May 26, 2020

Our intrepid group at the New York border.
Left to right: Karen, me, Christine.
Wait, where’s Waldo?


The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he’s dead.

-Bette Davis


Waldo and I are walking on the side of highway 20, a few miles west of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The temperature is in the mid-fifties and quite comfortable. There aren’t many cars and trucks, but those that pass us whiz by at forty miles an hour plus, making Waldo a little nervous. There are no sidewalks and not much space on the side of the road. Waldo trots along on the shoulder away from the traffic, but close enough to it to make him a little edgy. His tail isn’t tucked, but I can see his anxiety by the fact that he’s not sniffing everything along his path. He is a very good dog and stays safely away from the cars and trucks. It makes me a little nervous too and I keep a close eye on him. I keep him safe.

Two good friends of mine are with us, Christine (age 58) and Karen (age 68). The plan: we are to walk across the length of Massachusetts, from the New York border near Pittsfield, to the tip of Cape Cod at Provincetown. It’s about 300 miles total and we decided to do it in 6 – 10 mile chunks, once or twice or so a week, returning home after each walk. We hope to be done by August or September. Why? I don’t know. Christine came up with the idea and when I heard it, it sounded like an interesting thing to do. Karen was in support of it and there wasn’t any discussion at all about the whys or wherefores. We all just agreed it would a good thing to do and we started making plans. This was at the very beginning of the COVID thing, before the “shutdown,” and as things developed, we decided we could proceed safely, and in compliance, even as the rest of our lives are lived in isolation. (The part of the trek that I write about here happened just before my family got sick. When that happened, we took a little over two-week hiatus to make sure I wouldn’t be surreptitiously passing on the virus because of exposure to my family). It may sound strange, but it feels good to once again have a challenge to overcome. I have, after all, spent my goal-oriented life in deferred gratification, so putting one more obstacle in my way, even if totally arbitrary, makes life feel comfortably familiar. Today, our aim is to trek about 8 miles from the border to a Big Y grocery store in downtown Pittsfield.

It isn’t long and I’ve worked a little bit of a sweat. Waldo is panting pretty good and I give him water from his bottles more frequently than I have to on the rail-trail. Maybe being nervous is making him thirsty. The ground is dry and the going mostly pretty flat. Waldo is having some trouble finding good sticks to carry out here on the highway. Maybe in addition to his nervousness, the car, truck and people smells overpower everything else because Waldo doesn’t seem to be sniffing much at all. He is out front at the forward end of the leash, as usual, leading us along as if he knows where we need to go. Of course, there isn’t a lot of choice…

Most of our walk is rural. We’re clearly on the edge of a town, we pass houses every so often, but it’s pretty sparsely populated. There are no sidewalks and, in many places, the road goes right up to ground that would be difficult to walk on. So, we spend most of our time hoofing it on the edge of the tarmac, on the outside of the solid white line, still at a safe distance from the people who pass us in their metal cocoons. The traffic is nowhere near heavy and we see almost no one outside.

The three of us who can, spend our time talking to each other about whatever comes to mind. We don’t stay six feet away from each other; after all, we ride in the same car at times, but we are careful to maintain the six-foot distance when we meet the rare individual along our way. Our discussions include the Corona virus, some politics (but not too much – there is a lack of consensus among us about many things), personal stories, and anything interesting we come across on our way. It isn’t long and we come to Hancock, home of a Shaker village. The place is empty, because of Covid-19, even though it has been turned into a history museum. The whole countryside is very quiet.

The four of us plod along, the adventure just beginning.


To be continued next week…


We have a long way to go…

1 comment

Beth Morrow

Wow, I wonder what happens… you’ve got me hooked!

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