Resolution Reflections

Even though I did miss a few days of walking, I am calling my Walk Every Day in 2013 resolution a complete success.

To be honest, I’ve never successfully completed a New Year’s resolution before this one. And to think it only took me 50 years! At this rate I won’t complete another resolution until I’m 100 years old. Wait, I guess I wouldn’t have made any resolutions until I was at least 10, so at this rate I won’t complete another resolution until I’m 90. Either way, I really don’t want to go that long before completing another resolution. So before I make any new resolutions, I’ve been reflecting on what made this resolution successful:

  • It was pretty specific–I resolved to take a daily walk in 2013.
  • Despite that specificity, I allowed for variety within the parameters of the resolution–I walked on trails, through my neighborhood and other towns, on a treadmill, and even on a meditative labyrinth. I biked a few times too.
  • It had regularity–even though I got really sick of titling each day’s post with a number (and even messed up a couple of times), it really did make me write something about each day and make up many of the days that I missed by walking twice on a later day.

Some things that surprised me during the year of walking–in addition to actually completing the resolution–were:

  • The Illinois prairie is beautiful. Flat to the horizon, waving grass and fields of wildflowers took my breath away.
  • Even though I did not see my 2013 grail bird, the pileated woodpecker, I saw a variety of new birds, many within just ten miles of my home.
  • I’ve learned a surprising amount of local history.
  • I feel like I am more observant of the world around me. I see color, lines, shapes, and structures with new eyes.
  • I like being outdoors–even in the winter.
  • Walking, hiking, and biking has been a great activity for our youngest son (who’s fourteen and has autism). Moving on quiet trail has been a great way for him to expend some of his energy, and he loves the outdoors.
  • My family got into this far more than I expected. They voluntarily joined me often.

In fact, this year of walking worked because my family supported me and wanted to walk with me, which means it was really more than just about walking.

I set out doing all of this because I felt some nondescript need to be creative in my mid-life. The creativity part was certainly rewarding. I have really enjoyed writing, taking pictures, and learning about photography. But so much more rewarding was spending time with my family and seeing new places and things. And that’s why this resolution has been a success.

I think that this walking thing has become enough of a habit that I will continue to do it almost every day. (I have walked each day in 2014 so far, despite some horrible weather.) I’m sure that my family will still join me on a regular basis, and I’ll keep posting about my walks too–just not every day. I’ll post about the interesting walks and will attempt to take The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge each week.

As for a 2014 resolution, I’ve decided to keep it really simple this year–I’m giving up potato chips.

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Day Three Hundred Thirty-four

Back to Cranberry Slough

Back on Day 320, my husband had a meeting and was unable to join us on a walk around Cranberry Slough, part of the Palos Trail System of the Cook County Forest Preserve near Palos Park, Illinois. Since my husband and middle son, home for Thanksgiving weekend, would be joining me today, I thought they would enjoy the unusual topography and great views, and we headed back.

Cranberry Slough1Unfortunately, in the two weeks since the last time we were here, the remainder of the leaves have fallen or turned the dull brown of late fall. But on a positive note, the full sun, low in the sky, gave us some great lighting for a family walk through the woods.Cranberry Slough 2I have only one month to go on my walking resolution! My 2013 grail bird, the pileated woodpecker, remains yet unseen. We did see some large square holes in dead trees near the trail, and I wonder if it could mean that there have been some in these woods . . .

Good walk!

Day Three Hundred Thirty-three

IMG_2111

Even the Extended Family Is Getting into this 

We visited some of my family in Michigan today for Black Friday. Funny thing though, after lunch and some shopping, one of my sisters asked if we were going to go for a walk! Since I don’t do a lot of Christmas shopping anyhow, I was certainly up for it, and we quickly organized a family walk at Schrier Park in Portage, Michigan.

Our group of nine set out on the paved trail into the woods towards Bishop’s Bog. We split up after a short ways, with some walking more than others, but it was actually a better way to spend Black Friday than in a mall!

Good walking!

Day Three Hundred Seven

A Definite FavoriteIMG_1783

While still in St. Louis today, we took the opportunity to walk across the Mississippi River on the McKinley Bridge Bikeway. What a view!

We drove to Venice, Illinois, to park at the McKinley Bridge Roadside Park and headed back on foot over the Mississippi towards Missouri. The bridge, built in 1910, was originally a railroad bridge with automobile lanes on the outer edges on cantilevers. The bridge was closed  in 2001 due to unsafe conditions. After six years, the new, improved bridge was reopened.

McKinley Bridge is no longer a rail bridge, now having automobile lanes in the middle and a bike lane on the southern outside edge of the bridge. It is this outside lane that offers such great views of the Mississippi and downtown St. Louis.

McKinley Bridge

On the Missouri side, the ramp between the street and bridge levels has iron arches for architectural interest. At the bottom of the bridge, the trail connects to the St. Louis Riverfront Trail, but we turned around and went back over the bridge. (The McKinley Bridge Bikeway also connects to Confluence Bikeway in Madison County, Illinois, thus making a giant loop with the Chain of Rocks Bridge farther north up the river.)McKinley Bridge 2

As we descended down the ramp on the Illinois side, we had great views of the Roadside Park. The folks in Venice, Illinois, wanted to celebrate their side of the bridge and commissioned a sculpture, built completely through fundraising monies.

Great walk!

On a personal note: I’ve listed today’s walk as one of my favorites, not only for the scenery or the great bridge, but because it is the first walk in 2013 that all six members of our family did a walk together. And it only took three hundred seven days!

Day Two Hundred Seventy-seven

Walking in Madison-Day One

This morning, my mom and I drove to my sister’s house in Madison, Wisconsin. She and her husband are attending a wedding out of town, and we are going to watch their twin two-year-old daughters. We had a great first day that included, of course, a walk.

Madison is bike-friendly, well-trailed, and an active city (the Google Maps Bicycle overlay is downright impressive). There’s the Capitol City trail which circumscribes around the east and south sides of the city. The Southwest commuter path runs along the western edge of the city. Both trails connect to the Badger State Trail and have numerous sub-trails that connect the neighborhoods and the city. Today, we were on one of those trails.

We walked along the Wingra Creek to Olin Park and shores of Lake Mononaon the Wingra Bike Path. I forgot to take my camera but was able to snap a few pictures with my phone along the creek and of the state capitol and skyline across Lake Monona.

Wingra Creek and Olin ParkWhat a nice way to spend time with my little nieces and my mom–on a walk in a walk-friendly town!

Day One Hundred Ninety-five

Beach Day!

I had every intent to go for a walk along the beach today.

I spent the day in Michigan visiting family on the shores of Lake Michigan.  I enjoy walking on the beach and really thought I would be able to squeeze a short walk in, but between catching up with family and chatting with neighbors, I never made it.

By the end of the day though, my legs and feet sure feel like I have actually been walking quite a bit.  I guess walking to and from the beach a couple of times and walking on the soft, sandy bottom of the lake in the sun is more strenuous than this shoe-wearing flatland-prairie girl is used to, because I’m exhausted.

Good day, good beaching!