Tuesday, June 26, 2007

North Weymouth & MAINE

Well, I'm sopping wet typing this. I am shirtless, my gut is in full effect, I'm sticky-icky and I'm blasting Slayer. The temps hit 90 today and my first venture into Hingham was a fun albeit moist day. But maybe I should catch up on my posts first.

About a week and a half ago I headed up to Kittery, ME, the first town over the New Hampshire state line, and did a short walk. I have a few friends who live there, some who do off and on, the majority of whom I met in high school, and seeing as they live right on the water, thought I'd drop by to hang out and get a walk in while they finished up work.

Getting off 95 at Route 1, I got to take a drive through downtown Portsmouth, NH, a really gorgeous little city with a lot of history and quite possibly the only decent urban area of
New Hampshire. Be sure to stop by if you're ever in the area. My friend Shaun was slated to pick me up after I was done which was nice because I didn't have to bike this time. Maine begins on Badgers Island,

a miniscule, two-road chunk of land. Aside from a pizza place and some houses, there is very little on Badgers Island. I got around the coastal half in about ten minutes and then crossed the bridge into Kittery Foreside. Mostly residential, I was ducking docks and trudging through some moist stuff when I realized that I had almost walked into the Portsmouth Naval Base! I knew it was there in advance but totally forgot about it even after I had told myself specifically not to forget. In either case, I looked like the sketchiest kid alive walking around the fence back to the road. Thankfully, the guard at the station was really nice and accepted my apologies for being on the property.

After avoiding a trip to the Kittery Police Station, I continued around the Foreside and over the bridge to Kittery Point. I ended at Fort McClary State Park where Shaun and Benny picked me up and drove me back to the island to get my car. All in all a short and uneventful day with a wondrous revelry that night.

Upon getting back to Massachusetts the next day, my good friend Jon Curtiss and I went bridge to bridge and conquered North Weymouth in one day, a most enjoyable affair. We started maybe 1/4-mile from the bridge to Quincy, decided to skip trying the perimeter of a heavily fenced brick fort next to the bridge, and looked for the closest shoreline. We dipped behind a house and began a rather moist day as the tide was on its way into Kings Cove.

After passing a small private beach, we made it along the northern strip of land that borders the Weymouth Fore River. The seawall had nautical flags painted on it and in 6-foot letters: 1902 -- WESSAGUSSET -- 2002. According to Wikipedia, Wessagusset was Weymouth's original name when it was colonized in 1622 as a place for population overflow at Plymouth. The colony fell apart one year later: widespread sickness from winter colds and rampant theft of supplies from neighbors caused the expulsion of all Wessagusset colonists. There have even been reports of some colonists robbing from native graves. There have been some subsequent ghost stories surrounding the burial grounds.

After walking Wessagusset Beach, we came around Jackknife Ledge and onto the Eastern Neck of North Weymouth. We arrived at William Webb Park, the northernmost point of the town and the site of a gorgeous peninsula home to some great fishing. Upon coming down the eastern shore, we ran into two guys, a woman, and 4 kids of scattered ages not exceeding 8. The larger guy called out to us as we had almost passed.

"Hey! You got any papers?"
"No," I replied. "But I have a bowl."
"Well let me pack that shit!" The guy seemed pretty intoxicated but I let him go for it. We sat down next to his friend who was trying to fix a fishing rod. Frail, early-aged, and toothless, the guy introduced himself as Kenny. I noticed he had old bandages and pretty severely scabbed gashes all over his hand.
"Damn," I exclaimed. "What happened to your hand man?" Kenny explained that he had lost a fight with a lawnmower. While all this is going on, I realize that we're drinking, swearing, and smoking pot right in front of these guys' kids. I tried to ignore this absurdly bad parenting but we instead made off on our way, thanking them for their company.

Now walking the banks of the Weymouth Back River (as opposed to the Fore), we accidentally walked through a live construction site, hopped on a condo complex walkway for a second, cut through the Tern Harbor Marina, and went back and forth between backyards and main road River St. Cutting through another condo complex we finally arrived at Abigail Adams Park, a park commemorating the 2nd First Lady of the United States, who lived in what is now nearby Braintree. We met a homeless man who had just consumed half a watermelon and convincingly told me he was good friends with the Needham Police Chief. We walked away, I biked back to my car, stupidly detouring through very steep Great Hill Park, and ended an awesome first non-solo day. Thanks so much to Jon Curtiss for coming along this day. Come on out again soon!

Until next time, see you on the coast.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

First Day Back in Hough's Neck and Quincy nevermore!

So its been a while since I last posted. I've been in Japan, I had an amazing time, and have been slowly readjusting to this time zone. I've also been working a lot so these walks were from a week ago.

Looking for something a little more rustic than Charlestown, I dropped my bike off near the Germantown library in Quincy and headed back over to Wollaston Beach to finish things up. There was a lot less beach than I remember having left and as it was high tide the walk seemed to be going rather quickly. After passing the bridge by Merrymount Park to the west and encountering a few No Trespassing signs on boat docks, I came upon a sign barring my entrance to Chickatabot Beach saying I had to be with a Merrymount Association member. I went around the corner though and there was an unmarked entrance to the beach and a sign welcoming me to Adams Shore.

I had gotten a late start on the day but getting around Post Island and finally reaching Nut Island at the tip of Hough's Neck felt really good. I sat on a bench there dedicated to the memory of Patricia "Pat" Brennan who asked that the bench be placed there in her name as it was her favorite spot on Nut Island. The view of the Boston skyline is pretty unbeatable from there. There was also a lot to learn about it. There is apparently a 4.8 mile sewage duct that runs from Deer Island to Nut Island. The headworks facility in Quincy converts sludge to fertilizer pellets and then sells them to farmers: a great method of reuse in my opinion. The maintenance of these islands is run by Boston Harbor Islands, a division of the Boston Harbor Project. Apparently Boston Islands were once used as Indian internment camps during King Philip's War in 1675.

After Nut Island, I attempted to walk around what I now know is Quincy Great Hill, a steep tract of brambles and rock that I wasn't able to get around. I had to hop a fence and hike back to the road and followed the seawall until hitting Manet Beach where I met a woman searching for shells. When I got closer, there was a horseshoe crab crawling around slowly by her feet.

"I just saved that thing," she said. "He was on his back but he just didn't want me to flip him over. Thankfully I did." The crab had some sand on the top of his head and looked a little miffed. As I left the woman, I looked out over the whole beach which I now realized was filled with the skeletons of beached crabs that didn't make it. Digested by kelp and lining the shore, their bodies formed lines of debris from the receding tide. I continued around the south side of Houghs Neck, finally getting out of Quincy Bay and into Rock Island Cove. Rock Island itself was an interesting walk. Surrounded entirely by wetland, I encountered some moistness but was thankfully directed to a horse trail that went straight through the wetland.

I got back to the road after the trail and found another walking trail that led back to the edge of Germantown and right where my bike was! It was overall a nice day with very few hindrances.

The next day, I finally finished Quincy. I had a little blister action and some dampness but a good early morning Sunday stroll.

A good portion of the day was street walking. Continuing around Rock Island Cove, Germantown was pretty marshy so I was resigned to the sidewalk a fair deal. I finally came across a school, Snug Harbor Community School. I didn't know the age of the students as it is Sunday. They had No Trespassing signs there but they only applied while school was in session. Kinda makes sense, right? Either way the school looked overgrown, sort of run down and I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't operational.

Coming up around the southeast side of Germantown, there were a variety of drab colored and dilapidated projects which are also home to one of the few stretches of beach in the Cove. Known as Gull Point, the beach itself was in subpar conditions, a mattress here, some cans there. A fish carcass nearly scared me half to death. Arriving in Town River Bay, I could see where I had left my bike across the water. It looked so close until I came upon the rest of the bay. It felt like a false peak when I go hiking!

I turned out to have not been in Germantown at this point--as some graffiti informed me--I was in Adams Shore, endearingly known as A-Shore. I got a kick out of that. I also came across a treehouse shoddily built with little materials but seemed rather sturdy nevertheless. I got back onto Sea St, the main road through the area, via a trail I found and made my way past the Quincy Police and Navy Operational Support Center. Coming upon the high school or at least what looked like one I avoided the marsh that invaded their back field and continued onto the parking lot. A cop turned in to the lot just as I did but gave me no hassle.

I wish the cop had warned me about where I was walking into though. Today was a day when topo maps would've been extremely handy. After finding a nice wooded trail through some light wetlands, the trail just sort of ended and the wetlands got a lot wetter. Thankfully I had my boots on but I went past ankle depth a few times and soaked my sock. I got away from the growing moisture from the tide coming in and tried to beeline through the forest. Brambles and prickers were everywhere and I ended up doing a lot of crescent kicks and stick whacks to get them out of my path. I finally emerged from that horrible thicket on a driveway for a hockey rink where a guy pointed me to a shortcut back to Sea St. I strolled past the Mt. Wollaston Cemetery and down through some car dealerships over to a small inlet where I grabbed some food and watched people fish.

After fueling up, I continued down 3A (or the Artery as most call it (pronounced "Ahtery")), got blocked by a security guard from entering a wharf/residential community, and walked to the Fore River Field. From far off I heard a lot of yelling in what sounded like an Eastern tongue. When I came up over the hill looking out on the field, there was a lively cricket match taking place which I watched for a few moments. I know very little about cricket but watching the bowler is always a treat for me when the Pakistani kids play at school. That street leads to the Mound St. Beach, a small plot of sand looking over the bay with the field behind. I ducked some docks in front of a small marina and then made my way back to my bike right before the bridge to Weymouth. A wonderful end to a long journey through a city I shall never see again.

The south shore trek continues. Until then, see you on the coast.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Savin Hill to Southie to the North End

So on Monday I drove over to Malibu Beach in Savin Hill to start off there. I had dropped my bike off on E. 1st at Lee Playground in South Boston and then had to park on the opposite side from where I started. After a daring crossing of Morrissey Blvd, I headed up the road, stopping for water at the Savin Hill Yacht Club. I kept walking towards a small park that turned out to be a Vietnam Vets Memorial where a few people were cleaning up. And continued towards UMass-Boston where I knew there would be a trail. Turns out the trail is the beginning of what's known as the Harborwalk, a paved pathway that runs along the coast of Boston and which it seems I will be using for my urban portion of the trek. Or at least until I finish Deer Island (yuck). Anyway, I took the path around the campus, past the JFK Library and onto Old Harbor Park, a quaint stretch of coastline where there were tons of stones with information on them about the harbor area and the history of how it came to be how it is now. I continued on past sprawling Columbus Park and onto Carson Beach, a well-maintained and relatively clean spread of beach. Carson turns into the L and M Street Beaches but I avoided most of those as the Harborwalk continued around Pleasure Bay out to Head Island, a gorgeous walk that provides a great view of the city and the water, the latter because you're practically in it! The path from Head Island eventually reaches Castle Island, the home of a revolutionary fort that became a key American seizure towards better fighting the war. I didn't go inside but I remembered having gone there with my father when I was very young. After stopping for ice cream at Sullivan's, a delicious and wicked cheap hamburger joint at the entrance to Castle Island, I strolled down Day Blvd. past a huge shipping yard which I was definitely not allowed into and back to my bike. All in all, a gorgeous day, lots of beach, and a relatively easy walk.

Yesterday's trip though was not as fun. My feet had been a little sore from work and the walk itself was just kind of boring. Starting from Lee Playground in Southie again, I walked through what is known as the Economic Development Industrial Corporation. The Harborwalk actually continues along much of this area, but the numerous piers and docks and wharves got old quickly. After passing the FleetBoston Pavilion and making it around the stinky Fish Pier, I got to the World Trade Center. Some guys were working on a section of the wall there and had a truck full of tools and other construction sundries so I asked them for some duct tape to patch up my feet.
"Yah feet?" the guy asked in a thick accent. "How long ya been walkin'?"
"Not too far, I came from Southie," I replied. I then told him about my Coastal Plan. He chuckled a bit.
"You'll sober up quick." He was shitting on my parade but oddly enough it gave me a second wind to have someone not believe in me.
I continued on around the wharves, swung by the Aquarium and saw the sea lions who apparently swim upside down if you weren't aware. I was barred from an active construction site and even more obviously from the US Coast Guard Station but was pleased to get back to my bike at Langone Park, just adjacent to the Charlestown Bridge. My sort of boring day was improved by my buddy Tom who lives in the North End on Salem St and provided me with some red meat and episodes of Beavis and Butthead. The bike ride back was a strain on my legs as my tires were low on air but the urban riding was definitely a lot of fun. I felt like a messenger with my backpack and disregard for traffic lights.
So that was my two days in Boston. I still have to do Charlestown, Chelsea, and Eastie and then Winthrop/Deer Island but that's not for another two weeks. I'm going to Japan tomorrow (!!!) so posts will resume in June.

See you on the coast!

Monday, May 21, 2007


Before I get started, my girlfriend Carolyn e-mailed me a few pics from our day at Wollaston, so I'd like to share them here before I get on with the report.

Boston skyline view from Wollaston Beach, North Quincy, MA

View of Moon Island/Long Island from Wollaston

Me on a deteriorating pipeline.

So I missed yesterday's post on account of getting a late start. The rain was on and off for the morning, so I only got out around 3 once the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds. I got off 93 at Exit 13 in Dorchester to lock up my bike. The exit is called Freeport St. but is actually Victory Rd. Looking at Victory Rd. on Google Earth is impossible as the site is completely blurred out. A security guard was very quick to inform me that the entire road was off-limits (as I figured it would be). A Keyspan power plant with a large gas tank resides on that portion of the Neponset River so I locked my bike up down the other way then drove back to Moswetuset Hummock Park for the last time to leave my car there. I walked down Victory Rd. in Squantum, through some backyards of a development, and then onto the boardwalk at Marina Bay. Small and quiet with a few businesses, the boardwalk parking lot housed what looked to be like a big outdoor night club that never happened. Palm trees with their roots wrapped in plastic lay ten abreast across the entrance.

I walked the shore around Squantum Point, a few steps installed there with a faded circle of granite composing a map of the bay. I continued around and ended up walking behind an abandoned Boston Scientific building, apparently a hotspot for fishing at high tide (I have run in to quite a few fishermen since I started). I came out on Shea Blvd and continued down the road until I found an unposted trail leading to beneath the train tracks. I couldn't use that bridge as the Red Line and Commuter Rail were both actively running. I found a still unposted fence leading to a condominium complex construction site which I decided to cut across to get to the legal bridge. I was stopped by a plainclothes cop in a truck who took my information and I made sure to inform him that there were no posted signs where I came in. He let me go and I continued over the river.

On the other side, I found a bike path originating in Pope John Paul II Park and took that before quickly moving to the unpaved shore. As I walked the dirty shore, I began see little curls of metal all over the ground. I then realized that someone had dumped piles and piles of little coils of metal shavings all over. It was kind of shitty to see but I continued on. Running into a patch of wetlands, I diverted over some barbed wire and through an abandoned lot. The only contents of a backpack laying against a Jersey barrier were a sweet pair of Thinsulate gloves (ground score!), mildly damp. Fearing I might be trapped in, I thankfully found a piece of the fence that had been cut out and escaped through there. I walked through a Sea Ray yacht dealership checking out some of the boats and found another strip of fence with a part cut out. This time the purpose was more apparent as I walked by large three-foot-tall graffiti letters. I teetered behind buildings in the little notch before looping around to Tenean Beach Playground, a small patch of dirty sand with a jungle gym by the highway. I continued toward Victory Rd. along the rocky shore and found the rocks either extremely slippery or extremely steep. So I walked up the hill and walked behind the median on 93. I came down the Freeport St. off-ramp and right as I was salvaging ground score number two--a shitty porno DVD--a Jeep came hauling by with a stinky flat tire. I was about to help but then I saw another call pull up. I took a brief stroll around a park which I figured was a park from looking on GE, but isn't marked as one on GM. Check it:

Missing from Google Maps.

On Google Earth.

It's name is Victory Park and it was a nice end to my day even though my boots had been bothering me. I'm going to find out if there is some way I can submit corrections to Google Maps. Anyway, I rode my bike back treacherously on busy and narrow Morrissey Blvd, walked back over the bridge, and then returned home. After no more than three minutes of driving the rain came beating down on my car in heavy loads. I had just missed it.

I went to bed early and woke up at 4:15 for my first day of work which was pretty nifty. I had a walk today also but I guess I'll have to save that story for tomorrow as I need to pack my lunch and plot tomorrow's course.

See you on the coast!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Plan/First Day Out

Last summer, I had a goal of climbing the highpoints in all 50 states. This is still a goal for me as I just did my 8th last week, but after downloading Google Earth recently, a new goal came to my mind: walk the entire continuous U.S. coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Maine to Florida (or Texas if I decide to do the Gulf of Mexico as well). This is to be a huge undertaking that may take me a good portion of my life but being the young, stupid, and adventurous 20 year old that I am, I am thoroughly committed to it at this moment. While attending school in Ohio will certainly be a hindrance of sorts, vacations and the summer will be the best time. It is May 17th today, so I have a long summer ahead of me to do some part of this.

So in taking this on, I have established a few rules and guidelines to guide my journey and hopefully make things more interesting:

-If there is wetland, avoid it. Low tide doesn’t matter, ecology has taught me the value of preserving it and walking it on it would be a disturbance. Further more, high tide makes it unnavigable anyway so I will consider all wetlands the ocean.

-If there is a bridge, cross it. It’s built over x river for a reason: to get to the other side.

-If it’s not posted, it’s not trespassing. Unless someone asks me directly to not walk on their property, if it’s on the coast and there are no signs, I’m walking there.

-In the event that someone does ask me to not walk on their property, there are posted signs or fencing has gotten the best of me and I end up on the road, my rule of thumb is to simply keep the water in sight.

I may think of more as I continue my journey, but these should suffice for now.

Now, I am from Needham, Massachusetts, a small suburb of Boston that is infested with new families and quaint charm. It is a place I would much rather not be. Due west of here as the crow flies is North Quincy’s Wollaston Beach, a long stretch of sand along Quincy Shore Dr. riddled with broken shells that has seen some great improvements with cleanups in the last few years. Many considered it one of the nastier beaches in Boston for a long time. I walked a section of it with my girlfriend in March but I still need to do the rest. Because Needham is unfortunately my hometown and Wollaston is the closest ocean spot, I will consider this my homebase. But my father lives in Wareham, MA right on the ocean at Pinehurst Beach. So I kind of have two bases. Because of these parental bookends, my goal for this summer is to walk the South Shore and Cape Cod.

For my first real day though, I decided yesterday to take a northbound leisure walk around Squantum, an isolated knob of land in Dorchester Bay that is technically part of Quincy. Starting from Moswetuset Hummock, a small park that was once the home of the tribe where Massachusetts got its name, I walked around a large wetland into Squantum. The peninsula is entirely residential, so I did a lot of backyard-hopping. After getting around a large plot of wetland, I came upon a stretch of houses, each with docks or stone steps down to the water. Truly gorgeous Cape house architecture marked these homes, many of them empty. High eaves and big windows dominated.

After coming around the east side of Squantum, I began walking on to Moon Island, once a huge shellfishing community for Native Americans, now a training facility for the Boston Police and Fire Department. Bostonislands.org informed me that Moon Island and it’s brother Long Island were restricted from pedestrian traffic, but the entire coastline from Squantum was unmarked. When the shore ended and I got up to the road, there were posted No Trespassing signs but only in one small area by a 19th-century granite waste water treatment facility, so I ignored them and waited for a cop to tell me to leave. Walking slowly by a firing range where cops were actively training and having numerous vehicles pass by me, no one stopped me so I headed toward the Long Island Bridge. Unfortunately when I got there, there was a posted No Hiking sign. So I continued down into the Fire Department training area to finish my loop of the island. There was a windowless cement building that looked the victim of numerous fires and firemen in uniform and not were milling about. I walked along a stone wall behind some cars so I guess no one saw me but I imagine I was not supposed to be there. I continued along the rocky path beneath Moon Island Rd. back towards Squantum. I came upon Squaw Rock on the northern tip, a haven for fishermen in the area to get some good ocean catches. No one had caught anything when I asked, but the scenery was nice and a rope to pull myself up and around the fence was much needed. I walked a trail back towards town which brought me to Nickerson Beach, a small town beach which didn’t seem to get much use. I walked back to Moswetuset Hummock to get lunch and would’ve continued but a huge thunderhead threatening the sky kept me in my car (I had to get my oil changed anyway).

Squantum was a good first day out, especially considering the nice loop it provided, but I finally solved my problem of getting from point to point: my bicycle. I now plan to lock my bicycle at my intended endpoint and then ride it back to my startpoint. This should make things a hell of a lot easier. Oh, and I also hope to get a camera soon so I can post pictures of the places I go, the things I see, and maybe even the people I meet.

For next time: finish up Squantum and hopefully make it to Savin Hill (or as my friends and I know it, Stab ‘n’ Kill).

See you on the coast.