Day 15 – Manchester to Merrimack
Griffin and I didn’t even need the alarms this morning. Excitement has a way of getting you up and out of bed. Both of us had gotten up with the sun. We only had two days left before we reached Massachusetts and this was the day we were going to be walking through our town. What had seemed so unlikely two weeks ago was now literally coming home to us in a big way.
We were positively giddy.
Both us stood in the living room of our house emptying our backpacks. IN each pack, we only kept one bottle of water. One granola bar. Sun glasses. Chapstick. My sitting towel. And money.
I thought back to a conversation I had had with some hiker friends. Money, they told me was far lighter to carry than anything else. Bring only what you think you’ll need and buy any extras along the way.
I also put a bottle of Benedryl tablets in my pack– a precaution the doc had warned us to have if there was an allergic reaction from Griffin to his antibiotics. And for the first time during our walk, due to a proliferation of sidewalks (something we didn’t see much of up north), I decided to leave my trekking poles at home. Sidewalks are flat, I didn’t have to worry about twisting my foot (as much.)
And that was basically it. Our packs were now feather light. A weight had literally been removed from our shoulders.
Marc drove us to the place where we had ended the day before in Manchester. After another breakfast of bagel sandwiches and coffee (why not have coffee? We had access to plenty of bathrooms) Griffin and I started the day’s walk.
Yes southern New Hampshire is more populated, yes, there is much more development and construction, but if you look closely, the southern part of the state shares much with the north.
We saw a flock of geese and waited while the birds strolled across the road in front of us. In between the cracks of pavement, under the harshest of conditions, we saw blades of grass valiantly trying to grow and thrive enough to throw off seeds for the next generation.
We saw water, ever present water responsible for bringing life and people to New Hampshire.
And we saw people. All kinds of people going to work, riding bikes, and, even like us, just waking. People everywhere do the same things day to day.
Soon we arrived on the outskirts of our town – Merrimack. The place where Marc and I had moved to almost 25 years ago in order to raise our family. The community where I lived and worked (and yes, on occasion, disagreed with its residents.)
We were coming home.
People were expecting us. Word had gotten out on social media and the town was keeping track of our progress by commenting on a facebook post.
People drove to where we were sighted and gave us water, nuts, and fruit. A town council member came out to congratulate us.
Rosemaire, who had given us the ice towels so long ago, showed up with more. She wanted to know if she could walk some of the way with us.
I told her yes, but that she had to obey the rule to only go as fast as the slowest walker. We had injuries, I told her. I had learned how to speak up to protect my son and myself.
15 days on the road had given me my voice. I had found my power which had gone dormant for far too long.
Merrimack was a series of arm waves, posing for selfies, and smiles.
We stopped for lunch at a local bakery restaurant for food. Griffin had a sandwich, I a salad. With the walk so close to ending, it was time for me to think about what food I was going to be putting into my body. Now that there was plenty, I could afford to say no to one thing in lieu of another. I no longer had to choose something because it was the only thing I could get.
What you eat is important to your body and your soul.
My kids are big on Greek mythology. They have often heard the stories of sea farers on long journeys who ate hardened cheese and bread for their meals. Whenever we’d go to a farm stand that sold cheese, I’d pick out a hard cheese and told the kids that it was called Adventure Cheese.
When Griffin and I had been in the beginning phases of planning our journey, he had told me that he wanted to pack Adventurers Cheese and a loaf of crusty bread to eat along the way.
Having done my research, I tried to talk him out of it. Cheese, even Adventurers Cheese was smelly and I wasn’t sure that was the best food to pack when you are walking through bear country. Griffin acquiesced and that was the end of that discussion (for the record I also talked him out of carrying dog treats to give to any dogs we might have seen along the way.)
As we left the restaurant to finish our afternoon portion of the walk, Griffin turned to me. “Wait a minute,” he said and he went back inside. Thinking that he had forgotten something at our table upstairs and would be right back, I waited for him outside.
“I’m all set,” he said as he shoved a full French baguette stick into his back pack. “This will taste good with cheese tonight.”
I smiled. Our walk not only taught us so very much, but it seemed to have awaken a spirit of exploration in us both. Sometimes things are not as they seem, and even if your body is in pain, even if you have to take a lot of medication just to manage your condition, even if your medical future is not certain,
As long as you are alive, you can always sit down to a fine meal of Adventurers Cheese with bread and dream.
(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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