I'm going to start off on a bit of a negative note. Many parts of the East Coast Greenway that are on-road are not made for walkers. It's been difficult at times maneuvering on streets with no sidewalks and little to no shoulders, and crossing some bridges like the Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge.
Okay, rant over. On an ironic note, I'm in Plainfield! No, ha ha, not that Plainfield.
My trip to Hartford started at the Avon Old Farms Hotel where Jen had dropped me off. My tip for you? If you're going to stay here, make sure you get a room in the main building.
I crossed through Avon's town green, past Sperry Park, to a nice stretch of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. There were more bikers than walkers on this Flag Day.
After exiting the trail, I turned onto Route 185 / Hartford Road, experiencing not only a great hill but frightening walking conditions, and at one point I "hid" on the other side of a guard rail.
I spotted a large rock and a nice patch of grass covered in shade at Cobtail Way, and took a break. After reviewing how much further I'd have to walk in conditions like this, which would continue as I turned left on Loeffler Road, I threw in the towel and took an Uber to the Bloomfield town green to hydrate, and to have some lunch.
Kristie, my host for the night, was texting me about when and where we could meet. She works for CDM Smith in East Hartford, and we planned to walk a part of the way together into Hartford.
Our meeting point was a Wendy's further into Bloomfield. Do you know how good a Wendy's lemonade is after walking miles with a big pack on your back?
Kristie and I walked into downtown Hartford, spotting greenway signs, and walking towards the bridge into East Hartford where we ran into Dan, also from CDM Smith. He was trying out LimeBike, which was just introduced within the past month. I missed the launch of LimeBike in my town; it happened right after I left on my journey.
CDM Smith is where Michael worked. It was a little surreal to be in this office, where we stopped before Dan drove us back to Kristie's car.
Kristie and I picked up her two children, and we headed to her home in Glastonbury. Once there, her daughter came in to see me, handing me the sweetest homemade card.
It was a lovely night spent getting to know the family, and reading "The Dog Who Cried Woof! to her son.
In the morning, niece Jessica picked me up, and we had a delicious breakfast before she had to meet a colleague. I hung out in her hotel until she was finished, riding out a rain storm, and then we headed back into the city where we would be staying for the night.
We watched some World Cup soccer over a french onion soup pizza at the Blind Pig, and then decided to explore a little.
More walking, and then dinner and drinks, and we headed back to the apartment. There may have been a little bit of a headache the next morning.
My trek took me back to the waterfront area the next morning, over the bridge to East Hartford, and along the East River Drive and Charter Oak, until I turned on-road through some not so nice areas.
A quick Uber ride ahead took me to the Charter Oak Greenway from Forbes Street. This stretch ran parallel to the highway, and there were only bikers on this four-mile walk.
One of my highlights was the chance to meet up with sis-in-law Judy and Chris at the Highland Park Market in Manchester. I was going to get to ditch the pack!
On this Saturday, we jumped onto the Hop River State Park Trail near Steeles Crossing Road. It's a tree covered trail where you can see nothing but green. You don't have to worry about looking for greenway signs, and you can just turn your phone off to conserve battery.
We reached Andover, and I checked off another day on my journey. The three of us headed to the Spring Hill Inn, a guest house built circa 1734, to clean ourselves up before heading to dinner at a true find. Francesca's Italian Bistro in Coventry served a mean chicken parm, one of the best I ever had.
Sunday, Father's Day, included a half hour wait at Toast Four Corners, where we filled our bellies before another round of walking, this time on the Air Line State Park Trail. The trail took us past a great blue heron rookery, and was mostly shaded and bordered by an endless amount of ferns.
Alas, Judy and Chris had to return to New Jersey, so they dropped me off at my hotel in Plainfield... Connecticut, that is!
On this Monday, I'm planning to head back to where we left off on the Air Line State Park Trail, and make my way to either Pomfret or Putnam, depending upon the weather. There is an extreme heat advisory in effect, and there may be some afternoon thunderstorms.
I won't lie, I'm looking forward to crossing into my fourth state, Rhode Island in the next few days!