"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Julie’s excellent urban adventure

By on July 25, 2020 in Outdoor Fun with 0 Comments
The sun has barely come up and already Julie Campos is walking up  the last hill before home. Photo by Juan Campos

By Julie Campos

Along with my husband Juan, I’ve participated in marathons on all seven continents. 

I was an avid runner. I describe myself as a “late-in-life” athlete as I didn’t take up distance running until my mid-40s. 

When my knees could no longer take the pounding from running, I re-invented myself into a fitness walking junkie.

I walk for no deep, soul-searching philosophical reason other than I can. It’s also cheaper than therapy.

Walking the Apple Capital Loop Trail daily on both sides of the Columbia River since moving here in May 2019 has been my venue of choice. As wonderful as this area is, I wanted to shake up my routine so I decided to do something challenging, yet familiar.

Because I can, I am doing an urban jungle journey by walking every street within the East Wenatchee city limits including those outside the limits, just to discover all that East Wenatchee may have to offer.

I am no stranger to this kind of project. 

I have walked every street in my former hometown of Lompoc, CA. In doing so, I acquired the dubious label of being Lompoc’s ultimate street-walker.

(I also walked every street in Thorne Bay, Alaska. We go fishing each year in Thorne Bay. When my husband and his friends go out in the skiff, I go walking where my only worries are bear encounters.) 

With the pandemic, I am doing my trek despite the Stay Home Stay Healthy directive. Physical distancing has not been an issue since I am by myself. 

Have you seen a street map of East Wenatchee? It’s an amazing mash-up of how the streets are laid out, so navigating the city was going to be one challenge. Of course, the map doesn’t show elevation gains and losses — which are seriously significant in this town. 

Preparations for my daily journey start the night before when I consult the map. 

On a Xeroxed copy of some portion of the map, I mark off a relatively logical proposed route or plot a course based from someone’s yard sale, (which seems to be a popular weekend pastime in this area).

 I carry this with me for reference, along with water, a face covering, my phone (for emergency use only), and a Road ID attached to my shoe. My activity is all tracked on my Garmin Forerunner 35 watch.

I am up before dawn to do 15 minutes of Yoga for Walkers stretches, have breakfast, feed the dog, and to witness the awesome sunrise. With all the chaos these days, I enjoy the early morning quiet.

I am out the door shortly afterwards and drive to the start line. 

I walk about 4 mph — not too fast, not too slow — just the right pace to enjoy my surroundings. This is my Happy Hour. 

Naturally, the snow-tipped Cascades are often in my line of sight. Most walks are through ordinary neighborhoods; some not-so-ordinary (where I saw a horse and steer in someone’s yard). Some were rural, passing by fruit orchards of cherry, pear, apple, peach, apricot trees — and yes, I am guilty of taking fallen fruit. This can be hard work and I get hungry. 

I have passed fields of sunflowers straight out of the Tour de France, and the impressive variety of birds. I have never seen so many Canadian geese (which could have made for an interesting experience when hundreds have taken flight over me and my only thought is “when did they last eat?), or ducks and the six trumpeter swans I saw recently. 

And Oh Deer! Deer at 19th and Eastmont. Some other little surprises included curb-side libraries and a yard full of handmade birdhouses that were for sale. Not sure if any were occupied. 

The view from the Fancher Heights neighborhood was amazing. 

The only concern I had for my safety was when I once encountered two loose chihuahuas and the few times I had no choice but to walk on Sunset Highway. 

At the end of each walk, the streets on my map are highlighted and updated so I can check my progress throughout my trek. 

The map essentially is my diary documenting my journey. 

The change in my walking routine gave me a new perspective on my new hometown — during all four seasons, this area is truly some-kind-of-wonderful. 

And yes, I had an excellent urban adventure. And yes, I grumbled to my husband after every walk about the relentless hills. (He told me it’s a hill — get over it. Get it?) This town is like a roller coaster ride that you’re walking.

How do I keep motivated? My mantra is Get Up! Get Dressed! Get Going! 

Also, a side benefit through my husband’s employer is a wellness program that pays $250 (yearly) when fitness/health-related goals are met. 

I participate in local and not-so-local running events (distances varying from 5Ks to marathons) competing against runners in my age group and generally placing. Run Wenatchee encourages walkers to join Run Club and supports participation in their events. 

Domestic and international travels are planned around running events. 

A few highlights from walking marathons included participating in the Athens Classic Marathon the year of the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon. I retraced the tracks of Pheidippides from Marathon to Athens. I, however, did not drop dead. 

Another incredible moment for both myself and my husband occurred when we were interviewed on ESPN Latin America the day prior to the Galapagos Marathon, which was held on San Cristobal Island. 

Do I have a walking “streak” going? I can’t remember missing a day in years that I haven’t run or walked at least a mile regardless of the weather or life or travels.

Plenty of articles about the health benefits of walking have been published, but there is so much to see and experience traveling on foot — putting one foot in front of the other — just one step at a time. This is The Good Life.

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