Random Thoughts

Preparing for the Cape, Clear Thoughts, and Survey Responses

August 19-20, 2017

IMG_0685As I head into my eighth weekend of hiking across Massachusetts, logistical issues of the walk still require a lot of time and attention as I look ahead to this weekend.

I’m now more than two hours away from my home in Amherst requiring more driving time to get to the trailhead. I’m also about an hour to an hour and a half’s drive from my closest support, three lifelong college friends who live in Medford and Randolph. I’m deeply grateful to Valerie, Gus and Phil for allowing me to stay at their homes while I work my way across Southeastern Mass.

Todays walk looks like it will be particularly challenging due to potential rain, thunderstorms, heat and high humidity. The walk from Bridgewater to Plymouth is a solid 18-20 miles, which will take about eight hours to complete. It will require me to leave home as early as 4:00 a.m. so I can start about six o’clock.  I’ve been successful starting early about zero times this summer. So we’ll see.

Sunday’s walk from Plymouth to the Sagamore Bridge, another 18 miles or so, will probably be modified as the weather outlook calls for temperatures to reach the high 80s. It’s very difficult and dangerous to walk great distances in high heat.

It’s been about two weeks since I filed my last report about the walk and I apologize. I spent last week working on the MassWalk survey https://masswalk.wordpress.com about what it means to be a New Englander.  Here are some preliminary responses:

Q1: Do you consider your to be A New Englander?

75%      Yes

8.33%   No

16.67% Not Sure

Q2: What does it mean to be a New Englander?

“A quite reserve and a liberal spirit. A healthy appreciation for Mother Nature.

“Hate cold weather but put up with it.”

“More open minded and educated.”

“Having grown up in Vermont, I feel a natural “at home” feeling there that I don’t feel anywhere else, which to me means an affinity with a liberal, mud-on-the-pants relaxedness and a constant longing to be in a certain kind of oak/hemlock/birch forest space that’s cool and moist. I’ve learned more about this identity by the contrast of living in the dry climate of Idaho; which isn’t to say I’d move right back, because Westerners are, on average more open-hearted and social than “reticent” New Englanders, who I think are all badgered by ghosts of Calvinist ministers that live in the floorboards of white churches and the brickworks of old mills.”

“To be rich and white or poor and black (except for the rich black people in the suburbs).”

“Living in MA,Ct,Me,Ri,Vt, NH”

Q3: What makes you feel regionally connected to New England (MA, CT, RI, NH, VT, ME)?

“Growing up in Sagamore Beach”
The seasons, the architecture, the accent, the attitude
“Our own Interstate 91 keeps us connected”
“Cape Cod”
“Our hills and mountains, the coastal beaches and waters, the forested woods and quintessential backroads and small towns. And most especially the beauty of our fall colors.”

Q4: What’s your favorite New England destination?
“Amherst, MA”
‘Boston – maybe even Martha’s Vineyard”
“The Appalacian trail that goes east of Norwich, VT from the top of Holly Hill Road.”
“Newport, RI”

Q5: What’s your favorite New England fruit, vegetable or food?
“REAL maple syrup and warm, spiced, apple cider”
“Native wild blueberries”
“Asparagus, strawberries, fried clams!”
“Wellfleet oysters”

Q6: What traditional New England Values do you hold dear?
“Individual expression of faith and politics”
“Being in communities where a lot of the same kind of people live (New Bedford and Cape Verdeans, Medford and Brazillians)”
“Perseverance, fairness, and a love for our home teams, no matter where you live.”
“Diversity, same sex marriage, trans friendly”
“We are liberal, hear us as we are right more often.”
“If you don’t like the weather wait a minute”
“Conservative personality with liberal convictions”

Q7: What’s your favorite New England season?
“Late Spring”
“Fall, so many celebrations!”

Q8: What New England accent to you most admire?
“People from Western Mass who sound like they’re from the south but they’re really not”
“South Shore version”
“My dad’s family has a southern Mass accent, but I love the Vermont accent the most, and try to imitate it with affection rather than any derision.”
“Hadley accent”

Q9: Who is your favorite New England Senator?
“Ted Kennedy”
“Senator Warren for currently working, Senator Ted Kennedy for no longer with us.”

Q10: What is your favorite New England invention?
“Disposable razor or mircrowave”
“Graham Cracker”
“As I love road trips it has to be the car. “The auto industry was born not in Detroit, but in New England. The two-stroke internal-combustion engine was patented in 1872 by George Brayton of Boston, and the first commercially produced automobile came from the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1895.”
“Cranberry sauce”
“it may not be an invention, but there’s a quality to the general stores in northern NE (including upstate NY) which is wonderful: food, gas, tools, winter boots, snowmobile parts. Dan & Whits in Norwich VT is a classic example. Their motto is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” And they stay open until noon on Christmas!”

Random Thoughts from August 12-13 hike from Wrentham to Bridgewater

  • High temperatures and little shade are tough conditions to walk in for long periods. Last Sunday I experienced this hiking to Bridgewater. It just felt like the longest 10 miles ever. That combined with little to no shade made it a long day.IMG_0649
  • I finally fell for the first time. A hole in the ground appeared out of nowhere as my foot searched for a place to land. Down, down, I went as my eye gaze quickly diverted from recklessly eyeballing a stone wall to my left to suddenly looking at the ground. Fortunately it was on grass and I wasn’t hurt, but I felt my ego slightly bruised.
  • Thank you to the church ministers and others who gave me a bottle of water during the middle of their outdoor service as I listened from the side of the road. They were holding their service outside due to a power issue the church was experiencing.
  • One of the most remarkable things I noticed last weekend was the change in landscape. Gone are the mountains and big hills. Now I’m facing long stretches of land, a low horizon, Pine trees and long grass.



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