Confessions of a Street Walker – part 30

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It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

Another milestone has been reached. I have finished walking all of Glanbrook.

I started this walking project in September of 2014. By the summer of 2016, I had finished walking all the streets on the Hamilton Mountain. By September of 2018, I had finished all of Hamilton. By the late summer of 2019, I had finished all of Stoney Creek. And now I can confess that all of Glanbrook has been trod upon by my raggedy running shoes.

While keeping track of the completed streets on my HSR transit map I actually ran out of map so had to improvise.

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The red dots are the places I parked and the green half dots are places that I started leaving my ‘have a nice day’ rocks (see Confessions part 29). I used smaller maps for the new subdivisions in Mount Hope and in Binbrook. During this time of our mandated physical distancing I confess that it was good to spend my time walking down the ruralest of rural roads in our part of southern Ontario – from the ‘Welcome to West Lincoln’ and ‘Welcome to Haldimand-Norfolk’ signs I have wandered and roamed. The final street was walked on today.

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It was actually a road that I had walked on many times before but that had been years ago. We had lived on Glover Road in Hannon (R.R.#2 in fact) from when we married in 1980 until the summer of 1986 when we moved because we outgrew our cute little starter house.  We had four daughters under the age of six and Martin had just taken over his father’s construction business and we were quickly running out of room. So we packed up our things and moved closer to Hamilton so we would not have to pay long-distance charges to talk to many of our customers. It was not a built-up area at the time and we had two acres but over 30 years has changed that quite a bit.

So where do I go from here? I have already been walking in Ancaster and hope to get all of the roads south of the 403 done before winter. A lofty goal, methinks, but we will see.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 28

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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‘Long time – no post’ about my walking project. I have still been out walking I just haven’t been confessing for a while. 

With the COVID restrictions in Ontario, it became my intention to stay as far away from other people as possible while I was meandering. The rural roads of Glanbrook have really been most pleasant to walk down. Most of the time I see no one and I never come even close to the physical distancing limits set by our province. Usually, it is just a wave to a fellow walker or, more frequently, a bicyclist. I try to give a brief wave of thanks for the vehicles who either slow down or move over to let me know that they see me. I feel a little hard to miss with my high-vis vest on but I am grateful for all of the considerate drivers out there. I confess that I occasionally have a properly distanced chat with a homeowner or fellow walker and people are always so kind.

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For much of the spring and now into the summer, I have mostly been wandering around Binbrook and Mount Hope and the other tiny hamlets that have been pretty much swallowed up by belonging to a larger municipality. Sometimes there is only a sign as the clue that the little cluster of houses for a stretch was a separate community – a small community but a community nonetheless. I have come across a number of the Haldimand and West Lincoln boundary signs which provide much satisfaction.

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Sometimes the map is wrong about the fact that the road is still a road. This one used to be a road but is no longer.

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Someone in Binbrook has a wonderful sense of humour.

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I estimate all of Glanbrook will be covered by September. The last road I will walk on to complete this part of the project is Glover Road. It is symbolic of beginnings as I will pass the first house we bought together just before we were married.

During our stage-one restrictions, we were not allowed to go to get our haircut. This was a challenge for me as I started to look and feel like a sheepdog.

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As the weather got better and the sun shone stronger I had to remember to put on sunscreen. I confess that one day I did not do that. I had worn a hat and the sun managed to give me a great horizontal tan line (more burnt than tanned at that point) on my forehead.

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This I solved, rather ingeniously, I think. I put sunscreen on the burnt lower half of my forehead so that the next walk would burn the top half of my forehead and – voila – my forehead was even again. 

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The difficult thing about country road walking has been finding a place to park. Most rural roads do not bode well to pulling your car over to the side of the shoulder and just leaving your vehicle whilst you traipse about for a couple of hours or more. Church parking lots have been convenient and a few businesses as well. I usually leave a note. I parked at Gourmet Meats last week, took a five-mile walk, and then went in to buy some really yummy steak kebabs for the weekend. I did find a lady on a local Facebook group who graciously allowed me to park in her driveway a couple of times. Thanks, Genevieve. 

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This whole walking project has allowed me to meet so many nice people. I chatted with this gentleman.

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He was waiting along Dickenson Road to watch the famed Lancaster airplane from WW2 take flight from the Warplane Heritage Museum. It is not often that you can see them fly. Truly a sight to behold.  

Next time I will give a rock report. Until then.

Confessions of a Street Walker – Part 27

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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Most of last summer and fall I spent on the sidewalks of Ancaster and Dundas. I have a few left to do but most of them have been covered. I confess that I stayed off of the rural roads over the winter because I usually found the shoulders weren’t wide enough to hold slushy piles of snow and me.

My walking project moved along fine over our cold Canadian winter but there were some weeks that the sidewalks were too snowy or icy. It was those weeks that I stayed very close to home or went to the mall to get my 10 miles per week done. When the sidewalks were clearer I also got most of Binbrook’s built-up area done.

I am really enjoying the warmer spring weather. Now, because of Co-vid 19, we are all supposed to be distancing ourselves from one another. I am happy to be able to walk on the ruralest of the rural roads of the greater Hamilton area where I am not even close to being close to anyone.  As it is with most of the rural routes the difficulty remains with where to leave my car while I am out walking.

Last fall I did some walking in rural Mount Hope and Ancaster. We have friends who allowed me to park in their driveway whilst I trompled my way down the country roads in their area. Thanks Gord and Glenda! They were lovely roads with their own charms.

Some notes on those walks:

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The lower right map shows a part of the road that I missed. An accident on Highway 6 forced me to detour and head east and add another 3 miles to my walk that day.

20191028_135454I was tempted to jump in the back of the wagon but they were going in the opposite direction.

I passed a baked goods manufacturing facility I know as Oakrun Farm Bakery. I don’t know what they were making the day that I was walking past but boy did that ever smell good.

I was able to stop by a cemetery where Danielle’s body lies – I confess that the tears still flow and I am thankful for such a peaceful place.

I was walking down a very quiet road when a car pulled over. It was my friend Diane who lived nearby.  It was nice to see a friendly face.

I have taken to wearing a hi-vis vest as I want to be as safe as possible on country roads. I am presently wandering around rural Binbrook.

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A windy day in Glanbrook near the city boundaries. I confess that my attempt at a selfie thumbs-up appears only moderately successful.  :  )

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 26

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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So I have been filling out a HSR transit map to keep track of this walking project of mine. There have been a few maps that I have worn out and I have a little bit of tape holding the latest version together. It is fun to see the progress.

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20170718_123137July 2017

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20180115_115816_HDR-1January 2018

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20181231_132406_1cropJanuary 2019

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20200102_125911January 2020

So far all of the streets of Hamilton and Stoney Creek are finished. I confess that I am working on an additional map that covers some of the rural roads of Ancaster that I have walked but those roads are not shown on the above map. The winter and bad weather does slow me down but I still try to get out there. The last couple of weeks I have been exploring Dundas – what a quaint community. We will see how far I will be able to walk this year. Looking forward to it.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 25

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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I was walking in Dundas a couple of days ago and thought I would take you along. You can tell that I do not walk fast.

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I started by parking at University Plaza. I had forgotten to eat breakfast and so thought I would try out the bagel place that I parked close to. They were open early and I ordered an egg salad bagel.

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It was yummy but even more delightful was the conversation that I had with the gentleman behind the counter. I told him about my walking project and he asked me why I was doing it. I replied that I guessed that it was a promise that I made myself and that it’s good to keep promises. He replied that we sometimes will keep promises when we make them to others but not always when we make them to ourselves. He said that it was good that I am keeping a promise that I made to myself. It was such an encouraging conversation. Because my walk was so long I confess that I went back for lunch and had a BLT bagel. Yummy.

There were a number of interesting things that I saw on that chilly and occasionally flurryish Thursday morning. Here are some of them.

20191205_085316Another friendly feline that I confess that I wanted to scoop up and take home.

20191205_112756There has to be another like it somewhere.

20191205_113539Loved this bench. It was just at the corner. Not at a bus stop. Just a bench at the corner.

20191205_105722_HDREspecially liked the elf legs sticking out of the back of the car in the driveway.
Chatted with the neighbour. Seems to me that nice folks live in Dundas.

20191205_112908Someone who lived there said that people always stop to take pictures.
Love this work of art.

20191205_113609_HDRAnother lovely lumpy tree.

I am enjoying Dundas very much. Thanks for coming along.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 24

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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So the weather here is getting colder and getting out there is getting harder. A couple of weeks ago there were no bare sidewalks around here but only slippery snow and ice-covered sidewalks of doom. I don’t walk on the country roads when the shoulders are sharing space with a two-foot-high snowbank. That snow is pretty much gone now but, now that we are heading into winter, the cold is something I need to prepare for when walking. I usually try to bundle up in layers.

I did get a fun walk in last week. I didn’t have time to drive 20 minutes to get to a street I haven’t walked on yet but still had to do my 10 miles. I decided to take some shorter walks and to try to make my walk a little bit entertaining for myself. So I tried GPS Art.

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I will confess that I wasn’t completely happy about how the ‘n’ turned out. I think I will need to incorporate some of Hamilton’s alleyways into my walk to create the proper effect. Either that or wander through people’s back yards and hop fences – which ain’t gonna happen.

I will probably try to figure out how to do some more of these. A friend told me I should write out the words of one of my short stories. Ha.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 23

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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I usually have a long walk in the early part of the week. I promised myself that I would walk ten miles a week and have done so for years now. This week I will not get to have a long walk until later in the week because I am busy grandma-ing.

Something that you might not know about me is that I am afraid of heights…or the fancy way to say it is that I am acrophobic. Bridges are sometimes hard for me to cross. I was once a passenger in a car where I trusted the driver with my life but I confess to you that I managed to cry my way over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida – stomach in knots and valiantly fighting the urge to jump out of a moving car. I envision the bridge collapsing just at the moment that I am crossing it. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but it could, yes?

I have found that some of the routes that wind their way up and down our escarpment are not really much better than bridges. While it was still nice out, I decided to walk on the country roads where I am mostly on the gravel shoulder. There are a few roads which traverse our escarpment and they are varying degrees of pedestrian-friendly. I decided to tackle two of them last Monday. One up and one down.

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So I went up Hwy 8 (it might be a regional road now) towards Greensville across Harvest Road and Fallsview and then down Sydenham Road back into Dundas. On my way up there was not a lot of gravel shoulder to walk on but there was a wonderful stone wall to walk alongside. I confess that I was a little disappointed to see that the stone wall was really just a fake front. 20190930_091153

On my way down Sydenham Road, I had to decide to walk on the cliff-side of the guard rail or the traffic-side of the guard rail.

I swallowed my fear and chose the cliff-side and walked quite a way down on a skinny little path when I came across a three-foot drop. It would have to be jumped across to get to the other side but Matt Damon – like the Bourne movie where he leaps from one building to another – I am not. I decided to go all the way back to the beginning of the guard rail and walk on the traffic side.

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There were quite a number of bicyclers going up and then down. Pumping their legs like machines to get up and then racing down at breakneck speeds. I was very impressed with their abilities.

There was a lovely lookout spot and I snapped a selfie.

20190930_115220_HDRNote to self: please try to remember to smile when the camera is on you. Especially when you are the one taking the picture.

20190930_121238I just fell in love with this tree.

20190930_083420_HDRI found another street with the same name as one of my kids. Glad that I can crop pictures because my chins were in the next postal code.

The next day I was stiff and sore from the escarpment climb but later in the week, I saw this in the news.

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I had walked on that very road the day before. AHHHHH. This did not help me with my fear of walking on escarpment roads.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 22

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

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So, this morning, I finished up walking all of Stoney Creek. Stoney Creek is booming with construction so the caveat will be that by this time next year there will likely be more streets that I will have to cover to keep all of the Stoney Creek streets walked upon.  

As of today, this was the last bit left, so on went my shoes and I dodged orange pylons and landscaping trucks to finish the walk today.

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For those familiar with the area, the eastern section of my walk was in a conservation area known as the Eramosa Karst. There are lots of trails there and I hadn’t been there before. I will have to go back sometime to walk on some of the other trails and actually see the caves. It really was a pretty trail.

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Again, I saw some flora that I am unknowledgeable about. Does anyone out there know what these are?

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So, another finish line crossed over. And actually, it was a literal finish line. I confess that I saved the pennanty string of celebration from the Hamilton finish line and was able to make use of it again.

There were two construction people doing constructiony things and I was bold enough to stop them to ask if they would hold up my finish line so I could take a selfie. This is not a complicated task but I also did not want to interrupt their day. They were game and were kind enough to hold my finish line while I managed to snap a picture.

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Actually, the finish line would have been about 30 feet further but I was not going to ask my finish line holders to trot down the street 30 feet while holding my string of victory to make the picture the most accurate it could be. The picture snapped I wandered back to my car.

I confess I will miss Stoney Creek but now I am off to conquer some of Dundas and Ancaster. I have already done a good chunk of the built-up areas of both Dundas and Ancaster but the rural roads – of which there are plenty – remain unfilled in on my walking map. I am thinking that, as we are closer to winter than to spring, I will not get a lot of un-walked upon roads finished over the next half year. Lots of the roads do not have sidewalks but gravel shoulders and slushy snow and gravel shoulders do not make such great conditions to coddiwomple on. Still, I will get done what I can.  Looking forward to it.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 14

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.

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Some of the country roads that I want to walk on yet have their challenges. Where to park? What about the narrow shoulders? How to best stay safe? I try to take advantage of long weekends to walk on roads that might otherwise be busy.  I was walking on the Stoney Creek Mountain and I confess that I parked in a country market parking lot that was guarded with stern signs stating clearly ‘PRIVATE PROPERTY – NO TRESPASSING – Authorized Personnel ONLY – Trespassers will be Prosecuted’ but no one was there to authorize me so I parked anyways, rebel that I am. With such strongly worded signs, I wonder where they expect their customers to park. I walked from the store to Highway 20 and jig-jogged to the escarpment edge and then back along Tapleytown Road. I wore a fluorescent vest and for the first time this year, I did not wear a jacket. Yesterday’s walk was mighty long and you can see that it took me almost four hours. I confess that when I am done walking I’m always happy to see that my car has not been towed away or stolen. Which made me think…how would I know if it was towed or stolen? I suppose I would have to first contact a store which is closed to find out if they are cranky enough to follow their own signs.

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What I noticed on my walk that I did not expect was the high number of country properties that are gated and fenced and guarded by barking dogs who acted like they wanted to rip my face off.

I do not believe that I have ever put on more than 30,000 steps in one day until yesterday.

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I am walking a little funny today.

Funny – strange and funny – haha.

Confessions of a Street Walker – part 10

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.

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If you’ve ever seen me walking and catch me laughing to myself it’s probably because someone is whispering in my ear. I often listen to podcasts while I am out walking the streets. I could listen to music but I haven’t figured out a good free music app yet.

There are times and places to listen to the eternity of stuff that there is out there waiting for us. I also think that too many people spend too much time on their devices and I confess that I must also include myself in that declaration. Sometimes communication with real people with real ideas can be lost to some earbuds and that can be a little sad.

That said, the three podcasts that I have currently queued are:

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Radiolab – Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich take me places I would not likely find on my own and I always feel smarter after listening.

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TedTalks – From economics to science to history to the future. It’s all told in easy to understand ways. I appreciate the content and the variety which challenges my mind.

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Penn’s Sunday School – This podcast is from the talkative half of Penn & Teller – a terrific magic act based out of Las Vegas. I’m a big fan of Penn. I have a number of his books and his essays are particularly thoughtful. I have listened to each episode and Penn, Michael Goudeau and Matt Donnelly are especially good storytellers. Penn is an atheist and I’ve learned how to be a better Christian (well… person) from their conversations. The language can get quite salty (translation: there is plenty of swearing) but, for me, it’s worth my time to listen to their ideas even if they oppose mine.

Listening to these podcasts is sort of like listening to a really smart friend.

So while I spend time listening while I walk – I also spend time talking…to God.

How is that for a walking partner? The Creator of the Universe and I have some pretty great conversations (albeit they will be considered by most as one-sided).

I pray for myself and the people I know. I pray about things I am thankful for and things that trouble my soul. I believe that He hears my prayers. I often pray for the homes I walk past or the neighbourhoods that I walk in. That thought fills me with a sense of community and a sort of contentment. It’s not really about letting God know what’s happening on this blue dot in this space and time – He already knows but it sure does feel good to talk to Him. But then again, I don’t have to be walking to do that.

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