Walking is never boring.
I've done it all my life.
Not owning a car I've walked, biked and/or took the bus (commuter rail and plane, too!) everywhere I go.
Sometimes I have walked just a few blocks, sometimes 2, or more, miles.
Imagine walking a mile to the market, then carrying a full grocery bag in each arm, or by hand, for the same distance home.
Once a week or more.
Many people look down on anyone who walks, when they could be driving a car, or at the least riding a bus.
The thing to realize is that everyone walks somewhere at some point in their day.
One way to think about it is: Hey, if it was good enough for Wordsworth, Shaw, and Carlyle, then it's good enough for me!
Story and blog ideas can come while walking somewhere.
I first wrote a variation of this essay in 2007.
You will laugh and think I'm nuts, but there is something that I've done since I was 10 years old and will continue to do until the day I die:
Read a book while walking somewhere.
I often read from novels, non-fiction, and magazines where ever I go, not necessarily the whole trip, but I do read.
Many years ago someone told me he followed me for 3 miles, one day, watching me read a book as I walked along crossing intersections without seemingly being aware of anything around me but magically avoiding people and traffic and hitting all the stop lights as they turned green.
I told him (pointing at my glasses) it was easy when you have 4 eyes.
The one-way trips would take 3 hours and at night, on the return, I'd listen to talk radio and observe the passing scene around me (Cautiously, in some stretches, I'll admit!).
Here in Houston, I have walked anywhere from 2 to 7 miles, including to and from work (7 miles each way) and grocery shopping with my hand cart.
Even when reading as I walk I am aware of all that is around me. Some sight, or sound, catches my attention and I look up to check it out.
When I don't have reading material with me I can truly get into the sights and sounds of the world I pass.
After I took up blogging in 2002 I began carrying a notebook around with me to jot things down.
The idea was to collect story and poem ideas.
I had an excuse to take my camera with me on more than just bike rides or special trips, but all the time.
A whole new world opened up to me, creatively.
I never knew who, or what, I’d encounter along my daily travels.
Most importantly I was both mentally and physically better for it, especially after breaking my ankle in 2011.
The stick had a small spike in the bottom, just long enough to allow me to stick it in the ground, set up a shot, press the 10 sec. delay on my camera…and haul ass to get in the shot.
By the end of 2008 a hat and the walking stick were becoming integral parts of my creative and blogging persona and identity (As The Cycling Dude, The Mad Macedonian and Daddy Kiril whose cats have had a blog of their own since Jan. 2010).
My book bag, with my notepad and camera inside, completed the look.
I even had little mini-tripods for special situations indoors, on foot, or riding my bike.
As I have written before... I like sharing my travel experiences, and my thoughts on the things I see in the world we live in, because it helps my writing skills, and may spur readers to get out and explore their own surroundings.
16 years ago The Onion made fun of people like me, calling someone who enjoyed walking 2 miles to and from work “weird”.
I'm weird, and damn well proud of it!
Years ago I started collecting books on hiking and walking, in Los Angeles, and Orange, counties.
I was looking for places in urban, and not so urban, areas that I could reach by bus, and maybe with the help of my bike as well if there was some place safe to lock my bike while I hiked, and I could still get home by bus.
I never did use the books partly because my work schedule would get in the way of doing anything, and partly because other things came up.
I got rid of them when I moved to Texas. At least I got a little cash when sold to a used bookstore.
Once here I found a few similar books on hiking and walking in Houston, Harris County and neighboring counties, but never did use them due to work scheduling and because, a couple years ago, my camera died and I left my walking stick on a bus during a rainstorm and never recovered it.
Until this year I didn’t seem to have any hope of getting a new camera and finding a new stick seemed impossible because the search terms I used turned up nothing like my old stick and the store I bought it from no longer sold it.
For those reasons and others as 2017 began I sold the Houston books, except for my copy of the Key Maps Harris County Map Book, to Half Price Books…I was feeling discouraged about the possibility of ever getting out and about and exploring more of the Houston area, on foot or by bike (even using just my cell phone for photos) after 4 plus years here.
Since 2007 I have had a “Take a Hike” archive of hiking/walking adventures but, until last October had not shared an adventure since my exploration of Irvine Regional Park in July 2012, shortly before I left SoCal for Houston.
I have had other stories on this blog about outdoor activities and with outdoor photos and my cat blog is full of photos of cats I've seen on the streets.
I am proud of those stories and have somehow felt my creativity took a little hit as an important part of my routine disappeared from my life.
In the wake of my recently turning 57 I think that I may finally be able to revive and build upon that routine as I find ways to move forward with my creativity.
I hope to get a new camera at last but first, thanks to a suggestion of a friend that I change Google search terms, I think I’ve found where my new Camera Monopod Walking Stick will come from.
American made, of natural materials, a spike longer and different than what my old stick had to offer and options for personalizing the stick in such a way that I can bring my creative inspiration with me where ever I go with pride and boldness.
It will most likely cost me $76-86 but will be well worth it.
I corresponded with a co-owner of the company today and told her I’d get back to her once I got my IRS refund.
In the meantime…my first paid vacation of the year runs from this Saturday thru Wednesday…
What to do? What to do?
I can’t afford to go to the Houston Rodeo again this year so I have backup ideas, appropriate to this post….several walkabouts notepad and cell camera in tow.
In doing some Googling the other day I discovered that the Houston area has a thriving walking/hiking community with 2 hiking clubs and a website that promotes outdoors activities in the region.
The Houston Happy Hikers have been around since 1979 and their focus is on urban walks and hikes.
Membership is $10 a year (7/1 to 6/30 of the following year) and there are volunteer opportunities of various types.
It belongs to the American Volkssport (people sporting) Association and holds related Volksmarching (people walking) events.
With my work schedules, the way they are, the Happy Hikers might be doable, we shall see.
****UPDATE -- 3/15/17****
God is good...My IRS Refund came thru this morning....After they took their share to pay off what remained of what I owed them from 2013...I had $364 deposited in my checking account.