I set out from Old Saybrook, CT with the road stretching South and West before me.
My goal was to make Guilford, CT by night fall, the weather looked ominous, but at least the wind was a nice change from the previous days retarding humidity. Spotting the difference between townie and tourist in coastal Connecticut towns is like playing "Old or Asian" in Quincy, I sort of wished I had a walking buddy at that point to keep me company and make guesses along with me as I picked folks out during the morning commute.
I kept a weather eye out, literally as I headed South slathering on sunscreen despite the clouds streaking across the sky. The wind picked up as the clock ticked over to noon and I crossed into Westbrook, CT, pulling off into a drive to an ice cream shop with a sign labeling it "Scoop to Nuts". Totally sold on the idea I walked in, the proprietor meeting me halfway having been hanging out at a picnic bench next to the shop. A strictly seasonal affair, there was enough room for me to turn around with my pack on.. Barely. I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich, talking with the owner for a bit.
"How long have you been in town?" I asked, he continued putting together my lunch with a deliberate slowness that marked him as a novice in the sandwich industry.
"About 20 years, I just opened the shop this summer"
The season had treated him well but he looked ready to close up shop, but was cheery as ever when the Bumble Bees showed up from their soccer game for a post game treat. It turns out they'd lost the game, but ice cream was in order anyway as it was one of the girls' birthday. I changed my socks and listened to the chatter, getting ready for the rest of my hike for that day. I'd heard back from my contact in Guilford, it turns out he'd be picking me up in Clinton, which saved me about five miles walking.
I passed through the remainder of of Westbrook Center, chatting with passers by and keeping a lookout for a good place to post up until my contact in Guilford could come and pick me up. I got the text as I was passing into Clinton. Much comforted by the site of an abandoned bank, I stopped out front and set to changing my socks again.
Eli picked me up from the bank and the ride from Clinton to Wallingford was easy, we chatted amicably about our mutual friend, well, his brother and my friend from college. As well as what it was like to grow up in a small town in Connecticut. Crossing "the line" in Wallingford displayed a sharp contrast between the very affluent and the farmers that live in the area. The drive up to The Compound was an education, many farmers had sold out and their land parceled up into lots on which sat McMansion after McMansion.
When we arrived, we were boisterously greeted by "Scooby" the house dog, and we immediately got down to the business of shooting the shit and comparing notes on Northern CT. The folks in Wallingford were kind enough to let me stay an extra day to rest up and get another leg of my journey booked. The extra day provided me with a little breathing room to get some writing done, and decompress, taking a step back from the past two weeks.
When I set out on the 10th to hugs goodbye and promises to partake in National Chocolate Milkshake day from some remote location, I was sad to leave my new friends behind. I only hope that I'll be able to make it back for Pork Month in October.