John Harrigan: Idle thoughts, hither and yon, while packing for trek to camp

JOHN HARRIGAN February 16. 2013 9:28PM

Packing for camp, list on the kitchen counter. Extra gas for the snowmobile. Snowshoes for the final leg in. Abundant items regarding food. Reading material, ditto. The list has to be right - no room for mistakes, and the weather might catch us.

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Newspaper ads that are different catch my eye, and so I was drawn to an ad in the Feb. 23 issue of the Sunday News that carried an image of an old White Mountains inn, which looked like an artist's rendering of one of the famed early 1800s inns at the northern doorstep of Crawford Notch.

The ad announced the inaugural exhibition of the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University, which opens on Feb. 23.

Plymouth is to me the geographical center of the state, and this is one more step to bring the White Mountains' rich history and culture to the fore.

PSU made a great stride in this direction when it assembled and catalogued the Brown Company's huge archive of photographs of logging and river-driving from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, and is pursuing a wide-reaching effort to work with the people, towns and institutions of the Whites and above and beyond the notches to preserve history and foster exchanges about life then and now.

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I always look for Gail Fisher's "Dog Tracks" column in the Sunday News. Her most recent piece dealt with cautions about winter.

I liked her advice about clearing snow from a big enough area so your dog can do its business without having to squat in deep snow (think, "Ouch").

That's why we have a shovel on an outside wall at camp, where the outhouse, in the middle of nowhere, is the great outdoors. If we're considerate about our own creature comforts, we owe the same to our dogs.

And I liked her bit about booties for dogs. It doesn't take a dog very long to get accustomed to them, and, as Gail noted, there's nothing "wuss" about it. "Some of the most athletic dogs in the world," she wrote, "those that run the thousand-mile Iditarod race across Alaska, wear protective boots."

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As I wrote this column Friday, more snow was predicted for the North Country, which was anticipated with great glee.

Snow is money. Snowmobiling is the main fuel for the region's economic engine, but snowshoeing, downhill skiing and cross-country skiing are major contributors too, and then there are the die-hards who love to ice-fish, and the crazed fringe element (that would be us) who just want to go into camp, and damn the torpedoes.

One of the fine little odd-ball stories in the far-flung and informal snowmobiling scenario is the Deer Mountain Warming Hut, just off Route 3 far north of Pittsburg village and just shy of Third Lake and the Canadian border. It's open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and within its cozy confines volunteers from the Pittsburg Ridge Runners and other local groups serve up hotdogs, hamburgers and assorted home-made food, contributed by local individuals and institutions, in a cozy and convivial environment enhanced by a well-stoked antique kitchen range.

It's a great scene, there in the shadow of Deer Mountain, and all who visit and help out have stories about how they got there, and how much they love it.

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Moving, again:

This column has moved from the Sports section to the Section B front page to its present front-section slot over its 39 years (and counting) in this newspaper, and now the radio show I've been on is moving, too.

Jack Heath is stepping south a bit from Concord's WTPL to Manchester's WGIR 610 AM and Portsmouth's 96.7 FM. His "New Hampshire Today" show, where I've been having fun being a call-in guest host, will air during morning drive-time, from 6 to 9 a.m., and Jack tells me that beginning Monday, I'll be on at 8:05, although this might change.

I've done a lot of radio in my time, and it's a kick in the butt - a fun switch of gears from print. Listeners of WGIR-AM 610 and WQSO-FM 96.7 can also go to the stations' websites and, as well as on iHeartRadio, Clear Channel's all-in-one digital radio service. The call-in number is 645-6161 (Jennifer Wells is the traffic officer).

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I can't write about Ray Burton without stealing a line from an ancient play, "We come not to bury Ray, but to praise him." Ray, the longtime Governor's Executive Councilor representing the Upper Valley region and most of the northern third of the state, is dealing with curable kidney cancer, and vows to be right out there passing out business cards and, famously, his trademark combs.

If I were teaching a high school civics class, I'd hold Ray Burton up as the all-time best example of a dedicated elected official serving the people like no other.

The guy is phenomenal. He has a huge territory to cover and is at some chicken-dinner event, somewhere, just about every night.

The old joke is that if more than two people are visiting at one spot, Ray will pop up out of the ground to hand out cards and combs.

It's halfway true, but the absolute truth is that if you have a problem or want information concerning state government and services, and if you call Ray, he'll get back to you in a hot second.

So keep those combs coming, Ray, and all the rest that you do too.

John Harrigan's address: Box 39, Colebrook NH 03576 or

John Harrigan

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