Part 4. Lake Ossipee and Weirs Beach.
I was in the Laconia area of New Hampshire with my buddy Matt, driving a 2013 Harley Electra Glide that I had christened The Lincoln Town Car. We had just visited a property, owned by a friend of Matt’s, with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, in The White Mountain Range. The road up to the property was a challenge for the Town Car and our next stop was a continuation of similar road conditions. We visited Cathedral Ledge which is a 700 foot high granite ledge with breathtaking views over Conway Valley and Echo Lake. The view across the Saco River Valley to the White Mountains is spectacular. It is very popular with hikers and there are marked trails up to Cathedral Ledge and some of the other viewing points. It is also a favourite with rock climbers and when we walked out on to the ledge there was a climber about a hundred feet below, working his ropes and gear, slowly progressing upwards on the rock face. Cathedral ledge is very popular at this time of year when the steep auto road is passable and there were plenty of couples and families enjoying the view. It is a very popular picnic area and the path from the parking / auto road has been improved recently to make it more accessible and safer. The ledge itself is safely fenced and large enough to accommodate many visitors at once.
Our next stop was our accommodation for our stay in the area at Ossipee Lake which is a popular holiday area. The land surrounding the lake is home to many cottages, cabins, and lake houses, some of which can be rented for holidays. The cottage we were staying at was a beauty and owned by a friend of Matt’s family. The family have rented the same cottage for many years and the whole family spend weeks or months there every year. The cottage is about 150 yards from the lake front and there is a beautiful beach and launching area for their pontoon boat from which they swim and fish. The owner, Frank has become a close family friend, and he was more than happy to have us visit for a few days. We went for something to eat in Conway and as it was cooler, dark and raining lightly when we rode back up to the cottage, I was glad of the heated grips on the bike and while I had been critical of the amount of heat coming off the right side of the bike, I was glad of it now. The light rain was no match for the massive fairing and it was great to have the chance to give Matt a ribbing about my hands being too hot until I got the setting just right on the heated grips. After a good nights sleep it was great to sit out on the deck, the following morning, and look over lake Ossipee and plan the day ahead. A trip Weirs Beach was a must, but there is so much more to see in this area that it was hard to know what to prioritise. Matt said, quite correctly, that a trip to Rosie’s had to be our first priority.
In America, breakfast is an institution, but when you’re in New Hampshire for Bike Week, Rosie’s is the epitome of that institution. The restaurant is on White Mountain Highway and when we arrived there we parked beside the many other bikes and some trucks in the parking lot. The booths were full and mainly the occupants were Bikers, as well as some local regulars. Rosie’s is famous for pancakes and Matt ordered one. One? I had never witnessed him order just one before. I had bacon and eggs. How do you like your eggs? What kind of bread? The coffee cups were filled and re-filled with amazing regularity and soon I understood why a man, who is a multiple pancake consumer, would order only one pancake in a restaurant where he professes them to be amongst the best he has ever eaten. This offering was big. Really big. A size or two bigger than the dinner plate it was served on and probably an inch thick.
Syrup, cream and strawberries were applied in short shift and then it was time to tuck in. The staff were very busy but this didn’t hinder them from friendly chit-chat with the customers and had greetings for all new comers, calling the locals by name and a special word for a child here and an older customer there. I have always enjoyed the breakfast experience in the States, and Rosie’s is one restaurant that’s worth a visit if you are over for Bike Week, or passing through Tamworth for any other reason. While many breakfast places open in the morning only, Rosie’s is an all day restaurant and I reckoned the older woman I could see through the open kitchen door toiling over a stove was probably the woman herself, but I could be wrong. If you visit the States you will see early morning queues in the franchise outlets, such as McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts. I much prefer to find an independent business, such as Rosie’s and experience the home made food and warm service from friendly staff that appear to have maintained their personalities, rather than the automaton you can sometimes meet in the franchise stores.
Weirs Beach, Laconia is the place to be during Bike Week. When I say the place to be, read: the place to be seen. The Weirs is a large sandy beach on the south shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, with a boardwalk and a wide boulevard that is taken over every year by vendors and arcades for the summer visitors. During bike week the boulevard is host to thousands of bikers. A one way system is in place to allow parking on both sides, and the centre, for the huge number of bikes. The biggest difficulty is just finding a spot to park your bike. We cruised down to the Weirs and started our search for parking. A few hundred feet down I spotted a gap, and Matt found one a little further down, and we carefully backed our bikes in. The space for the Lincoln Town Car was just about big enough and after a few moments I successfully navigated the back wheel to the footpath. No tug boats or barges were required in this manoeuvre. Jackets, helmets gloves and the kitchen sink disappeared into the cavernous top box and we were ready to wander around. The vendor stalls and larger stores are mainly stocked with clothing and biker stuff. Tee-shirts, leathers, luggage and general bike equipment are the staples. The best part of the visit was the chance to view the fantastic customised bikes and I was delighted with the quality and variety of what was on view on the boulevard. Of course we checked out all the merchandise that the vendors had on display and I got a few Laconia Bike Week 2016 Tee-shirts and Matt got a really nice shirt for himself, and Tee-shirts as presents for some of his biker buddies back home. The hours rolled by and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the cottage. We stopped at the Harte’s Turkey Farm Restaurant. Harte’s started as a small family farm business in the 1940s, delivering chickens, eggs and turkeys in a small truck. In 1954 they opened a family restaurant that grew into a successful business even after they stopped raising their own turkeys. It is now a 500 seat restaurant, and a catering business, about five miles from Weirs Beach. It is well worth a visit and the food we were served was very tasty and there was plenty of it.
It had started raining hard just as we reached Harte’s restaurant and it was dark and blustery. When we set off back to the cottage the rain had lightened but it was still very windy. I really appreciated the protection I had on Electra Glide. I had put on my rain jacket for this trip but I need not have bothered. The rain didn’t seem to come in contact with the jacket and my boots and trousers were not affected at all. Visibility had remained relatively good because the screen on the fairing mostly prevents the rain from obscuring the view through your helmet visor or glasses.