Sunday, June 29, 2008

Walking thoughts...

I'm trying to walk three to five mornings a week. I like to cover at least three to five miles a walk. It's a little challenging getting in much distance in my nice, little neighborhood, but it can be done. So far I've not found the perfect route, so I tend to do a new route or variation on a previous route theme with each walk. Maybe I just bore myself too easily. I map my walks on, what else, (a great and free utility for plotting walks and keeping up with one's workouts).

Sometimes I walk with my friend/neighbor/ex-coworker. She's nursing some back problems so doesn't (can't) walk as far as I do. I usually keep walking after walking her back to her place. Some days, I walk all alone and that's fine. The neighborhood's pretty safe and I know where I'm going and keep an eye out for possible trouble--plus I carry my big stick brought back from Spain. I also walk the busy roads but on stagnant summer mornings, those exhaust fumes create potential choking scenarios, in my mind anyway.

Walking allows time to observe and to think. In Spain, walking the last 120 KMs or so of the Camino de Santiago, I thought about many things and I observed much of my environment. Fellow pilgrims were kindly and respectful and supportive, throwing "Buen Camino" to each person trudging on foot, bike of horse. In Durham I find that I continue to gain an appreciation for nature--the way a flowering weed finds its way through a crack in a sidewalk, the bunny sitting statue like as I stride by, the beaver (or was it a woodchuck) shuffling back to Ellerbee Creek. What I don't appreciate in Durham, more so than in Spain, are people. My fellow citizens and their trash that accumulates nearly every step along my way.

I've seen syringes and condoms, woofers and tweeters, smashed ripped (off) CDs of Jay-Z and someone who didn't merit a Sharpie-written ID, underwear of all stripes, and the ever present parade of fast food discards. I've wondered if a trash impact fee could be assessed restaurateurs with a majority carry/take out business. Of course, how do you keep private enterprises from passing any such fees on to the consumer in the price of the items consumed? If there were a way to extract a fee for clean-up of their trash, without the consumer ultimately paying it, that would be ideal. Perhaps there could be a fast food brigade that helps clean up Durham one weekend (or two) a year?

While walking these are the kinds of thoughts I have. There is a service I utilize to remind myself of my ideas: I set up a free account and saved the number. When I'm out and want to remember something later, I just Jott myself. In essence, I leave myself a voicemail but, this is the part I love, Jott transcribes it and emails my message to me (or to anyone I want to Jott). Given the huffing and puffing from my 3.5-ish MPH walking, it's not always as perfect as it is poetic.

Because I'm walking before Durham One Call answers the phone (919-560-1200), I'm often Jotting things to report--gang tags/graffiti, overgrown areas, the place I assumed to be a whorehouse that apparently really is a legitimate "Pleasure Tour" operator. When I check my email, I can just copy my Jotts right over to the Durham One Call report form. I'm sure the folks there see my email as the latest complaint from Miss Thrope.

The Durham One Call folks. Gosh, they seem friendly.

Lately, the bikers I've seen during my walk and during my commute around town and to the Park and back are not wearing helmets. Sure, the "pro" bikers are wearing high-tech head protection, along with those awfully unnecessary spandex racing jerseys, but these are apparently leisure bikers, and possibly those taking it up to save a few bucks on gas. Not only are they riding without helmets, they tend to ride the wrong way on a street, on sidewalks and look rather unaccustomed to handling a bike, especially amid vehicular traffic. Even advertisements are showing the "Then Came Bronson (on a Schwinn)" look. In the Brier Creek sales magazine, a happy hetero couple stand astride their bikes gazing appreciatively at one of the many Brier Creek area developments. They have no helmets anywhere. If you've ever found yourself around Brier Creek, I'd think you'd want to wear a helmet. It just seems irresponsible on the part of the Brier Creek marketers.

Bikers with no helmets
She looks real at home with that bike and those sandals!

Near the end of my 3.5-mile walk Friday, a white GMC Suburban gas guzzler rumbled by on Murray. Emblazoned across the top of the windshield, in rather large white letters: "REDNECK WOMAN." Of course, I had to look. The driver's window was down and, in fact, she appeared to personify a redneck woman. Chuckling, I wondered why she felt compelled to advertise such a fact. Are redneck women in demand or so rare that they need to advertise? Did she think it wasn't obvious? Is the billboard not actually redundant?

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