Walking from Mass. to Maine


Sorting old files in the attic yesterday, I found a New Yorker article I had torn out of the magazine and stapled: “A Reporter at Large: Memories of a Day’s Walk from Massachusetts to Maine” by Anthony Bailey, a Londoner who was raised in “old Hampshire.” The story is from the November 21, 1977, issue, which is only available online to magazine subscribers.

I mention it here because this summer the rh.com blog has been all about walking. He starts in Salisbury, Mass., parking his car on Rte. 1A and heading toward the “Welcome to/Bienvenue au New Hampshire” sign at the state line. It’s a long article, from page 158 to 174 (sometimes one column of text with 2/3rd of the page taken up by an ad). The fine-grained detail is a pleasure to read, especially for someone in our area who knows the seacoast. All the familiar place names conjure up images in the mind: Seabrook Beach, Hampton Harbor, Isles of Shoals, Sea Breeze, Sun ‘n Surf, the Sand Dollar, the Sea Shell Stage, Great Boar’s Head, and so on. At one point he worries about the greenhead flies. After trekking the first 11 miles (about four hours on the road), he ate in the Rye Harbor Restaurant, enjoying clam chowder, fried Maine shrimp, beer, and blueberry pie with ice cream. He passes Wallis Sands, where he put his feet in the ocean, and recollects while later writing tht John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem called “Hampton Beach,” while England’s Matthew Arnold gave us “Dover Beach,” which he describes as “the star of the genre” of sea-gazing or sea-musing poems.

By 2.30 pm, he reaches Odiorne’s Point, near the end of the New Hampshire coast. He proceeds towards New Castle and comes upon the Hotel Wentworth, which he judges to be “one of the largest clapboard buildings extant.” From New Castle he looks over the Piscataqua River with Kittery, Maine, on the other side of Portsmouth, N.H. Around 5 p.m., having accomplished his task, Bailey turned around and hitchhiked back to Salisbury.

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