Pittsburg to Stewartstown Day 2 cont.
Pittsburg is a town that goes on forever. And ever. Our second day of walking the state and we still hadn’t even left our first town.
Our plan was to walk until 12 p.m. (with rests every other mile) and then take a 2 hour break which would both rest our bodies and also keep us out of the hottest sun. At around 11, we passed a small “Trading Post” which kind of looked like a glorified gas station across from Pittsburg’s town green.
“Should we stop?” Griffin asked. I looked at my watch and saw that it was only 11.”
“No, I feel pretty good. Let’s try and get a few more miles in before 12.”
We decided to walk on.
Apparently it was time for another trail angel because we had only gotten about a quarter mile past the Trading Post when a woman whom we had met the Cabins at Lopstick, pulled over in her car to chat with us.
“You’re making great progress,” she told us. “Good for you.”
We took her compliment knowing that from our side of the bars it certainly didn’t *feel* like good progress. Long walks are kind of like living with a toddler. Because you are so close to the child, you don’t see the growth that takes place and it’s only when you compare photos, or measure the growth on a wall, or have a friend mention the growth that you stop and take notice. It wasn’t until I plotted our route on a state map each night that we realized our daily baby steps actually equated to actual mileage progress.
We were simply too close to the child.
We talked about walking, how long (but beautiful) Pittsburg was and, of course, Lyme disease. When the majority of the population goes outside for recreation and hunting, there are bound to be Lyme and tick borne infections. There is simply no escaping it. She had a relative with the disease and knew of several other people who were also suffering.
Lyme disease was everywhere.
When we had exhausted our discussion of Lyme disease, I figured I’d take advantage of her local knowledge. “Where’s the closest restaurant to here?” I asked her.
“You just passed it.”
The Trading post/gas station was considered a local restaurant.
Griffin and I exchanged glances. “How far away is the next one?”
“You won’t see another restaurant for at least 10 miles.”
“You’re kidding me!”
How on earth did people live up here, I wondered. You’d pretty much have to fill up the tank if you wanted to go out for a movie and dinner (if you could even find a movie theater or a restaurant that was open.) Nothing, absolutely nothing was convenient.
We thanked our guide for her good wishes and the important information that we needed to go back to the Trading post in order to get lunch. If she hadn’t come at exactly that point, we would have been too far from any food source and our lunch would have consisted of granola bars and dried raw cow. Trail angels carry some powerful magic.
Retracing our steps, we went back to the Trading Post and took full advantage of the picnic area in front. There is a small grunt of released tension and relief made by everyone when they finally drop their packs. Griffin and I both made those grunts as we shucked out of our walking gear. A few people looked at us with a little bit of alarm, we didn’t care.
Once again Griffin immediately took off his shoes which left me (mom) to go inside, get drinks, and order our lunch.
My first obstacle was the three wooden steps leading into the store. I considered using my trekking poles for balance, but then decided that that would be overkill. Surely with focus and determination, I could make it into the store without collapsing. Using the handrail to pull myself up each step (those of you with bad knees know what I’m talking about) I made it to the screen door and went inside. A food counter was on the right and a “store” filled with more empty shelf space than filled was on the left. In between the two areas was a few linoleum topped tables which I assumed was the “restaurant” part with a bank of refrigerated drinks lining the walls.
I walked up to the food counter. “I’ll take two full-sized Italian sandwiches. Put mayo on one and oil on the other and then load them up with everything else.” I wanted quick, easy, and something with taste. I paid for the sandwiches, chips and drinks and brought them outside to Griffin at the table.
There is something about fresh air and exercise because our food, like the meal the night before, was fit for a king – never had there ever been a combination of pepperoni, salami, ham and cheese that had tasted so delicious.
“This is the best sandwich I’ve ever had.” I told Griffin as I tried to wrap my hands around its girth. Filled with lettuce, vegetables and pickles on top of Italian cold cuts, it was more of a salad bowl than any kind of sandwich I had ever known. Finally acquiescing to a fork and knife in order to get it under control, we made good progress and soon the sandwich was gone.
“You know we’re not moving for two hours.” Griffin warned me when he saw me adjusting my equipment.
I was worried about our mileage vs. time ratio. “We can’t exactly stay here,” I countered. Although the Trading post had put picnic tables, I was pretty sure that they didn’t intend for shoe and sockless hikers to live in front of their store for 2 hours at a time.
We spied a perfect, white, and totally-New England town gazebo in a park across the street and limped our way over.
Pittsburg may never know how grateful we were for that gazebo. With its pristine open walls allowing a soft breeze and its centrally located table (conveniently out of the sun’s reach) with benches long enough for us to lie on our backs, it allowed us a place to eat our food, drink our cold drinks in the shade, and rest.
For the entire two hours that Griffin has insisted on.
Before the gazebo rest, our optimism and strength (as well as our Motrin) had been beginning to wear down. It was only lunchtime and we still had roughly 10 miles to go.
With heavy packs and our painful joints and feet.
It seemed an impossible task. Again, I questioned the sanity of this undertaking. What had I been thinking to drag two bodies that were so compromised on such an undertaking.
What kind of a mother was I to do this to my son?
But two hours later refueled with food and drink, and after our mid-day dose of Motrin had kicked in, miraculously we were ready to hit the road again.
We wanted to continue our journey. We had to. Griffin and I both knew that this had already become more than “just a walk.” We had a goal to make. We had something to prove to ourselves – a fierce sense of determination set in propelling us forward.
We have a walking loop in our neighborhood that is roughly one mile long. When the kids were little, Marc and I would line them up like ducklings in a row and we’d take them all for an after-dinner walk. When the kids were cranky we’d do one loop, when they were in good spirits we’d do two.
Griffin turned to me as I came up behind him, ready to cross the road and continue our journey “Come on Mom, it’s only ten loops around the neighborhood until we reach the hotel. We can do this.”
He was right. When looked at it that way, it was doable. And beside we didn’t have any choice, with no car, no friends, and no public transportation we had nothing else to do but keep on walking. The carrot at the end of our sticks was a hot meal, a comfortable bed, and the knowledge that at the end of the day we’d accomplished our goal.
(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
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