Summer Nostalgia at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, NH

A trip down memory lane

Salem in summer. Probably not your first instinct until you have the sudden awakening that I had — Canobie Lake Park! Aside from Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, rest in peace, some of my fondest childhood memories happened at Canobie: my best friend and I thinking we were the coolest girls in the world because we both won a prize from the Fishing Well (apparently everyone is a winner), walking the length of the park nine times with my parents to pick out just the right souvenir on my birthday (in case you’re wondering, I went with a little bear figurine doing a handstand on a ceramic couch), relentlessly chasing my brother on the bumper cars in hopes of giving him whiplash, misguidedly going on the Pirate Ship during a school trip because the boy I liked was going and then proceeding to wretch  my guts up in front of him (we never dated), recording a Debbie Gibson song with my girlfriends in the “Be A Star” booth (before going on said Pirate Ship), and telling my Dad what to aim for in the Shooting Gallery so I could see it come alive.

As an adult, there are just as many reasons to return to the park — including being the one who gets to make the animatronic man play his animatronic piano and riding the classic Yankee Cannonball coaster. The entire NH contingency of Hoppes came together for this outing, which included my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, and niece, plus me, my boyfriend and his two daughters. After training together at Disney World last year, we were able to seamlessly separate and regroup for certain rides and snacks. And with each of us taking turns being in charge of certain children, although I think we were really just using them as an excuse to go on certain rides (Antique Cars, anyone?), my brother and boyfriend got to go on the new Untamed rollercoaster together that blasts you off like a rocket ship then brings you straight down and into a series of loops. While they were doing that, I went on the log ride for a second time with my boyfriend’s oldest daughter.

Knowing that I would be shifting gears and venturing into town for dinner, I avoided the cotton candy, pretzels, ice cream, Italian ices and candy apples that the others had. A quick change out of my jeans and sneakers and I departed from the group to meet a friend at Tuscan Kitchen, a monolith of an Italian restaurant that opened in Salem last year and is famous for their Italian Market. During the 20-minute wait for our table, we managed to buy $70 worth of cheese, oil, Italian cookies and espresso. Warning to my fashion-forward friends: the wood floor, albeit beautiful, offers no traction for heels and I literally had to hang onto my friend to make it safely to our table. The hostess admitted that she had seen a few sexy ladies wipe out.

Over a round of bellinis and a beautifully balanced bottle of Italian Cortese wine, we devoured rounds of mussels, Caprese salad with the most delicious mozzarella I’ve ever tasted, handmade short rib-stuffed ravioli, seared tuna, way too much bread and oil, and molten chocolate cake with to-die-for gelato. After seeing the orders that came out around us, I will return for the roasted chicken — seriously one of the most beautiful dishes I’ve laid eyes on — and the bread pudding. I’ll also just wear my sneakers.

I’ll be romping around Dover soon! If you have any suggestions of where I should go and what I should do, let me know by commenting on the wall of my Facebook page or via my website