Since this is primarily a trail blog and the (more than a) week I spent in Boston while Copper recovered is a distinctly non-hiking activity, I’m not going to give a day-by-day breakdown of my activities. Indeed, half the time I spent there, I sat around Vicki’s house doing very little (although I must say, that being able to do so for a change was wonderful).
Here’s a sort of highlight reel (in no particular order):
I went down the street once to a little Chinese restaurant with an adjacent bar. We did a driving tour of Boston, including checking out the old Brownstones in Brookline and cruising through Beacon Hill.
Copper and I got to go to a CSA pickup. I drove Vicki’s boyfriend’s car back to her apartment after dropping him at the airport and her at work. After riding the bus to work with Vicki (an opportunity for another discussion about feelings and attitudes), I explored Copley Square and the Boston Public Library, and spent a day at the Boston Museum of Science (where I had been before, but never spent an entire day exploring).
They had a pair of singing tesla coils:
They also had a great IMAX documentary on the history of the building of the Rocky Mountain Express through the Canadian Rockies. Highly recommended if it’s ever showing near you.
We kind of had a falling out over the threat Copper posed, though I agreed to thoroughly de-tick him. It kind of set a tone between us that highlighted our functioning on slightly different wavelengths.
Vicki went to the grocery store with me, and later criticized me for not buying deodorant (since I never carried any due to the weight) and later had to buy some for me (for which I paid her back, of course–my bad!). But I did find this gem of a sign there:
We went to a trendy ice cream shop in Newton Center:
We went kayaking in the Boston Harbor:
Afterwards, even though we got our parking validated, the parking deck charged $15 because we arrived 5 minutes after the end of the 3 hours the validation covered. Parking in Boston is absolutely ridiculous.
We visited Harvard Square and walked across the campus, and ate at the Border Cafe which offered a choice of Mexican and Cajun cuisine. Delicious!
After another day of doing little except working on this blog, I intended to spend a day cleaning Copper and my stuff and airing out Vicki’s apartment. Then I made the big mistake: I cracked the back door open to let whatever smell my stuff had released into the apartment out and put a fan nearby, then went to take a long hot shower. It was interrupted by a pounding on the door. It was Vicki’s landlord, bringing Copper in. An angry Italian cursing your existence when you’re half-dressed and damp is not a good portent. It turned out that he’d been called by the upstairs neighbors on his way out to the airport or out of town, and had to come back to keep the dog out of the street. (Of course, Copper knows better than to wander off down the street on his own, but then, I thought he wouldn’t leave the house without me either.) So, of course, knowing Vicki had vouched for me with him, and knowing that I’d already outstayed my welcome anyway–I had already been making inquiries as to how I could affordably get a ride back to the trail–I had to call her and tell her what happened. Of course, it was an absolute catastrophe, and my assurances that she could throw me under the bus, “kick me out” and take very little blame didn’t take away the anxiousness of the situation. I redoubled my efforts to find a ride out of town but to no avail. Then there was a 3-way call between Vicki and her boyfriend (who was still halfway across the country) and me in which I apologized profusely and assured him that I would be out of the apartment before anyone got home. So, I cleaned up the apartment as best I could, put Copper on leash, and left, locking the door behind me. I used the Lyft app to call a ride to Somerville, since everyone else I knew in Boston lived there, though I had no guarantees yet on a place to spend the night. At the very least, it was likely a better place to hitch a ride from than Newton.
While I was standing on the sidewalk waiting for the ride to arrive, another Italian (this neighborhood being the Italian hub of Newton) guy came up to say “hi” to Copper and invite me into their Soccer Club, which was really just a room with a couple of tables and a bar with a cappuccino machine. I was introduced to all the other guys and we talked about my hiking the trail. The guy who invited me in bought me a cappuccino and gave me a tiny bottle of water for the road. Soon, my ride had arrived, though he had to come looking for me, since I didn’t recognize his car as a Lyft car without the mustache on the front.
We had a nice conversation about being a Lyft driver and other such things as he drove Copper and me to the other side of Boston. I had him drop me at a random cafe near Union Square. I spent most of the day there using the wifi. I started searching for a place in town to spend the night, but no Airbnb could be had for me and a dog at such short notice. The Spanish-speaking women operating the cafe suggested I ask at the police station, and asked their friends. Eventually, they started closing and no solid leads were had. Copper and I relocated down the street to the Independent gastropub with outdoor seating. I had a nice macaroni dinner with some choice craft beers while I finally got a solid connection via feelers let out on IRC. A woman called 23-year-old (if I correctly recall) Ravana who lived in a house with six others near Porter Square got clearance with her roommates to let me spend one night while I figured out how to get out of town. So I let my phone charge in the restaurant to get me enough power to make the trip, then, as was our more usual modus operandi on this trip, Copper and I walked a mile through Somerville with Google providing walking directions.
It was near dark when I arrived on the block and the GPS misplaced the building, and the houses weren’t numbered in order, so I ended up going the wrong way down the block until I found a woman returning from the grocery store, who also guessed wrong about which way to go. Eventually I had to go back online and ask Ravana for more precise directions. When I arrived, there were only a few people there, but many people quickly arrived. All different sorts of people lived there and convened in the living room, though I think the eldest was around 32. Most of them were perfectly happy to have Copper around, but Ravana, most particularly pleased, seemed to be unable to control herself from saying “Dog!” every time he walked by. The den area had a futon-under-a-bunk-bed setup, and I was given a pillow to use the bunk bed. I also got some of my clothes washed in the communal wash, which was nice, as I would be hitting the trail the next day. I was also loaned a sort of communal Chromebook that lived in the den, which I could use for IRC and for continuing my search for an inexpensive mode of transportation. I looked into renting a car, but the problem with that was that there were absolutely zero rental car services further west in Connecticut than New Haven(?), some 50 miles from Salisbury where my bookmark was, so a one-way rental wouldn’t really get me there.
Sometime after dark, I walked with Ravana to the Walgreen’s in Porter Square to restock dog food for Copper. She absolutely had to stop at a taco store there, which was convenient, since it took about exactly as long for her as for me. I wasn’t hungry, of course.
By morning, I had decided to try an unusual plan which, if I recall correctly, Ravana herself had come up with. I could rent a moving truck from Budget for the minimum of 2 days for just $120 plus gas. This was some $70 less than I would expect to pay for a car for the same period of time, plus, since moving companies are designed around one-way rentals, I could get as far west as Torrington, which was probably less than 20 miles from Salisbury. I called up Hudson at Bearded Woods and asked how I might make up the difference if I went this route, and he surprised me by offering to drive me that far–absolutely pro bono! So, I hopped back on the Chromebook and reserved a primitive 12 foot moving van for that very afternoon. I passed an hour or so in the apartment repacking for the trail, until finally I got Ravana out of bed to let us out and lock up behind us. We walked another mile through some very interesting neighborhoods to get to the Budget/Party supplies rental center. Along the way, I passed a pet store, and I figured Copper could use some more Pill Poppers to help him consume all the medication he still had yet to take. They didn’t have any, but I was also looking for some rawhide treats or equivalent, and they recommended some extra-long vegan stick things, at like $15 each. I had them cut one up into three pieces, because they didn’t have anything more normal. Plus I was interested to see whether he’d like it.
It only took about an hour to do all the paperwork and inspection and then I was on my way. Thank goodness I already had experience driving in Boston (thanks to my get-the-boyfriend’s-car-home-safe errand soon after my arrival), as the roads in Somerville are crazy, especially in a moving van, especially at rush hour, especially when half of them are under construction. But I made it to the Mass Pike without incident. Copper was tightly wedged into the minimal space between the seats and settled down beside me, and I was relying on a giant pile of printed Google Maps directions I’d had the renters print for me, as, it being that hiking typically does not involve cars, I’d neglected to bring a car charger with me. Not that I think it would have mattered, since a truck without power locks is unlikely to have had a power outlet in it anyway.
After 4 hours of driving, including one pit stop at a rest area off the Pike (which I can only assume Copper, with zero room to move, appreciated far more than me), I pulled into the Days Inn in Torrington. Then, upon seeing the no pets sign in the lobby, struck out again for the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a more old-fashioned hotel in the center of town. Strangely enough, although it looked far more grandiose and inviting than the Days Inn, they welcomed well-behaved pets.
They even donated an ice-cold bottle of water for him to drink when I couldn’t convince the tap in my room to yield any but warm water. Although I did poke around the hotel a bit, enough at least to visit the hotel bar for dinner, I mostly enjoyed a quiet night lounging in my room out of that sort of muggy summer heat that lasts well into the night.
In the morning, after a good shower, I grabbed a continental breakfast and went to the garage where trucks are to be dropped off. Copper and I were gonna sit on at the far end of the parking lot, but it started to rain a bit, and I kind of wanted a power outlet. So I went inside, and they insisted I bring Copper in out of the sun as well (even though it was really just as hot inside). I waited there for about two or three hours total for Hudson to arrive before we drove back to Salisbury. He offered me another Sprite, but I left it for the next guest. After all, I was already getting a free ride. Thanks, Hudson!
He left me and Copper in front of the church, which maintains a hiker box and a tradition of free ice cream and socks for hikers. I availed myself of the ice cream and their bathroom. Then I hit up the grocery store for a few last items (including a six pack of fancy local sodas–some crazy delicious berry flavor, of which I drank at least 3 before I even left town) and, when I couldn’t stall anymore, I dragged Copper (now walking normally and standing up under his own power, thanks to the rest and medication) up to the trailhead, where I stalled some more.
I noticed that I hadn’t properly copied the next file from Dresden Files – Grave Peril and I didn’t want to skip a whole section of the story, so I gave Copper one of the sawed-off treats to entertain him while I stood there and downloaded the file to my phone. He didn’t want it and ended up leaving it there when we started walking. (Goodbye $5!) Also, one of the rubberized ear-protectors on my headphones fell off at this time. You know, the new ones I bought for $40 in Great Barrington. (Seriously, screw that Verizon Store.)
It was nearly 3pm by the time we headed up into the Taconic Range toward the Massachusetts border, but at least we were, finally, at home again.