May 28, 2010

Walking To A Better World

In the 5 years I have lived in Sooke I have never walked into town. That is probably pretty common as I am sure that most of my neighbours have never walked into town, either, regardless of how long they have lived here.

Well, my bike is still out of service, not only because of a flat tire, but also due to wear and tear. I may have ridden this pony as far as it will go. So when it came time to visit the library and grocery store, I thought that I might do the walk - all 8 or 9 km of it. Could I even make it? Would I collapse half way there? I was up for the challenge.

I took a glance at my vehicle as I passed it in the parking lot. Clutching the key that would get me into town in about 5 minutes, I thought of my backpacking days in the Rocky Mountains. Back then 9 km would have been a small hike. I have done long hikes in the Sooke Hills recently, but have never pounded the pavement into town.

The walk into town was exhilarating. I couldn't believe all the new things I was seeing as I ambled along. Cycling, although slower than driving, is still too fast to carefully observe your surroundings. A saunter is an ideal pace so you can stop whenever something strikes your fancy.

Before long I found myself in town and conducted my business. I felt free and unencumbered. I exchanged library books, stuffed my backpack full of groceries at the market, then started to hoof it home.

The trip home was less "pleasant stroll" and more "just get me and my stuff home". I did notice however, the road construction on the highway. I was moving faster than the traffic was, and this put a boost in my step. All those people captive in their idling steel cells not going anywhere, and I under my own steam navigating my way home unimpeded. But I could feel the steam running out.

The last 1 km of my walk was difficult as I thought about things like my fitness level, weight bearing exercises vs. non-weight bearing, and fixing my bike. Certain muscles started to hurt before I even got home. When I dragged myself through the front door I looked at the clock and saw that it took me about 2 hours to complete my voyage. Driving takes 10 minutes, and cycling about 35 minutes, but who is counting time anymore? My adventure was a blast from the past, a time when everyone was walking, and it was very satisfying to know that I could do it.

Now that I have recovered from my experiment in the most simple self-propelled travel ever devised, I am thinking that this is probably more in line with future conditions than we would like to think. I might as well get used to it. And you know, getting used to it will not be that hard.

I turned a 10 minute drive to town into a 2 hour epic personal challenge. Today I feel strong. This change will be good for us, and I look forward to it. I am committing to walking toward a better world, even if it does mean sore muscles for a while.

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