In my last post, I was griping about the cold weather and the short days of October. Then came the weekend and with it weather so wonderful and warm that with only a bit of effort, I could pretend it was still summer. (There were, of course, those shorter days to remind me that it was still fall.) How lucky that my husband, Clif, and I had planned this weekend to visit our friends and biking gurus Bob and Kate in New Hampshire and go biking with them along the coastline. At the beginning of the week, we were sure we’d need to wear fleece and leggings to bike. As it turned out, we could wear T-shirts and shorts. And plenty of sunscreen.
Early Saturday morning, with the bikes strapped to the car and our dog, Liam, in the backseat, we headed south. Our first stop was South Portland, where we dropped off the dog with our daughter Shannon and her husband, Mike. Liam, too, would have a beach day, but in Cape Elizabeth rather than in New Hampshire. With Liam in the loving care of Mike and Shannon, we didn’t have to worry about hurrying back home.
Then it was off to New Hampshire, across the Piscataqua River Bridge to Portsmouth. Clif and I had never been to the New Hampshire coast before. Being Mainers, when we want to go to the ocean, we head for somewhere in Maine. Therefore, we weren’t sure what to expect. Rocky? Sandy? Flat? Hilly? We would find out. From my point of view, any day—especially one so sunny and warm—spent biking with friends by the ocean was bound to be a great day.
We met Bob and Kate in the parking lot of Wallis Sands State Beach in Rye and away we went. From the very start, with the intoxicating smell of the salt air to spur us on, I knew this would be one of those rides that I would always remember. Above, the blue sky and the sun. Alongside the road, purple asters, late roses, and cattails. We passed a marsh with two white swans, elegant and serene. Here we came upon a rocky beach, next a sandy beach. The road curved up and around, giving a broad prospect that looked almost Mediterranean. In the distance, the Isles of Shoals shimmered.
What especially impressed Clif and me was how much of the this coastline is part of the New Hampshire state park system. This means that even “simple folks” can enjoy a day at the seaside, and many, many people were doing just that.
“We never knew how spectacular the New Hampshire coastline is,” I said to Kate at one of our ocean rest stops. “Let’s make this a yearly tradition.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Kate said.
We rode about 20 miles, and after that we drove to Kate and Bob’s house for showers—how good they felt!—drinks, appetizers, vegetable soup, and apple gingerbread. A feast. It was still so warm that we could sit on the deck and eat and drink and chat.
As the sun set and the dampness settled in, we reluctantly said goodbye and headed back to Maine to pick up our dog and have tea with Mike and Shannon.
All the way back, Clif and I talked about various parts of our bike ride, and the taste of the gingerbread still lingered. (Kate gave me the recipe—it’s from Smitten Kitchen—and I plan on making some this weekend.)
In the distance, we saw a bright light streak across the sky.
“Is that a shooting star?” I asked.
“I think it is,” Clif replied.
A perfect ending to a perfect day.