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MIT student blogger Jack-William B. '21

Expedition New England by Jack-William B. '21

Travel That is Good for the Soul.

As one of my “Treat. Yo. Self.” presents for my birthday, I got 3 puzzles that centered around the best attractions, museums, food, and outdoorsy areas to visit around New England. Here is the first one I completed!

Peep the other two puzzle boxes that will be completed and glued in the coming weeks :)

When I got these puzzles, I said to myself that I didn’t just want to assemble one-thousand pieces to see some cartoon image of all these cool places, but I vowed that I would take some time during my weekends and actually experience all the great places New England has to offer. Of course, with P-Sets and all, it is easy to get caught up in your dorm or libraries all weekend. In my opinion though, there’s more to life than just that, and I have to get some time off of work sometime and just simply enjoy life. For those who don’t l know, I come from a town in Southwest Florida. That being said, the landscape, scenery, and ridiculously insane concept of the seasons that do exist here in New England are just exhilarating to me. I couldn’t wait to get up here and experience weather that isn’t always 100% humid, 100 degrees, and left 100 mosquito bites around my body even if I just went to outside check the mail. All this being said, I took my first trip out of Beantown last Saturday to visit Portland, Maine!

The Trip Before the Trip

I woke up, and I grabbed my backpack that consisted of “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!“ (I’m doing a personal book challenge that I’ll blog about in a few weeks!) snacks, my Amtrak Train ticket, and some extra room for a souvenir shirt for myself and one for my mom for when she comes and visits next month. I headed on my bike to Quincy Market, grabbed a bagel and orange juice, and headed to North Station. So, I get there, see my 10:20, On Time, train to Portland, Maine. I am relieved, relaxed, and ready, when all the sudden, I start seeing substitute bussing detour flashing. After suffering a five second heart attack that I missed my train, mentally seeing my dreams of travel being cut short like a man who has forgotton his personal legend in The Alchemist, I run outside probably looking half mad, and I hop on the yellow Yankee bus, the same type that picked me up at CPW, and I begin my journey.

On the Road and Rails

With every detour, comes an opportunity. Well, at least for train routes. Due to the whole bussing deal, I got to be on the highway, where I got to see some of the amazing fall foliage. I have been geeking out over the leaves changing for over a month now. I will admit, I planned my trip this week because it was said to be the peak time of the year to go. Here is some pictures from the highway and the train!

After we reached the top of Massachusetts, I finally got on the Amtrak. The Downeaster, as it’s called. I secured my window seat as I ventured into states that were, just this morning, places on a puzzle on my wall. New Hampshire was beautiful from the window of my train, and I hope next year to ride the Cog Railway with my sister and mom when they come visit. Speaking of my family, on the train, came a group of ladies around the ages of my mom and aunts, that were taking their mom out to dinner in Portland. They were loud; laughing, chatting, poking fun at one another. It reminded me of my own family and grandma when we used to all go out together in New Jersey or even just anywhere. It was a token of the ride that just added to the journey.

Arrival and Walking Uphill

After two hours of chugging towards the location, the stop was Portland, and I exited the train in a nervous hurry thinking I was going to get stuck on the train and miss my stop. I headed off, gripping a paper printout from Google Maps en route to the Eastern Promenade, as it is called, to see the view of the Atlantic. I walked and I walked. I ate a hamburger, fries, and a shake. I walked by the Portland Museum of Art and looked around it as I stopped at a local coffee shop for a cup of cold brew coffee in the brisk air, and I forgot about all my worries for a day. I sat there and enjoyed the sound of people, the views of dogs and passerby. I stopped in places to get my mom and I a shirt, and I bought the mug feautred in the puzzle picture! As I ventured through, I was getting closer and closer to the promenade. As the wharfs got more distant, I approached the area that was more wild, untouched by the industrialization and buildup of the city. They have it designated as an official Portland Trail that is natural, and it features walkways up a mass hill that overlooks the water. I climbed up the hill, to the pain of my thighs, and I sat there and just enjoyed the view. I looked out and saw a place I never thought I would ever see or even want to see for that matter. I saw the leaves changing over the water. here look!

Overall, the whole day was simply a great time. I even got a stranger to take an awkward picture of me by the water that I could send to my mom to show her the small journey I went on.

And just like that, the hours passed, and I walked back through the town. I now walked back through streets that were once unknown to me, and I ended the walk back at the small train station on the outskirts of town as the sun fell over the already orange background hills of Maine.

Heading Home

As I got in line to board the Amtrak again, I heard the familiar clamor of a thick accent of three ladies, and to my surprise and delight, I once again saw that group that reminded me so much of my family. I boarded the train, this time sitting in a seat that faced opposite the direction of travel, as I headed back through the states I first met this morning, back to the Amtrak station in Haverhill to board the yellow Busses, and arrive on the side of North Station furthest away from where my bike was parked. I ended the day feeling content with life because it showed me more than just orange leaves and a town obsessed with lobster. It showed that not all my life will be connected to the dome on Mass Ave nor the sphere of academia for that matter. There is, and always was and will be, a part of me that desires to adventure, get off campus, and take full advantage of being in a place where places of unknown are only a train, bus, or bike ride away.