I did my second 18-mile walk about four weeks ago, a lovely walk through Downtown Fort Worth. I met several great ladies and enjoyed hours of endless conversation that helped me forget my tired feet. (The Advils I downed with breakfast and lunch helped too).
Along the way, we spotted this firetruck that the city had decorated up for breast cancer awareness month:
The next morning I popped a few more Advil, slipped back into my Five Finger shoes, and headed out to Lake Grapevine for a 15-mile walk. I was delighted to see several of my new friends waiting in the semi darkness. My friend Kelly, the one who sent me the angel book, also came out to walk with me.
But I'm afraid Kelly soon regretted that decision. The first hour was lovely as we walked through the trees beside the lake and watched the sun rise. Before long, though, it began to sprinkle. I got my $3 pancho out of my backpack. It stopped raining. I put it back. A few more spatters fell. I got the pancho out. It stopped. I put it away.
And then it started to rain in earnest. Everyone pulled out panchos--except Kelly, who'd been in a rush and didn't bring one. "Maybe it will stop soon," I said.
But it soon became apparent that this was the kind of slow, steady rain that lasts for hours. Or days. My pancho kept me fairly dry, but I learned that the Five Finger shoes provide zero protection from water. They're basically just fancy toe socks with a thin rubber sole. The water flowed freely over my feet, gumming up the protective moleskin I'd applied to prevent blisters.
After eight miserable miles, we arrived at a great hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Burritos Locos. They were crazy burritos indeed--crazy big!
|By the Way, That's Ethan's Gaudy Sweatshirt, The Only One I Could Find at 6 in the Morning|
One by one, each woman agreed that would be the most sensible plan. I nodded my head, but inside I really wanted to do the 15 miles. Jennifer said, "If anyone wants to keep walking, I'll go with you. But no complaining." I looked around the table, but no one met my eyes. I didn't want to be the one to make Jennifer get back out in the rain.
"Okay then," she said.
It was now or never. I cleared my throat. "I'd kind of like to keep walking," I said. "But I don't want to make Jennifer go if I'm the only one. Does anyone else want to finish the walk?"
One by one, hands went up around the table. Evidently we'd all been holding back out of consideration for the others! In the end, six out of eight changed into dry socks and donned our panchos, which had been drying on chairs at an unoccupied table. (Kelly was one of the ones who went home since she was the most drenched.)
My fresh socks were soaked before we got out of the parking lot. But I felt warm inside for following through even when it got tough. I think the others felt the same way because we were all suddenly quite cheerful. Marching along through the puddles, we sang "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes."
Okay, maybe it was only Jennifer who sang, and what she actually said was, "We'll be soaking in a hot tub when we come." I was singing on the inside.
Jennifer lamented that her behind was soaked because she hadn't put her pancho on straight. "You know what we are?" she asked. "We're the Soggy Bottom Sisters."
I laughed. "I'm using that for the title on my blog entry."
For the record, my bottom was perfectly dry, though my cold, stiff feet had long since shriveled up like prunes. But I finished that walk! What's a little rain?
I've continued to take Lola on my solo walks, always sticking to the neighborhood streets and avoiding the park, which is infested with other dogs. About a week ago, we were strolling down an empty street when Lola suddenly stopped in her tracks, stiff as a statue.
I followed her gaze to the yard on my right, where a giant inflatable cat with glowing eyes moved its head back and forth, looking ready to pounce.
"Come on, Lola," I coaxed, trying to pull her along down the sidewalk. Lola whined and lunged into the street, taking me with her. Thankfully there were no cars coming. I tried to drag her back onto the sidewalk, but she pulled harder the other way, wrapping her leash around the tree in the foreground. I finally gave up and walked in the street until the cat was well out of sight.
"Scaredy-dog," I taunted.
Want to Go For a Walk? Never Mind
A few nights later, my dear friend and 3-Day partner Gentle came over to walk with me. Lola, who was in the kitchen for some reason, followed me around as I filled my water bottles and slipped them into my belt. When she heard the jingle of the mace whistle I always wear on our walks, she began to dance for joy, almost tripping me up. She was glued to my side as I completed my preparations.
"Lola, you're not coming this time" I said gently. "Gentle and I are walking in the park, and you just can't go there again. Ever. I'm sorry."
She continued her leaping dance, literally turning circles in the air.
I felt so rotten. "Not this time, Lola," I repeated. "Allyson, would you put Lola out, please?"
Allyson led Lola onto the back porch, but before she could close the screen door, Lola darted back in and ran up to my side, whining. I took her back out and closed the door myself. "I'll take you for a walk tomorrow," I promised.
"Why are you being mean to the dog?" Bill asked. "Why did you get that fancy leash and make her think you were going to walk her every day, but now you just leave her at home?"
I pursed my lips. "If she didn't lunge at every dog she sees, I could take her with me."
Gentle arrived just then, and I didn't give Lola another thought. But she had not forgotten. When I got back home over an hour later, she was still waiting at the back door. Her tail started thumping the moment she saw me.
"We're not going for a walk," I said.
This time Lola actually seemed to understand my words, and she started to cry. I don't mean the usual whining. It was the closest thing to sobbing that I've ever heard from a dog. She cried and cried. I knelt on the other side of the screen door and spoke softly to her. "I'll take you for a walk tomorrow, Lola. I promise."
She continued to whine.
"You broke Lola's heart," Bill accused.
"She's breaking my heart now, so we're even," I said. It was true. I never expected to get so attached to her, despite all our struggles.
True to my word, I did take her for a short walk the next night. And all was forgiven.
But Bill won't stop teasing. At random moments he walks up to the open screen door and says, "Wanna go for a walk? Oh, never mind." But she doesn't fall for it. She knows it's only walk time when I'm wearing the shoes and the water belt and the whistle. And carrying the poop bag.