Day 1: Boston-Newburyport-Portsmouth

But where is Portland? Did I mention something about the possibility of hiccups yesterday? Alas… Today was a wonderful day. I went to bed far too late last night and woke up too early. I unpacked and repacked everything, took out stuff out that I thought too extraneous to justify. I planned to meet Ben in Portland and bike together to Brunswick Saturday. When all the planning was complete, I went to Amtrak to purchase my tickets, and EEK! all sold out. Frantic Flavie brain set in… what if I didn’t leave today? Tomorrow? Each additional day is more to ride later. The thought came to me to take the Commuter Rail to Newburyport and set out from there. That way I’d avoid much of the silly Boston traffic/streets/drivers. I finished packing and sat down to figure out where to go from Newburyport. I didn’t know anyone there (or in Portsmouth) but I figured this wouldn’t be the last time. I quickly sent out an email (rather desperate, I thought) to a couple in Portsmouth listed on Warm Showers. I also checked for campgrounds, but was appalled to see how much people charge for camping these days. I scrambled off to North Station (Hello panniers! don’t you feel mighty heavy!) and almost missed my train due to being caught behind a drawbridge. Of course! A drawbridge. I was also expecting to have to debate a dragon and save a princely mouse. When I was waiting for the bridge (right in front of the Museum of Science, for you Boston nerdlies) thoughts raced through my head of how embarrassing it would be to turn around and go home yet again. (After a certain point each day commuter rail trains don’t accept passengers with bikes. Boo.) Needless to say, I scooted up to the ticket window, bought my ticket to Newburyport and *just* made the train!

The train ride to Newburyport was uneventful, but I got to check in with Mama, which made me more calm. On the train I checked my email (thank you train WiFi!) and saw that I had an enthusiastic invitation to stay with Warm Showers hosts in Portsmouth!!! What a relief! The ride from the station to Portsmouth was wonderful and much more settled/steady than the ride from Powderhouse to North Station. I figured out some minor pannier attachment issues, finally spoke with Vij (don’t underestimate the importance! :-)) and coasted along the flat bits and rolling hills. There were horses, marshes, speedy cars, and an entrance to a highway I really didn’t think I should be on. But it was glorious. In retrospect, I needed more water, sunglasses, and food. I’ll figure that stuff out as I settle in.

I arrived in Portsmouth around 5:40 where half of the amazing hosting duo of P and K met me and gave me copious amounts of water. I think I must have sounded rather blubbery. I was SO excited to have arrived and to have a place to stay! After a quick shower and more water, we headed out to meet K at an event she was volunteering at. This awesome arts space recently opened in Portsmouth called 3S, and they host jazz concerts on their loading dock. After a bit of tea and jazz, P and I scooted out for an impromptu bike tour of Portsmouth (gorgeous! how have I never been here despite driving up to Maine so many times!?!) and back to their beautiful abode. K made an amazing dinner beforehand, which we all shared on their porch. I was in heaven, but also had a tremendous headache (oops sun and dehydration!). Sleeping wiped that away, and this morning I feel really content and excited for another day!

Today’s plan: coffee shop and farmers market with K and P, then off to Portland to see Ben (finally!). Apologies about not having  a photo. I’ll update with one when I have my camera nearby!

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