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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Exercise - Park-Walking or Street-Walking?

The title of this piece is undoubtedly more exciting than the subject I will be pondering. This is about the decision on whether to walk around the city streets for my exercise or do the same through the park system that winds its way through our neighborhood. There are fine reasons to do either, but also downsides to each each.

As for the other type of streetwalking, I only do that when I am desperate for quick cash. And, as with most exercise, I rarely enjoy it.

I have made a vow to myself that since I am no longer equitably employed and find little gratification in packing things in boxes, I would spend an hour a day taking exercise. I figured walking was the simplest way to kick-start this rickety, rather unstable body-machine back into motion. I have also sworn to shake off any little aches and pains or stiffness that may come as a result of any exercise I may undertake, which have long given me a convenient excuse to not exercise ("well that settles that..."). So, walking seemed a logical manner with which to minimize stress on my body when it undergoes the inevitable shock from movement.

So, a-walking I have gone. For the first week, I have kept to the streets. I find that this suits my mind and my eye - It is easier to track how far I have walked and it is laid out in nice, easy-to-maneuver grids. However, it is also rather boring, regardless of how many side streets and the childhood memories I associate with each I throw in. I have walked by the little park on Garfield that now stands on the spot where the swimming pool I learned how to swim in used to be, several houses where girlfriends of my youth used to live (I resisted the temptation to take some chalk with me and write personal messages with intimate details on the sidewalk in front of these), and all the little hollows in the neighborhoods around Yavapai, Coronado and the site of the old Los Arcos Mall. Also, since I have my IPod on, blasting Glen Campbell and Tom Jones, I have a standing paranoia that I will not hear the car full of revelers still drunk from the night before careen around the corner and forfeit my opportunity to dodge swiftly out of the way as it jumps the curb at an ungodly rate of speed and takes me out, along with a light pole, a set of lawn-jockeys and an innocent Impala parked in a driveway.

So, today - opting for safety and a break from street-walking boredom - I went for the park. It is a greenbelt that runs along North and South in an area designed to channel rain water that would otherwise lead to flash-flooding during heavy downpours and the monsoon rains of the area. It was a pleasant walk and I also came by several landmarks that brought back memories of my youth - the small bridge over the little creek near Roosevelt Street that Tim Hart tossed me (dressed as an old lady) off into the water when we were filming "Kung-Fu Man" back in high school and there was the spot near the lake, close by where girlfriend Jodie and I shared an apartment, where I stole the "No Swimming or Wading - DANGEROUS CURRENTS" sign that hung above our bathroom toilet and in every subsequent bathroom wherever I lived for the next ten years or so.

However, there were downsides to this walk as well:
  • Dogs - who knew that the entire area was teeming with canines? Apparently, this band of greenery and water is a dog park. That's awesome for the dog-owners, but for the innocent paranoid walker, each approaching animal could be the vicious "Cujo" that is waiting to tear him to bits in a fit of rabid fury. Especially the little ones - I do not trust little dogs.
  • Swarms of gnats - these things are prevalent around the pretty ponds and little creeks and they love to fly into pedestrians' nostrils, mouths and eyes. It makes quite a sight, I'm certain, to the dog-walkers to see me batting away at the air around my head and cursing and spitting.
  • Goose turds - these are everywhere along the path and one has to walk gingerly to avoid them. Unfortunately, staring at the ground to avoid goose turds prevents you from defending yourself against rabid dogs or angry geese.
  • Angry Geese - these fuckers are insane. I hate geese more than most other birds. I have yet to have any other type of bird accost me in any manner other than dive-bombing me with their snot-like birdshit. These bastards, however, will shriek and honk at you and charge at you for no reason if they take the notion. And they are big and have those snaky long necks. I avoid them when possible, but again it probably makes for good comedy to amuse the dog-walkers and Frisbee Golf Players.
  • Humidity -  down in this gentle vale, next to the stagnant ponds, low creeks and goose turds, the humidity is much higher than up above, on the mostly dry city sidewalks. This may help me sweat more, but I have never had a problem sweating - I  run a little hot and sweat freely and easily.
So, as you can see, it is a conundrum - I believe I will risk the boredom and the slight, but ever-present danger of being run down by a station wagon full of drunken hooligans and walk mostly on the streets - there is still more to explore as I head out in each direction of the compass on any given day. Occasionally, I may brave the park, but only when I am feeling particularly chippy and ready for a random goose encounter or dog attack.

If you see me, please wave, or honk, or shout "NICE SHORTS, FAG!" from your car - I appreciate the encouragement.

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