A Maine(ly) Chilly Start

I knew the water in the Atlantic would be chilly in mid-April, but I had to walk in anyway. The veins on the tops of my feet popped out as I entered and officially began my second crossing of America on foot. I touched the ocean at 6:30 PM April 11th.

Just getting to that point was a bit of an adventure. I took three trains from St. Louis (the first of which was delayed seven hours). I barely made my connection in Chicago, but arrived in Boston 24 hours later. From Back Bay station, I walked an uncomfortable two miles with Forest (my trusty backpack), two over-loaded duffel bags, and an umbrella to Boston North train station, where I boarded my final train to Portland.

I arrived in Portland at 2 AM. After three hours at Dennys (the only open restaurant) I picked up PJ from a UPS store. As it turns out, PJ’s shipping cost was 50 dollars more than my train ticket(s)!

PJ survived! It may have looked like a used camping gear yard sale, but I got everything in order.

From UPS we walked a chilly 10 miles (chilly will be a consistent theme during the first few weeks of my walk) south to Zephyr Cove.

Joan the crossing guard thought I was pushing a baby, so she stopped traffic. She laughed when I told her I was actually pushing soon to be smelly camping gear.

I started walking west early on Thursday, April 12th. I walked 15, 24, 23, and three miles, respectively, during my first four days on the road. I crossed my first state line and entered New Hampshire on day three.

Spring hasn’t quite sprung in Northern New England. Crocus, iris, and tulips just started sprouting in Portland, but colder temperatures and higher elevations inland have the region stuck in winter. Many hillsides are still covered in snow and lakes remain frozen.

I managed to dodge wet weather until I neared the White Mountains. Sleet and freezing rain pelted my tent as I camped next to a little lake three miles south of Conway. After packing up in 20 degree temps the following morning, I walked the last three miles into Conway as it snowed lightly. Fortunately Sunday morning traffic was minimal.

My body and mind will take time to adjust to the walking life again, but every morning I’m filled with optimism and gratitude for the upcoming journey! Temperatures may be cold, but I’ve been given an incredibly warm reception by the folks, and courteous drivers, of Maine and New Hampshire.

Bonnie of Freedom, NH, hollered at me as I walked through town, sending me on my way with two bananas, five granola bars, and her phone number in case I needed help.

I met Lois, an 87 year-old firecracker near Gorham, ME. Four times per week, she walks a segment of the highway picking up cans. It keeps her healthy, physically and mentally. She was scowering the hillside and climbing guardrails to get cans. I hope I’m as active as her at 87!

I am staying at a hostel in Conway, New Hampshire for two nights to warm up and, perhaps more importantly, to shower and do laundry.

From Conway, I’ll follow Highway 302 through White Mountain National Forest, then head northwest and meander my way on state highways to Lake Champlain and the Canadian border. The weather forecast continues to be cold and rainy/snowy/windy/sleety/crappy. It will be a slow-going challenge in coming days.

However, I am hoping the warm reception I’ve received cancels out the cold weather!

In every blog post, I’ll update you on miles, jars of peanut butter consumed (12 oz), days walked, my favorite roadside find, and my three favorite pictures.

Day – 4

Miles – 64

Peanut Butter Count – 3 jars

Favorite Roadside Find – A free leather couch where I sat, journaled, and ate a banana for 30 minutes.

Zephyr Cove at Sunset.

Slushy, icy New Hampshire roads.

Brrrrrrrring it on.

Until next time, walk on!

–Ben

6 thoughts on “A Maine(ly) Chilly Start

  1. Ben –

    The journey is all about you – however, we all get to experience it with you – and for that we say thank you.

    The Manitou Incline was intense to say the least. I smile because every time we travel – your Uncle Jack finds anything that involves steps – lots of steps. Obviously genetic….

    Thanks for sharing – can not wait to hear how many jars of peanut butter you go through.

    Lots of love
    Uncle Jack and Aunt Janie

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    1. Thank you so much Janie, and thank you for following along!

      It should be one heck of an adventure….definitely ready for spring in the Northeast!

      I hope you, Uncle Jack, and the kids are doing well!

      Love, Ben

      Like

  2. Ben, just hearing you comment fires up the desire in me to hit the road again on my bike. You don’t know how many times I have contemplated our chance meeting in Jefferson City, Missouri. I’m not a big social media person, but I do intend to follow your blog. When I hear the words to this traditional Irish blessing, I always think about you.

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    the rains fall soft upon your fields
    and until we meet again,
    may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

    Blessings,
    Alan Headrick

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    1. Thanks for following along with me, Alan, and for the Irish blessing. I love it!

      I would definitely encourage you to get out on the bike again! Though I’m clearly partial to a good adventure!

      I remember that train ride like it was yesterday! That was such an awful week of weather with the rain, humidity, and bugs, I was just so grateful to be “indoors,” and chatting with you was the icing on the cake! I hope you work a tour into your summer buddy! Keep me posted.

      –Ben

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  3. Thanks Ben for the update. Even though it is chilly, you’ve met many folks who have warmed your heart! Carry on and happy trails! Liz

    On Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 9:04 AM, Walking Across America – 2018 wrote:

    > Ben_Clagett posted: “I knew the water in the Atlantic would be chilly in > mid-April, but I had to walk in anyway. The veins on the tops of my feet > popped out as I entered and officially began my second crossing of America > on foot. I touched the ocean at 6:30 PM April 11th. ” >

    Like

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