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It's a big state... what can I say?? (pour another glass of wine, or cup of coffee)

(Photo: That there is Mt. Washington in the far New Hampshire background--home of the "worst weather in the world.)

Days 6-10 In the Maine Woods.

If I wished to see a mountain or other scenery under the most favorable auspices, I would go to it in foul weather, so as to be there when it cleared up; we are then in the most suitable mood, and nature is most fresh and inspiring.—Thoreau

July 12-13, 2023

(Photo: We encounter many needles along the roadway. Sadly, providing evidence for more harm reduction work.)

Mind-numbingly long day with no human contact.

I decided to put in a longer day, to celebrate the end of week one. So, it was convenient I guess to walk from where Julie left off yesterday, to the town we are camped near—Gardiner ME. It turned out to be 19 miles, and a hot 19 it was!

Aside from waving at a few folks in their yards, I didn’t talk with anyone, stop at any stores, or even see Julie, who went back to the campsite to hang out with the dogs until her turn to hit the proverbial pavement.

I did move a couple of little turtles off the road…

Although we still have a few days in Maine, I feel comfortable jumping to some conclusions about the state.

· Every house has a metal roof and 4” lap siding

· Barns are still valued and in use (and BIG)

· Like most other states, right-wing politics are alive and well in rural areas

· You can find a home-based auto repair shop within two miles of wherever you are

· Regardless of how fast you drive there will ALWAYS be another car/truck/semi within 6’ of your rear bumper

· Regardless of any annoying behavior displayed by Mainers, they seem to all be friendly, helpful folks!

I read the other day that the top four “Safest States in the US” are

1) Maine

2) New Hampshire

3) Vermont

4) Minnesota

Whoa! Do you see a pattern here? First of all, the first three are also the first three we walk through. And then, well, Minnesota….

Btw… the most dangerous are Florida and Texas. Hmmm…

Let me get a tad political here. We’ve seen many many Trump 2020/2024 signs and the variations on the theme (“Trump WON!”) but zero Biden ones, except for one I passed today that said, “PEDOPHILE BIDEN!”

I kinda hoped that the person would come outside as I took a photo of it. I had the imaginary conversation in my head all ready. “Okay, I’ll give you 5:00 to tell me why you think Biden is into sex with children, and then you have to give me 5:00 to explain to you how, despite your obvious intelligence and love of children, you have been manipulated.”

(Later, we saw a couple of rainbow flags, and “Love is Love” kinds of signs. So, yeah, it’s like anywhere. Diverse opinions.

Anyway, I’m sure that this will be an ongoing internal dialogue for the next several months, and I have to just deal with it.

Today was a good day for mileage. 24 total miles of forward progress. 140 miles total for an average of 20 a day. This exceeds my expectations for the first week—given our state of conditioning.


Day 8 July 14 (Set up south of Gardiner ME)

It felt like a rest day, though we managed 18+ miles between us. Nice roads with medium traffic and not much in the way of shoulders. Would’ve been tough to have the dog in tow.

I have noted that there’s a distinct absence of runners, bikers, walkers. I have seen, let’s see… zero runners, and maybe one cyclist in 160 miles of roadway in 8 days! That’s crazy to me.

It got me thinking about what runners I know of who are from Maine. Obviously, Joan Benoit Samuelson (Olympic marathon gold medalist in the inaugural women’s marathon in ’84, and world record holder at 2:22:something.) But who else?

Duh! Bernd Heinrich! Legendary master’s ultrarunner, naturalist, and writer of such books as “Mind of the Raven” and “Why We Run.”

I did a quick search and found that we were about 38 miles from the town he lives near.

Okay, now I was on a mission.

Something that popped up was a photo of Bernd leading a class on bees and pollinators, at the North House Folk School…in Grand Marais MN, 25 miles from where I live! How did I miss that??

So, I actually called North House (long-shot here) and asked if they would give me his contact info. Well of course they can’t, and I can respect that. Who wants creepy randos hassling your instructors?

But… they would forward my message to Bernd, and if was amenable to a quick visit, he could contact me.

So, here I sit by a fire in a KOA, beer in hand, waiting for an email to pop up.

I’ll keep y’all posted.

18 miles today 148 total

Day 9: July 15 Walked past Paris ME and set up in Bethel ME

No word from Bernd.

We are really in the thick of Maine now. Rolling roads, barns, rivers, few cars (but you can still count on always having one on your bumper.)

80’s and humid, again.

Dogs haven’t walked for a few days. Giizhik has diarrhea. This is never good on a road trip. I did see one runner and one cyclist today, both of whom I greeted as if they were old friends.

I’m listening to The Monkey Wrench Gang by Ed Abbey, for the umpteenth time. It never gets old, even if it is old. As I like to tell anyone who’ll listen, I once read the entire book while driving from Bozeman to Duluth, with it propped on my knees. There’s little traffic on that route, I argue.

I’ve also had an eye on the roadsides. I found some chanterelles yesterday, about a catcher’s mitt full… okay maybe a little league catcher’s mitt, but they were a nice addition to the veggies Julie sautéed for wraps last night. I’ll for sure be getting a stiff neck from staring left at the edge of the Maine Woods.

@19 miles 167 miles total

Day 10 July 15 Rest Day #1 Moose Brooke State Park New Hampshire (Yes, New Hampshire!)

Still no word from Bernd. He probably doesn’t check his email daily….

The forecast was for 100% chance of thunderstorms all day and night, so we opted to set up camp in this swell state park and use it as a base camp for the next half-week or so. It is in the shadow of Mt. Washington. More on THAT later.

We went to the dreaded Walmart, not once, but twice today (lesson? Make good lists, and actually bring them with you.)

But we got some fun stuff to make our lives easier. And that’s the whole point of Walmart, right?

And we also went out to eat for the first time on the trip. It was a fine dining experience at the exclusive restaurant—Mr. Pizza. (actually, it is pretty cool; right on the big river, with a patio overhanging the water, and really good food.)

If you know us at all, you know that we call ourselves “93% vegan.” Maybe “plant-based” is a better label, if you have to label yourself…

But we got the garden pizza and split a beet salad, washed it all down with some fine NH/Maine brews, and it was all we’d hoped for.

There seem to be a lot of campers and hikers hanging around town today. Not surprising, since there are a lot of parks and trails nearby, including the one and only Appalachian Trail which goes right through town essentially. And, did I mention that the rain and flooding are of Biblical proportions? Good day for laundry, restocking, and relearning social skills.

Tomorrow we drive back into Maine to some hot and hilly (hopefully dry) backroads for some big miles.

@0 miles 168 Total

Day 11 Teaser: Finlander Country! Happy days are here again!

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Hey you two, things seem to be falling in to a nice rhythm. A simple life on the road. I loved Bernd's "Mind of the Raven." Made me much more aware of the ones living here around my home. He's 83 now - it would have been great to run a couple of miles with him. I know he ran a 50K two years ago in Chicago. I understand his internet off a satellite is pretty spotty. Keep on truckin'. And walkin'

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