First off, I get asked often why I am planning on walking the entire Katy Trail. I really don't have an answer. I guess to use an extremely lame answer: Because it's there. I have always liked being outside and have wanted for quite a long time to have some sort of adventure before I get too old, so I guess walking 225 miles across the state is going to be it.
I figure that most of you reading this will already know me, so I will give only the barest of details about me. I am 43 years old, I have been married to the same wonderful woman for 24 years now. I have two children, a son-in-law and the cutest grandson around. I am the third of three children. My dad is still alive, but we lost my mother a little over a year ago. She died after fighting non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Beginning about three years ago, I decided that I needed to lose weight if I was going to have any sort of a quality life for whatever time I have left. I had been wanting to go to Weight Watchers for quite some time, but for one reason or another, I always found some reason not to go. To make a long story short, my wife, Theresa, and I finally took the plunge and joined. Long story short, since then, I have lost a little over 120 pounds and I feel like a new person. I still want to lose another 20-25 pounds, and these last few have been tough. I wish they would drop off like the first 25 or so did, but that is not the way it works.
Part of the Weight Watchers program is emphasizing getting some sort of activity into your daily routine. I decided that walking would be my thing. I guess I am cheap, but I just figured that it would be the easiest thing for me to do, and I would have few excuses not to hit the bricks and start moving.
A funny thing happened: If, for whatever reason, I couldn't take a walk for a day or two, I really began to miss it. I went from barely being able to walk a mile, to really racking up the distances. I was wearing a pedometer at the time, and I started noticing that I was walking 8-, 10-, 12 miles in a day's time. Just to play a little mental game with myself, I started thinking: "Today I just walked to Fulton" or "I just walked from Ashland into Columbia." As I would total up what I walked for a week, it was getting fairly impressive, if I do say so myself. I guess that is when I started thinking about taking a long walk.
The other thing that fueled my idea to take this walk is the book "Mississippi Solo: A River Quest" by Eddy Harris. My sister had read the book and recommended it to me. I found the tale of this guy paddling a canoe the length or the Mississippi fascinating. I also felt envious. I wanted to do something that was, if not epic, at least a little bit unusual. Since I don't own a canoe, I guess walking is going to be my gig.
One other note: Looking back over the past year and a half, I think that walking long distances by myself has been therapeutic for me. As I mentioned before, I lost my mother in July of 2005. Before that, I lost a cousin in April of the same year. These two people were, at one time, some of the closest relationships I had.
I knew my cousin Dan all of his life. I am almost a year older than he, but my extended family at that time was pretty close. Danny and I were in someways more like siblings in those early years. But as so often happens, we both got busy with our own lives and while we never had any sort of "break" we just led our own lives, seeing each other at reunions or running into each other in passing. I guess I harbor a little guilt over the fact that I let our relationship grow "casual." I wish it hadn't in the last few years, but now he is gone, and those of us left behind have to keep living.
Life is a bitch at times.
Obviously, my mother and I were close. I am tempted to retell the Marx Brothers joke that went something like "Where were you born?" "In Hoboken." "Why Hoboken?" "I wanted to be close to my mother." I know that I am mangling that joke horribly, but you get the point. As my mother got sick, and it seemed every treatment strategy that the doctors came up with seemed to not work, for one reason or another walking helped me think through things. I would trudge down the trails here in Columbia, and think about what was going on with Mom, or think about Dan, or any other thing that I needed to think about, and get a sense of peace. Or, as the cynic in me often thinks, maybe I would just get exhausted and not think about much of anything other than my sore feet and tired legs.
After reading all of this I know it doesn't seem the case, but I am really not one for long-winded dissertations on myself. To sum it up, for whatever reason, walking seems to make me feel good physically and spiritually.
For my next post, I will drop out of all of this lofty self-absorption and get down to the brass tacks of talking about my plan for tackling this walk.
Stay tuned fans, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.