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Walk through Griffin shows off old Southern homes

Four days down.

Six point two miles in two hours in 47 degree temperatures today, but it was a little different. I drove to Griffin and parked my car at the north end of downtown. Then I walked south, through downtown, through the beautiful residential area south of it, past a couple of strip malls and out past the south end of town where Hill Street becomes the Zebulon Road.

I took a lot of pictures that I posted on Facebook, most of them shots of some of these beautiful old-fashioned houses that must have been built in the 1920s or ’30s — or maybe even earlier. They have these big, beautiful front and side porches like you never see on houses anymore, and they remind me of my grandparents’ house in Ohio.

What a great-looking old house.

The one I’m posting here was one of the bigger ones, and if you look closely, there is even a screened-in upstairs porch. This house is just so Southern.

Two chimneys, too.

Of course, I’ll bet it costs a bloody fortune to heat in the winter and to cool in the summer.

That’s why as much as I love the look of a house like this, I’m perfectly happy with our 21st century one-story house with no front porch at all.

The other thing you might notice about this picture is that this house has a massive front yard. In fact, the front yard of this house might be bigger than our entire lot, house and yard included.

It was a great walk, though, and even though my feet are hurting me right now, I’m glad to have four consecutive days of exercise in the books for the first time in three months. My weight got fairly close to 200 over the winter — but didn’t top it — and now I’m starting to lose some weight again.

posted by Mike in Exercise,Georgia,Health and have No Comments

A slip, a fall and learning from the experience

I am somewhat disappointed in myself this morning. I don’t know if I was flying too close to the sun and my wings melted or if I just failed to remember my own flawed humanity, but for the first time in 18 days, I’m feeling a little bit down on myself.

Enchanted Rock, Texas

Maybe part of it was yesterday’s hike. I have been hiking by myself and enjoying the wonders of nature here in the Hill Country of Texas. Hiking alone allows me to set my own pace and also enables me to tune out the outside world and let my thoughts run freely.

But yesterday we went to Enchanted Rock State Natural area north of Fredericksburg, and I stretched the envelope of my comfort zone until it ripped.

Enchanted Rock isn’t Mount Whitney, but it’s still a place where they sell t-shirts so people can boast that they climbed it. It’s a climb of 425 feet in just one kilometer (.6 miles, for my American friends), which makes it pretty steep.

I climbed it — fairly easily, actually — and then went on to the second part of the hike, which is a loop trail around the bottom, maybe 4.5 miles or so. By then we were in the heat of the day, and there is very little shade along the loop.

By the time we finished (about three hours after starting part one of the hike), I felt sore, tired and irritable. Maybe partly because of that, I sent a mean e-mail to my lovely wife in response to something she had written that had ticked me the wrong way.

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posted by Mike in Family,Happiness,love,Texas and have Comments (2)

When every day is a good day, life is amazing

It is completely amazing to feel good all the time, as I have for the last 11 days.

I certainly don’t mean physically, although even that is improving rapidly. A month ago, I couldn’t hike three miles without feeling exhausted. Now I’m doing 5 1/4 miles early in the morning and feeling great (with a couple of minor exceptions). I have started carrying a tube of Ben-Gay along on my hike, and when I stop on the way back for my snack and some thinking, I rub it on my left oblique until I can feel it burning.

My left side is a lot weaker than my right, and if that big muscle doesn’t stop barking sooner or later, I might have it surgically removed. Then there’s my left Achilles tendon, which is never going to be completely normal again.

But even when I hurt, it doesn’t bother me.

Beginning and finish line

There are at least five or six places I could cut my hike short, but I don’t do it. I don’t hike just for the hiking, and cutting it short would cheat me out of all the other benefits of it — the thinking, the creativity and especially the closeness to God and nature.

This morning I was feeling particularly good, and I was thinking about how wonderful this summer has been for me. The chance to step outside my life, as it were, and fix the things that were wrong.

I owe so much to my wife for her willingness to let me do this. Nicole is my joy, and the fact that we are able to spend this time about without worrying whether we will still love each other when I return home has worked wonders for me.

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posted by Mike in Happiness,Health,in God's name,love,Music and have No Comments

Long and winding road is a wonderful hike

I used to hate to walk.

I always figured if the Good Lord had intended for us to walk, he wouldn’t have given us the ’69 Camaro. If I walked somewhere, it was because my car had broken down or there weren’t any roads.

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

Sorry, I was channeling Doc Brown there for a second or two. I think you get the point. I didn’t like walking, and dressing it up by calling it hiking or power walking didn’t make it any more attractive to me.

Beginning and finish line

But all that has changed here in South Texas.

I have been hiking nearly every day, and my hikes are getting longer. Whether it’s my back or whatever other possible reason, I’m still having trouble with hikes that require a lot of climbing and/or descending.

So I’ve mapped out my own daily hike along the road into Hill Country State Natural Area. The route I have been doing is about four miles, but after today’s hike, I measured and expanded it with my car so that the next time I do it, it will be about 5 1/4 miles.

I start in from the main gate, and as you can see, there is a small descent. And since what goes down must come up — not always true, but here it is — it means that the toughest part for me is right at the end, where for the last several hundred yards, I find myself walking up a small incline.

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posted by Mike in Happiness,Health,Texas and have No Comments

Beautiful park makes for great hiking

When is a state park not a state park?

In Texas, at least, state parks are called “state natural areas,” and in my first three weeks in Texas, I have seen two pretty nice ones. Two weeks ago, we went to Garner, where there was a wonderful dance floor all the way back in 1941. Today we visited Lost Maples, which some folks consider one of the very nicest SNAs/state parks in the Lone Star State.

On the road

If you look at the link above, you’ll see that Lost Maples is incredibly beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing. But on this late spring day, when we arrived a little after 9:30 a.m., it was a little bit foggy, a little bit drizzly and pretty much the only color was green.

We were there for a medium-long hike, and we took the East Loop, which starts out nice and level and then has a fairly steep climb of about 500 feet. Those are the hikes that are most difficult for me, with my 60-year-old knees and the extra weight I’m carrying.

But I had made up my mind that I was going full tilt today, and it worked out well. We hiked for about 3 1/2 hours, covering a little more than six miles. A fairly slow pace, but the rocks during the climb — both up and down — were slippery from the drizzle and we had to be careful.

I got some wonderful pictures at the top, looking down on the first part of the trail.

A breathtaking view

I was certainly happy at that point to be at the top looking back down than at the bottom looking up.

Things are going great here, at least within the expectations I arrived with. I have lost 20 pounds in my first 16 days, putting me 40 percent of the way toward my goal. But the biggest surprise of all came when I had my blood pressure checked in the late afternoon.

I have hypertension, and I have been taking blood pressure medicine for at least 10 years. When I’m doing well, it brings my pressure down into what might be called “high normal” range.

This afternoon it was 91/65, a number I don’t think I’ve seen since my twenties.

It may be a fluke, and I need to remember it’s still a medicine-aided number, but it made me feel great.

That’s good enough for now, even if we never did find those lost maples.

posted by Mike in Americana,Health,Travel and have No Comments
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