Hannah and I now live 20 miles south of Kennebunk on the Maine coast
How in the world did you two residents of Arizona ever end up in Maine? I mean, really. You were living in Arizona, the real Sunshine State! Did you have any idea what winters were like in New England? What part of roof-raking the snow off your house did you not get? What were you smoking? What made you do it? Well, my Uncle Jimmy had a lot to do with it. Let me explain.
Hannah and I lived just to the west of Mesa in Tempe for ten years
Since Hannah grew up in the sub-arctic cold of Rochester, New York and I not ten miles from Manhattan in New Jersey, we were iron filings to the magnetic pull of the warmth of Arizona. Married young at 24, we figured, What the hell! Why not Arizona! Soon, we had the easy peezy life of shorts and sandals. We even had a 40′ pool at our first house, not a mile from the campus of The Arizona State University. I could play 18 holes of golf for $3 in the summer. True it was always north of 100F on the course.
My Uncle Jimmy with his bride, my Aunt Marian
And then fate and Uncle Jimmy stepped. It was October, 1980 when we returned East for my brother Richard’s wedding. There, my Uncle Jimmy, the planter of seeds, said, When are you guys coming back East?
We immediately dismissed that idea as crazy talk. Move to the cold Northeast? During our ten years in the 70s in the Cactus State, there was a soothing laid-back California vibe to the Valley of the Sun that suited us. We had tans year-round. We could bike everywhere. True, smog, that Los Angeles could be proud of, blanketed the valley most days, and the traffic that was a Debbie Downer.
But the sun-drenched life wasn’t the only reason we were in Arizona. You see, we each came from families with high profile fathers in the small communities where we grew up. Hannah’s dad was the village doctor while mine was the high school principal. Since everyone knew our families, Hannah and I were less Hannah and Dan, but more the doctor’s daughter and the principal’s kid. No one’s fault, we had good lives…but as introverts, we had a hard time figuring out who the hell we were.
And then Uncle Jimmy got us thinking. Our daughter Molly was 14 months at the time; then when our second daughter Robyn came less than a year later, the pull of family in the Northeast grew stronger and stronger.
York Harbor, Maine in November
We thought, What about New England? Each being from the Northeast, we had a romantic notion of living in small town New England, raising a family, becoming part of the community. So we picked up and moved in the dead of winter to a duplex in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We had no jobs, but an innocent faith that this was the right move.
Then on a sunny day in May, 1982, we drove eight miles north to the seaside town of York, Maine. Pedaling with Molly and Robyn in bike seats, we fell in love with all the green, the towering trees, the ocean, the small-town feel. Equally smitten by the first house we looked out, we bought a post and beam home on a wooded acre and a half lot of oaks and beeches; a far cry from our fenced-in ¼ acre house lot in Arizona. (Full disclosure, our first Arizona house did have a grapefruit, orange, and lemon tree in our backyard!)
Hannah on the trail in Steedman Woods
Now scroll forward 34+ years and we still call York home. This mid-November Sunday, we are looking for a little exercise before an early sunset in our still small town. Our walk of choice takes us into the village to the empty parking lot of the York Golf and Tennis Club just off the York River. (In golf and tennis season, parking can be found in York Village itself near the iconic First Parish Congregational Church.)
Within a hundred feet of the York River, the walk begins down a country lane off Lindsay Road. To our right are the shoreline estates, to our left we approach the tidal Barrell’s Mill Pond, once the site of an 18th century lumber mill.
At the entrance to the forest trails, there is a sign that welcomes us to Steedman Woods, now owned and maintained by the Old York Historical Society. The trail is easy to navigate and goes in a circle with water views all around.
Trail above Barrell’s Mill Pond
As we enter the Woods, we have a choice of two trails – the mellow one of wood chips to our right that skirts the York River or behind door #2 – the rocky, hilly trail to the left above the Barrell’s Mill Pond that we choose. Either trail leads to the Wiggly Bridge, known locally as the shortest suspension bridge in the world. Once over the Wiggly Bridge, we continue on to the 300-yard man-made causeway leading to York Harbor itself.
Hannah at the Wiggly Bridge with the causeway beyond. The York River to her left.
At this point we take the right on the sidewalk over the tidal York River on Route 103 with the lobster boats of York Harbor to our left, the expansive river leading inland for miles to our right.
York Harbor from the Route 103 bridge with the Fisherman’s Walk to the upper left
Taking the side road at the marina to the left, we have the wide causeway all to ourselves on a crisp, fall day (i.e., 40s). At the end of the road is the now shuttered Dockside Restaurant and boat storage area. Exploring the boat yard and the Dockside lawns on our walk approaching 30 minutes, we soon double back. At this point, we have three choices.
Choice #1 – Go back the way we came over the York River, back down the causeway to the Wiggly Bridge and through the Steedman Woods.
Hannah on the causeway to the Wiggly Bridge
Choice #2 – Cross back over the York River bridge and turn instead to the right onto the Fisherman’s Walk paralleling York Harbor on to the Atlantic Ocean. From there, a rocky path starts at the York Harbor Beach heading north along the coast on the Cliff Walk high above the Atlantic. Click here for the Cliff Walk blog.
Choice #3 – Continue across the York River Bridge to the first left, Barrell Lane, for a walk that takes us through the miniscule York Village. Turn left at the , 18th century cemetery onto Lindsay Road, which gets us back to our vehicle.
Let us know when you are coming to this “walk in the park,” and we’d love to join you. Oh, and one more thing. Thank you, Jimmy!
Part II of walking trails/hikes in York will come once the snow melts in spring.