Pizza and Climbing
For the third consecutive day I had received a text message containing a photo of an incredible looking piece of pizza (well, two pictures of pizza and one picture of a pepperoni roll). Luke was guiding at Pawtuckaway last week and I’m pretty sure he was stopping at Pizza By George as much for their delicious food as he was to taunt me with photos of their delectable treats. Each photo made me crave Pizza By George, a local Pizza Shop on the way out of Pawtuckaway State Park. I would argue that, at times, I’ve made the long drive to P-way as much for the pizza as I have for the climbing. I hadn’t thought much about Pizza By George over the course of the winter, but as I emerged from ski season my thoughts turned to making a trip to P-way to sample the park’s amazing bouldering and of course to get myself a slice or two of pizza. After all, I hadn’t been to P-way since a very cold trip late the past fall.
Luke turned me on to Pizza By George a few years ago when he learned that I had been making routine trips to Pawtuckaway to climb. At the time, the town you drive through on the way to the park (Nottingham, NH) offered a 7-Eleven, a Mobile on the Go, a Dunkin’ Donuts, and a McDonald’s…so I was excited to learn about an interesting local food option. (Secret fact: Luke knows the best places to eat around almost every climbing crag, ski slope, and surf spot in the northeast. I have no idea how he has obtained such knowledge but he is almost always right about the place to eat.) Over the years, stopping at Pizza By George became part of the overall P-way experience. In fact, at times, due to time constraints and other obligations, I’ve been forced to forego my typical pizza stop, and it always leaves the trip feeling incomplete.
What is especially strange is that I typically do not love going out for pizza; I prefer to make my own. But there’s just something about Pizza By George. Perhaps it’s that I started going there well before I started cooking, making stopping for Pizza By George more of a habit than anything else; or perhaps the truth is that, after a long drive and an even longer day spent flinging oneself against Pawtuckaway’s giant granite blocks, just about anything would taste incredible. It could be that Pizza By George just makes interesting pizza that you do not typically see in a local pizza joint and, more important, they sell it by the slice. I would suspect it is a combination of all these things that has me returning there time and again.
It seems as though I have these types of places scattered around most of the areas I visit with frequency. To give away a few secrets: a warm-weather trip in the Franconia Notch area is hardly complete without stopping at Wayne’s Meats in Woodstock, and no Conway trip is complete without a visit to the Moat. If I convince Ashley to come to Lincoln Woods with me, it is almost a lock we will be visiting Popeye’s at the Providence Place Mall. I could go on forever listing favorite stopping spots along my more well-traveled routes. It’s funny how these little rituals work themselves into our overall experience. This week, when I brought a co-worker to Pawtuckaway for his first time, I was almost more excited to hear what he thought about the pizza than how he felt about the climbing.