Day 11-3 – Ashland to Sanbornton (cont)
The hotel in Sanbornton that we had planned to spend the night had no vacancy and the only other hotels that had availability were way off our path. It was a lesson for me to always secure our resting spot the night before. Using phone access from local businesses, Griffin located a hotel across from the Tanger outlets in Tilton. I quickly booked a room online. At least we had a place to spend the night.
Concerned about my knee(s) Marc made the executive decision to drive us the extra distance to our hotel.
“We have to at least do a little more walking,” I told him. It like cheating -even though the hotel would be many miles off of our scheduled path.
We all decided to stop at the outlets and take a walk around. I was interested in looking for something called Hiker liner socks. They acted like our peds did but I imagined they would fit a little better.
Peds, although helpful have seams that when placed in the wrong are on your foot, leave deep irritated gouges in your skin. Also peds retain heat and when your feet already get hot from walking on the pavement, it leads to a very uncomfortable situation.
I didn’t find liner socks, but I did see cute sweaters, purses, and scarves. And oh in that other store over there they had kitchen utensils, and in that one they had towels and linens. So much to buy. So very much to buy.
And nothing that I needed.
After a short while we all decided to leave. There wasn’t anything that we had to buy, there wasn’t anything that we should buy. Nothing to see here folks, move along.
This border-to-border walk had awakened a new sense of “Don’t need that” in me that had been long buried with the arrival of my children. Children have a way of making you stock up to ensure that they always have what they need. That they are always happy. With this walk no longer did I want to buy one of something in each color or purchase something because I thought it was cute. Those days were done. At lunch, I had bought Griffin and I a new pair of warm socks. I was content and felt happy with that.
It was enough. It was what we needed.
Marc drove us to our hotel just across the street from the outlets. My heart sank as we walked into the lobby. It was sterile and corporate. The young man at the front desk wrinkled his nose at the sweaty, disheveled, dirty-haired hikers who approached to check in.
It’s not to say the hotel wasn’t nice. In fact it was very nice. It was clean, had cookies and fruit ready for those who were checked in, spacious elevators and rooms where the bedspreads matched the drapes which all complimented the pristine furniture.
It’s just that I was missing the personality of the wood paneled cabins we had been staying at. The real sheets (not industrials ones) on the beds, having to ask for shampoo and then walking with the owner to get it, little country decorations tucked into corners.
Heck, I missed checking into a hotel and then getting to know the owners.
During our walk when we had looked to the distance, when I was “high in the silent mountains, as I gazed on the hills below,” I realized that I had traveled far from a place where I had left a little bit of my heart behind.
But this wasn’t to say that we weren’t appreciating our hotel for the night. It was mid-afternoon, one of the earliest times we had ever arrived at a hotel. Griffin and I stripped off our shoes, socks, braces, and bandages.
I looked at Griffin’s feet, a collection of pebble-sized blisters under his toes and half dollar-sized ones around his heel. Unbeknownst to him, one of his blisters had popped during the day. I advised him to clean the area with soap and warm water and then put antibiotic ointment on the blister. We both knew he was going to have to be very careful to avoid getting an infection.
“Here,” I said pulling out the new socks, “wear these to protect your feet from the floor.” The socks were already serving a purpose.
We showered, ate the fruit, nut bars, and some of the chocolate that Rosemarie had given us and we stayed off of our feet as much as possible. Today was going to be a day of rest.
We had earned it.
I looked through my backpack to find my Hitchcock magazine and I came across a Ziploc bag of 3 little items I couldn’t bear to get rid of when we had done our equipment purges.
One was a crocheted heart given to me specifically for this trip by a friend who had had her own heath struggles, but had come out victorious.
One was a small little stuffed animal mouse that I used as a muse to keep me company when I wrote.
And the last item was a white handkerchief covered in tiny red flowers with green leaves that had been my mother’s.
My mother had died earlier in the year. She had been sent to a residential hospice when it was decided that her congestive heart failure was galloping at a pace far too quick to catch.
For eight weeks, I split my time – three days in New Hampshire, four days in Connecticut so that I could be with my mother. On the days I was there, I only left her side for a quick lunch and then when I went back to go to the hotel at night to sleep.
One day my mother spotted the Fitbit on my wrist. “What’s that?” she asked.
I told her that it was a device that measured my steps and that I was supposed to reach 10,000 steps a day. It was a way to make sure I got exercise each day I explained.
“How many steps do you have now?”
I pressed the button on the side of my Fitbit. “A little less than 1,500” I replied, embarrassed to tell her that it actually hovered more in the 900 range.
“You should go out and walk.” She told me.
“I will,” I replied and then I asked if she wanted me to adjust her pillow.
As the weeks went on, my inactivity by her side, coupled with advancing grief led to weight gain.
“You should walk” she again reprimanded me.
“Mom, I will, don’t worry, I will.”
My mother died when her heart could no longer push the blood through her body. At the end, she simply slipped away, breathing one moment and then not the next.
I now sat on the hotel bed and fingered the edges of the handkerchief knowing that my mother would have loved to have followed our journey. I could see her eyes open in fright as I’d tell her about the bear. I could hear her laughing at my becoming so proficient at peeing in the woods.
While my mother was in hospice, I couldn’t leave her for long enough to take a walk. There was too little time to do that.
But even with mom gone, it didn’t mean I still couldn’t take a part of her with me when I finally did.
“I’m taking that walk, mom. I am.”
(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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