Walk the walk
If you were outside in the late morning Wednesday, there’s a good chance you saw a large group of people walking around. What you witnessed was students and adults participating in the Healthiest State Initiative, a program that began in Iowa last year to help people get in shape through walking.
I’ve lived in five towns in my life, and in all of them I have lived smack dab in the middle. That has allowed me to walk to almost anywhere I wanted to go. That was especially true in my hometown of Pocahontas. The town has 1,800 people, so there are only so many places to go in the first place, but what places there were, were right out our back door.
We lived just a half-block from Main Street, which was convenient when we wanted to see a movie or go out for pizza. It was especially convenient for my parents, because both of their offices were on Main Street. The elementary and high schools were just three blocks away. Even when I got to high school I insisted on walking, although my sisters did bug me to drive them.
I rarely rode in a car at Iowa State since I lived in the dorms the whole time, which put me within walking distance of everything on campus. Actually, I did so much walking that I considered getting a bike like a lot of the other students, although I never did. One of my frequent stops, the library, was a 10-minute walk from my room in Birch-Welch-Roberts, and a few of my classes required a 15-minute walk.
I spent two semesters in Mexico, where I got even more practice walking. I had a five-minute walk to class in the morning, but that wasn’t the half of it. The local supermarket, “Superama,” where I bought a lot of snacks was 15 minutes by foot. My friends and I usually visited the downtown, or “zócalo,” by bus, but if we stayed too late and the buses had run their last route, we faced a 40-minute walk back home. We had to do that a number of times.
A lot of people in the county commute to Iowa City or another town for work. I’d have a tough time doing that. I’ve always lived close enough to walk to work. When I got my start in the newspaper business in high school, the paper’s office was literally in my back yard. If we were playing golf and my ball was on the driveway and the hole was the office, I’d expect a gimme.
I assumed my good fortune would end once I moved from Pocahontas to Webster City in 2008. Luckily, it did not. I found an apartment that was just a block away from the newspaper. It was a little farther walk than in Pocahontas, but I’d say it was just barely a pitching wedge.
I moved to Washington the following year, and I’ll be darned if I didn’t find an apartment a block away from The Journal. I love living so close to work and so close to the downtown. And after all, why would I drive to Central Park when I can reach it with a 3-wood?