There's been a lot of walking going on here at Casa Hylan-Cho. It started a couple weeks ago, when I finally figured out how to work some exercise into my day: go to bed earlier. (Duh! Although, as you've probably noticed, going to bed earlier means less blogging.) I now get up when Al and Austen do, put on my exercise clothes, and go out for a walk/jog/hop/whatever. Usually I end my route at a Starbucks, where I purchase a decaf short latte for the return home, but not always; yesterday, for example, I walked over to the Art Museum, ran up and down the steps, and then walked home.
I love being out in the brisk morning air every day, but I especially love being out on weekend mornings. With far fewer people rushing to work, the streets stay quiet until 8:30 or 9 at least, and it seems I have entire neighborhoods to myself. (Of course, I still get asked for directions by someone—it's a weird, magnetic thing I have—no matter how otherwise deserted the city may seem. I've taken to noting the location of and route to every museum, government building, Wawa, gas station, grocery store, and on-ramp I pass so that I'll be prepared for the next lost soul.)
I'm enjoying the morning walks so much that I wonder what took me so long to JUST GET OUT THERE. I think I must've been thinking of exercise with a whine in my mind, like exersiiiiize, as in the kind you'd get at the gym. This is different; I feel no obligation to sweat (though I usually do), or to run if I feel like walking, or to stay out for a particular length of time. I just pick a direction and go. I know I'm doing some physical good because I can feel my leg muscles responding, but I think the real impact may be on my mental state. I feel so freaking FREE walking around the city by myself, with no purse, no kid, and no stroller.
Speaking of strollers, I've written so rarely lately that I don't think I mentioned that the Zooper was a casualty of Watermelon and Prune Day. It's not like the stroller's completely ruined; I just can't figure out how to get the seat cover completely off so I can throw it in the wash, and I've been extremely slow to wash it by hand. Luckily we also have a Maclaren Triumph, which we used to use as our travel/mall stroller and which has now become our primary stroller. I like the Maclaren, but it pulls hard to the left—it'll practically do a 180 on sloping sidewalks—and at the moment my left shoulder is severely out of whack, making the stroller struggle painful as well as annoying. I'm thrilled when Austen's up for a walk without it... which these days is most of the time.
If I could figure out a way to carry a ton of packages *and* Austen, I wouldn't bother using the stroller at all anymore. Austen can easily walk the 5 blocks or so to the nearest Starbucks, and Trader Joe's, at two blocks away, is a cinch. The last couple times we went to the mall we didn't bring the stroller. (I must say, holding the mall-entrance door for a woman pushing a six year-old in a beat-up Graco while Austen trotted alongside Al made my brain do a double-take.) It even crossed my mind while I was out walking this morning that Austen might actually walk instead of riding in the backpack if we ever manage to get out and hike the Wissahickon Gorge like we've been talking about. (Of course, I'd bring the Kelty Kids pack just in case; I'd just be so happy not to be lugging 27 lbs. of baby in it most of the time.)
The only downside to jettisoning the stroller is that walking with Austen is a bit like walking a dog who stops to sniff every hydrant, mailbox, lamp post, and park bench. Most of the time I don't care too much; if we've got an hour to kill, why *not* stop and poke every parking meter? It only gets old when bathtime is 5 minutes away and we're still 3 blocks from home, and I can't extract Austen from the hedge he's stepped into. For the most part it's entertaining and fun, and I don't mind carrying Austen for a couple blocks when his legs get tired. It's a good chance to make forward progress, not to mention snuggle my super-cute kid.
Walking to Mother's Day brunch.
We brought the stroller this time because we didn't leave enough lead time for the leisurely, meter-beeping pace Austen prefers... although we didn't have to stuff him in it—against his will—until we got to 18th and Market.