*Walking Home*
By: Joe
14 December 2007

Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz said, “There is no place like home.” Home is the best place to be when things go bad. Unlike Dorothy, getting home takes more than clicking our heels together. This is my story of walking home.

Who: 48 year old guy. I run three miles about twice a week. My job is not physically strenuous.

What: Walk home from work. Seventeen miles by the truck odometer.

At various times in my life I have lived as close as 1.5 miles from work and as far as 97 miles from work. One of the things that bothered me when I worked 97 miles from home was that I had very limited options if I needed to get home and my vehicle was inoperative. My current job is 17 miles from home and I wanted to test the practicality of walking home. Seventeen miles seemed to be at the very outer limits of practical walk-home range, at least it was before I ran this exercise.

How: Disabled vehicle scenario. In addition to my normal work clothing (dress shirt and slacks) I supplemented with additions from behind the seat of the truck and contents from my Back Home Bag. Basically walk out the door, grab a bag and a couple of things from the truck and start walking.

Where: From center of mid-Western 400K metropolitan region to home 17 miles away. Route paralleled my normal commuter route but used pedestrian paths, tertiary and secondary roads. Only ¼ mile was the same as my daily normal commute.

One advantage to walking home is that I had time to investigate the various routes and weigh their advantages and disadvantages. A 400K metropolitan region is not a big city, but it does have some less savory patches. Many of those tougher parts of town are between work and home. I have little hesitation about walking through parts of them under at some times under some conditions. Wearing a backpack is not one of those conditions.

When: Started December 10 at 8:30 in the morning. Temperatures ranged from 25F to 32F with steady 6 mph wind out of the Northwest. A half inch of ice on top of 2 inches of old snow.

I chose December 10 because it was a day I had off work and because the weather predicted for that day is typical of 75% of the December-through-February weather.

Why: Short answer: To see if I can.

The scenario I chose to simulate was a disabled vehicle. Possible causes, in no particular order are:

Trip Notes:

8:32 I walked out of work. It has been light for about 40 minutes.

8:42, Finished adding snow pants, sweater, and transferring some odds-and-ends to pack. I lift the bag to sling it over my shoulder and the zipper splits. Repair with one safety pin. Start walking down Municipal pedestrian/bike trail. Four hundred yards after leaving the parking lot I see first and only other walker of trip.

9:10 I reached the end of the pedestrian/bike trail. I took the obligatory picture of where I work.

During the next forty minutes I walk through the rich part of town. I walk past the Country Club, Governor’s Mansion, Municipal Rose gardens and the Yacht club.

9:50 Stop at big cemetery. Grab sandwich and bottle of pop from bag. Zipper of bag spits open again. Add another safety pin. Eat while walking.

10:25 Stop at Nature center to use restroom. I notice that the camera is hanging out of the bag. Add two more safety pins.

11:35 Stop at small restaurant for lunch. This town is exactly at my half way point.

I ate a light lunch because I was worried about waste elimination. Sorry for the poor picture quality but camera lens fogged up and I did not want to wait for it to warm up. I was hungry! Note that the cinnamon-swirl bread did not even make it this long.

11:55 Back on the road. The second half of the route is much less civilized. Typical view down road.

12:20 Stop at small cemetery and pop a couple of ibuprofen. Say short prayer for Olive, died at age nine in 1894. She let me lean my bag against her stone while resting.

12:55 I saw a Pileated Woodpecker swinging from a grape vine. Second half of walk is MUCH less civilized.

1:25 My last break. I ate a tin of sardines and candy bar.

2:40 Pick up mail from mailbox and walk up the driveway.

Observations and Conclusions:

What worked:

What did not work:

Miscellaneous notes:

Would I do it again? Absolutely! I want to do the same walk during the spring, summer and fall.

Are there conditions that would prevent me from taking this walk? Absolutely!

And I want to leave with a final quote: In times of stress, Barrett Tillman said, "You won't rise to the occasion – you'll default to your level of training."

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