On These Two Feet

imageOne of my favorite writers is a woman who authors the Daily (w)rite, “A daily ritual of writing.” Seriously, she is one of the writers that I never skip or skim. Well, back in June, Damyanti asked a question on her blog: “Ever have fun simply walking the streets?” That prompt gave me the inspiration to glom a few random thoughts and stories into this post. So, it’s either her fault or it’s to her credit.

For the record, I love walking and I love experiencing the views and the feel of a city that you can only get from the sidewalk. My daughter and I have visited numerous cities, and we have walked our shoes off in all of them but none as often as New York. The first time we visited New York was to make up for the fact that Faith had been too sick to attend a school field trip to the Statue of Liberty. I took her there but on that visit, we stood more than we walked.

I always get a kick out of the TV shows where someone imagevisits NY and visits the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, sees a Broadway Play and takes a carriage ride through Central Park all in one day. We have done all of those things, but they each take hours and hours to do and most of those hours are spent standing in line.

A few months after that first visit, on a frigid winter day, we visited New York just to walk around. This started three traditions. First, despite freezing temperatures, pouring rain, blistering heat and the wind that is manufactured and / or amplified by the city’s skyline, we visit New York often. Second, I bought Faith a pair of earrings that day. The next time we were in New York, she spied a pair of earrings that she liked and suggested that “since it’s kind of a tradition that you buy me a pair of earrings when we visit New York…” Earrings, I can buy. It’s shoes and clothing that I have a problem with as I wrote about earlier.

The third tradition is just plain weird. Shortly after arriving in New York, we found ourselves standing opposite from the New York City Library waiting for the light to change or the flow of traffic to ebb. A tourist approached us and asked “can you give me directions to the library?” We didn’t know yet how to find many things in NYC, but we both pointed toward the huge building across the street. The man was very happy. Since then, I’ve lost track of the number of times that Faith and I (either while together or while traveling alone) have arrived in a new city, only to be stopped and asked for directions. Ironically, most of the time, we have been able to provide them. I was even asked directions while I was trying to find a train station in London. I was lost, but I had recently passed the street the man was looking for.

Earlier this summer, I spent the better part of a week in Washington, D.C. I arrived the day before a series of meetings were to start and I decided to walk from the train station to my hotel. I hadn’t counted on two things: One, it was hot. There’s a saying that goes:

People from the north think Washington, D.C. is in the south and people from the south think it’s in the north.”

Well, from a weather point of view, hot and sticky Washington, D.C. is absolutely – in – the – south.

The second thing that I wasn’t counting on was construction that would interrupt the imagesidewalk a few times as I traveled 0.8 miles dragging a wheeled suitcase. Halfway through my hike, a man approached and asked me if I knew where New York Avenue was. I hadn’t been to Washington, D.C. in years, but I was heading to a hotel on Massachusetts Ave a block east of where it almost intersects New York Ave. I had seen it on Google Maps right before I left Union Station.

Adding to the heat of the Nation’s Capital and the cold that only New York can imagemanufacture, is the fact that both my daughter and I are prone to stop to take photographs. While in Washington, I took the picture shown at the right and I missed the walk cycle at the intersection. I got some funny looks, which prompted me to tweet:


I might miss a light while snapping a quick pic, but Faith will make you freeze or bake or do that little dance if you happen to have to pee, but she isn’t going to be rushed away from a photo. She’s a pro, and I’ve watched her standing or kneeling with her camera pointed at something and I’ll be thinking “let’s go while we’re young” (cuz I know she likes Caddyshack too) but she will wait for something to be right; until the image she sees in the camera matches the one that she sees in her mind.image



Recently, I was in Woburn, MA (for those of you not familiar with the language of imageMassachusetts, that’s pronounced Woo·burn), for a couple of meetings. I’d been to Woburn before and I have always stayed at the same hotel. Each time that I would drive in, I passed this sign and I thought “I’ve never seen a swan crossing sign before” but I never stopped to see the swans. I’d always been in a hurry. This time, I took some time before dinner to walk around the office park and I found Eunice and Cornelius. That was certainly worth the walk.



31 thoughts on “On These Two Feet

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  1. Pictures – (The ones that aren’t self-explanatory) Can you imagine driving a crane through New York City traffic? I love cranes and I love walking in New York. Faith’s images are from two different trips. The bootie is stuck to the railing on the Promenade in Brooklyn. The Flat Iron Building photo is from the same walk as the one where I snapped the crane. That’s Faith and Romeo (who was about to drag us around Central Park).


  2. I am the person who always wants to stop for a photo, or climb for a better photo, etc etc. I would definitely stop to check out a swan crossing…
    I’m not really sure why anyone is in a hurry when they’re at their LEISURE!
    I’m a Yankee, and I say DC is definitely in The South, despite all the Yankees.


    1. We are a family of photo-moments. My wife is less likely to pull over on the road for a picture, but Faith and I should have “I break for photos” tacked on our bumpers. DC is in the South. Not as hot as Georgia (what is) but southern hot for sure. Thanks for stopping by,


  3. It doesn’t surprise me that people ask you for directions. You have a friendly face and demeanor, from what your photo shows. I imagine that the laid back, easygoing nature you express here on your blog comes across in real life, so that you seem friendly and approachable. What a great trait to have.


  4. Hi Dan,

    Walking everywhere is just the best way to see, well, everything!

    We’ll take walking to get a feel for a place over a tour.

    My husband has been known to aggravate more than a few folks with his photo taking. We have some pretty funny stories to accompany those shots. :)

    I love the black and white image of the tall building. That’s an eye-catching photo for sure. Great angle.

    Eunice and Cornelius are delightful.

    I chuckled when I saw you pronounced Woburn. Hee!

    Good stuff, as always!



    1. Thanks Cathy. The picture of the Flatiron building took a long time for her to get right but it I’d one of my favs. I’ve been corrected with my incorrect pronunciation of Woburn so I learned.


  5. Nice shout-out to Damyanti. She is a blogging gem.

    Hub and I enjoy best what we call “wandering walking.” No guidebook; just see where our feet take us. We might miss a few “must see’s” but we find a lot of quirk, charm and authenticity.


  6. Hi Dan, I agree, walking around a new city is the best thing! Your post took me right back to the time I visited NYC with my husband. I spent happy hours wandering around Times Square, Broadway, Central Park. My husband – not quite so much on that trip. He ran the marathon and for a day or two afterwards, although he was still on his feet, he was very slow – a high risk situation when crossing the street at some of those intersections! We started a new travel tradition that trip : catching a local bus just to see where it would take us. We ended up in Harlem for lunch – at a small Italian place – unforgettable. Thanks for a post that was a pleasure to read and for reminding me about some great times. (And for the introduction to Damyanti!)


  7. Great post Dan. The beauty of walking is it forces us to slow our pace and that means we can soak up more of scenery. NYC is made for walking, San Francisco is a real workout, and Boston gets my vote for BEST AMERICAN CITY for walking.


    1. Thanks! I have walked a lot in San Francisco and it was a workout. Boston is a very walkable city and I get up there several times each year. I like Boston, Philly and NY because you still see a mix of old and new. Buildings, roads, parks and cemeteries all let us peek into the past as we walk on by. Thanks for your comment.


  8. Nice read, Dan! I agree that it might be easier to buy earrings for Faith than other things. I can tell that you and your daughter have many warm and fond memories. I like that saying about people from the South think that Washington, D.C is the North. It is sweltering hot in South Florida – I might try to cook an egg on the sidewalk this month:) Have a great week and many happy walks!


    1. Thanks you. Faith is a really good kid (adult) and we have collected pictures, funny stories and many memories so far. I’m gald that she also loves to walk (as does her mother).

      I have spent some sweltering times in Florida; I don’t know how you handle that heat. My recollection of the humidity might mean you will have a poached egg rather than a fried one. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.


  9. I loved the candid pictures. Well, I am a walker as well. I love to walk down the streets or muddy trails in a rural area. How can you explore a place in a rented car or for that matter in your own one?


    1. I can tell from your travel blog that you get out and walk/hike around. I’m very happy that you do because it lets you share some great photos and information. Thanks for hanging out here for a bit.


  10. Great post, Dan. I love to walk and bike, and of course I have my camera. On a photo shoot lately, I was so taken by what was before me, I forgot to look down the bicycle path before crossing it, and in so doing, got vehemently yelled at by an angry biker because I was in his way. Oops. Gee, if he saw me, why not go around me and why all the fuss? He was really angry, I’m talking pissed off. Hmmm……the man needs to bike at least 20 miles to simmer down. Anyways … here I am wool gathering …. I’m about to get on my bike today with camera, headed for a place with lots of flowers. Have a great day, Dan!! Love, Amy PS I’m the type who doesn’t see what is around her when she sees something to photograph. Oops. I almost stepped in front of a moving motorcycle. I have to learn to start being more um attentive to my surroundings instead of the lure of Mother Nature LOL


    1. Amy, tell those guys to switch to decaff – either party can avoid a collision. I can be painfully unaware of my surroundings. Have a great day / photo shoot. I look forward to seeing the results. And, thanks so much for the comment.


      1. Whew!!! I’m glad to be in such good company. Maybe I should wear a sign around my neck “Beware. Unaware Photographer in Zone”. Hehehehehehe I’ve seen lots of um anger this summer …. And you are very welcome for the comment. (((HUGS))) Amy


  11. So honored to be linked to your blog, and I hope I grow to deserve all the praise you heap upon me as a writer. Having recently walked the streets of Italy, I find that some cities get it all wrong. Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia for example– no footpaths at all in most areas. You can walk around in Singapore, but it is so hot and humid (or raining) most times that you end up walking mostly in air-conditioned spaces– sometimes you can go for miles without emerging into daylight. We have some nature parks and reserves tho, and I try to walk in them as often as i can.


    1. It’s ironic that you wrote about following habits today, in that, if I wasn’t following you, I might never have written this. You have to read before you can write. Thanks for dropping by here and commenting. We have our share of bad walking cities in the US, but we have a lot of great ones.


  12. On those two feet you’ve been places. But you can’t walk downtown Nairobi. It is so congested there is nowhere to walk. Unless you want to dodge and bump people the whole time. Which takes all the fun out of walking. And Kenyans are never in a hurry. The guys walking in front of you can literally drive you mad. I’ve been driven that mad. I don’t go that way at all.


    1. How did your country develop so many talented runners? Sorry, that’s the thought that came to mind when you said that they are never in a hurry. We have lots of places that are not enjoyable or safe to walk, it’s just that we have more cities to choose from. For us, it’s the suburbs that present a challenge to walkers. You can go on a leisurely walk, but if you want to see something of interest, you usually have to drive to it. The only people who ever see those Swans are the ones who work in that office park or stay in that hotel. The people from Woburn can’t really walk there.


      1. The athletes are mostly just one tribe from the Great Rift Valley region. The guys downtown Nairobi . . . well, they always seem to have all day for anything. If you want a rewarding walk you have to leave the towns for rural places where you can still encounter some stunning sceneries. But with the commercialization of everything, those too are slowly vanishing.


        1. That’s sad. I am so grateful to the peopel that had the vision to build our National Parks. I am also scared by the attempts of today’s Congress to open those parks up for oil and gas drilling.


          1. This thing with oil and gas is cause of great worry. Look what has happened to nations in the name of oil and gas. Look at the environment. And I heard something about the Antarctica. So much oil and gas. So much animosity and destruction. We are unstoppable. There are some videos on You-Tube about sound frequency, which is most likely what was used to build the pyramids etc. There is so much energy in it. But we’d rather annihilate everything for oil and gas.


  13. First of all, I love the traditions that start with a trip somewhere. When they involve a parent and a child, they are more than traditions and remain vivid memories.
    Then, I love the places you are taking us to. And for once I knew how to pronounce Woburn since we’ve lived in Mass for five years.
    Finally, I agree that a walk is the best, if not only, way to get the pulse of a place and its people. Or its swans.
    Great photos, too, Dan.


    1. Thanks Evelyne. you’re right about the traditions, those earrings are very good memories. I almost always forget and mispronounce Woburn, but from now on, I think I’ll walk up to see the swans.


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