September 5, 2001

New Hampshire - Day 7: UNH

-Thursday, July 26, 2001-

10:45 a.m.

We’re heading out in the delightful rain. It’s a nice rain and actually isn’t windy, as it usually is when it rains in Sacramento.

12 p.m.

We stopped by the barn so Leen could wrap Timmy’s leg, and it went longer because she now has to put a poultice on it every 24 hours. (He “bowed a tendon,” and that’s been very upsetting for her.) Now we’re on our way back from a tack shop in Maine.

On our way to the shop, we passed a “Turf Farm” that sells…turf. I’ve never thought about where grass comes from if you buy it in the huge rolls. This grass made me want to run across it, just because it was so perfect and green.

1:20 p.m.

I just saw a white “Caution: Deaf Child” sign out the car window. I still haven’t gotten used to seeing such signs.

6:20 p.m.

We’re on our way to the Olive Garden, and I just noticed that there aren’t nearly as many cars abandoned on the sides of the roads here. I just saw the first one since I’ve been here. In the Sacramento area, it’s very common to see numerous abandoned cars on the sides of the freeways.

10:35 p.m.

Sam and I just spent over an hour looking at his playing card collection. He’s got nearly four drawers in a dresser filled with playing cards of all types, ranging from round to mummy-shaped ones, from Mountain Dew to famous artists, and many more. We found other things to look at, too, such as New Zealand money. The bills are quite colorful and feel very much like pieces of plastic. They all have a bit of clear in them, and of course I thought that was very cool.

-Friday, July 27, 2001-

1 a.m.

We’re still up doing stuff in the computer room. Sam’s getting ready for the convention, I just finished e-mailing people, and Leen has been working on model horse tack and researching books about Timmy’s bowed tendon

Around 1 p.m. today, we headed to Durham to see the University of New Hampshire, also known as Sam and Leen’s old stomping grounds. First we saw Christiansen Hall, a tall dorm in which Sam lived for one year on the eighth floor, and Philbrook, a dining hall.

Then we moved on to Kingsbury, a building that was constructed in 1949. That was Sam’s second home for most of college, as it housed the computer science, engineering, and math departments, and I got the most thorough tour of this building. I even got to meet the infamous Paul Sand, whom I’ve heard so much about from Sam that I really wanted to meet him. His computer had at least a dozen open UNIX windows on it, each one color-coded so that he can monitor various machines simultaneously. A large picture of Kermit covered the window in his door, and numerous little knickknacks sat in various places around the office. He didn’t stand up, but I was still able to correct my distorted mental image of a short, skinny man that had been unwilling to leave my head. He and Sam talked about movies for a little while, and then I got to see the computer clusters where Sam and Leen met and where Sam spent much of his waking time.

Then we moved on to the “New Science” building, or Morse Hall, that was funded by NASA but was built very poorly by the contractors. I saw the room where Sam pulled three all-nighters in a row in order to finish a project for his Master’s degree. Leen went with him one night and slept on the floor under the table.

Next, I saw the Spaulding Life Science building, which appears to be the start of a river that runs through the campus. It’s a joke that the water looks so disgusting because the chemistry classes dump substances in it. The river is not visible on the other side of the building, which makes the story even more believable.

Then we came to the Paul Creative Arts Center, where Sam scaled a rock wall for fun. He got to the top and discovered that he had gotten something on his hands. He later smelled it and determined that it was Chicken Parmesan. We went inside and took a quick peek into the Johnson and Hennessey theaters. Students were attempting to play music, so I had a slight feel of what it is like when people perform in the theaters.

We then saw Demeritt Hall, where I saw a lecture hall containing wooden seats with no padding, and then we moved on to the library. It was remodeled shortly after Sam and Leen left UNH, so they have few memories attached to it. However, Sam and I went upstairs to a place where three computer terminals sat. We opened browsers on all three computers, went to our favorite homepage, then left the browsers open.

Thompson Hall was next, and it almost looked like a castle with miniature turrets on the corners and a large tower at the top. Sam and I went inside, where I saw pictures of the original campus. Thompson Hall was the first structure and was built in 1892. In 1918, soldiers in training poured cement for the sidewalks in front of the building. At that time, the campus consisted of two buildings and many open fields, but now it’s a university of about 11,000 students. Many of them live on campus, and our next stop was Congreve Hall, one of the dorms Leen and Sam lived in.

We walked by Stillings Dining Hall, which they told me is much noisier than Philbrook. We also saw Stoke, a huge dormitory building that is shaped like a Y and has three wings. Then we came to the “MUB,” or Memorial Union Building. We peeked into a movie theater where discount movies are shown and saw a cafeteria and many other things, including a quiet meditation room with interesting stained glass for windows.

We wound up in a wooded area and passed over more of the icky creek. The wooded area was so beautiful, and the trees were so tall. It was definitely my kind of place.

That marked the end of my walking tour of UNH, but I did see one other funny part of UNH as we drove past it. The athletic arena looks very much like Sam’s description of it: an airplane hangar with a large bathroom stuck on the end of it. Weeds are now growing up the “bathroom” walls, and that actually helps the look of it.

The most striking thing about the whole campus was the brick. Every building was made almost entirely of brick, and that was something new for me. I kept commenting on how amazing it was, and I really think the bricks add something to a building, although I can’t quite describe it.

We drove an extremely short distance and wound up in “downtown” Durham. Of course, we had to go down the alley behind Durham House of Pizza to see another place where Sam lived. He and Dave each had a studio apartment above a place called Hair Excitement, which was a video arcade when they lived there. A tiny shop called Store 24 was around the corner, and Sam said that place came in handy for midnight food runs.

Then we headed out of town and passed the UNH horse barns. After Leen switched majors, she spent a lot of time there. Soon we made another very slight detour to see Cabletron, where Sam worked until about a year ago.

We then went and saw some ducks near a little pond, and I took some pictures. A woman and her little girl came along with bread, so we watched them feed the ducks for a while. It was so cute to watch a tiny blonde girl have so much fun. For that matter, the ducks were fun to watch, too. They alternated between lounging in the grass, drinking from small puddles, and racing to be the first to get a piece of bread tossed by the little girl. One duck had a limp, and the other ducks used that to their advantage. Before the injured duck could get to the bread, the others rushed ahead of him. The mother and little girl also noticed this duck, so then they made sure the wounded duck got plenty of bread. Considering that his injury was probably painful, he was a determined little duck. Then we went to Durham landing, where I took a couple of pictures of boats reflecting on the water (and even got one of my camera reflected in the mirror). After that, we headed for home, passing by stores called “Baldface Books” and the “Shoe Hospital,” both in Dover.

At about 6:30 we got to the Olive Garden, where we had an enjoyable dinner after a 20-minute wait for a table. While we were waiting to be seated, they gave us a pager-type of device with lights on it that would flash when our table was ready. I had made the mistake of saying that these devices always manage to startle me, so Sam and Leen were quite eager to see that happen. To Sam’s extreme disappointment, I refused to hold the thing for 20 minutes, but I did let him set it on the table near me. Time ticked by, and when our table was ready, the device lit up, buzzed, and vibrated. Because it was sitting on the table, it also rattled, which added to the effect. In true form, I nearly jumped out of my own skin, and Sam and Leen dissolved into fits of laughter. The server knew immediately that we were the ones who were to be seated next, and I suspect it was because of my reaction. Even I can’t help laughing at myself, although I wish I could be outside of myself sometime to see my own reaction.

At my suggestion, Sam tried the Stuffed Chicken Parmigiana. He’d never tried it, but he liked it. We talked, laughed a lot, and told wound stories, such as the time Darleen hit her knee in college. She and Sam were racing to open a door, and she got there first but wasn’t able to stop in time to prevent slamming her knee into the door. She was also carrying an ice cream cone, and of course she lost it when she fell. I thought it was funny that she still remembered the loss of the ice cream cone. Another time, she and a friend were jumping over a tennis net, and Leen fell and hit her chin. It sounded so funny, ever though I’m quite sure that it was painful.


Ducks near a pond
Sitting duck
Boats reflecting on the water (and me in the mirror)

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