barbara Griesinger from Winchester, Mass. who purchased a spectacular home at the Grouse Point Club in Meredith several years ago for semi-retirement.
WHAT'S YOUR HISTORY?
"Barbara grew up in Winchester and I came from a small town outside of Cleveland. I graduated from Trinity College in Connecticut and received my law degree from Boston College in 1982. The BC football team finished 1-11 that year and the following year Doug Flutie arrived.
After graduation I went to work at Choate, Hall and Stewart, one of the larger law firms in Boston. Barbara was a legal secretary at the firm. I was working on a case in Cleveland for a month and the firm sent Barbara out to work on it. Little did I know we would become interested in each other and later became the "soulmates" we are today. I practiced business litigation and in the early 90s represented many clients, including the Bank of New England. Much of our work was economy driven and I stayed with the firm for 17 years."
"We have a son and daughter, ages 24 and 26. Both were raised in Winchester where we lived for 22 years. Our son lives in Boston and is moving to Irvine/Newport Beach, California with a company transfer. Our daughter is a school teacher in Virginia and is getting married in two weeks."
THAT'S EXCITING... WHERE'S THE WEDDING?
"It's been a full-time job recently coordinating everything. The rehearsal and brunch will be at the Grouse Point Club function hall/clubhouse overlooking the lake. The wedding and reception will be held at the Belknap Mill in Laconia."
AFTER CHOATE, HALL AND STEWART WHAT TRANSPIRED?
"In 2000 I started my own law firm in Boston with a partner. The firm grew to eight attorneys specializing in business litigation. Greisinger, Tighe and Mafffei operated for 10-11 years and the firm retired gradually. That's when the question 'what's next?' was addressed."
HOW DID YOU END UP IN THE LAKES REGION?
"Both of our children attended summer camp in Wolfeboro for 2 years in a row. Later my son would visit a friend whose family had a summer home on Meredith Neck. Another year he rented a camp on Bear Island for 2 weeks. When the family discussion came up pertaining to our next endeavor, my son had one comment, 'Move to Meredith.' Barbara's response was she wouldn't leave Winchester 'unless the house was really nice.' So in September 2011 we looked at some houses online and one day drove up to take a look, 'we spotted a house on Water Street and jotted down Maggie Braxton's number on the sign [a local agent]. We went up to N. Conway for 2 nights to go hiking and decided to spend the following night in Meredith. We called Maggie and arranged to see 4 houses at the Grouse Point Club and 4 houses at Meredith Bay. We previewed the houses on Sunday and when we the saw the house at the top of the Grouse Point Club we were so excited Barb said, 'this is the house...I can live here.' 15 minutes in the house and wow, that absolutely incredible view—that's all it took! We wanted to live in a neighborhood with a real community feel, not a dark lonely dirt road. We've met so many good friends here."
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE GROUSE POINT CLUB?
"We absolutely love our contemporary New England home. The views extend the entire lake beyond Rattlesnake Island. The sandy beaches, yacht club and clubhouse with indoor pool and fitness provide so many amenities. But most importantly everyone is so friendly. It's truly a special place."
WHAT HAPPENS IN SEMI-RETIREMENT?
"Barbara works part-time at Consigners Ave near Church Landing and belongs to The Fitness Edge where she's been a member for 3 years. She's also part of a book group in Moultonborough, and she's the head of the activities committee at our community. It's a wonderful life enriched with so many new friends."
Andrew's schedule has changed dramatically from commuting to Boston 7 days a week with a busy legal-work schedule to competing in triathlons—quite a switch from business litigation to the grueling fitness routine of swimming, biking and running, which started in 2010. "I used to have bad knees and I took some weight off. Now I feel great!" He competes in 4-5 triathlons a year. You'll see him biking around Squam Lake and swimming the waters at Grouse Point...not bad for a 60 year old semi-retired attorney who runs with a happy smile on his face these days.
For Barbara, she loves her gardening, exercise, restaurant choices and small town character, and most importantly, "the wonderful people we've met and become friends with...we have it perfect here."
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group, Inc. in Meredith and Laconia, N.H. and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.
Last Updated on Friday, 19 June 2015 08:23
The Winni Waterfront Sales Report - May 2015
There were seven waterfront sales on Lake Winnipesaukee in May, 2015 at an average price of $1,487,214 and a median price point of just under a million at $985,000. That's not as good as last May when eleven sales were posted. For the year thus far there have been 34 sales on the big lake at an average of $1,015,456 compared to 38 sales last year at an average of $1,158,189 for the same period. So all in all despite the harsh long winter we are doing pretty well.
The bargain basement purchase this month was at 12 Long Island Road in Moultonborough if you can consider just over a half million dollars being in the basement. Come to think of it, this place doesn't have a basement. It is on posts and piers but it has 127 feet of frontage and multiple dock spaces which is way more important. This 1940 vintage cottage has 968 square feet of living space, two bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, and that period knotty pine and paneled interior. There is even a large commercial size three bay garage for all your stuff. This property was offered originally at $625,000, was reduced to $585,000 and sold for $510,000 after 276 days on the market. It has a current tax assessment of $696,900. I bet the new owners are pretty happy.
The median price point sale is represented by the property at 104 Old Keewaydin Pont Road in Wolfeboro. This property is a 1,900 square foot, four bedroom, three and a half bath contemporary home built in 1974. The main house has a renovated kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless appliances, new hardwood floors, renovated master bath, and a fabulous screened porch to take advantage of the southwest sunset views from Winter Harbor looking out toward the Broads. There is a one bedroom guest cottage which I would be pleased to stay in if the new owners see this and call me. There is also a two car detached garage for the toys. The home sits on a half acre beautifully landscaped lot with 132 feet of frontage and U-shaped dock with a permanent cover. Pretty cool! This house was offered in August of 2013 for $1.4 million, re-listed in June of 2014 for $1.299 million, was reduced to $1.15 million and sold for $985,000 after a total of 509 days on the market; it is assessed at $934,300.
The highest sale of the month honors go to the property at 364 Edgewater Drive on Governors Island in Gilford. This like new custom home was constructed in 2010 and has a mere 10,880 square feet of tasteful living space with six bedrooms, six full and two half baths, an open concept design and a great room with soaring ceilings, beautiful wood flooring, and field stone fireplace. There is a gorgeous kitchen and a porch with a fireplace and summer kitchen. The master suite is on the first floor and there are three en-suites, a guest room, bunk room, den and office on the second level. Of course, the game room and a family room are on the walk out lower level along with the wine cellar, wet bar, and exercise room. Outside the landscaping on this one acre lot is amazing and the 150 feet of frontage sports a couple of covered docks. This property was listed at $4.95 million and sold for $3.8 million after 277 days on the market.
Over on Winnisquam, there were four sales in May which is kind of like a banner month. So far this year there have been seven sales at an average of $593,786 compared to the same seven sales at an average $701,143 for the same period last year. The least expensive sale for the month was at 45 Stoney Brook Road in Meredith where a remodeled 1950s vintage, 1,240 square foot, two bedroom cottage on a quarter acre lot with 100' of frontage sold for $410,000... but not right away. It was first listed in April of 2013 for $425,000, re-listed in January of this year at $420,000 and sold for $410,000 after a total of 717 days on the market. It is assessed at $387,700.
The largest sale for the month on Winnisquam was at 31 Collins Brook Road in Meredith. This 3,888 square foot contemporary has three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a wonderful great room with massive field stone fireplace, a custom gourmet kitchen, and a spacious master bedroom suite with balcony looking westerly out across the lake to the loon preserve. There are high end finishes and exotic woods used throughout this tasteful home. The home has radiant in-floor heat, central air and a whole house generator. A huge two car garage is supplemented by a large garage and workshop down under on the lake side. It's the perfect spot to store your boat or work on a project. The .99 acre lot has 168' of frontage with a Squam Lake feel and sunset views. This property was first listed back in June of 2008 for $1.1 million, in 2011 for $995,000, in 2012 for $875,000, and in November of 2014 for $899,000. It sold for $795,000 after a total of...believe it or not, 717 days on the market. That must be the magic number for the month. This property is assessed at $693,700 and the new owners are loving it...
Pease feel free to visitwww.lakesregionhome.comto 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 6/10/15. Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached a t603-677-7012
Last Updated on Friday, 19 June 2015 07:01
There's been a significant rise in "heavy drinking" among Americans, according to a new study out of the University of Washington.
But what do these researchers mean by "heavy drinking"? wine lovers must ask. For a woman, heavy drinking is defined as more than one glass of wine a day. For men, it's more than two. Other definitions of heavy drinking use similar measures. But hmm.
I'm often a heavy drinker by these lights, but not by my lights. Many days, I'll have two glasses of wine. Occasionally, I'll have three. I don't think that's a big deal, and I don't see myself in any kind of denial.
Is the Frenchwoman who takes a glass of rose with lunch and a cabernet at dinner a "heavy drinker"? And if she should add an aperitif before dinner and a dash of cognac when the meal ends two hours later — that is, consume four alcoholic beverages in the course of 24 hours — does that make her a "binge drinker," as many would define her?
Even doctors pointing to the cardiac benefits of moderate consumption urge people to not start drinking for health reasons. Well, why not, unless the person is addicted to alcohol?
Other healthy adults should be able to split a bottle of wine with a friend without being told they are headed to the gutter. Somewhere in our society's gut lives the notion of alcohol as inherently evil.
When experts talk about the one-drink-a-day limit for a woman, they ignore vast differences in the sizes, ages and health conditions of the sisterhood's members.
"I can't drink anything," my 90-year-old aunt Shirley told me during a recent dinner out, "but would you like another glass of white?"
Aunt Shirley has only 102 pounds on her but a ton of wisdom.
Even getting tipsy now and then should be the drinker's own business, assuming that he or she doesn't then drive. On that subject, campaigns against drunken driving have succeeded in sharply reducing alcohol-fueled fatalities on the road. Unfortunately, the modern-day temperance movement has gotten into its head that the way to push these numbers still lower is to make alcoholic beverages more expensive through higher taxes.
In truth, the dangerous drivers are typically alcoholics with repeated arrests and blood alcohol levels that are double the legal maximum or more. They are not real sensitive to the price of the substance.
Promoting higher prices as a response to campus binge drinking is also a non-solution. The problem of students' downing rotgut until they pass out is not just of too much alcohol but of too little civilization.
Giancarlo Gariglio, editor-in-chief of Slow Wine Magazine, touched on this in his criticisms of a European Union plan to discourage binge drinking with minimum prices and regulated alcoholic percentages. His big complaint was it lumped artisanal wines with industrial, pre-mixed alcohol beverages.
"Without culture," he wrote, "we drink poorly and we don't even enjoy ourselves, because we gulp down rubbish."
Taxes on alcohol are, of course, regressive. The Beer Institute, an industry trade group, reports that beer drinkers pay $5.6 billion a year in hidden excise taxes alone — hidden because they are levied at the brewery.
Low- and middle-income Americans are beer's chief consumers. The institute estimates that households earning less than $50,000 per year pay half of beer taxes.
The battle is on to define moderate drinking. If that means dishing out the same guidelines to a skinny Nancy Reagan at 93 and a large Melissa McCarthy at 44, then they're not going to say much.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00