Oh, Maine, with your winding country roads, pebbly beaches and charmingly spaced out bistros. You’re killing us.
Not very rapidly, but palpably all the same. To be sure, we probably would have made it as far as Portland or even Freeport before any of our body parts actually started falling off or became ground down to actual nubs. Depending on the shuttle service.
Anyone observing the way we limped into Biddeford, though, would have wondered why we were walking away from the Southern Maine Medical Center and not directly to the emergency room.
I had multiple blisters and abrasions on both my feet. My beloved Keens sandals, which carried me through so much of Central America, were not up to 10-plus miles of hiking a day, particularly in a sandy environment. Tighten up, leave them loose. It didn’t matter. I ducked into a pharmacy on Rt. 1 north of Kennebunk and bought a pair of flip flops, just to give the sore parts of my feet a little break. The best they had were ladies size 10. They helped moderately. I didn’t really get relief until we decided to bungle around in circles in a large grassy park in Old Orchard Beach. But I had to put my shoes back on eventually.
Jen was amazingly brave and resilient in the face of a smattering of pains, the most acute focusing on her right knee. It was difficult for her to bend the knee so when she walked she kind of had to swing it around. It wasn’t quite Ministry of Funny Walks, but it didn’t look very comfortable, either. Add to the top of this the general soreness that comes from walking, and it’s plain to see why we were both grimacing for much of the last few days — especially when standing up again after a brief rest.
You may have noticed that we stopped at a few bars and beer halls along the way. We were self-medicating.
Actually, each morning of the trip we got up with good energy and positive attitudes. We’d leave our lodgings feeling better than we did when we booked in the evening before. This, Jen says, is why we’re not hiking the Appalachian Trail. To walk even the relatively short distance we were covering (AT-wise), and then have to sit down on a rock and cook our own food, and then try to sleep on the ground? Too much, even for us.
Even as it was blazing our trail in Maine, we would hobble into our next evening retreat feeling a little worse than we did the evening before. The walking didn’t really get more difficult. The first day was the worst, with winding Rt. 103 in the morning and the afternoon slog to find accommodations. After that, I think we were clever in learning from our mistakes. We booked a room in advance in Ogunquit and found car-free conveyance for good stretches of walking on the next two days. (Dodging cars takes a lot out of you, trust me.)
But these little maladies accumulate, and we weren’t taking any days off to allow ourselves to heal. By the time we made it to Saco, we had no trouble making the decision to let Sha-zoom! cover the last five miles of the coast for us. (We had taken shuttles before during this trip, but mostly it was east-west travel. The Kennebunk trolleys didn’t really save us much walking, they just set us up to walk on better trails.) Once in OOB, even with the soothing grass of the big park, it didn’t take too much to nudge us into calling it a day. To be sure, it was evident that the available lodgings we saw would be neither comfortable nor, based on their proximity to the beach, inexpensive. Also, there were grey skies that evening and predictions of only moderate temperatures the next day (not encouraging for beach time).
Jen’s idea, once we had purchased our train tickets, was to take the money we would have spent on a hotel room on by the beach and get ourselves massages the next day in New Hampshire.
The two miles from the Durham train station and our house were among the most comfortable to walk of the whole trip.