Tag Archives: Walking

England Day 2: Art and Dead People


Daughter and grandson on our cemetery walk.

After leaving the grandchildren off at school, my daughter suggested a walk through a cemetery.

We’ve been there before, but not this year. It’s a pleasant place to walk, an old cemetery with fading gravestones, at least the part we walked in. I understand it has modern areas, too, but this old part is part burial ground, part urban nature preserve, and it’s a peaceful, interesting place for a stroll.

At one point, my toddler grandson wanted me to pick him up so he could bat his hands at low-hanging leaves on trees. He has an infectious chortle, and we heard it sounding out a bit in the quiet among the dead. It was a good place to be alive.


Another view of the cemetery.

Following the cemetery stroll, we decided to walk across town. Rain was in the forecast today, but not until later in the afternoon, and we gambled we could cross the distance to the rail station and return before the rain set it. It felt very muggy today, but was a bit cooler than yesterday, so it was a nice day for a walk.


Art in the church.

Along the way, when we got downtown, an old church used as a civic center was advertising an art exhibit/sale, so we went in. It was nice to see the church, even if it being filled with contemporary art felt a little dissonant. Much of the art was several hundred pounds in price, which was one discouragement—and also was bulky enough that fitting it into a carry-on could be an issue, so we merely viewed the art and church and then moved on.

The walk across town felt like several miles, to me. I’m hoping it was good cross training for RAGBRAI—and being comfortable walking some distance isn’t just cross training, it’s also training, since RAGBRAI can involve a fair amount of walking, too.

We have a bold plan—we are to care for the grandchildren this weekend while our daughter and son-in-law enjoy a weekend alone in London. The walk today was so that our daughter could get her train ticket.

We also stopped at a bike shop downtown where I arranged to rent a bicycle for next week and also purchased a biking map of Norwich.


One display in the church was a table set as “The Last Brexit Supper,” which was not exactly pro-Brexit.

Lunch was at a falafel eatery downtown—my daughter got us a group platter that could have fed four or five. The three of us, plus the toddler, gave it the old college try, but we ended up with a significant take-home box of leftovers, too. The platter was falafel and pita sandwich veggie fixings, including nice humus. It was filling and delicious.

We arrived still dry back at my daughter’s house about 2 in the afternoon, and I skipped the walk to school to pick up granddaughters so I could nap. I’m struggling a little to say awake right now, but the sunny walk today hopefully helped reset my bio clock, so I may not be blogging at 3:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. Knock on wood.

So today featured a long walk in a pleasant English city, including art and a cemetery stroll, a great lunch and the promise of future adventures—biking in the UK!

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California Day 6: The Benefits of Walking: Views and Plants


Walking in San Diego on Memorial Day.

I am not sure if I have lost any weight on this West Coast adventure. Hearty restaurant meals and afternoon ice cream or other treats are on one side of the ledger—balanced against 6 or more miles of walking each day.

But I have enjoyed the walks. I’m not a fast walker, and usually lag behind, but I do walk and can cover some distance. We returned Tuesday to San Francisco from San Diego. The weather was breezier in the bay city, and the ground undulates a lot more here—a lot more. Still, California has been kind—I’ve been following all the stories of storms in the Midwest, and I hope the pattern there dries out soon.

Anyway, I’m fonder of bike riding—the pace is so much faster than walking, you cover more ground, and get to enjoy the same sense of being outside and experiencing the birds and bees and flowers and trees. Still, there is something to be said for walks, too. For one thing, conversation is much easier and more effective. On bike rides, I often find myself projecting my voice strongly to try to be heard, or straining to catch another riders’ remarks, often failing to hear what was said.

Walking promotes chatting.

And plants. We flew back to San Francisco Tuesday morning. Our daughter-in-law had to spend the afternoon working. Our son had a work meeting via computer, too, but it did not take long, and soon we took a Lyft to an older neighborhood for lunch and an afternoon stroll.

We purchased sandwiches at “Say Cheese” on Cole Street, and if you want excellent lunch sandwiches in San Francisco, I recommend it highly. We walked to a nearby park—San Francisco is graced with many small neighborhood parks—and enjoyed our meal.

Than we strolled up to Tank Hill, a bit of a climb, but I guess that makes the walk more effective as exercise. We enjoyed the views there.

And then walked off to find ice cream. Because, you know, vacation. The intended shop was closed, and the next almost a mile away, but since we were headed towards treats, we decided to go ahead and do the walk. We passed through the Panhandle on our way. We were in an older part of town, and there was some comfort in seeing all the Victorian townhouses—it felt very San Francisco.

On the sidewalk outside of one, someone had set a small table with several succulent plants. “Free to a good home,” the sign read. The plants were rooted in carboard cartons, and because our son keeps some house plants, we decided his was a good home. So we picked up what my wife first called “baby,” but which I said was “Audrey III,” and carried on.

We got our ice cream and walked to Alamo Square. It was a nice day, and the side of the square facing the famous “painted ladies,” as those colorful Victorian houses are known, was busy with tourists making images.


Park where we ate lunch. And climbed a hill. There were several hills on our San Francisco walk.


Tank Hill, great views of the city.

I’m not sure exactly how far we walked. Most days, we have gone 6 miles or so—this was probably a shorter stroll, but a few miles anyway.

Once we get home, I know that I’ll try to get as many biking miles in as I can. Still, it would be good to make some time for a daily constitutional, too. A walk on a fine day if good for the body and soul.

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In Praise of Winter Walks

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.
“Roads Go Ever On” by J.R.R. Tolkien.

In contrast to earlier the season—when we were blasted with cold in late November, December in Iowa has gifted us with some mild days. And by bike and foot, I have taken some advantage of that.

Monday, I was tied up much of the day with finishing semester grades. At least I did bicycle to campus. But on Tuesday, after some errands, my wife and I took a late afternoon stroll. We only walked maybe a total of two miles or so, but it was a pleasant (by December standards) sunset journey.


Sun setting along C Avenue in Cedar Rapids on Dec. 18, 2018. During a stroll with my wife as we celebrate being married 36 years. It was warm Dec. 18 36 years ago, too.

On Wednesday, I biked to campus to finish some additional odds and ends, and then met my wife and youngest son. We drove down to the NewBo area for lunch at Parlor City, and then went for a stroll along a part of the Cedar River Trail, including the new Sinclair Levee path.


Dec. 19, 2018, view during stroll along Sinclair Levee trail.

It was breezy, and sunshine was starting to turn to clouds, but again, with a temperature around 40 or so, quite nice for December. We happily chatted as we strolled, enjoying the companionship, the outdoors and the effort of the walk.

John Green created a recent Vlogbrothers video which was a walk through some Indiana woods in cold, wet weather with some friends. I’m not sure I completely agree with his point that the bad weather helped make it a good walk—I’m more of a fair-weather journeyer—although otherwise I think he’s on to something. We are all on a life journey, and sharing that journey with friends as we make our way is partly what it’s about.

And it is important to just get out there, when you can, whether in Indiana rain or Iowa sunshine. A walk outside is a way of enjoying the world beyond our artificial shelters, when conditions allow. We re creatures of this Earth and should feel our connection with it, now and then. Which is one thing a winter walk is good for.

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The Importance Of Walking On A Warm March Day

Deer in the neighbors yard. They were walking today to--saw lots of them in the creek bed behind the house.

Deer in the neighbor’s yard. They were walking today to–saw lots of them in the creek bed behind the house.

What with one thing and another, I’m going to be super busy over the next few hours, frantically grading and trying to get ready for another week of school.

I took the time for a fairly long stroll with the sweetie late this afternoon, and am not 100 percent sure I should have. The grading fairies did not show up while I walked.

But, it’s important on one of the first nice days of March to get out there and dodge the puddles. We’ve been cooped up too long by a cold winter. We headed up C Avenue and down the Lindale Trail, and I noted to my wife that the only regret I had was that I had not taken the time for a bike ride. “Oh,” she asked, “would you rather be on a bike ride?”

Well, no. A stroll felt right, as did strolling with her. It’s pretty muddy, and a ride would have been splashy. And I will commute by bike a bit this week and get fodder for my bike blog. I just meant it was one of the first days when I could have put in some serious miles.

No time for that today. Grades for mid-term due in just about a week. But then, two weeks from now, spring break.

And I am glad I got out today. Walking season is just getting started. That mild time to debrief and visit about our days—the season for evening strolls really starts when daylight savings time gives us some late afternoon sun.

Well, welcome walking seasons. Glad you are back. I plan to enjoy you.

Low sun over Dry Creek on the bridge over the short Boyson Trail. We went down the Lindale Trail, through a Marion neighborhood and then back home via Boyson Road and streets in our neighborhood. About an hour's walk.

Low sun over Dry Creek on the bridge over the short Boyson Trail. We went down the Lindale Trail, through a Marion neighborhood and then back home via Boyson Road and streets in our neighborhood. About an hour’s walk.

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Life From On High When You Fear Falling

Bridge over I-5

Walking over I-5 in Seattle. Way, way over I-5.

I had my picture taken with a cutout of John Wayne in Vancouver, Canada. But I’m not John Wayne, not a he-man at all.

There’s plenty in this world I’m scared of. Wasps. Badly cooked tofu. Flat bike tires. Sarah Palin.

But, high up on my primordial fear list, right alongside “fear of flying,” is “fear of heights.”

I’m not paralyzed by it. When need be, I can climb a ladder. But I would prefer to avoid roller coasters. Why ratchet yourself way up in the air and then free-fall?

Fancy fish

Fancy fish at Seattle Aquarium.

Well, today I had to face my fear of heights. Audrey and I were in Seattle, and were on our own today as Nalena flew to a conference in Atlanta and Jon worked. We rode with Nalena downtown, where she caught a light rail train to the airport while we walked down to the Seattle Aquarium, which we visited courtesy of tickets she had downloaded for us.

We enjoyed watching the fishies and birds and sea mammals and the school kids and the lesser kids who sometimes strayed.

Then we spent some time at Pike Place Market and had nice fish sandwiches at Lowell’s. Walked for 30 minutes or so to the Seattle Art Museum outdoor sculpture display and got all cultured there.

Then, we had to return to Jon’s apartment. We could have hopped a bus or streetcar, but the day was getting warmer and sunnier and we were in the mood (despite my bum knee) to walk, so walk we did.

We didn’t know the route, but Jon had given us a map and we didn’t get lost. Did not realize, looking at the map, that the street which crosses I-5 crosses way, way, over I-5. You expect them to provide oxygen masks.  We feared passing airliners.  As in probably even up with the space needle top or higher high.  I am not wild about driving across bridges, but this was the second time in 2 days (the first was in Vancouver) where I found myself very high in the sky walking on an uppity bridge.  I could have touched the face of God or perhaps have trimmed His beard, if He wanted it trimmed.  It was high.

Space needle.

Our route back from the SAM to Jon's place took us by the Space Needle. That's Audrey in the grey hoodie.

As in, Joe didn’t care for it much. But, I did it.

That makes two primordial fears faced this week—we flew to Seattle (whew) and I walked way up in the air to cross I-5. Thank goodness Sarah Palin is in the Holy Land, cause the way things are going I’d think she was just around the corner.

Facebook trip galleries:  Vancouver and Seattle.

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A Saturday for Walking

MMU group

MMU walking group acts silly

The bum right knee complained a little, but not too much, so I was “Movin’ for McAuley” more than “Limpin’ for Ladies” this morning.

Audrey and I participated in the annual “Movin’ for McAuley” walk at Lindale Mall as part of the MMU team. Given cool, breezy early March weather, it was a good day for a walk—indoors.

Audrey, Cate and Paulette

My walking buddies. How do you feel about Joe falling behind to snap photos?

A bonus is that we spontaneously met up with my sister Cate and her spouse Paulette, so Audrey walked with them while I sort of tagged along, getting separated now and then as I was shooting photos, thinking that I would probably write a blog post, and maybe put up a Facebook gallery.

It was fun, both to see and chat with some MMU folk and with my sister. Audrey and I enjoyed our complimentary bagels and popcorn, too.

Walking turned out to the be the theme of the day. After moving at the mall, we drove to Ames to pick up Ben, who is starting spring break.

Ben is clearly headed to graduate school in one form or another. I think his original plan was to be a plant researcher like his brother-in-law Matt or some other flavor of biologist, but he’s playing with other ideas, too. He talked today about possibly picking up a pre-med major.

Well, I think he’d make a heck of a good doctor, whether it’s medial or scientific, but we’ll see what direction his life will take—he’s young enough that several paths are open.

Anyway, we arrived a bit too early to pick him up, since he’s working part-time as a waiter and his shift wasn’t over—so we spent some time walking in downtown Ames. It was a bit chilly, even as this blustery day warmed a little and the sun was mostly shining, but we were ducking in and out of shops, so we didn’t mind too much.

It was a mostly satisfying day. Now, I’ve got to shift my attention to writing exams and grading.

Sigh. On the whole, I’d rather be walking …


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Everybody’s Doing the Locomotion




Mr T is amused


Marian Arens pumpkin day.

Got to watch Lizzie puttering around on two feet this morning while we spoke with Amanda on Skype.

Amanda says she’s walking more often and much more confidently—even to the point of playing simple ball games, bending down and picking up the ball and maintaining her biped status.

Lot of moving going on. Audrey and I watched Nickayla and Tristan overnight, and we were moving a lot too.

Tristan isn’t fully a biped yet—he can stand and can cruise, but mostly wants to hold on if he’s going to take a step, and very much a crawler still. Yet, as shown in the video, he sometimes does what I call the “spider” or “monkey” crawl—a quadruped locomotion involving hands and feet and no knees.

Update: it’s not ideal, but at least I was able to post via YouTube, so here is Tristan, doing his monkey or spider crawl:


No video yet, have not figured out how to upload. For now, Nikayla in a tube.


We took the kids to Noelridge Park Friday, looked at some ducks, walked around (Nikayla did NOT want to ride, she’s an independent walking little girl, thank you) and played in a small child play area. Tristan played the role of monkey boy, crawling all over the equipment. He did not go down a slide, but it would not have been shocking if he had, and I’ve heard he’s done it before.


Tristan headed down the steps face first.


It was frightening to watch him go down steps, because he sometimes goes head first, as shown, but he didn’t take any spills.

Nikayla is a much braver climber these days. She hasn’t exactly tackled a ladder, but steeper, more “big girl” stairs, like one series of bumps with a handrail at the park, she can scale with confidence. There is a spot where there are two stool-like large steps leading up to a landing, and she clambered from stool to stool to scale those heights.

Parents worry a lot about baby’s verbal development, and it’s not a trivial concern. Although the quadruped to biped transition is not quite as fraught with angst, it’s an interesting one to witness. And as both Lizzie and Nikayla dance their way through early and not as early biped motions, it’s just fun to watch.

More park (and fall) photos on Facebook.  Everybody’s doing the locomotion.  Jen, this earworm is for you.


Ducks at the park.




Everybody looking at the ducks at the park.


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