Later today I will cross the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth into the final state of my journey, into Maine. I've imagined what the moment will feel like, how much emotion there will be, much like I had when I passed from New Jersey to New York over the George Washington Bridge so many weeks ago.
I've been fortunate enough to have amazing people support me along the way. Recently, I stayed with college friend and roommate Diane, who picked me up in Marblehead.
I didn't get to walk the leg of my trip to Topsfield because of torrential rain; instead, I opted to find a salon to take care of some overdue roots before Diane could pick me up. I met with Rich of Fagone & Company, and after talking about why I was in town, he threw in a free trim to give back to my cause. So in addition to a great color and cut, I suggest you check out this salon for its philanthropic ways.
Diane found me, and we headed back to her home in Ipswich where I got to meet Scout, her friendly puppy. Conversation was easy with my friend despite the number of years that have passed since we last saw each other.
The next day she dropped me off in Topsfield to catch the Border to Boston Trail. Traffic on this section was light, with some bikers and even fewer people walking their dogs.
There was a bit of confusion on my part when I thought I could stay on this trail longer than I really could. I had to backtrack a bit, and then the East Coast Greenway signage pointed one way, while the map on its website indicated I should go the other way. I figured it out, but think I ended up walking more than I needed to do. Additionally, after you leave the trail, you walk nothing but residential streets. I find this hard because there are few places to rest, escape the sun, and refuel.
The Newbury to Hampton leg of my journey was much more enjoyable. I started on the Clipper City Rail Trail to Newburyport, an adorable town on the water with lots of pedestrian walkways, and shops and restaurants abound.
I finished the Old Eastern Marsh Trail, and took a quick water break. An older woman approached me as she waited for her friend, and we chatted. She seemed sad, and then said she has buried two brothers in the past three months. After I responded when she asked why I was there alone, she reached out for a hug. I hope she was able to enjoy her walk despite the sadness that enveloped her.
My route then took me out on the road, but thankfully there were sidewalks. (I love sidewalks!) At least until I turned left, hugging the ocean as I headed towards New Hampshire. Seeing that sign at the state border left me elated and exhausted all at the same time.
l finished my day traveling into Hampton, the complete opposite of Newburyport. It seemed more like Seaside Heights to me.
Instead of picking up in Hampton, Diane dropped me in the quaint town of Rye. Moments after I started, I saw a sign marking the Brackett Massacre Site from 1691. Anyone in a car would miss this sign! I walked in, where a marker indicated that 21 settlers were killed or taken captive by Indians.
The greenway route then took me along the water. It was a beautiful day, and I couldn't resist posing a picture of Whaley, as if he'd be returning to his natural habitat. As I took a drink, a man approached me and asked about the pictures with the whale. He said he would give me five dollars if I would text the pictures to his wife. Huh?
It turns out he lives nearby, happened to see me taking the pictures when he was driving, and deliberately stopped because his wife loves whales. His wife is also a hospice nurse who was about to go back to work after a brief vacation. Jim said it would make his wife's day to see the pictures.
I didn't take the money, and sent the pictures. She responded: "This is awesome!!! Who is this?" Jim then added that Seal Rock is in the background.
Further on, I turned into a parking area, climbed some rocks to see the water, and I was treated to a plethora of cairns. They were everywhere and it was really beautiful. If you are ever near Odiorne's Point, you can find the cairns two parking areas south of the park entrance.
I continued on, having to travel on a road with... you guessed it... no sidewalks, but soon approached a sign welcoming me to Portsmouth. Yay! But the kicker was that I still had a ways to go in the hot sun to reach the downtown part of the city.
By the time I made it, seeing the North Church, I headed to the Portsmouth Brewery and treated myself to a nice, cold beer.
My next adventure was to meet up with Michelle, another sorority sister from Syracuse University. She scooped me up, and we headed to lunch, where we just talked and talked and caught up on life.
The day was complete as we ended up at her beautiful home in Wells. She brought me back to Portsmouth yesterday, a rest day I spent exploring the city. I'll meet up with her later this afternoon when I reach South Berwick, my first city in a new state.
Maine, here I come!