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March into Spring--The Further Adventures of Walking Spud

Updated on June 20, 2013

Stepping Stones

Crossing | Source

My Walking Program for 2013

Days Walked
Elapsed Days
% of Days Walked
Miles Walked
% Towards Goal
Weight on 01/01/13
Weight on 03/01/13
% of Weight Loss

March Comes In Like A Lion...And So Can I!

Long before the southeast Washington twin sisters of Walla Walla and College Place came alive yesterday morning, I was out on a walk.

My mileage slipped in February.

It was a shorter month. I had a Ten Hubs in Ten Days Challenge to complete. While the month started off looking like a movie trailer for summer, there was a meteorological fizzle midway through, and the weather started looking like the normal prerequisite for March--windy, chilly, and soaking wet. The demands of my eBay business had me scurrying. My daughter was returning home from her student missionary stint in Cambodia, and we needed to get an inventory-laden household in proper order for her. In addition, the annual hunt for important tax documents was hectically underway.

And, yes, you're absolutely right. The above paragraph has only one appropriate adjective that accurately sums it up. Excuses.

So that's why I decided--a la spur of the moment, as I'm often inclined to do--to kick off the aptly named month of MARCH with a ten-mile walk.

Was I Up For The Personal Challenge?

My tried and true motivation speech to self is an abbreviated one. It goes like this.

I can do this!

I see myself doing this!

It's done!

That's it. Nothing fancy or long and drawn out. As with my HubPages writing style, my eBay work, and the rest of my everyday life, so goes my current fitness quest to get healthy and lose a few pounds in the process.

I envision success before I even start.

It's a matter of fooling myself before the rational brain--whatever's left--shakes off the self-hypnosis and holds up a reality check.

Check it out, dude! Your mind might perpetually be stuck at 35 years of age, but your 60-1/2-year-old body is a crusty jalopy that's already sprung a few leaks, creaks like rust on a date with fingernails scratching the length of a blackboard, and is about 360,000 miles overdue on a final resting place in a meadow for a Charlton Heston clone to find in the 27th remake of Planet of the Apes.

As you might guess, I have a definite preference for my creative brain. It's definitely kinder than my rational brain.


Simple enough, right?

All I had to do was find a destination that was approximately five miles from home so I could venture to and from that point in the semblance of a loop.

So, on February 28th, I took the blue Ford Fusion for a spin and mapped out such a route.

It's one of my favorite walking paths, actually, offering a spectacular pedestrian view of the Blue Mountains in the distance and the rolling foothills and agrarian patchwork quilt of fields in the foreground devoted to wheat, peas, vineyards, and cattle grazing.

The five-mile point ended perfectly at the intersection of Cottonwood Road, running north and south, and Langdon Road, running east and west. (These are rough approximations because the forefathers who engineered the road construction in the Walla Walla Valley may have been dipping into the hooch at the time. I'm just saying...)

In any event, I had my route mapped out, and now all that remained was for me to keep stoking the fires of motivation and resolve.

Come On! Let's Go For A Walk!'s YOUR walking program for 2013 going?

See results

Spontaneous? Nah, More Like Impulsive!

You'd think that after 60+ years of life, I'd have my self-awareness chiseled and sanded to a fine crystal.

The only thing I know for sure is that I keep getting reminded all the time that all the plans I make eventually get ruled by my impulsive nature.

Sure, I like to pretend that I'm just a spontaneous kind of guy. Sounds more cavalier and even a bit romantic.

Truth be told, and I've tried time and again to sprinkle my hubs with this self-revelation, I really don't know what I'm doing.


Because I'm more inclined to follow an impulse rather than stick to a plan...even and especially when it was my plan.

In my defense, but rather weakly, I admit, my wife was on call on Thursday evening, February 28. There had been a low patient count at the hospital earlier in the evening, and so she'd been told by her supervisor to remain at home unless the hospital happened to get more patient admits.

In a rare occurrence, my wife got called in shortly after midnight. After hugging and kissing her goodbye, I thought about going back to sleep. However, always at the beck and call of my impulsive nature, I decided that since I was up, I should take care of some eBay responsibilities and read and respond to my fellow (and way more diligent than I could ever be) HubPages writers.

I spent the next four hours doing busy work on the computer and packaging eBay orders. It was still pitch black outside, and the good news was that it wasn't raining.

Cool! Maybe I can get an early start. No sense going back to bed now. I'd probably sleep in and come up with all kinds of excuses why I should put this walk off until another time.

So I got dressed in my gray sweats and green Cal Poly Dad baseball cap (a gift from my son when we toured a gift shop in San Luis Obispo on the day of his graduation with dual Masters degrees). I remembered to add my trusty wristwatch and a credit card (for a cup of coffee and/or snacks...yeah, an old man's gotta have a few vices...but more often than not, the card isn't used and serves more as a security blanket).

I let the cat out sometime before 5. After writing a note to my wife indicating the distance of my walk and my 5:10 AM starting time, I let the cat back in and fed him.

Securing the door, I set out on my walk.

Within a minute after I'd started, I experienced a twinge of insecurity about the route I'd planned the day before. I thought about the dead opossums I'd seen on the road and how those sharp-teethed critters--and others, for that matter--might be roaming the countryside in the dark. Stupid thoughts, maybe, but still scary enough due to my creative brain working overtime...

So, at the first intersection just fifty yards away from my front yard, instead of turning right to go west and then south, I decided to turn left and head east and then north.

I knew that the Northside SDA Church was roughly four miles away, so all I would have to do is walk another mile beyond that, turn around, and return home. Simple enough, right?

Hmm...we'll just have to wait and see.

Walkway En Route To The Hallelujah Chorus Wall

My Cover Wall is Located Just Around the Bend Along this Walkway
My Cover Wall is Located Just Around the Bend Along this Walkway | Source

Okay, So Maybe This Wasn't The Best Idea!

I'd walked the route from home to this church, or vice-versa, dozens of times. So I was quite familiar with that destination. In contrast to the other route which was located more in a country setting, this route would be towards town, well-lit, and gradually have more vehicular traffic as the morning matured.

Indeed, I was tired because of the lack of sleep, but the 53-degree temperature was cool enough to keep me moving yet warm enough to keep me comfortable. My gradually rising body temperature and slightly layered clothing insulated me adequately.

Ah, good choice! This walk is going to take just under 3 hours at my 17 minutes per mile pace, but I'm stubborn enough to do it, and my body is going to burn fat in my reserves (of which I am amply endowed, thank you!), so I'm good to go!

A rather personal thing I need to share at this point is that a sexagenarian's body is capable of making more trips to the bathroom than a younger person. It's a talent, actually, that ever reminds me of the Creator's marvelous sense of humor.

About two-and-a-half miles into my walk, I had to go, and I don't mean the distance. I really had to go!

So I started looking for possible cover. The bushes? Nope, not dense enough. Trees? This was a route towards town, remember. Maybe in the country. But this was urban sprawl, and the only trees in sight were on private property.

In my heightened anxiety, my brain started having a conversation with itself. Okay, well, it's still dark. Maybe I can make like a statue.

At this point, my rational brain piped up. Yeah, and it'll be just your luck that the headlights of a passing squad car illuminate certain details of your statue.

Hmm, you're right. I don't want or need an indecent exposure arrest. But, sweet potatoes, I really gotta go!

There's a coffee shop about three quarters of a mile up ahead, so I quickened my pace. But doing so only served to aggravate the situation.

Oh, wait, there's a brick wall!

The wall was an aesthetic eye-pleaser that the Department of Transportation put up, along with fancy landscape grasses and shrubbery, to beautify the excellent walkways along either side of Myra Road, the division between the cities of College Place and Walla Walla. It also happened to be a godsend at that very moment.

Making sure that there were no oncoming headlights from either direction, I quickly ducked behind the wall. Using it and the cover of darkness, I silently sang The Hallelujah Chorus while watering the weeds.

Just as I emerged from behind the brick wall, I saw the headlights of a bicycle--of all things!--approaching from the direction I'd been traveling. Oh, no! What if it's one of those officer bicycle patrols?

I kept walking, trying to be as fluid and nonchalant as possible, as the bicyclist approached from behind and passed on my left side. All I could see was a bit of a yellow jacket, the very same kind of upper attire that the bicycle police use. The rider turned and gave me a friendly wave as he shouted, "Hi, there!"

"Good morning!" I called out, elated and super relieved that this was just another individual either out for some exercise or on his way to work. Whew, that was close!

I continued walking another mile and a half or so until I reached the church. So now I had to make a decision. I could head east towards the heart of the city of Walla Walla, or I could head north towards the Washington State Penitentiary.

Winston Churchill Quote

“To see the scum of the earth visit any prison at shift-change time."

The Penitentiary--A Turning Point

Yes, you're way ahead of me. Congratulations!

True to my impulsive nature, you know the direction I took. I headed north!

The remaining mile in the first half of my walk was an easy enough ramble through what appeared to be an industrial site. Homes that appeared to be more on the low income side (easily filled rentals, I surmised, for spouses and families of prisoners...or maybe even for some of the penitentiary officers) were huddled close together in streets to my right.

I headed in this direction with confidence that gradually transitioned into trepidation. There were NO TRESPASSING signs posted on fences on either side of the street, increasing in number the closer I got to the prison site.

About this time, my OCD kicked in.

Do these signs refer to what's behind the fences along the street I'm walking on, or do they refer to my approach?

Unsure of the answer, and now encountering signs that read, NO STOPPING OR STANDING, I was now experiencing, even if not outwardly manifesting, a full fledged panic attack.

Oh, my goodness! What do I do now? Well, what I'm NOT going to do is to stop or stand. At least that's one sign that bears no ambiguity!

I quickly glanced at my watch. According to my time--and my studied pace over time is pretty accurate, having checked and double-checked my respective routes with my car's odometer--I had another third of a mile or so to walk before turning around. Up ahead, just past the penitentiary's visitors' parking lot and on the far side of a ninety-degree curve in the road was a road sign that I designated as my turning point.

By this time, dozens of cars were entering as well as exiting the prison grounds. I quickly deduced that I happened to be passing the entrances to the prison parking lots during shift change.

I only had fifty more yards until I could turn around at the designated marker and begin the return trip home. 50 yards until the 5-mile point. Just 50 yards...

Fatigue sat on my shoulders like a St. Bernard dog. My feet were silently screaming for a rest.


Finally, I reached the sign and quickly turned around and began quickly walking back down the slight hill.

I wonder if the tower guards are watching me with their binoculars. What if their fingers are sitting on the triggers just waiting for one wrong move from me?

Tree rings began growing on my back as I imagined a big bullseye appearing between my scapulae and cradled on the thoracic region of my spine.

The longest 500 yards of my walk yesterday were the 500 yards I strode away from the penitentiary.

I ran fifty yards but then realized the absolute danger in doing that.

What if they think I'm an escaped prisoner? They'll shoot first, then ask me questions at the funeral.

I thought about the best prison movie I've ever seen--Shawshank Redemption. The protagonist, Andy Dufresne, had to crawl in a pipe through 500 yards of human waste to make his escape.

While my task may not have been as daunting, I nevertheless was just as motivated to move as quickly as possible while looking as nonchalant as possible through the crappiest 500 yards of steel bars, concrete walls, and razor wire of my own prison of fear.

When I was a block away from the church, I finally found the courage... exhale!

Final Words

The remaining four miles of my walk were anticlimactic and without incident.

Within the larger goal of walking 1000 miles in 2013, I set a one-day goal of walking 10 miles, and I nailed it. While it's not something I plan to do on a regular basis, it at least reinforced the proverbial adage that if you put your mind to it, you can do just about anything.

Let's go over that makeshift yet effective visualization strategy one more time.

I can do this!

I see myself doing this!

It's done!

I wish all of you continued success in meeting all of your goals in life!


Submit a Comment

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state


    "I never admit defeat!"

    I love that about you, Heather! We're kindred spirits upon that theme!

    You know, the astronauts have a built-in device in their spacesuits that solves a universal problem. Hmm...the image that comes to mind is the smug look of relief on one's face as he or she walks confidently along the path. LOL! Too funny!

    Thanks for reading my hub and for your loyal support! Back at you, Heather!


  • Mommymay profile image

    Heather May 

    5 years ago from Ohio

    HILARIOUS!!! I did NOT vote on your poll above because I too lost sign in February. Clicking any answer would have been shameful! On the bright side...maybe your walk has prompted a new business venture...surely you aren't the first walker or jogger to have this issue? I have no clue what you post that as on your ebay store! Glad to see that you are back on track and making tons of progress! Congrats and thank you again for an inspiring hub filled with both message and humor! I have to either go walking or admit defeat and vote in your poll. I never admit defeat!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state


    LOL! Hi, Mary! Just about to go on another walk, but I'm glad I checked my HP account first and found your warm message a few minutes ago.

    I will not go past that area again. One drama like that is enough. : ) Thank you so much for "coming along" on the walk by way of sharing in the hub experience. One thing for sure that we have in common, Mary--we can honestly say we have confronted life square in the face and will not ever have to wonder if we had lived at all. Have a wonderful week, my friend, and I look forward to your next tillsontitan tale!

    My best to you!


  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 

    5 years ago from New York

    Only you can turn an ordinary walk into a 'thrilling' experience! Granted, a ten mile walk isn't exactly and ordinary walk but then you're not exactly an ordinary person either.

    I bet the prison guards were watching you, and probably chuckling thinking you were thinking exactly what you were thinking...did you follow that?

    Congrats HawaiiO, you're doing great and an inspiration to all.

    Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @rajan jolly

    The good habit has been established, my friend, and the steady drop in weight and enhanced outlook on life are reinforcing. Add to those factors the complement of the excellent information gleaned in your hubs, and I am on my way back to a healthy lifestyle. Thanks for the loyal support over the last year, Rajan!



  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Joe, doing 10 miles is a lot in one stretch. I enjoyed this funny and scary walk with you my friend. You are doing pretty well and keeping close to your monthly target I can see.


  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state


    Thank you, my friend, for setting me straight about the dogs. Good for them! So far this new month of March, my walks have been 10, 4, and 5 miles in duration. Every now and then, I wish I had the company of a live dog to while the time away. For now, I have the cyber dog, HP (LOL!) and the ones that bark at me for just passing by. Have a wonderful week! Hope the sun is showing his face in your region of Alabama. My aloha to you and the furry friends!

  • wetnosedogs profile image


    5 years ago from Alabama


    My dogs are always willing to walk. Jenny would keep on going for sure, she's an adventurous dog. Don't let Roscoe fool you. He would be game for a long walk too. Jenny and Roscoe are shadows. Gotta do what the other is doing most of the time. Bella will go as long as any of the other dogs. Back home, it's time for the couch potato dog, Roscoe, to perform that act.

    I should hub a walk one of these times. I need to remember my camera, though.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Karen Hellier

    Good morning, Karen!

    I woke up thinking it was going to be raining (because the storm clouds were gathering in an ugly way last night), but lo and behold! Nothing but blue skies for the happy sun to walk across today. My wife, daughter, and I are traveling to the Tri-Cities, about an hour's drive to the northwest, to do some shopping at thrift stores. I will use part of the time when the girls are shopping to sit and write at one of the area Starbucks shops. Need to get going on my next hub. You know how it is, oh, prolific word wonder! : ) Thank you ever so much for your continued support. With all the fans and mentors you have to connect with, I always appreciate how you take time to share your thoughts with me. On my end, I'll continue trying to unearth "skinny boy" inside of this mature manly mass (ha-ha!) and share my turtle's plodding progress with Hubsville. Your uplifting, morale-boosting encouragement means the world to me. Have a wonderful, productive, and memorable week ahead, Karen!



  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state


    Hi, Bill! Hey, thanks so much for the support and encouragement. It really helps to know that there are those who are pulling for me. It makes the uphills and stressful moments (as mentioned in the hub) worth taking on. I also want to once again express my gratitude to you for the wonderful contributions you're making to this writers' community, Bill, both in the excellent articles you write and in the connections you develop and maintain. Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and a great week ahead! Aloha! Joe

  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 

    5 years ago from Georgia

    Good for you. Thanks for taking us along on your walking journey. As always, your humor makes your writing so easy and fun to read. And by the way, congratulations on losing 10 pounds in 2 months time. They say that losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is the best way to lose weight, and healthiest for your body. You have nailed that. I am trying for that as well, but I have only succeeded in walking only 1 mile per day, and only on certain days. I am not as dedicated to my walking program as you are to yours...although my dog who is my walking companion, wishes I would be! Anyway, good job, and keep up the good work!

  • bdegiulio profile image

    Bill De Giulio 

    5 years ago from Massachusetts

    Hey Joe. Great job, you are really kicking butt with your walking. Keep it going. 10 miles is a lot of walking, especially that early in the morning. Keep updating us on your progress, we're rooting for you.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state


    I see a dead opossum more often than not and wonder just how many of them are out walking at night on the road to have such a fatality rate. It is sad, in a way, because these are animal mothers simply trying to forage food for their young ones. There's a story--and a different perspective--in just about everything I encounter on my walks. I like the jump start the walks give to my soul as well as my body each morning.

    Thank you for reading this hub, WND, and sharing in the experience. Of your dogs, I think Jenny would walk the farthest. Maybe Bella. Roscoe enjoys curling up with a good book. : )

  • wetnosedogs profile image


    5 years ago from Alabama


    That is a great accomplishment and a very funny one! I think I would rather be surprised by a possum or other creature than especially your first uncomfortable encounter in your walk. The wee morning hours do have a blessing to them with the still darkness.

    The year is young yet, you can reach your goal. Cheering you on.


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