State #14. Just one more state to go.
Just when we were getting used to every day dawning with truly spectacular weather, we woke up today to grey skies, cooler temps, and spitting rain as we started out from Salem. So our perfect October days turned into November weather —skipping summer all together, I guess. It seems like ages ago in Florida when we were ducking into convenience stores and restaurants as much for the air conditioning as for sustenance. Today we took refuge in restaurants to warm up.
In Danvers, we met Rick, an old friend of Dee’s, for warm coffee and a second breakfast (one of the gifts of bike touring). They were “Egyptians,” a group that took an Arts Boston trip to Egypt in the late 1980s and stayed friends since. A block down the road, we hopped on the Border to Boston trail, a stone-dust rail trail. Just a few miles down we met up with Al Nierenberg, a former East Coast Greenway Alliance board member (yes Bob, another Greenway friend). Al’s an enthusiastic local advocate for the region’s greenways. He led us to the end of the trail, then pretty winding back roads, and another greenway trail to Newburyport. There, as rain started, we took refuge in the Angry Donut and Cafe and talked greenways over coffee and brownies.
Al Nierenberg at the start of one his favorite greenway sections on Boston’s North Shore: Newburyport’s Clipper City Rail Trail. And it was very nice: landscaping and gardens, sculptures, good signage, even a Little Free Library.
The second half of our 50 miles today was almost all Route 1A, most of it along the coast. We crossed into New Hampshire and passed the kitschy blocks of Hampton Beach. Lucky for us, the cold and grey weather dampened the Saturday beach traffic, although there were plenty of people strolling the boardwalk and filling the restaurants. Further up the New Hampshire coast, the kitsch disappears, replaced by gorgeous old mansions with enormous front lawns facing the ocean. We cut short what would have been a scenic last stretch, past Odiorne Point State Park and New Castle, because of a cold headwind and threatening skies. Instead we headed straight north into the historic and bustling town of Portsmouth.
Tonight we had the treat of my sister Barbara driving two hours from her home in Sandwich, NH, to take us to dinner. We were standing at the hotel desk, haggling over our room fee (long story), when I turned around to see Barbara beside me — what a nice feeling, the comfort of someone so familiar. Dee had to endure a few hours with us, which of course included what my mom called our “giggle fests.” Barbara’s quick, wry sense of humor does it to me every time. She said that she kind of agrees with Bob’s assessment of these blog reports — too many beautiful days and nice friends. So it’s appropriate that today was cloudy, cool, and grey, but still with the nice people —Rick, Al, even Barbara, sorry to say. Maybe tomorrow, as we cross into Maine, we’ll encounter some cranky people and find some trashy roads. One can always hope.