Monday, April 2, 2012

An Experiment in Walking



The area where I live is primarily well-suited for driving. There are those who ride bikes as they can, and I do that a bit, but there are certain areas that are just too congested to ride a bike, in my opinion. I see people jogging along some of the roads around here that have about 12 inches of shoulder and I wonder why they choose those roads, as that seems unnecessarily risky to me. Anyway, I was headed off to a destination today that is most easily accessed by car. Indeed, I have never gone to this place any other way, even though it is only a couple of miles away.

As I am being intentional about implementing more walking into my routine, I decided I would walk to my destination today. I figured out a route that would leave me with the maximum exposure to sidewalks and less busy roads, and set off. At first I was going to play it safe. Walk straight up this road, turn left on that one, and voila I would be there eventually. But I really didn't think that it would be too enjoyable to walk on those roads, the ones with the twelve-inch shoulders. So, I put together a track that would go through a new, as-yet-unopened park, and then I'd cut through a really nice neighborhood, and walk through a couple of parking lots and I'd be there.

I had to intentionally decide to go off the beaten track. I'm not usually thinking about creating adventures for myself on a run-of-the-mill errand. But I figured I'd try. I had already lined Eli up to pick me up when the errand was complete because I knew the walk there would be as much as I wanted, or had time for. I could have him pick me up anywhere along the way if need be.

As I walked on the 12-inch-shoulder road, I stayed about 10 feet away from the road. And I noticed all this grass growing, recently planted, and bravely coming up and making the area green. As I walked down the new park road, I noticed the baseball diamonds there, much more grass, and a beautiful playground I had no idea was there. I am looking forward to the park opening so we can play there. I noticed that even being 50 feet from the road made the experience of being in that place completely different. I often feel like I am surrounded by civilization here and unending traffic and cars. Just that short distance gave me a little taste of being away from it all. I was amazed.

I had consulted the general birds-eye map in my head and thought I would come out on Road A on the track I was taking. However, I noticed that I instead came out at the back of the houses on Road B. Not a problem, exactly, except the good people of Road B all had fences along their back property, which of course prohibited me from making my way to Road B.

Well, I was in the middle of the woods, so I figured I'd just head along the fence line and either come out on Road B or Road A. I wasn't sure how a homeowner might feel when I emerged from the woods. But I got to find out. I startled a lovely man who was doing some gardening. He lives WAY back from Road A, so would hardly be expecting company, especially from the wilderness behind his house. I explained that I was experimenting with walking today and why I had come out on his driveway. He wasn't visibly thrilled, but neither did he call the police. I walked on, studiously avoiding doing anything that might look like I was "casing the place." Oh, Siouxsie, the criminal.

My next dilemma was about the lovely neighborhood I was intending to cut through. This is a gated community, but seeing as how the entire side was unfenced, I decided their concern must be more for cars than for people. I had to reassure myself though, "For crying out loud, I'm not a vagrant. I am wearing diamonds!" I debated about walking around the long way but it would have been about three times as long, and having just bushwhacked through the woods and with mud and straw clumped on my shoes, I decided I'd chance it.

Being me, I read all the signs before entering the neighborhood, just so I didn't miss any that would portend me getting arrested for this attempt to be a little more active in my lifestyle. Walking through that neighborhood was very nice and I got some good ideas for landscaping, since all the homes there had gorgeous and perfect landscaping.

Finally, I arrived at my destination. I am utilizing an app called MyTracks so as soon as I arrived, I checked out how far and how long I had gone. Then I walked inside and bought three appliances. But that is probably a story for another blog.

I could have driven to that store today. I probably could have driven it in my sleep as I've taken these particular roads thousands of times. But walking made it an adventure! I used my senses, and enjoyed the sensation of being surrounded by beauty. And I thought it was a good stretch to reach the edge of the woods that I wasn't expecting to see, and plough on through. I highly recommend it. And I highly recommend MyTracks. I would post my MyTrack from today, but this is the internet and the track gives too much specific information about my location. The picture at the beginning shows you what a typical track looks like. I'd be glad to share it with anyone privately, though.

What about you? Have you walked anywhere lately that you normally drive?

4 comments:

Bob said...

Good to see you back. I use an app called Endomondo to track exercise. Some similar features but I can put in non GPS stuff as well (spin bike, treadmill' swimming etc). Nice to get a graph of heart rate against pace etc.

Bob

Bob said...

Good to see you back. I use an app called Endomondo to track exercise. Some similar features but I can put in non GPS stuff as well (spin bike, treadmill' swimming etc). Nice to get a graph of heart rate against pace etc.

Bob

TracyStoller said...

I really like walking and I use Endomondo, too. Sometimes I feel guilty that I am not jogging/running, but I remind myself that I am enjoying myself and that is part of motivation.

Most of my walking involves the dog, since she very cheerfully insists that I stick to routine. I occasionally forget to stop the app when I get home, leading to some interesting numbers when I get into the car and drive to work.
I plan on walking to the gym now that the weather is warmer--I can get 2 miles of walking in and then just do weights when I am there.

I do find it unsettling, though, when people cut through our yard.

SiouxsieQ said...

Bob, I have Endomondo on my phone but haven't used it yet. I think it may have come pre-installed. Tracy, it was definitely not my intention to cut through anyone's yard yesterday! It was simply a necessity unless I was going to walk a Loooooong way around, and I just wasn't willing to do it. I don't feel guilty about walking instead of jogging. I think it's better for me, actually! 50yo knees prefer walking!