Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 1: Who killed the Kennedys?

Cedar Springs to Belmont. 10.1 miles.

The first day is in the books at last, and a pleasant one it is. I'm glad I decide to do only 10 miles a day for the first couple of weeks, because I can feel it. I think this is the first time I've walked ten miles in one day in at least five years. It's a good day for it, with temperatures in the high 70s and sun most of the time.

My route takes me down my own street to Hoskins Avenue, then west to Pine Island Drive, and south to just past Belmont Avenue somewhere in Plainfield Township. I manage to get out of Algoma Township, where I live. This is familiar territory for me, since it's how we go to get to the main shopping area on Alpine Drive, northwest of Grand Rapids.

The bike trip from the car back home was breezy and pleasant, and I had my iPod going, listening to tunes. If you were out near the street you could probably hear me listening to "Sympathy for the Devil," cruising along no handed, singing, "I shouted out 'Who killed the Kennedys,' when after all, it was you and me." The tunes help keep the pace up. Billy Idol's rendition of "LA Woman" is surprisingly good. He jacks the tempo up a bit. I think it really was a Billy Idol-type tune from the beginning, even though I'm sure the Doors took it more seriously.

During the walk, though, no iPod. I have to keep my ear to the ground, so to speak. The sounds are as important as the sights. Plenty to do on this first day. The proverbial journey of a thousand miles (or three) beginning with the proverbial first step, and all that.

When I walk I wear this rather silly-looking fishing vest, because it has a ton of pockets, and is made of lightweight material. Better than a backback, as far as I'm concerned. But the damn thing must weigh five pounds or more. I've got my digital voice recorder, my little digital camera, a cell phone, a few first aid items, a plastic bag or two, some things to eat, and a bottle of water in the large pocket in back, where I guess you might put a trout or something. There's a pocket for everything. Oh, and my little spiral notebook, where I record important things, like roadkill by type and other statistics, vital or otherwise.

On the subject of roadkill, I must say that I am a bit surprised by the strong showing by the reptilians. I count no fewer than five snakes and one turtle. And not just garter snakes, either. There are two of them, but also two blue racers and what I think is an eastern milk snake. In addition, there are a groundhog, a raccoon, a possum, a squirrel, and several small to medium-sized mammals of indeterminate species (not to be confused with the ROUS, or Rodents of Unusual Size, for those of you who are familiar with The Princess Bride).

Another high point of the walk is the number of returnable bottles and cans I manage to pick up (this is why I carry a plastic bag). Today I get 13, at 10 cents deposit apiece, enough for, what the hell, a half gallon of gas. Michigan will be the only state I walk in where there is a bottle and can deposit, so I have to make the most of it. Plastic and aluminum only, though. Don't want to get weighed down with glass. I'm not doing this to beautify the countryside--just to make a few cents without too much effort.

So, a few final thoughts about walking before I hang it up for the night. Number one: walking is a very slow activity, although it is the best way to see what is actually on the ground, lurking down in ditches full of weeds--the detritis of human existence, which I find fascinating. Number two: tomorrow will probably be more painful than today was. Number three: I only have about three hundred times farther to go than I went today.

No comments: