My final few days of not moving would be spent at the Peacock House with Mary Beth and Jim who had offered me a room for 2 nights whilst I prepared myself for what was to come. I have to say that I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing place to stay before I set off. I definitely gained a few pounds from the amazing breakfasts that I was served in the mornings.
The people in the small town of Lubec were amazing. This once vibrant fishing and smoking village is now a much quieter tourist spot for beautiful summer scenery, hiking and and state park that was just over the border in Canada. The local bar had heard about what I was about to undertake and offered to organize a fundraising evening the day before I began. It seemed like everyone had turned out from the small village for the evening. There was a blues band, incredible food and some beer that tasted far to good that was brewed just a few meters away. The evening raised just over $185 to add to the fundraising pot.
Time to begin.
Now the time had come. The morning of the 29th April 2018. I had been looking forwards towards this moment for so long and it had finally arrived. Jim from the Peacock House drove me out to my start point at West Quaddy Lighthouse, the easternmost point of the continental US and the starting point for my 4,000+ mile journey. I joined for the first few miles by some runners from the local running club, until they turned back to the village and I was left truly on my own to let the reality of what I was about to undertake really sink in. The first 20 miles along the coastline were beautiful and desolate and gave me plenty of time to think about what was ahead of me.
The first day I ended up covering almost 38 miles almost by accident. I had taken an alternate route to the one I had originally planned and followed the much quieter coastal road instead. I was on the lookout for a motel as my first nights stop as I think I was still very unsure about camping in the middle of nowhere, and in places I didn’t have permission (Something which took almost 2 months to get used to).
Over the next few days I covered around 20 miles a day which at the time seemed like a huge distance, but looking back now through my journal I can see that they were some of the shortest distances of the whole challenge! I spent a few more nights in motels and my first camping night was spent at a beautiful coastal waterfall next to an island with a family of Bald Eagles. Could it get more American wilderness than that.
The first acts of kindness I received from being on the road came in the form of Paul and Lynn Grant. They offered me a place to stay as I approached Ellsworth which I gladly took and in the end they would offer to let me stay for the next 3 nights, all whilst dropping me off and picking me up wherever I needed to begin and finish. I have to say that without their help in that first week on the road I may have mentally given in before I had even begun. My ankles were a mess, definitely from my excessive training plan of no training, and I was exhausted and still unsure of how to survive on the road.
As Paul and Lynn picked up to spend my last night with the with them they let me into a little surprise. They were going to treat me to Lobster for my birthday! I was turning 30 a few days later and was expecting to celebrate in a field in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived back home to the house they had also baked me a birthday cake and given me a birthday gift in the form of many, many cliff bars. Those few days will always be in my memory as the kindest of the whole challenge.
I had planned to reach Portland in time for my birthday, but thanks to swollen ankles and a few detours it looked as though I would be running late by a few day. In the end, what is a few days when your crossing a whole continent! I arrived in the city on the 10th May for my first rest day, just 13 days after I began on the Canadian boarder. After spending most of the 2 weeks traveling through the literal middle of nowhere, albeit very beautiful middle of nowhere, I treated myself to a belated cinema trip and my first American BBQ for my birthday.
After leaving Portland I would only have a few days left in my first state of the US. Traveling down the coast line before leaving the ocean for the last time until I jump in on the other side of America in December.
My conclusion of Maine is that it is a beautiful state filled with some of the most friendly and generous people I have met so far. Despite spring only just arriving, I managed to catch a glimpse of how amazing the place must look in the summer. Even after only one state I feel like I already have so many places I want to re-visit.
Looking onwards to the next states, even though they will be short lived they’ll be bringing some mountainous challenges with them.