Welcome to the UltraEscape

No home, no car, no worries. On the road since 1996, a TechNomad couple share their travel secrets and adventures.

The Joys of Walking

A walk is not only good for keeping you healthy; it’s good for the soul when done in a natural setting.

Bang. The screen door springs closed behind me as I escape. Wood smoke drifts in the air from a nearby chimney. My cheeks sting from the nip in the air brought on by a recent cold front; I begin walking.

In the pastel blue sky, the sun plays peak-a-boo between the gray and white puffy clouds; the scattering of homes still standing in the small ghost town are cast in sunlight and deep shadows as I pass. It’s only two long blocks until I reach the old gravel lane that leads out of town. (see posting, Life in a Ghost Town, September 2008)

My pace picks up as the asphalt ends and the wet gravel crunches underneath my feet. The old two-track road follows the fence line of a farmer’s field, the knee-high grass waving gently in the wind to the left, with overgrowth and hardwoods on the right.

Directly ahead the road takes a sharp turn to the right leading into the woods. With each step I feel lighter, my cares drifting away.

A shallow ditch separates the road from the piles of old, gray stone that mark the property line. Barely visible through the tall, brown weeds, old hand-hewed wooden poles, still strung with strands of ancient barbwire lay drunkenly scattered on the ground.

I smile as I notice that hidden among the weeds are a few hearty wild flowers, blue bells, yellow dandelions, and the stately, white heads of Queen Anne’s Lace.

Suddenly the silence is broken. Startled, I come to a dead stop, my heart pounding rapidly in my chest. Quickly looking around I discover it’s only a flock of small brown wrens scurrying from tree to tree, chirping merrily as they celebrate the recent rain. My pace picks up again.

Honk. honk. Overhead a flock of Canadian Geese head south.

Stepping around the occasional mud puddle, I spot fresh deer tracks. Their trail is clearly visible through the weeds. Next to the path, large areas of weeds are packed down under a few old crab apple trees, laden with bright red fruit. Most likely a favorite resting place. I kick the occasional apple left from their foraging out of the way as I continue down the lane.

At the corner of the property I make a sharp right turn and head into the woods. Ahead, the road rises gently only to fade in the distance.

Lining the old road are stately hardwood trees, their leafy limbs reaching out across the road to form a natural arch that blocks the sun. Indeed, from my perspective it looks like a tree tunnel, so aptly named by our grand daughter during a recent visit.

My breathing becomes faster and more difficult as I continue my current pace up the small rise.

With arms raised, I suddenly spin joyfully and stretch upward reaching for the colorful leaves that drift down, only to have them dance away and be crushed underfoot. I continue to crunch noisily down the trail at a fast pace, constantly scanning the area, peering between the tree trunks, enjoying the changing scene.

While reaping the health rewards of my daily walk, I’ve watched the dark green “tree tunnel” slowly evolve. With the approach of fall, deep reds, bright yellows and rusty browns are slowly beginning to dominate the landscape. Some trees are already bare, preparing for the onset of winter and the pine trees are heavy with cones. (see photo, top of page)

Suddenly, from the corner of my eye I see movement. I stop, delighted to see three small deer browsing on the undergrowth. I decide to get closer hoping to get a picture with the camera I always carry in my pocket.

Startled, alerted by my footsteps, they raise their heads and their large dark brown eyes stare suspiciously at me. Then, with a flash of white tails, they bolt for safety, racing across the road in front of me, leaping over another old fence line and disappearing into the depths of the forest.

Darn. I was to slow. Tucking the unexpected moment away I begin walking.

I heave a sigh as my thoughts wander. This will be my last walk down the trail for the season. The fall chores are done.

Thirty-six, quart-sized jars of canned tomatoes and ten, pint-sized jars of stewed tomatoes are stored away. Twenty small freezer bags containing two cups each of freshly made venison mincemeat are in the freezer waiting to be thawed for the next batch of cookies. Enough strawberries have been crushed and turned into freezer jam to last until summer. It’s time to hit the road again.

The walk takes about 45 minutes to complete, passing a pasture of grazing cattle, an old barn, eventually turning right again onto a gravel county road, down a long hill and with another right turn onto the main asphalt road back into town.

The main road skirts the site where my old elementary school once stood. Over the summer the community worked hard to revitalize the site. Bright yellow swings, a green and red merry-go-round and wooden teeter-tatter once again proudly await the arrival of children freed from the confines of school.

Newly constructed picnic tables dedicated to family members and wooden Anarondack style chairs, several child–sized, sit scattered under the hardwood trees of the small township park inviting impromptu picnics.

The walk has cleared my head, increased my heart rate and hopefully prepared me for the increase in physical activity we anticipate on our upcoming trip. Slightly breathless, with rosy cheeks and cold hands, I arrive back at my childhood home ready to pack up for our next adventure.

1 comment:

Aunt Jane's News said...

So many times you and I rode that ole' merry-go-round and swung on those swings! We build forts out of leaves in the fall, made snow forts in the winter, and played field hockey in the spring at that old school. Thank you for the vivid picture you painted with words of your walk in our old hometown.