Here’s a quick day trip we just took that might appeal to those of you who are both bookish and outdoorsy.
Book store adventure
Our primary destination was Avenue Victor Hugo Book Store, which opened in Lee, N.H., in late 2018 as a reincarnation of the shop that spent 30 years on Newbury Street in Boston until the rent got too ridiculous and it closed in 2004. The new store, open on Fridays and Saturdays, sits in a red barn about 90 minutes north of Wellesley. Owners Vincent McCaffrey and Thais Coburn also make their inventory browsable online, and their son-in-law has sparked interest in the shop through social media efforts.
While the shop has only been at the barn for a bit more than a year, it feels like it’s been there forever. The shelves are packed with used and collectible books, magazines and maps. The fiction collection spans several aisles, and the shop includes lots of history, biography, and other books
The aisles are wide enough to browse comfortably even as other visitors pass through. Among our pick-ups, based on one of the Swellesley Jrs.’ random book selection system: Jo Sinclair’s “Wasteland,” a 1946 Harper Prize winner, and the work of an underrated author according to store owner McCaffrey.
A modest hike
Once we left with a bagful of books, we drove less than half a mile down the road to Little River Park on this slightly snow-and-ice covered day.
The park offers sports fields, a playground and events pavilion, but we were there to check out the walking trails. We thought about taking the ridge or forest trails, but settled on the modest Lamprey River Trail that kept us walking for a total of one mile. It proved rewarding with a great view from above of water gushing between thick chunks of ice surrounded by a forested embankment.
On snowier days the trail attracts snowmobilers. The day we went there, the most ambitious trail user sped along by fat tire bike.
A cozy lunch
After working up an appetite from our grueling trip to the book store and our mini-hike, we headed for The Riverworks in nearby Newmarket, N.H.
This cozy tavern earned points right away for playing the Pixies “Where Is My Mind?” as we entered. Server Heather greeted us enthusiastically, and took orders for generous nachos, steak-and-cheese and veggie quesadillas, a hearty BLT with turkey, and more. The homemade salt-and-pepper chips that come with sandwiches were crisp and tasty, and the prices were reasonable, in the $9-$12 range for our meals.
While the Riverworks itself isn’t right along the river, we did a post-lunch constitutional by crossing the street and walking along the river behind a mill-turned-retail-and-residence building. The Lamprey River was much milder from this vantage point, largely still, with some ice here and there. We can imagine with the small park and boat launch area is a livelier spot when the weather is warmer.