I’m sure most of you have seen the movie On Golden Pond with Henry Fonda, Kathryn Hepburn, Jane Fonda , Dabney Colman and Doug McKeon. It was Henry Fonda’s last movie and he won an academy award for his performance. Kathryn Hepburn also won an Oscar
I remember the movie as a sentimental tear jerker but it had been years since I’d watched it. I didn’t know that my last stop on my New Hampshire Vacation was going to drop me right onto the Golden Pond of the movie.
Check out time was 11 am at the Valley Inn and I was packed and out by 10:00. Even with a 3-4 hour drive I still had time for a detour if something caught my fancy. In the guide-book to New Hampshire was a coupon for The Nature Science Center at Squam Lake. It sounded like something I’d enjoy and it was on the way southbound.
I found the center without any problem. At the ticket booth they had a list of boat tours of the lake. At the attendant’s suggestion I took the boat tour before I went into the center.
The boat was a pontoon boat and there were just 3 of us on the tour. A bus tour had arrived and was taking up 2 other pontoon boats for a “private” charter. My 2 co-passengers and myself were thrilled with that turn of events.
One of the women said she wanted to see and hear a loon. She said she had come to the lake because of the movie On Golden Pond. She and her friend had just watched the movie again so the characters and events were fresh in their minds. Our guide was just as well versed on the movie along with a wealth of information about where certain scenes were shot and what difficulties the film crew experienced shooting some of the scenes.
He did caution us that we might not see the loons since it was early (11:00am) and usually the loons were most active at dusk.
As we cast off he pointed out the dock with the fuel tanks and said that was where Norman nearly ran into the dock in the movie. He said it had been more realistic than planned as Henry Fonda had really lost control of the boat. For that reason the scene was only shot once.
The pontoon boat was docked on Little Squam Lake so we passed under a bridge and into a short river to enter Big Squam Lake.
It was a gray overcast day and it was quite cool motoring around on the lake. The guide gave each of us a pair of binoculars. With only the 3 of us passengers we were able to change seats to see better when he pointed out an island or a multi million dollar home.
Much of the lake shore is protected so there won’t be any more development such are there is on Lake George where I grew up.
The tour reminded me of the lake tours that I’ve been on in Lake George and I settled in to enjoy the views. We weren’t too far out when the guide pointed out a loon. Of the 3 passengers, I was the only one who had seen one before. The other two ladies were really excited. That was the last time the guide was the first one to spot anything.
Looking for birds and wildlife is just my cup of tea so with the ice broken I put my mind to the task of pointing out loons, cormorant and 2 juvenile Bald eagles. I was in my element and having a blast.
With me spotting the wildlife the guide concentrated on the history of the lake and the spots from the movie. One of the ladies didn’t just want to see a loon, she wanted to hear one too. The guide was really good with that too and was able to offer a passable imitation.
As we came around an island with a private camp on it, a number of campers were putting canoes and kayaks in the water. I spotted a loon not too far from the campers. The guide was surprised to see a loon that close to people. As we passed the loon let out its laughing call. It wasn’t the mournful “wail” but it was still a loon call so my co-passenger was happy.
We entered an area where the guide said a loon had just hatched a brood a couple of weeks ago. He said if we were lucky we might see the babies and sure enough, there was an adult with a couple of baby loons.
Our guide slowed the boat to reduce the wake while the little family headed toward the shore.
The 2 other ladies were thrilled with the loons but for me the high point was the eagles. I still haven’t gotten a great picture but these were a little better. Unfortunately the light was behind them so they are more in silhouette but I keep trying.
I wouldn’t mind spending another day in the area to see if I could get some loon pictures too but that will have to keep for another time.
It was back to the Science Center to see what that was all about.