Sunday, August 19, 2012

Go (South) Young Man

Yesterday early afternoon, between noon and 1 pm, I was bored. Terribly bored.

I had run all my errands. I had done a tiny bit of writing. I had listened to a few albums and decided I wanted to do something a bit different. I wanted to not be bored and I wanted to do something a little off the beaten path.

I had the idea once before, but things got in the way and I wasn't able to. This time I was.

I was going to go for a walk.

No big thing, right? Not something out of the ordinary. People have been doing it for thousands upon millions of years. Walking. Put one foot in front of the other and just start being ambulatory.

Well, my goal was to go investigating. I used to do it all the time when I lived in Lawrence. I used to just walk everywhere and I loved it. I loved seeing random people and random events and just walking by some of the weird oddities you wouldn't necessarily pay attention driving real quick from point A to point B.

I planned to walk South for no specific reason at all. South was where I was heading and as I started, I decided to make a change.

I decided to go with the flow. Easy enough. Not a hard task. Not a hard thing to pull off. Especially because flow, in this particular instance, would include the flow of traffic.

I started South on Broadway, just walking and walking for no real reason other than to walk. I took my idea notebook with me, a pen in one pocket, and my not so extraordinary walk began.

I walked all the way Broadway until about 13th street and that's when the lights changed and I started heading east on Broadway. I took that for awhile, passing a large number of people, stragglers, and just the assorted normal groups of people you'd see on a Saturday walking around a city.

People looking at buildings and taking pictures. Standing in front of the Municipal taking photos. Looking around as if they're lost. Me helping them find their way as they had no idea where they were going. Lots of that.

I passed by a number of restaurants and a number of people heading into restaurants. I passed by people preparing for work at the Midland by AMC. I passed by a large number of groups of people just having their own normal Saturday routines.

At Main Street, the lights changed, and my trip south continued. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. I followed Main Street down to 18th, passing again different groups of people, including a large group of teenage girls who were heading up to the Kauffman Center for what I could only assume was to either perform or watch a performance (I didn't ask as they spent most of their time giggling as they walked). I passed a husband and wife taking a walk with a baby in a stroller and I wondered to myself if they were just doing some exploring of their own. I passed by large numbers of people on what I can assume were their own adventures, and it put a smile on my face.

It was about this time that the sun decided to pop out, taking what had been a leisurely stroll with nice weather all around into something of me being baked by the sun. But I digress.

At 18th street, the lights changed again, and I was heading east once more. At this point, I decided to begin to document my journey. Some of the things I'd seen. Some of the weirdness that had happened. It wasn't too terribly weird by this point. I'd seen a few characters here and there and I'd witnessed a few strange people, but the way I look isn't very comforting, I'm sure, to that many people either. My large beard and massive amounts of hair probably scared a good number of people as I walked as well.

Anyway, again, I was documenting my journey and my path at this point. Nothing strange. I looked down for a solid 10 seconds, heard a loud screech, and then looked up only to see two cars smash together, one being t-boned at the intersection of Grand and 18th street.

I stopped, took a deep breath, and thanked myself for paying enough attention not to step out into the street without looking up. I would have been killed pretty easily had I continued moving forward at my original pace. Had I not been killed, I would have been a witness to the accident itself, instead of just hearing a screech and looking up to see the actual collision. I had no idea who was at fault. All I knew to do was to stop, ensure both people were okay, and wait to see if other witnesses came forward. They were all okay (the woman was shook up and her car was a mess and the man was okay as well). The cops were called. Witnesses stepped forward. So I used the opportunity to continue on, once again heading south now on Grand.

Grand was pretty normal for the most part. I saw a nice woman with a dolly getting shoes for Bob Jones to refill stock. She had remarkably awesome tattoos and was wearing overalls and had a friendly smile. She was actually one of the first people to actually welcome me first with a smile and not a judgmental look prior to my own smile. I'm sure with the tattoos she has that she is also unfairly judged. Happens to all of us. But Bob Jones the store was packed. Tons and tons of people were piling into the store as I passed, and I couldn't honestly remember ever actually being around it during the day when it was opened except one time before. And I didn't pay attention that time.

Continuing down Grand, I passed by the Western Auto Lofts on the West Side of the street and passed by two men with video cameras pointed down off the bridge toward the train tracks below. They discussed the train schedule and how a certain train must be late as it should have passed as I walked by. It was definitely strange. I couldn't understand why these men were taping the trains and what the necessity of ensuring they pass at a certain time was for, but they were arguing about it. I couldn't help but laugh.

Again, still heading south on Grand, I watched as a bicyclist almost clipped a parked car and then was almost clipped by a car passing by him on the other side of him. That was also very strange and very action-packed in my head, only for nothing to happen.

As I hit Pershing, the lights changed again, and my flow pushed me West now, heading once more toward Main Street. Buses passed, tons of people walked by on the opposite side of the street and across Main Street, filing into Union Station and into Crown Center and into the buses. Strange, as it felt that there was a larger group of people than I've seen in those parts for a long time, since the last Christmas tree lighting that I remember going to.

At Main, again, the lights changed, my path changed, and I was once more heading South, this time on Main Street.

Main Street heading South was tough. It's basically all up hill. And with the sun beating down on me, it was even more treacherous than I could have ever imagined. But I continued on. Passing by a number of people on leisurely strolls once more, some smiling at me, others scowling, some not understanding what my big hurry was all about.

But there I was, heading up Main Street, cars passing by quickly and ferociously, and I kept walking. I walked and walked, not stopping once until I happened upon the Baconfest sign on Main Street and I think near 31st street. A couple guys were taking their pictures, all separately, by the sign, and I offered, laughing, to take their picture for them. They accepted, I laughed again, and was once more on my way south.

Walking South on Main Street was fine. No change in direction at all until right by the Wendy's, where there is now construction on that side of the road that closes the sidewalk in front of the car dealership. As I stepped out into traffic, two bicyclists slowly whizzed by, and I swear one of them looked like a girl I used to know.

But anyway, at this point, I stopped, looked both ways, waiting for all the busy traffic around 3 pm on a Saturday to pass by in both directions, and then ran my happy ass across to the other side of Main Street and continued my trek South.

But sadly, by this point, mentally I was done on my trip. My wife was getting back from getting her car worked on and I knew she was heading my way. So at 33rd street, I stopped into the local McDonald's and had what I can only tell you was the world's best soda. Dr. Pepper never tasted as good as it did there.

I gave my change to a couple waiting for the bus and looking much worse for wear than myself, and I waited patiently to be picked up. All told, it was approximately 4 and half miles with all the stops, starts, and running across various streets. Maybe closer to 4 miles, but either way, 4 miles uphill is a pain in the ass.

Next time, I'm going to head East and then North and see how far it will take me. I'm shooting for North Kansas City and beyond.

I'm thinking this can be a permanent fixture in my new life goals. We'll see what happens.


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