Lesson 1458 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 7 cont (Crime Busters)

Day 7 – Whitefield to Littleton (continued)

Some parts of Route 3 are obviously more developed than others and because the road runs through mountains, it stands to reason that it would also run along the side of some fairly massive drop-offs .

Still riding the adrenaline high from the black bear (and still intent on wanting to get even more distance between him and us), Griffin and I walked along a guardrail which protected cars from veering off and going down a steep culvert that ran to the side of the road.

Guardrails are expensive and are, tragically, almost always put up after the fact. I looked down the steep hill wondering about the accidents that must have occurred.

“Hey look.” There was some shiny orange metal lying among the weeds. “What’s that?”

Griffin looked over the railing and got excited. “Mom, it’s a bike!”  We had had several conversations, in fact one just that morning after starting our descent from the mountain about how much easier our “walk” would have been if we had used a bike or even if we had packed a Razor or skateboard. Our ending hotel  for the day was still a few miles away and we were starting to get tired, a bike would have come in handy.

I envisioned us both trying to ride the bike into the next town.

It was tough not to look at this bike as some sort of divine providence. Sore knees, blisters that seems to multiply on a daily basis, bears, perhaps this was a message from above that the rest of the day would be easier.

We dug the bike out of the weeds and like a little kid holding a puppy, Griffin turned to me – “Can I keep it? Pluueeeze?”

Fantasy of ease aside the answer was No. Griffin was not going to keep the bike for many reasons but most important among them was that there are only a few ways a bike goes over a dangerous section of the road protected by a guard rail. I didn’t feel good about this.

“We have to call the police,” I told Griffin. “They need to check if someone is hurt down there.” Or dead I thought.

Fortunately there was cell reception (a hint that we were close to the next town) and I dialed 911 to report the bike. I told them I was concerned that someone might have been injured and thrown over the side of the road. I didn’t feel comfortable checking it out myself. (Beside the bear, another big fear was finding a dead body but that wasn’t a fear necessarily specific to this trip.)

Griffin and I sat down in a clearing on the other side of the road and waited. “Mom just called 911” Griffin texted to Marc. A few minutes later, while Griffin was on the phone with Marc explaining that “it was just a joke dad! Mom texted 911 because we found a bike!” a police officer from the previous town of Bethlehem arrived on the scene. Technically we were between two towns as the town welcome sides bordered the area where we had found the bike. The bike was in no man’s land.

We showed the police office what we were now thinking of as “our” bike as in “ain’t she a beauty?”  We had pulled the weeds from the spokes and she glistened in the sun. For a bike in the weeds it was in very good condition, no rust, a basket attached at the back and a seat that wasn’t damaged or cracked.

My guess was that it hadn’t been there long.

We showed the officer where we had found the bike and I pointed down the slope. “It may be nothing,” I said preemptively apologizing in case it was. “But, I’m not going to take the chance that someone may be hurt or needs help.”

Officer Zach, as we learned his name was, went down the slope and looked around. We saw him take out a pair of purple gloves and snap them over his hands.

“Oh, this is it,” I thought. Everyone knows that the only time they use purple gloves on TV shows is when they come across a dead body. I steeled myself thinking that right now, I’d rather take another bear  encounter than this.

But no, there was no dead body. There were a few beer cans and it looked like kids may have had some kind of a fort down there but there no dead body.

What we had was a mystery. A bike, a rather nice bike had just been lying in the weeds on the side of the road.

As with all crimes, evidence must be properly handled. Officer Zach decided to take the bike to the police station where a decision would be made about what to do with it. But after about 15 minutes of us trying to help him, we realized there was no way that bike was going to fit into his little squad car. He called for backup from the next town over that had a larger police vehicle.

This was now a multi-town crime.

While we were waiting for another bigger police vehicle to arrive, we told Officer Zach about our walk and how far we had come. We chatted about the day. I told him about the bear.

Soon a man driving a pickup truck with a large black dog in the passenger seat pulled up. He rolled down the truck’s window – “You found my bike?”

Huh? How on earth had this guy even known about the bike? We had only recently found it and now he was here to pick it up as his?

“Do you have a scanner?” I asked him completely confused and thinking that he might have been like some older people I know who constantly sit in front of police radios.

“Nah,” said getting out of his truck. “My bike was stolen right after I had gotten it two months ago. I reported it but didn’t ever think I’d see it again. Joe at the  police station called me to come and check out a bike that had been found.”

He looked at the bike and very much relieved, declared it his. Officer Zach took down his name and when the formalities were done, the man thanked us, put his bike in the back of his truck and drove off.

“Well that was easy,” I said to Officer Zach “another wrong in the world made right.” Griffin and I thanked him for his time and waved as he drove off in one direction and we continued walking in the other.

What a day it had been, gifted fruit, climbing a mountain, encountering a bear, and now being honorary crime busters as we helped solve a small town crime. All resulting from the decision we had made months earlier to go for a walk.


(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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