It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.
I call myself a walker of streets but it’s probably more accurate to state that I am a walker of sidewalks. Almost all of our city sidewalks are pretty great but some of them are pitiful and in some areas, sidewalks do not exist at all. Most of the new cul-de-sacs or courts don’t have sidewalks. There is one street that defies any pedestrian sense. Nebo Road – between Stonechurch and Rymal has no sidewalks but neither is there a shoulder nor a bike lane. If you wish to walk down Nebo there are some sections where you must walk in traffic. There is a bus route which goes through there so I am puzzled to think where people are supposed to walk when they are let out at the bus stop. When I knew I was going to be walking there with potential traffic I chose to walk very early on a summer long weekend when I expected the roads to not be busy. Still, one has to be diligent and a little daring to attempt to walk that street.
Some streets I was not permitted to walk down. Our QEW and our LINC do not allow pedestrian traffic. The Queen Street Access is too perilous to attempt and I believe it would be reckless to even try. The Sherman Access had the same dangers but I was able to walk it when there was an extended construction closure that allowed me to venture down with no danger. I also managed to walk up a good bit of the Red Hill Expressway when it was closed to vehicle traffic for a marathon. So I am one of the few people who might get excited when one of the mountain accesses is closed down for construction.
There are also a number of Hamilton streets which are part of a business. Especially down by the lake there are streets which turn into private property and signs that threaten big trouble if anyone dares cross. I tried to walk on Dominion Street but the guard at the gate refused me entry and I was not about to hop any fence.
Once, when I was wandering around the McMaster University campus near the west parking lot, my walking became a bit of an adventure. According to Google Maps there was a trail that I could take and come out onto Cootes Drive which was part of the Hamilton/Dundas border. I took the trail until I ended up at the edge of a wooded area. The only clue that there was a trail was the sign that told me that there was no winter maintenance on the trail ahead – a trail which I couldn’t see, oh well. I decided to follow the little Google Maps squiggle anyway. The next sign was ‘This Might Be A Bad Idea. Go Back, Dummy.’ OK, it didn’t say that but it probably should have. There was no longer any sort of path and since this walk was in September the squiggly line took me into what felt like a squishy marsh bed. Hmm, had I ever heard of quicksand in the area?
I confess that I pictured my lone shoe as the only clue left after the bog swallowed me alive. Thankfully the soggy ground stayed only soggy and not swallowy. The reeds were taller than my head and I guessed that poison ivy just might be in the area. So up went my arms, over my head, as I dance-stepped my way through the bog. Rustling reeds sounded remarkably like wild animals that I was sure were salivating over the plump meal that had just wandered into their neighbourhood. I really think that there should have been a ‘We Told You This Was A Bad Idea. You Numbskull You’ sign. By the time I came to the road I felt like I had returned from a jungle exposition and that I had barely survived. But I did survive to walk many more walks.
My walking adventures, imagined and otherwise, have left an indelible spot on my heart.