Opting Outside


Taylor Mill Historic Site, Derry, NH

Social media has been filled the past several weeks with information about Black Friday (hmmm- doesn’t sound so good to me!) and #optoutside, an effort that started with REI to go against the tide and refuse to open their stories the day after Thanksgiving. REI, and soon others, encouraged people to step out of the retail lines and into the outdoors.

Some of our family did just that today. We headed up to southern New Hampshire to get outside with my sister. I brought along my daughter and grandboy. A morning hike was just what we needed after a day of too much food!


Safety orange on and ready to go

Rather than add more driving to the hour+ we’d already driven from Massachusetts, we chose  to visit a spot quite near where Beth lives, in Derry, NH, the Taylor Saw Mill historic site. As luck would have it we encountered Robert Spoerl, Land Agent for the State of New Hampshire, who had keys to the saw mill and gave us a quick, personal tour of the mill.


Inside the Taylor Sawmill for our short, private tour

He pointed out the different ways wooden sections of the site were milled–some hewn with an ax, others cut in a circular sawmill. This mill building is not original to the site–parts of three different sawmills were cobbled together to recreate a working mill on the site of what was once a working mill.

Spoerl explained  that when looking at any old New England structure, it’s important to keep in mind, “Thrifty New Englanders would hear of a barn getting torn down and salvage the usable wood to rescue for another building project. You have to pay attention to different parts of any building when you are trying to figure out the age of the structure.”

We were not able to see the mill in operation because of low water, but we’d love to return in the spring to see the mill doing the work it was designed for.

Spoerl advised us on trail conditions, and suggested that heading out along the eastern shore of the mill pond would be a great walk. We took his advice and had a wonderful time.


Along the trail, at the Taylor Saw Mill Historic site

Two-year old David kept announcing, “Hike!” to which we agreed, yes, he was hiking. His little legs lasted for most of the walk, but he was pretty glad for a ride near the end, as we headed back.



The success of our hike ensures we will make plans to visit again soon, and we’ll do our best to include “a hike!” in the plans.


Three generations, out on the trail

This is exactly the kind of walk I envision families enjoying when they look through Easy Walks in Massachusetts for local spots to take a walk. Something interesting, perhaps a nice view, pretty clear trails, and ease of travel for multigenerational groups. While we weren’t in Massachusetts, we weren’t that far away. And best of all, we weren’t shopping!


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks, Blog Posts-Personal Histories

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