Lesson 1480 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 14 (Magic and the Governor)

Day 14 Concord to Manchester

It felt strange to be home. After being on our own and being self-sufficient it was disconcerting to hear my children ask me things like “what’s for dinner?” and “Mom, do we have any more laundry soap?”

I wasn’t quite ready to make the transition from sojourner back to mom of 6 and so I sidestepped the questions and threw them back to the kids.

“I don’t know what’s for dinner but I hope it’s good.”

“If we have any more laundry soap it’d be near the washer.”

Although Griffin and I had made the decision to continue our walk for the next 3 days, we both knew that we had to take it carefully. A popped blister on his foot meant danger and a twist on mine could very well mean surgery. We just had to be very, very careful.

Just like during our walk, although now in separate rooms, Griffin and I got up with our phone alarms. Downstairs, he dressed his feet while I put on my now four joint braces – both knees and both ankles. I literally looked like the wreck I felt.

I imagined having a conversation with someone who watched me walk down the street:

“Good Lord!! What did you do to yourself???”

“Oh this? I just went for a walk.”

Marc dropped us off where we have stopped the day before and we began our day.

Although there are still stretches of wooded land between Concord and Manchester, we began to see more and more commerce. If we wanted to stop and get food for breakfast we now had a choice (most of it, of course being fast food.)

If we (I) wanted to use a bathroom, all we had to do was walk into a store and use the facilities. No more peeing in the woods for us.

At one point, when I had to use a bathroom *yet again* (“really mom?”) a thought occurred to me and so I did a quick google search on my phone. As it turns out, a common side effect of taking a lot of Motrin is to have frequent bowel movements.

Griffin and I had been on a steady diet of Motrin since we had started two weeks ago. I turned to Griffin in much the same manner that any parent does when they discuss Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.

“Hey Griff, you know those magic toilets that we kept finding along the way?”

Griffin looked at me, not quite sure where this conversation was going. “Yeaaah?”

“It turns out that going a lot is a side effect of Motrin.”  It’s always a difficult thing to mess with the belief system of another person.

“So there are no such things as magic toilets?”

“I’m afraid not, son. It’s time for you to grow up and learn the truth.” I said using my most authoritative parenting voice.

“Shame” he replied.

Today was going to be a bit different from our other days. I had connected with the NH Governor: Maggie Hassan’s office and we were supposed to meet with her in the morning. Her office had heard about our walk and she had a letter that she wanted to give us. We weren’t sure what to expect.

As there was no way, Griffin and I were going to walk back to Concord, Addy decided that she would pick us up, take us to Concord and then return us to where we had been in Manchester.

Griffin, Addy and I walked into the State house, the very same one with the gold dome we had seen just the day before. Marc and I had brought our kids to the State house many times. We walked up the familiar worn marble stairs to the second floor and down the hallway to Gov. Hassan’s office.

We were asked to wait, the Governor will come out and see you soon, we were told.

After just a few minutes, our Governor emerged from her office holding a folder. She told us how important it was that we were doing this and raising awareness about Lyme disease. She congratulated us and shook our hands.

She handed us a letter which read in part:

“On behalf of the citizens of New Hampshire, I want to congratulate you on your Border-to-border New Hampshire walk.

“From the noble mountains that tower over the North Country, to our beautiful lakes and rivers, your nearly 200-mile journey on foot throughout New Hampshire has given you the opportunity to experience what makes the Granite State unique and will inspire residents and visitors.

“New Hampshire has a long tradition of inclusiveness because we understand that when we fully include the talent and energy of all of our people, we all get stronger. Through your journey, you are building on this tradition of inclusiveness by reaffirming that New Hampshire is a beautiful and accessible place to explore, even for those who experience disabilities. Despite your chronic Lyme disease, related arthritis and other orthopedic conditions, you are raising awareness of this illness and demonstrating courage, strength and bravery throughout this journey that will help others to get outdoors and explore this great state despite obstacles and roadblocks that might stand in the way.”

If you ever want to put wings on someone’s feet, go ahead and give them a letter filled with encouragement like that.

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(Here’s some information on why we took this trip.)

***

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Lesson 1479 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 13-3 (Braces and antibiotics)

Day 13-3 (cont) Canterbury to Concord

After the dinner dishes were cleared, I turned to Griffin. “Get in the car,”I told him. “We’re going to Urgent Care.”

Griffin had to have his blisters looked at and I wanted to see if there was something else I could do about my sprained ankle.

After I had seen the doctor, I sneeked out of my room and quietly tip-toed down the corridor to join Griffin in his room. It was 9 o’clock, the clinic was closing soon and we were its last patients. Both of us being seen for various injuries related to our New Hampshire border to border walk which we had begun 13 days earlier.

Yeah, I know, we had injuries from a walk.

Griffin was sitting on the examination table, crinkling the paper every time he moved, waiting for the doctor to return with some prescriptions. His shoes and socks were off and his feet sported new bandages and tape from those he had put on in the morning. “What’s up?” I asked as I gingerly limped my way to the only chair in the room, glad once again for the chance to be off my feet.

“Well,” Griffin began, “Because of my suppressed immune system, he’s not going to pop the blisters.” This had been a bone of contention between the two of us the entire walk. “Pop them!” I would plead nightly as I saw them grow bigger and bigger, but Griffin had just played the  winning card – I wasn’t going to challenge a doctor’s opinion especially if it sided with medical caution.

Griffin had a decades-long history of chronic Lyme disease that had because it hadn’t been diagnosed and treated for too long triggered an auto-immune reaction in his body. Every two weeks he injected medication into his body that helped to keep his symptoms under control. It worked by suppressing his immune response thereby keeping his body from attacking itself. Of course, this also left him with a compromised immune system. He was vulnerable, if he got the flu or a cold, a normal occurrence to most other college kids, it could send him straight to the hospital. Continue reading

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Lesson 1478 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 13-2 (Coins and home for the night)

Day 13 (cont) Canterbury to Concord

After lunch, we came across a young man singing and playing his guitar while sitting on a bench. This was what we had been looking for. I dropped our collected money collection in his guitar case, wondering what he would think when he pulled out the salt encrusted, road traveled, in some cases car smooshed coins at the end of the day. Would he have any idea of how far they had traveled to get into his hands?

Although there was open land past Concord, we didn’t see the large rambling fields or open vistas that are so common up north. Instead we saw machine flattened areas, ready for construction and development.

And while we were still following a river, now the Merrimack, and it had slowed to a lazy crawl – debris collecting in the corners, algae growing in stagnant pools. The water smelled different down here, heavier, more deeply organic, a little bit of decay.

I called the Governor’s and Senator’s office, Yes, of course we could meet with them tomorrow. We’d be honored.

We were reaching the end, people wanted to acknowledge our accomplishment.

Although we still had 3 days to go, it felt like we were already preparing our goodbyes. Continue reading

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Lesson 1477 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 13 (Internet and books)

Day 13 Canterbury to Concord

Each night when we unpacked our gear in our hotel I was very careful to lean both of my trekking poles, into a corner of the room so that neither of us would trip on them if we got up during the night. Usually I leaned them with the handles facing up. Last night, however, I set them with the tips up against the walls.

In the morning when I went to grab my poles I realized that the tips had worn through to the metal bases. Using these poles for every single step of almost 180 miles had done a job on the hard plastic knobs. I had used them on level ground for balance, on inclines to help pull me up, and had leaned on them during descents as a way to off load some weight from my legs. You could see how the tips had been worn unevenly. Tilted, like the steep bank of the roads we had been walking.

I was lucky that I had thought to pack an extra pair of tips at the beginning of our walk and I was even luckier that those tips had survived the multiple purges we had made along the way. I switched the tips while Griffin applied ointment, bandages, and what seemed like miles and miles of hiking tape to his feet. I’d have to remember to get some more of that tape when I could.

Griffin and I made our way to the hotels breakfast room. Knowing that we were close enough to spend nights (and presumably breakfasts) at home going forward, we had our last breakfast of pre-made batter waffles and watered down orange juice. Each of us grabbed an apple from the bowl in the lobby for later and returned to our room to once again put on our packs and start the day.

We were just at the outskirts of Concord, the capital of New Hampshire. We began seeing houses, businesses, car dealerships. We smelled exhaust, breakfast sandwiches, and coffee in the air. Instead of walking on the road, as we had previously done, we walked on the sidewalk and stopped waving at cars when we realized no one was waving back. Horns honked in agitation of fellow drivers – no longer in motivation of us.

The traffic was loud, there were too many things to see, and an anticipation of being in a place where we actually knew the streets kept us busy looking for well-known landscapes.

And we had internet – sweet, sweet consistent internet. Griffin checked his favorite discussion boards. He played Pokemon Go, catching virtual creatures along the way.

We didn’t talk much. Continue reading

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Lesson 1476 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 12-3 (Wild Boar and chicken tenders)

Day 12-3 – Sanbornton to Canterbury

Lunch was at a local restaurant that served wild game. Prior to this walk I would have *never* even entered an establishment like that. In my earlier years, I used to be a vegetarian (I did it all wrong and was one of those people who got very sick from malnutrition) and while I ate meat now (mostly due to craving meat when I was pregnant), I saw no need to eat anything other than beef, chicken or fish.

No tongue, sweetbreads, lamb, veal, rabbit, frogs, or any other “odd” sort of meat for me.  No thank you very much.

And yet Griffin and I decided to eat here. Part of it was because I had started to see that I was a bit of a hypocrite by feeling good about eating meat that didn’t even look like the animal it came from. And part of it was recognizing that, especially up north, hunting was an important part of eating.

We sat at a table and looked at the menu. Griffin ordered an Elk burger and I ordered a Health Slow Roasted Wild Boar Reuben.  After all when in the northern country…

When the sandwich arrived, I looked at it, working up the courage to take a bite.

Griffin didn’t even hesitate. He picked up his burger and dove in.

Guess what? When I finally screwed up the courage to take that first bite, nothing happened. It didn’t bite back at me, I wasn’t struck by lightning for eating a doe-eyed animal, and perhaps most importantly, I didn’t gag on the meat.

In fact it was tasty. I chewed and swallowed and then I took another bite. Continue reading

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Lesson 1475 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 12-2 (houses and the lottery)

Day 12-2 – Sanbornton to Canterbury

It was early morning and it looked like it was going to be a clear, gorgeous day. Griffin and I walked in Loudon alongside where the huge race track complex is located. The track takes up almost a mile of space for both the venue and the necessary parking. It’s a huge area of flattened land.

While we were walking past, a solitary driver was inside the motorcade racing along the track. We stood where we could see through an opening in the fence and watched the car pass us on its way to another lap and then another. Marc and I had never taken the kids to a car race, but Griffin and I had seen enough movies to feel the thrill when the car raced passed us, engine revving, a powerful wind coming from its’ underbelly as it pushed forward.

Because the land was so flat, we also started to see many cyclists (you don’t see too many people on bikes when you are going up mountains.) Bikers have to ride with traffic, while walkers have to walk against traffic, it meant that we had to constantly move to the side of the road where gravel and road debris gathered or risk being run over by a bicycle. Cars, bikes, people – that’s the chain of command in transportation.

My foot had been bothering me since we had started walking that day. I didn’t mention it to Griffin (honestly, I was already wearing two knee braces, wasn’t that enough?) But it got to the point where I had to sit down and get off my foot. It was that painful.

I called for a break.

“My foot hurts.” I mentioned to Griffin.

“Your foot?” he said surprised. “What did you do?”

“I don’t know, I must have twisted my ankle on a rock,” I looked at the puffiness that had developed around my ankle. We had had to move to the gravel many times already for the bikers. What else could it be, right?

But in reality, I knew I hadn’t twisted my ankle and neither had I fallen. It just started spontaneously hurting. I was reminded of the time when I had brought Griffin in for an incredibly sore and swollen finger. “He must have jammed his finger in the pool while swimming” the doctor told me.

In my lifetime, I’ve jammed my finger several times. It hurts when you do that. Who, I thought jams their finger and doesn’t realize it?

What they had missed was that the finger was swollen due to his autoimmune condition and it had nothing to do with an injury. His body was sick.

Who doesn’t realize they sprained their ankle? I asked myself. But I let denial take over my logic and after a while we continued onward. I’m better at being an advocate for my son than I am for me.

“Next time we pass a store, I’ll buy an ankle brace,” I told Griffin. “I’m sure that will help.” Continue reading

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Lesson 1474 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 12 ($10 an hour)

Day 12 – Sanbornton to Canterbury

Because of our detour to a different hotel, it meant that this morning we’d have to walk about 5 miles out of our way to get back on the road we were supposed to be on. Griffin and I decided to use a taxi for those 5 miles.

This time I made sure we had hotel reservations for the evening before we even went downstairs for breakfast, no more surprises for us.

Breakfast was the standard hotel fare – bagels, cereal, juice from a machine and premade batter for waffles with “Pancake syrup” (something that in my opinion should be outlawed in New Hampshire and replaced with our very own Maple syrup.)

When we finished, we went back to our room to collect our gear. From the “Local information folder” on the desk, I picked and called a cab company for our ride and then Griffin and I went downstairs to wait on a bench just outside the main entrance. We watched business men and women dressed in suits in a hurry, hurry, hurry getting rides to work. We saw an elderly couple gingerly get into their waiting cab. The man older, puffier and arthritically listing more than the woman – yet still holding the door open for her to get in.

Our cab arrived. We put our packs in the trunk and Griffin and I got in the back. I greeted our driver, a young woman, and told her where we wanted to be left off. She started driving and Griffin and I looked out the windows at the significant influence commerce had on an area. We saw stores and more stores. Food franchises with logos so common we recognized them from a distance. We saw traffic. Our driver honked when someone was sitting at a greenlight, phone in his hand, absorbed in another reality.

“Get going buddy!”

Static came over the radio and our driver had an unintelligible conversation with someone on the other end. “Sure, sure,” she replied to the microphone in her hand.

She turned to us – “I have to pick up another fare, do you mind?”

“Not at all,” I replied happy for the chance to see more of where we were going from the inside of a rolling chariot.

After a few minutes, the driver stopped her cab in a driveway and a young woman who had been waiting got in. She greeted us and started talking to the driver. Clearly these two already knew each other.

The woman was talkative and included us in her conversation. While I listened, I wanted to know more about her. I asked questions and found out about her story.

She was on her way to work at a local nursing home where she was paid $10 an hour.

I asked if she was eligible for benefits from her job. Continue reading

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