Monday, August 3, 2009

Take Me Home, Country Roads

I had 6 donations this week and 5 of them were new points on the map!!!  Jan Ziegler is one of the women who inspired me to do this walk.  Her courage and positive attitude as she battled breast cancer were an inspiration to me!  Jan joins the list of Columbia, SC donors.  Neighboring Georgia has 2 dots now. Mandie Thacker (Statesboro, GA) made a donation in memory of her grandmother who was a breast cancer survivor.  Bill and JoAnn Sterritt, who have fed me many meals and are my personal ambassadors to beautiful Savannah, GA, are supporting Kim and I not only with financial support but with their enthusiastic cheerleading and “We’re proud of you” chants.  Claire Gonyo & Sara Jones put Pennsylvannia and Penn State University on the map!  I know that Mama Helen is inspiring us all!  And, finally, Fayetteville, NC is represented!!  Trish McDowell was the first to donate last week, scoring her a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Trish’s mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I am honored to be able to walk on her behalf and send her prayers and positive thoughts for successful treatments.  Aunt Bunkie and Uncle Lee made a donation on Bunkie’s birthday!  Thanks for sharing your special day with me!   Thanks to these folks, I am only $115 from the minimum amount required to participate in the Breast Cancer 3-Day! I hope that my entry next week begins with “WE DID IT!”

Oh August!  I feel like August is the month that I both dread and look forward to all summer.  The dread of the last minute frenzy of details to tend to before the start of the school year coupled with the frenzy and excitement of move-in day on campus and the return of college football!

The end of July/start of August weekend is birthday season in my family. My mom, dad, and aunt have birthdays in the span of 1 week.   To celebrate, Joyce and I made the trek to NC, with our families in tow:  Joyce & Ron, Mary Grace, Andy & Joey, Bell & Carrington; Me & Riley.  The journey is very Grizwald-esque.  We pack 2 cars (Did you see the line up?  We couldn’t possibly fit in one) with a suitcase per human, tote bag per pooch, games and toys for the kids, road trip snacks and water bottles, crates and gates for the pups, gift bags filled with tissue paper, an iPod filled with High School Musical, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift tracks, and a slew of homemade birthday cards. 

My luggage included my trusty CamelPak filled with my walking gear for an 11 mile Saturday and 5 mile Sunday.  I was hoping for some company, at least for part of the way.  Joyce did not let me down!  She was up bright and early Saturday morning, sneakers on, and ready to go.  We started with a 4-mile trip around my folks’ neighborhood.  This was a fairly easy route-we even took Riley along.  After a quick stop at the house to drop off the pooch, Joyce was still game for more so we ventured out on the open road of Rural Route 1, headed toward my Aunt Bunkie and Uncle Lee’s house just 3.6 miles down the road.  Down the long, country road. (For those of you who don’t know the story, we call my aunt “Bunkie” because of the song Bye Baby Bunting-I know, crazy but my mom grew up in Arkansas…enough said.)

The challenge of winding country roads is that they are winding and…country.  There are no sidewalks on the Rural Route.  And, since you can’t often see around the curve coming up, we had to stick to the shoulder of the road.  The wet, grass up to your knees, shoulder of the road.  Despite soaking wet shoes and socks, we had a lot of pep in our step!  It’s not often that Joyce and I get to spend time together sans kiddos so we caught up on all that is happening in life, the excitement of the fast approaching school year, and our plans for the courses we are teaching this semester.  We were discussing the books that Joyce is considering for her 7th grade language arts class when we came upon a fisherman.  Joyce gave him the typical country road greeting, “What you catchin’?” (Did I mention she is a language arts teacher?) and the fisher replied, “I’m catchin’ me some brook.”  We wished him luck and carried on. 

There are other things down the country road that you don’t find in my usual suburbia training grounds.  We came upon a junkyard dog, who was guarding a junkyard, and came charging at us barking at full volume.  We found a little extra pep for our step and quickly crossed to the opposite side of the road.  Over there we found a bit of road kill (I won’t elaborate here but it was of the rodent variety), and a large pile of horse poo.  I’m telling you, you see things on country roads that you just don’t see in The Summit in Columbia, SC. (Okay, maybe the horse poo did resemble some of the things I find in my backyard.)

Bunkie and Lee’s house provided a refuge, 7.5 miles in.  After a fast restroom break and a quick refuel from their candy dish, we were back on the road for the last 3.5 miles.  On the return route, the fisherman had been joined by a friend.  He yelled to us as we approached saying, “Ya’ll walkin’ a long way.  I seen ya’ll way down yonder!”  I don’t think my pedometer registers “way down yonder.”  Also on our return we saw 2 soldiers walking down the middle of the road in complete field gear. They were in long sleeved fatigues and were carrying large backpacks.  I bet they were glad we scared off that junkyard dog for them-they couldn’t possibly have run with all that weight on their backs.

Country walking is also a good lesson in geography. During the 3.5 hours of walking, we worked on solving the mystery of “What is that crop?” During the fall, we see endless rows of cotton lining the road.  We’ve even ventured into the field across from Bunkie’s house after the cotton has been harvested to collect the missed pieces  and feel the soft texture-straight from the stalk.  In the summer, those same fields are filled with a short green bushy crop, much of which had small white or purple blooms.  We decided it had to be soybeans.  To all of my Ag friends out there, is that right? 

Maybe ditching the sidewalks for a more scenic route now and then isn’t such a bad idea! Even with soaking wet feet and all the dodging of shoulder debris, it was a great walk.  Joyce was a trooper!!  I have been training for over 2 months, have all kinds of fancy gear like cushioned walking socks, and a 3-liter water pack, and 11 miles is still challenging for me.  Joyce just slipped on her sneakers and hit the road-I was amazed! 

This week the challenge continues with our regular 3 mile Tuesday increasing to 4 miles, 5 on Thursday, and a 12 mile Saturday followed by a 7 mile Sunday.  If any Columbia friends have a route, even if it’s a bit off the beaten path, and you are up for joining me, I’d love the company. 

The tally for this week is: 24 miles;  41,715 steps

The cumulative training is:  178 miles  361,889 steps

Happy Walking!


No comments:

Post a Comment