The value of walking

Today we had a “manager lunch” where we all went to a restaurant downtown. I rode down with my co-workers, but after I was done eating I decided to walk back on my own. It’s not a long walk, and the temps are in the 20’s today with beautiful sun. The perfect day to spend a few extra minutes outside.

I love walking to get places, because often you see things that you never would find driving a car. Today, on my walk, I saw a sign for a little shop on Kellogg Blvd called Mademoiselle Miel. It has a sign out front that said OPEN and another that said “Chocolate”. I started to walk past, and then thought, “Why not, it might be interesting.”

What I discovered was this adorable little chocolate shop that sold very delicate and unique chocolate creations. This wasn’t Linder’s chocolates, but artisanal  creations that spoke to the creativity of the creator. I tried two different ones that sounded tasty, a Smoked Scotch and Honey truffle, and a Ginger Chai truffle.

They certainly lived up to their names, as each tasted as you would expect. The flavors were strong and bold, with a really nice chocolate covering. I’m not sure that they were quite up my alley when it comes to a sweet treat, but it was a fun experience to try. They had a bunch of other ones that maybe I’ll need to try some other day.

The key point to what I wanted to share, was that walking is often the best way to experience adventures like this. I would never have stopped my car and found a parking spot if I had been driving. When you’re in a city, that is full of hundreds of different things, you can never experience them fully in a car. But on foot I could make a spur of the moment decision to try something new.

I’m glad that I did.

Suburbs and walking or running

I often complain to whoever will listen about the fact that the suburb that I live in, and how it is severely lacking when it comes to walking. My suburb actually scores a 19 at http://www.walkscore.com/. That means that for anything you need to do, you better have a car to do it.

This lack of walkability is very apparent when you also try running in the winter. I went for a run Thursday afternoon, and discovered how poorly most of the sidewalks and shoulders of the roads had been cleared. Our suburb doesn’t send out the plows unless a snow has been over 2″ in depth, which means that the 0.5-1.0 inch snow that we got earlier today will never get cleaned up.

As a runner, who has to run on the shoulders of the road for most of my running, this is frustrating and exhausting. Much of the time, I’m running on uneven, mushy snow, occasionally jumping into the oncoming traffic lane when it’s clear to take advantage of the dry driving surface. It makes running more of a chore than enjoyment. Between watching where you place your feet, and watching for oncoming traffic, it’s mentally not restful.

Unfortunately, there is almost nothing to be done about this. There is simply no way that the city can retrofit itself to put in more bike/walk path, without infringing on people’s property lines. Yet another reason why I’m looking forward to moving from here at some point in the future.