On Walktober 2019

It’s time for Walktober, so cheers to Robin for her organizing this annual tradition. If my memory is correct, this is my seventh in the last eight years (missing 2017 – probably due to travels).  Here’s a walk that I’ve been wanting to do for some time, so here goes … but this is a long walk, so I hope you are in walking shape.

That’s downtown Cincinnati from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. Such a great view. Access to my destination is a bit easier from this side, plus it gets me more steps. It’s a beautiful morning, but I wonder about the shadows that will be present today because the sun is still low.

 

As I cross on old bridge now known as The Purple People Bridge, oh look … an old friend is working as a lifeguard. That’s Bearcat, the University of Cincinnati mascot. A good one!

 

Cincinnati has a string of wonderful parks along the river. Each is different, plus another one is currently in the planning stage. That’s the popular Serpentine Wall to the west of this bridge ….

 

… but I’m going to the park on the east, Bicentennial Commons. Dedicated in 1988, this 22-acre park honors Cincinnati’s 200 years. Looks like the shadows are pronounced today.

 

Meet our city’s namesake – Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus – a Roman citizen, farmer, warrior, and leader.

 

Who’s over there? Well, well – it’s the infamous Lucius Quinctius Pigasus.

 

With part of the walk close to the river, I always love to look. After all, my hometown is many miles upriver from here.

 

The walk upriver is awesome. The trees, continuous views of the river, historical markers, a geologic timeline on the sidewalk, and the outlooks. The first set historical markers have information about the area’s German and Irish settlers, the Sultana (riverboat), and the Black Brigade of Cincinnati on the Union side of the Civil War. For those who don’t know, Cincinnati and the surrounding area had an important role in the Underground Railroad. Seeing the geologic timeline reminds me that the Creation Museum (promoting 10,000 year old Earth) is less than 30 minutes from here.

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I like the sight of an old pump house that was part of the Cincinnati Water Works. After all, Cincinnati had Ohio’s first publicly owned water system.

 

Oh look – river traffic! Because I grew up in a river town, seeing the barge traffic always reminds me of my youth. Do you see the recreational boat?

 

Given 22 acres, there’s plenty of available activities areas besides walking: tennis courts, kids play area, rollerblade rink, picnicking, and a concert venue.

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There’s another pig. Let’s see who. it’s the Ribs King! Look closer to see the crown.

 

What’s a park without ornamental plants!

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Ornamental plants are always nice, but looking up is something that not enough people do – therefore, they miss a lot. I know, one may miss something near when looking up, so balance is necessary.

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Here’s the official entrance into Bicentennial Commons. When first proposed, those four flying pigs created quite the ruckus. In time, the citizens embraced them – even naming a successful race after them – The Flying Pig Marathon.

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Thanks for walking along with me through Cincinnati’s Bicentennial Common. I’ve got over 9,000 already for my day!

 

Robin, a good lady and Ohioan now living in Maryland, is the host. Click here for her Walktober post that will have links to others participating as pingbacks in the Comments. (I hope to visit all of them). I invite my readers to visit other participants – plus hey – if you are interested in participating, Robin is a gracious and welcoming host.

To see my past walks, either click Walktober in the Categories sidebar or click here. Happy Walktober!

Because this (most likely) will be my last Walktober, a special thanks to Robin. For hosting, for visiting and commenting here, for wonderful posts, for our collaborations, and for anything else that I missed.

On a Beach Walk: #59 (Sunsets)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Although the sun is high as I walk toward the west, the sun will set in a few hours.

Personally, I favor sunrises over sunsets – an event that only we early birds see. Whereas the sunrise appears as the faint music we hear arising from the quiet that continues crescendoing until its midday peak, the sunset is the corresponding decrescendo that fades away into the silence of the night.

Sunrise is a time when we patiently watch the sun without squinting – without worry of harm – a time when we are taken by its peacefulness and feeling of comfort.

However, now I wonder: Will today’s sunset be brilliant? Time will tell, so now I think of the time of day that captures many hearts – sunsets.

Sunset is a time when blues, pinks, yellows, and oranges paint a beautiful picture that is also unique. A time when colors depend on the presence of particles, water droplets, and just enough clouds in the sky to display the day’s final brilliance.

Sunset is a time when the shadows are long and point to the east – but they will soon disappear into the dark – very soon.

Sunset is a combination of fascination and melancholy that says goodbye to the day, then hello to a new evening.

Sunsets mark the end of the day and the beginning of a time to rest. But for the night owls, the day is young as they will embrace the dark.

Sunsets over the water our sensual as we watch the lowering sun softly and slowly kiss the sea. The sun appears as a candle drip that disappears while leaving a brilliant light in the west while darkness is engulfing the sky from the east.

Sunsets symbolize the end of one’s life. Starting at the birth of sunrise, our life is the sun’s arc across the sky. A life full of ups and downs – happiness and sadness – successes and failures – a journey when we interacting with many – even influencing some. As our sun disappears, our memories live on in those who remain – yet in time, most of us will be forgotten – simply fading away as the sun that never rises again.

The sun is gone, but the bright sky of dusk remains as a distant bonfire celebrating the passing day that is now a memory.

While the sunset is full of wonder, mystery, and symbolism, I will watch today’s sunset with a renewed sense of its meaning – all because I like walking the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #58 (Quiet)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today I think about quiet – that calming word signifying no sound. Quiet – a time and place that questionably exists. Quiet – when there seems to be little noise, action, or activity – a time of still – an important personal time – They are all quiet.

The sea’s roar is not quiet – yet it can be the white noise for solitude. The sea is never quiet –  never still – but it can be a quiet for calming the mind. The wind whistling by my ears and the waves clapping as they wash ashore – yet, I can hear the popping of small bubbles on my feet, Yes –  walking on the beach can be a place of quiet for listening to nature and for quieting the mind.

Our mind is seemingly never quiet. It may be removed from one’s regular routine, but thoughts continuously race – and frequently bouncing between subjects, which is far from quiet. Sometimes when I walk the beach, my mind is like the perpetual activity of the sea.

Quiet is like an open meadow or standing on a mountain top overlooking serenity – but it is not void of sound – yet the mind may slow down to enjoy the relative quiet of the moment.

Life today is not only like a perpetual motion machine, it seems to be going faster and faster – yet quiet is an important mental health club – a time, a place where one can enjoy the spirit of reflection, imagination, or just rest.

Quiet is a reason some meditate or practice yoga. Others find quiet while jogging or riding a bicycle. Others find it in music, reading, or sitting by a crackling fire.

Quiet is being on the road that goes nowhere – a time away from the noise of life.

The roar of the waves can resemble societal noise. From the rambling anger and tremors of political pundits trading political soundbites over seeking meaningful solutions to real problems to the mountains that are really mole hills, they are far from quiet.

The news focuses on negative events of the day is far from quiet – therefore, mirroring the sounds of busy traffic.

The roaring waves resemble the roundtable discussion where being heard is more important than listening. It is in quiet that we learn to listen to ourselves and ponder what others have said.

The roar of the waves is the metaphor for now. Think of the immediacy of voice mail, call waiting, call forwarding, texting, email, and other modern technologies. It is on of these beach walks that I typically go without my phone – a respite from the immediacy of today’s world.

The sounds of the beach serve as a white noise. While my walk is absent of crowds, the active water delivers an inner stillness to the mind and soul – a time when the mind can both relax and focus – yes – a time of quiet. A time of solitude. A time of resting the mind. Even a time for focusing the mind.

Quiet is a time or a place where one finds peace and tranquility. Away from daylight’s activity, the quiet of night provides twinkling moments of reverence under the sparkles of the stars and the glistening moon.

Quiet is a place for the still without noise or voices – yet also the muted, the faint, indistinct, the inaudible, or the whispered.

While cruising in Alaska, I remember with its night still being like dusk, seeing the outlines of the mountains that were dark shadows with only a very rare sighting of an electric light. That’s also quiet.

I also recall one morning when cruising the Danube. All alone on the top deck, I could hear the splashes of water as the ship moved as well as the constant breeze – yet it was quiet enough to hear the morning birds in the distance. That’s also quiet.

I enjoy walking into a church where I am alone – that quiet sense of awe and wonder. Libraries are another place of reverence with a hush driven by the power of the knowledge found in the printed words that are bounded by covers.

Quiet – hush, still, faint, peace, tranquility, reverence, pleasant, soothing, restful – Not only are all quiet, quiet is a reason I like walking the beach. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #57 (Wind)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Wind is one of our earthly constants. Although it may only be slight at our planet’s surface, winds are constant throughout the atmosphere.

Today the wind is strong and gusty – not a whispery breeze. Today the wind provides a strong headwind as I walk.

Today the wind roars as it passes my ears. Today is more of a slap than a feathery touch – but tomorrow may be different.

Today’s wind causes me to think about other terms associated with wind – gales, gusts, squalls, storms, cyclones, hurricanes, typhons, tornadoes, vortices, and more. Other terms describing wind come to mind as sea breezes, mountain breezes, desert winds, easterlies, westerlies, prevailing, polar, topical, headwinds, tailwinds, crosswinds, and there are more.

The wind is as moody and fickle as people. Winds change throughout the day and from day to day. The winds of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are all different – yet the wind always speaks to us in the form of spirits, messages, metaphors, and similes. But do we listen? Does anyone even know the language it speaks? Maybe the wind just stimulates our own private thoughts.

The wind is mysterious. We don’t see it, but notice its effects. We can’t hold it, but feel it on our body.

Like us, the wind can be conflicting and complex in its messaging. Like the wind, change is constant in life – and an absolute certainty – especially as technology seems to be moving us to change faster and faster. To some, change is an uncontrollable feeling of a piece of paper being tossed around by the wind.

I watch an approaching helicopter fly into the stiff wind. It flies straight, but the pilot positions the aircraft at an angle for reasons I do not know – but it must be because of the wind. That stiff wind is also the resistance that comes with change – that resistance for maintaining the comfort of the status quo.

Whereas the wind provides resistance, it can also be directive. Like moving with ease when implementing an idea. Who doesn’t like the wind at their back? That wind also allows us to float with ease – but to some, it can be like riding a wild bull.

From causing leaves to rustle, flags to flutter and refreshing our skin, the wind is poetic – it’s moving – it provides imagery to us all. The wind can be soft or rough – fierce or gentle – hot or cold – damaging or refreshing while delivering a variety of messages. Yet, the wind is free – free to do as it wants – even imposing its will.

Wind – that natural flow of atmospheric gases along the Earth’s surface – simply, the movement of air.

Wind – that force moving sand along the beach, changing the landscape, or eroding stone.

Other planets have winds, but solar winds are not the movement of gases.

Wind – a key component of song and movie titles as Gone with the Wind, Inherit the Wind, Blowin’ in the Wind, Candle in the Wind, Ride Like the Wind, They Call the Wind Mariah, Colors of the Wind, and many more.

Wind – a necessity for recreation as moving sailboats, flying kites, windsurfing, hand gliding, paragliding, and more.

Although the wind can be many things, the wind on the beach can provide a freshness that only the winds of the sea provide. The wind can be one of the reasons why walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #55 (Fog)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The morning is very foggy. As I walk, I feel an occasional mist. I see a wetness appearing on my glasses. Water collects and clings on my arms as a morning dew does on grass – but not as much as I recall from a prior year here on the coast.

The sand is smooth – unbothered by the extra low clouds. Besides, low tide was a short time ago. In many ways, it’s a good day for walking.

The thick fog seems to be keeping the birds grounded. The pelicans aren’t gliding by. The seagulls are absent – not even standing around on the beach. A sandpiper stands on one leg ahead – and hops away like a pogo stick as I approach.

The water feels good as it laps ashore and strokes my feet. Turning to look back, I notice that the buildings are difficult to see. Only their outlines faintly show, but I’m unable to count the floors. I wonder about spotting my turnaround point and my building when I return.

Thick fog is a metaphor for the unknown of what lies ahead. I imagine the Old World explorers making a journey across the ocean to an unknown land. The same feeling could be applied to the early astronauts or those trips to the Moon.

Fog is also a metaphor for a sense of my own mortality for I do not know what is in my future. Then again, none of us know what awaits un in the days ahead.

I forge ahead with my head more down than up. For whatever reason, my head rises and I notice my turning point. Somehow, the building is easy to see. Looking up I notice the sun appearing more like a moon behind a sheet of wax paper. Maybe the fog is about to clear. Maybe – or maybe not.

I change directions and soon feel a light glow from the sun warming the back of my neck – but as I look ahead – the thick fog remains – the feeling of mystery continues.

As my feet continue walking along the sand and occasionally in the water, the presence of birds remains minimal.

The location of our residence is unclear.

Fog is the gray between certainty and uncertainty. The unclear area between reality and the unreal. I’m on a moving line of the present that stands between the past and the future. Yes, the fog – a symbol of unclear thoughts and confusion – even frustration for some – but on this day, not me. I confidently trek ahead.

Later, with my back to the water, I stand looking at each faint outline of the buildings through the dense low clouds. A passer by asks if I’m trying to find my building, but I confidently define my location … then we laugh.

Because I’m near to my ending point, I return to the water’s edge for the remaining stroll. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: No. 51 (Hearing)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Hearing the sounds of the sea as I walk is relaxing. The sequence of the upswell at the start of the breaking waves to the clap of the crest’s splash to the shoosh gently fading away. I even hear the popping of the tiny bubbles as water caresses my feet.

That sound is repetitive and constant while dominating the beach’s soundscape – but both similar and different with each passing day.

Hearing – the only sense relying on vibrations. The shell of our outer ear captures the sound waves of the sea and then directs those waves that we don’t hear then to the eardrum – causing it to vibrate. – which causes the 3 bones of the middle ear to vibrate – yet we do not hear.

The vibrating bones cause another membrane to vibrate – which causes inner ear fluid to vibrate – then nerve endings specialized to a particular wavelength of sound detect the vibrations – yet we do not hear.

Nerves carry the detected messages to a specialized section in the brain that puts all the messages together into what we hear. Ahhhh … now I hear the sounds of the sea that I enjoy.

I think of the classic holiday song, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” because we apply our own perspective into interpreting sounds. What one enjoys, another may not.

Without hearing, sound is silence to the listener. They do not hear the emotions music conveys. They do not experience the sounds of nature. They cannot differentiate the soundscapes of the beach, the stream, the woods, and the meadow.

They do not hear the words of love, encouragement, support, enthusiasm, and wisdom. They do not hear the voice that gives one peace. On the plus side, they are protected from the political noise of partisan pickering, personal slander, and consistent vitriol.

I think of the animals in nature whose hearing mechanism is like ours – yet some are acutely more sensitive for protective purposes. Dogs have nerve endings for detecting frequencies beyond our upper range, so they painfully hear the dog whistle that we cannot hear. Deer, who detect a slight rustling of the ground caused by a seemingly quiet step by a human in the distance.

Hearing isn’t the same as listening. Some may say listening is sophisticated hearing. Listening is mindful attention to what is said. Listening is focusing on the spoken words, not on what to say in response. Listening is something we give someone – respect – a gift that connects us to others.

Listening stimulates our thoughts. Listening make one better. Listening leads to a great understanding. Listening connects humanity. Listening joins us with nature as we concentrate on the natural sounds while trying to apply meaning.

But, some favor being heard or hearing their own voice. Then again, maybe they simply favor telling over listening.

Hearing – a sense that we value – yet take for granted. Does listening to loud music through headphones at a high volume demonstrate a greater value for music than hearing? But what did I know then – or simply did I not listen to wisdom? Is this a reason for my hearing aids today?
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I have a choice when I walk. I can hear the wind or I can listen to it. Thinking about what the wind is saying or even letting the mind wander and wonder. After all, I like walking the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On an Alabama Trek

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Time is 8:02 AM (my pedometer reads 425 steps)

As I do most of the time, I walk down nine stories in anticipation of the known and unknown of what lies ahead.

In minutes I’m at the beach. The sun is bright. The sky is blue with wispy white streaks. The air is brisk, but the wind is strong – much stronger than I hoped – plus I am walking into the wind.

Within a few minutes, I cross into Florida. There’s the Flora Bama. (1,100 steps)

 

The sand is packed. I’m close to the water, but wearing shoes. I start a 15-minute stretch of familiar landmarks: Pharaoh, the Green-Eyed Lady, and Olives.

Time is 8:18 AM (2,072 steps)

Pharaoh stands guard over the beach. He tells me, “You can have my crown if you make it.”

Suspicious of his offer, I nod as I walk past.

This is something I wanted to do last year, but didn’t – and to think the weather was better then.

 

Conditions haven’t changed, but it’s early.

There she stands – “Green-eyed lady, ocean lady. Soothing every waves that comes. Green-eyed lady, passion’s lady. Dressed in love, she lives for life to me.”

She always wonders where I’m going and when I’ll return.

I smile at her presence as I walk by.

 

There’s that cool sand sculpture I saw the artist doing yesterday!

Several days ago would have been better because it was warmer and less windy – but the fog would limit the view.

The sand is no longer easy walking. I look for hardpan.

There stand the Olives.

Time – 8:34 AM (3,941 steps)

 

The next landmark is the USS Eden aircraft carrier with a flight deck at the end of a stretch of houses.

Head down, I maintain my pace into the wind. I encounter company for a short distance.

 

Time – 8:53 AM (2.5 miles/4 km) at Eden, a typical turnaround point

Eden is not a carrier, but a proud falcon or eagle perched to display its wings – much like the eagle on the back of a US quarter.

 

After Eden is a string of 6-7 houses, followed by a long stretch (2.5 miles/4 km) of no housing units for it is a Florida state park. My next destination is the first tall tower.

 

Fortunately, I know the locations of the bathrooms.

My pace is slower than normal. The strong headwind is a factor.

The sand remains difficult, so I continually search for a packed surface.

I’ve walked this lonely stretch before. I could listen to a podcast, but I want to conserve my battery.

The tide appears higher than normal, so low tide must have been earlier than I thought.

Should I turn around?

…. but then I find a stretch of packed sand that delays the decision.

Time – 9:52 AM (12,525 steps) 5.5 miles/ 8.8 km

At Windemere, the first tall condo outside the state park. I’ve been here before. I stop to empty my shoes, drink water, rest, check my phone, and think.

Walkers assure me that better sand lies ahead.

Before continuing, a man passes where I sit, and he turns left as if he will serve as my guide. I chose to continue to where my feet have not gone before and to reach the point at the end of the national shoreline.

 

The sand is better here, but the wind seems a bit stronger.

Condos are a few stories taller than our location – but not as wide. I marvel at the beauty of the expansive, curved balconies.

 

The man continues to serve as a guidepost as he walks ahead of me.

A collection of pastel houses are sandwiched between condos. For whatever reason, I smiled.

I imagine the first part of my destination lies ahead – and the man still sets a good pace and direction – but I’m gaining on him.

Time – 10:30 AM (12,525 steps) 7.1 miles/11.4 km

I enter the Gulf Islands National Shoreline. The sand is hard and level.

 

A half mile into the national protected area, I catch the man. We talk.

I asked the location of the point. He says, “Another 5-6 miles.” (98-9.5 km) – I laugh and think about Pharaoh’s words.

Time – 10:50 AM (16,284 steps) 7.1 miles/11.4 km)

One mile into the national shoreline we turned around. This is near the location where I thought the point would be – but little did I know it was still so far away.

We separate as I stop at the pavillion for restrooms, eating a banana, rest, water, texting my wife, and emptying my shoes.

Lunch is about 45 minutes away – a place just before the long stretch of the state park.

Ahhh … the wind is finally at my back.

Lunch was wonderful – a plate of red beans and rice.

Before heading back to the beach, my windshirt comes off to expose my arms.

The wind is at my back, but soon I notice a chill on my neck. My windshirt goes from my waist to my neck. Much better.

The state park stretch is generally lonely. I’m tired. I chat to two fisherman about their day.

I keep my eyes focused ahead for the next landmark.

I finally pass Eden as the eagle stands proud.

Olives appear as a martini toasting my survival.

The Green-Eyed Lady smiles with approval and my safe return.

Pharaoh nods in approval, then sheepishly smiles as a reminder that the crown is still his – but my walk is slower than normal.

I stop again to visit a sand sculpture done by an artist I talked to yesterday. (This is a morning picture)

 

There’s a log – I stop to sit, remove my socks and shoes that I stuff into a bag.

Ahhh … the sea refreshes my feet. My pace get faster. I hear the steady bass drum of my steps.

The Flora Bama tempts me to stop for a celebratory drink, but I press on to Alabama.

A final foot splash in front of the condo. I wave to my wife on the balcony, head inside, find the elevator for the ride to the ninth floor.

I stand at our door checking the final stats.

Time – 2:20 PM (38,185 steps) 16.8 miles/27 km

An interesting day – and I imagine the rest of the day will involve several thousand more steps.

As for the point that I did not see, hopefully next year – but then I will drive to the national shoreline, park the car, then start the trek to the point and back.