Click through the thumbnails below to view the photo journal:
My name is John. I’m a senior English major at Gordon College with a creative writing concentration. I love all aspects of music—creating, playing, recording and listening. I also enjoy skateboarding and writing, old books and new experiences.
This is a photo journal (there are some words too) about location. I’ve lived in New England my whole life, and I adore it here, so I’d like to share some of my favorite places with you. My hope is that this will get other people started in their search for things to do and places to see around Gordon. Take my advice, if you want; but even if you think I’m crazy, explore this area for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
(This is a picture of me at The Friendly Toast. I’ll get to this place later on.)
I am sitting in Atomic Cafe as I write this. I sit here as I write a lot of things. There is something special about Atomic that makes it a comfortable place to work and a hard place to leave. A combination of bright, saturated reds on top of white and chrome gives the whole café a 1950s feel. The baristas are always genuine, and the coffee is always delicious (they roast their own beans right in the shop). Especially important for me, the music is eclectic, but it never seems to veer from the coffee shop vibe. The best part about Atomic, though, is that it’s only 10 minutes from campus.
Don’t be scared by the fact that, technically, Maine is two states away. York is only an hour drive, and well worth the trip. This town really has something for everyone. There are four beautiful beaches: York Harbor, Long Sands, Short Sands, and Cape Neddick, each of which has its own unique and memorable character. Long Sands delivers what it promises with about a mile of flat, open beach—plenty of room to sprawl out, play some frisbee or volleyball, or just sit and read. Short Sands is undeniably the family beach but is still very fun. It’s surrounded by shops, a candlepin bowling alley, an arcade and several restaurants. For hikers there’s the small but scenic Mt. Agamenticus. On a clear day, Mt. A’s summit gives you a view from the White Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. If lighthouses are your thing (and if you like New England they should be), the Nubble Lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. As such, it felt like a fitting image for this entry. And right down the road is Brown’s Ice Cream, which may or may not blow even the Gordon favorite, Captain Dusty’s, out of the water. In my humble opinion, there is absolutely no better place near Gordon for a day trip.
Photo credit: Erika Diaz
“The Friendly Toast” is a phrase that Gordon students should become familiar with sooner rather than later. This Portsmouth, New Hampshire, diner, open until midnight Monday–Thursday and all night Friday and Saturday, is the perfect cure for combination insomnia-and-boredom. It’s also a great pit stop en route to or from York. Load a couple friends into a car, enjoy the 50-minute drive up Route I-95, and stop in for some truly imaginative and delicious food. From pumpkin pancakes to falafel, ingenious scrambled egg concoctions to stir fry, and, as the name implies, really good toast (get the anadama bread!), this place is ideal for a midnight snack, a casual date, and pretty much any other occasion that doesn’t involve tuxedos. The prices are pretty reasonable, too. You can definitely make it out for under $15 per person, and it can go as low as $6–7 if you’re pinching pennies (AKA if you’re in college). On top of the obvious advantages of taste and price, The Friendly Toast is just a fun place to be. The walls and tables are decorated with every strange thing you’ve ever seen in a thrift store, yard sale, or 1950s period film, and the service is always (surprise again) friendly.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of my absolute favorites in the world. There is enough to do there that it deserves a whole photo journal to itself. However, I have three entries. These are my highlights.
Right across the bridge from (and often mistaken for part of) Boston, Cambridge is home to my favorite music venues, The Middle East and Club Passim. The Middle East hosts some of the best national and international acts in music. With two very different performance spaces—Upstairs, a more intimate venue; and Downstairs, a mid-sized club more than capable of fulfilling your rock-concert expectations—the range of experiences possible at The Middle East is vast. Club Passim is an equally intimate but altogether different venue, hosting local and touring folk acts of all kinds, including one of my favorites, Elijah Wyman, whom I first heard at a show at Gordon.
Food in Cambridge is tremendously easy. There are great places to eat all over the city. Club Passim doubles as a very tasty restaurant, Veggie Planet, which specializes in (take a wild guess) vegetarian cuisine. Just look for the giant metal tomato with planetary rings hanging outside the door. Right around the corner is another one of my favorites, Fire and Ice, a make-your-own stir-fry place where you choose from a massive array of ingredients and sauces, and they fry it up right in front of you. The food is great and the combinations are endless.
I’m a sucker for a good used bookstore. Raven Used Books in Cambridge is one of my favorites for a few reasons. First, it’s right next to an awesome record store, Planet Records, so I would be content to simply wander back and forth between those two places for hours. Second, Raven will very likely have the book you are looking for—even books for your classes. This is an anomaly at used bookstores. Their collection is expansive. Finally, this place just feels like a used bookstore should. It smells a little old, it’s a tiny bit cluttered while still maintaining order, and there are yard sale armchairs at the ends of shelves to sink into and decide whether you were really just browsing or if that Hemingway book in your hands is enough of a find to fork over a few bucks to take it home with you.
Singing Beach is a given. If you come to Gordon, I have very little doubt that at some point during your time here, you will follow the dead end road that leads to this beautiful stretch of sand, you will comment on how loud it sounds when you walk over it (this is the singing), and you will create lasting memories there. It is a staple of the Gordon College student experience, and rightfully so. Go there late on a clear night, sit on one of the benches on the path that runs along the interior edge of the beach, and look out at the ocean.
There’s a reason why people vacation in New England. It’s gorgeous up here. This is especially true, I think, on the North Shore of Massachusetts. One of my favorite aspects of the natural world in this area is the incredible variety of things to see and places to go. You can wander around in the lush, green swamplands, meadows and vernal pools at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, head down to Nahant and see dramatic cliffs fall off into the ocean, or just take a stroll through the expansive Gordon woods on a cool, fall afternoon and soak in the New England foliage. This place is better than photographs, and it’s better than words. It should be experienced first-hand.
Photo credit: Christine Dixon