7/29/09

heel, toe - that's how we go

The Wizard of Oz. The Hobbit. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. All those fairy tales full of third born sons strolling across Europe in search of their fortune. Mr. Toad legging it home from prison. The barefoot mailman. Even the Von Trapps escaping over the mountains. Long tromps and epic walks filled my childhood stories and yard adventures.

My sister May and I would pack our gear - a treasured mess kit, my favorite trench tool, apples and pb&j done up in a bandanna bindle - and strike out across the yard or neighborhood. If we could find a crick drainage ditch, we followed it, ankle deep in who knows what. We drew maps, explored parks, dodged cows, slipped through barbed wire, crawled under bushes to find hidden trails.

So, last month, when May told me she planned to walk the Natchez Trace - a small paved highway of more than 400 miles between Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee, it seemed like the obvious next step. The trip we'd been training for our whole lives. "When are you going?" I asked. "Do you want company?"

Fall of 2010 and yes.

For a day or two, I said maybe. Maybe I would think about it. Maybe I would walk a little in the evenings and see how I felt. Have you seen me lately? I am not a small man. After a lifetime as a fat kid and 10 years with the state, I am not exactly up for strolling a few dozen miles with a pack on my back every day. But. But but but. The Stand. Huck Finn. The Canterbury Tales.

So now May and I are sort of obsessed, and, if I want to go, I need to stay that way. I'm In Training, for a certain definition of that phrase. I'm limbering up and starting to walk again. I'm sweating my way around the neighborhood at night, cursing the heat, cursing my tired legs. If may can do it, I can do it.

27 comments:

B.E. Earl said...

Very cool.

I love walking, but I so rarely get out and about. Yesterday my mother-in-law to be needed to have her car dropped off for an inspection. I was gonna follow her there (a little over a mile away) and drive her back.

But it was a beautiful day and the drive is along the harbor and across a beautiful bridge. So I just drove her car myself and walked back. Felt like I could have walked forever it was so nice out. Walked back to pick the car up later on in the day, but it was a bit more humid so a lot less fun.

Here's to hoping you have a great walk in your future.

Petit fleur said...

You CAN do it Hank!! Oh, I think this is great! marc and his bro did lots of hiking together in the Grand Canyon and lots of other cool places and those adventures and the memories are priceless.

DO IT DO IT DO IT!

yay!

Also sweating is fun, even if the heat is not. Especially, if you can have a good shower, and maybe a beer soon after. It makes me feel very alive. I'm so excited for you guys!

honeyluna said...

Good for you. I'm fucking so excited for you two. You totally have been training for this your whole life! And I know you can and will do it.

Lois said...

You can do it! It sounds like fun and you have plenty of time to train.

downtown guy said...

BE: I've always loved to walk, it's just in the past few years that I've grown out of the habit. So it's nice to see how quickly, really, my body adapts back to it. Although i will be glad when fall gets here.

PF: Sweating is not fun, but it is worth it. Beer, however, is fun.

Jesster: You should join us for a couple days.

downtown guy said...

Lois: At first may was pushing for this coming spring, but i said we needed more time. Or, at least, I do.

Mwa said...

Yay! Sounds like a wonderful plan. Plans are good. So are walks. And sisters of course. Yay!

May said...

HELL YEAH! Heel toe, heel toe, that's how we go! I just remembered The Wizard of Oz a couple of days ago and almost texted you. Have we mentioned Alice in Wonderland? Through The Looking Glass? The best Grand Adventures are done on foot. Walk out the door, don't stop till you get there! No cars! No flat tires! No fucking windows between us and the world the sky above our heads, the earth beneath our feet. Heel toe!

downtown guy said...

That's how we go!

Hey May, I noticed a typo on our Bindlestiff Society cards, so, uh, I have a replacement for you.

Windy Days said...

Yea! How exciting! Don't forget about "The Body" - What a trek!

As an ex-Mississippian, the thought of walking the NAtchez Trace is a pretty daunting one. But what a story you would have at the end! So please do it!

Good luck, Guy!

Laura Lee said...

OOOOH there is nothing like the excitement of an adventure!

Take some koolaid pickles!! You can eat them or trade them like wampum.

egads, a year from now... the wait will be excruciating.

downtown guy said...

WD: The Body, that's a good one! Stephen King just loves a long walk. (The Body, The Stand, Dark Tower, The Talisman... uh, The Long Walk.)

LL: The wait will be necessary. Right now, I doubt I could walk to Publix and back carrying a pack.

Steph said...

DO IT DO IT DO IT!

Ahem, sorry. But really! How fun!

SJ said...

Hell yes you can do it - I just started the walking thing back in March and it is amazing how much difference something so simple really does make.

gingermagnolia said...

That sounds like an awesome trip, and surely a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing to do with your sister...you know, before you're "real" grown-ups. Fun, fun, fun.

downtown guy said...

gingermagnolia, I suspect that May and I are both older than you (33 and 31). I've been working for the state for 10 years. She's been married and divorced. I know you meant it in a friendly way, but we're both real grownups. Despite its roots in our childhoods, this is a real grownup adventure.

(Due to a biological quirk, I can't father kids, so I'm not holding onto that as a measure of my maturity.)

Mel said...

Do it! Do it! Do it!
That sounds like so much fun & sometihng that will be an amazing experience for you two.
First the train then the Amazing Race :)

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I think the trip sounds great. You can definitely do it. You two will keep the memories you will make all of your lives.

I wish my brother and I were close, but we aren't--either in proximity or spirit.

You are blessed.

Love you, SB.

downtown guy said...

SB: as you can probably imagine, we're a fairly tight family all around. Us against the world!

Shantybellum said...

Good luck with the walk. Be sure to stay in Natchez for a few days' reward at the end of your journey. It's a beautiful town with lots to see.

downtown guy said...

Actually, we plan to go the other way. But thanks for the advice!

Lady Lemon said...

Good for you, dude! That sounds like quite an under-taking! You and May must be quite brave.

I love that you mentioned The Stand. It's one on my favorites. Lots of walking.

downtown guy said...

Yep, and if we can just avoid the Walkin' Dude, we'll be fine.

gingermagnolia said...

I did mean it in a playful way, not to insinuate that you weren't really grown ups. Sorry! ;)

P.S. I'm 29.

downtown guy said...

Hey, no problem. Just felt like it needed saying.

All This Trouble... said...

You and May are my heroes. For two totally different reasons. I really want to do something like this. It's the gypsy in me. Can we still say 'gypsy'? I bet we can't. Wanderlust. I'll blame it on that.

When I was a kid, we had a huge field of broomstraw next to us. It would grow so tall, we'd pull it over and fasten it with knots and bread ties. We built whole villages out of seemingly endless tunnels of golden rustling grass. I still dream of it.

I've recently lost 8 lbs. I'm walking again. It's hard between my foot surgeries and fat ass but I want to give it a try...again. I only have another 90 lbs to go. :o)

downtown guy said...

That sounds exactly like something May and I would have done. we were aces at making villages under bushes or in the brush.