“How was your 5th of July?” Is that an odd question given the times we are in and was your holiday weekend different this year than other years?
Thinking about all the places we might have been traveling to and things we might have done, I gave some thought to the many out of state cars getting away for the weekend, with their destination, right here, New Hampshire.
With no parades, a subdued holiday spirit and a gray overcast sky to start the day yesterday, it wasn’t looking good. Just who wants to travel when so many things are restricted? That question drew me out in the afternoon sunshine to get a socially distanced view of what one might casually find around the city on the Sunday of the July 4th holiday weekend.
First stop – The West Side. Rimmon Heights. Rock Rimmon Park, at 140 acres is the largest park in the City of Manchester and it boasts an easy short hike to its 150-foot high vantage point of Manchester. I hadn’t been there in decades, but it was easy enough to find and we had the entire trail and summit all to ourselves.
Next stop Elm Street with plenty of on-street parking and outdoor restaurant seating. It was pleasantly surprising to see the number of restaurants set up and open for business – on a Sunday afternoon this holiday weekend. In no particular order and with apologies to other restaurants that were open that I missed– it was exciting to see Shaskeen Pub, Penuche, Firefly, Café La Reine, Bu Ba Noodle Bar and Red Arrow Diner all finding ways to be open to the public within the state guidelines for outdoor dining. There were a number of people out enjoying their meals outside and there wasn’t a sense of uncomfortable spacing. Manchester Ink Link compiled a list of restaurants that are open and serving the public but walking the streets, gave a real-time view of how local businesses have modified the grounds around them to accommodate social distancing.
With the afternoon temperature reaching 91 degrees it was time to check out the water. Best spot in downtown Manchester? Try visiting Arms Park.
There were just three cars in the parking lot so we felt pretty comfortable that we would be socially distanced taking a walk along the river’s edge, along that section of the Heritage Trail. While on our walk, we weren’t the only ones who discovered the location of Ralph Baer Square!
Ralph Baer is fondly remembered as the father of video games and his legacy was celebrated publicly in Manchester with Ralph Baer Day before the pandemic sent us all home to pick up those very games that grew out of his creativity. All told, we passed just three or four other people, several comfortable benches and a Merrimack River access point where there was one lone kayaker – with life vest and helmet – taking advantage of the solitude to practice their skills against the beckoning rapids and delivering this wonderful photo opportunity.
You don’t need to travel far to find all that Manchester New Hampshire offers. And absolutely, at the height of the holiday, automobile traffic and social distancing in downtown was not an issue.