Pittsburg to Stewartstown Day 2 cont.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I walked (as well as I could) over to the driveway, to the voices in the garage.
A woman saw me and came over.
Not sure what to say, not sure how to say it, I decided to go with the truth.
“My son and I have had a really stupid idea,” I began. “We thought it would be a good idea to walk the state from Canada to Massachusetts. But it’s too long.” I tried not to sound like I was whining.
I looked back at Griffin who was still fuming as he sat on the grass in the park. “We’re good people,” I tried to assure her “we’re just lost. The motel we were supposed to stay at was supposed to be over this bridge but it’s not. I’m wondering if you could give my son and I a ride to where it is?”
Now how many of us would have been receptive to a sweaty dirty woman in your driveway asking for a ride for her and her equally sweaty, dirty (and somewhat angry) looking son who was on the other side of the road. I waited, holding my breath expecting to hear, “Well, um, I’m busy right now.”
Instead the woman (Debbie) without missing a beat, called over her shoulder to the man in the garage saying “I’ve got to give these nice people a ride, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
As a mother, my eyes filled with tears. Someone was going to help us.
As a fellow human, my heart filled with joy. There are people out there who are willing to help others.
I went over to Griffin and told him to pick up his stuff, we had a ride. His eyes got big – I could see the years’ worth of “don’t hitchhike” and “don’t take a ride with strangers” training flash behind his eyes. But then he looked at his feet, took inventory of his body and said “Let’s go then.”
As it turned out the motel, Maurice’s, was 2.5 miles away (a distance that would have been equal to going to the moon in our condition) and it was over the *next* bridge (damn Google maps.) We got in Debbie’s car and after I thanked her (and thanked her again and then Griffin thanked her) I told her more about our walk and that it was especially tough because we both had Lyme disease that had gotten into our joints. During our walk we wanted to talk to people who had Lyme disease. We wanted to let them know that they are not alone.
“But I’m beginning to wonder if this was such a good idea,” I said.
It turned out that Debbie’s sister has been diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease and she recently had to have her jaw reconstructed because the Lyme spirochetes had drilled into and destroyed the bone.
I could believe it. From what I’d seen, there was very little access to medical care in the north country and yet, because everyone worked and played outside, tick bites were a huge part of everyday life. If you got a tick borne infection, how on earth were you going to get help?
During our ride, Debbie also told us that the nursing home up the street on Route 3 used to be a hospital. She had been born there and years later she worked there as a nurse’s aide. I wondered about people who had such deep roots in their community. What must it feel like to have generations stay in the same area? For a family to be so solid?
In what was only a few minutes (by car years) lovely, lovely Debbie dropped us off at the motel. I pulled out a 5 dollar bill, “Here,” I said. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. You have, without exaggerating, saved us.”
She waved off my money. “No, no,” she said. “I wish I had some money to give you on your trip. What you are doing is very important.”
Debbie backed up her car. Griffin and I waved until we couldn’t see her anymore. Lovely, lovely Debbie.
As soon as we got into our room, like the Motrin addicts we had become, we swallowed our pills and collapsed on the beds, completely off of our feet. Our plan was to let the Motrin kick in and then try to find some dinner.
I called Marc. “We’re at the motel,” I knew he’d be worried because it was a late check-in. One of my steadfast rules was that we’d be on the road after dawn and then off of it before dusk. Not only was it dangerous to walk on the road at those times, but that was also when bears were most likely to be out and about. Dusk had begun about an hour ago.
Relieved that we were okay, Marc caught me up on local news, he told me about a record heat wave that was hitting our town and that one of my other sons, Trevor, would be driving up in two days so that we could dump some of our pack weight. (Two days!? He couldn’t come up right this minute?) Did we need anything?
I told Marc about our day, the Trading Post, the failure of Google Maps and of course, Debbie. “You took a ride with a stranger?” He asked me, the father of our safety trained kids. When we had run out of things to say, Marc asked me what we had had for dinner.
When I told him we hadn’t had dinner yet, he was alarmed. “Both of you need to go out and get dinner now.” Food was important and restaurants close.
I turned to Griffin “Hey Griff, Dad wants us to go out and get dinner right now.”
“Tell him we’re working on it,” he said as he rolled over on his side.
Griffin’s shoulders were in solid knots from his back pack straps. In an effort at relief, I had dipped the “cool towel” I had been carrying in some cold water and draped it over his shoulders. The cool was taking away some of the inflammation heat. It was all I could do.
Apparently the Gods took pity and smiled on us that night as it turned out the closest restaurant was directly across the street from the motel. After the Motrin had started its magic, we decided that we could walk well enough to make it to the restaurant.
Do you remember the first day of training for a school sport after resting for all of summer vacation? Remember when you couldn’t bend your legs and you had to sort of hop up and down stairs?
That was us.
If there had only been one of us, that person might have given up and given in to the pain. That person might not have had dinner that night. But because there were two of us and because this was something we had voluntarily done to ourselves, TO OURSELVES, all we could do was laugh.
Wiping away tears and laughing some more.
We slowly made our way to the front door and then up the incredibly high steps. A set of loud jingle bells announced our arrival and everyone in the restaurant turned in our direction.
Who’s joined us for dinner?
With strained smiles, Griffin and I shuffled to a booth furthest away from any other people and hopped/jumped into our seats. Once settled we’d be okay, we tried to convince ourselves. We’d fit in. When we didn’t have to move, we almost looked normal.
After a dinner of poutine and steak tips, (which were the best poutine and steak tips I had ever had) there was nothing left to do but leave. As much as we wanted to, we couldn’t stay in our booths forever. On the count of three, we held in the moans as we pushed ourselves out of our seats. Our legs, which had stiffened up in only the short time of a dinner refused to walk with grace. We nodded polite hellos to the remaining customers who curiously watched as we crossed what seemed like the 5 miles it took to get to from one side of the restaurant to the escape door.
It looked a bit like the dreaded zombie apocalypse had begun after all, we were living proof. Beware folks. When we finally left, the door’s bells which had announced our entrance signaled to all those having their dinner and drinks that the “walkers” had gone.
Breaths could be exhaled. Children would be safe for another night.
Once outside, Griffin and I only had to cross the street and make it back to our room. Then we could be off our feet. For the rest of the blessed night. By that time it was dark, we could hide in the shadows and no one would see us scramble like the wounded animals we were. Our goal was within reach.
I waited by the side of the road for Griffin catch up so we could cross together. Misery does love her company.
Two trucks had been coming from each direction and they stopped right in front of me. Confused, I tried to wave them on.
“Mom, you idiot,” called out Griffin.
What? That’s when I looked down at my feet. I had stopped exactly in front of a pedestrian crossing. By state law, the cars had to stop to allow me to cross the road.
They were waiting.
Griffin was right, I was an idiot.
I’m sure that night that instead of seeing two people exhausted to the point of giddy laughter and tears who were trying to stumble cross the road on muscles that had long ago shut down, those drivers left shaking their heads at the shameful thought of an older woman and younger man leaving a restaurant so drunk they could barely put one foot in front of the other.
So much for escaping without notice.
We made it to our room, watched a little cable and within the hour we were both asleep. The next day, Day 3 would be light, only 10 miles to Colebrook. After two days of 15 and 16 miles respectively, we were looking forward to it.
We were finally going to have an easy day.
(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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