Friday, July 5, 2013

Celebrating Independence Day 2013

July 4th, 2013 - I went for a walk from our house in Media to Independence Hall. The first question is probably - why? My initial answer is why not? It was kinda cool to do something just because I can on the day we celebrate freedom.

I am a softball widow frequently on the July 4th holiday. There is almost always a tournament of some kind and Dave is almost always umpiring one of them. This year he is in Quakertown at the TNT tournament. We do lots of things together but long distance walking or running is not one of them so being a softball widow from time to time works for both of us.

I got it in my head to do a lengthy hike of some kind and somehow tie it to a 4th of July theme. I thought about mapping a route on that would look like "July Fourth" or " 1776" but that would only work if I confined myself to Media borough where the streets more or less are in a grid. That did not sound like fun. And it wouldn't take very long either. I've done Valley Forge a lot plus I plan to be at the MLC meetup there on Saturday so I ruled that out.

On a whim I asked Google Maps to map a walking route from our house to Independence Hall.
It was less than 14 miles. Could I do that much? I wasn't sure. My last long walk recently was 9 miles and that was at least 6 weeks ago. I decided to go for it anyway. I didn't have to be anywhere at any specific time so I could take as long as I wanted and stop as much as I wanted - or needed. I could hop a bus, train or trolley at several spots along the route if it became too much so I had nothing to lose by trying.

I only came up with the idea at noon on Wednesday. Given the minimum amount of time it would take at a leisurely pace (probably about 4 hours 40 minutes or so) and given the heat and humidity forecasted I decided that a 7 a.m. start was ideal. So that didn't leave much time to prepare. If you know me you know that even my lists have lists but there wasn't time for that this time.

I did have to think about what to wear and what to carry though. Given the weather running clothes would be appropriate but quite frankly I was not keen on the idea of wearing running tights - of any length - through the streets of Delaware County and Philadelphia. (Note to self: you really need to get a running skirt.) I settled on running underwear top and bottom with my most comfortable "regular" walking shorts and a running shirt. Of course the most important concern was my feet and they would be safely ensconced in running shoes with only about 150 miles on them :) And my RoadID of course.

What to carry, then. I opted to carry a water bottle out of the house and stop to buy more on the road. This meant I could leave my camelback at home and carry another pack for money, sunscreen, keys, electrolyte tabs, dry socks and a clean shirt just in case. I planned to take the train home and didn't want to offend anyone. I chose my Disney Marathon pack. It is mesh and therefore lightweight and see-through. I decided it wasn't wise to wander among the crowds at Independence Hall on 4th of July with a typical backpack.

I left the house at 7:30. There was a lot of cloud cover which held in the humidity but was better than bright sunshine. It was quiet and very few cars were out yet. So I heard a lot of sounds of summer as I started out - air conditioners and sprinklers watering lawns. With all the rain we've had lately I don't think the watering was really necessary but sometimes people do things out of habit with out thinking.

As I moved down Providence Road toward Baltimore Pike a squirrel darted across the road. Not unusual except that it was being chased by a fox. Too fast for me to get a photo you'll have to take my word for it. Dave saw the fox a few days ago as well. I was off to an interesting start.

There is a net elevation loss from Media to Philadelphia. But it's up down up down up down for the first 6 miles or so. Nothing too awful though. The diciest part of the trip was the space between Beatty Road and Smedley Park where there is no sidewalk, a very narrow shoulder, and exit/on ramps to the blue route. Light traffic really helped here.

The CVS's along Baltimore Pike were perfectly placed for the pace of my water consumption. And the Wawa at Bishop Avenue was just right for picking up a banana. So nice of the planners to help me out that way.

Oh and I found the number of cars lined up at Taco Bell for breakfast strange and perhaps disturbing.

I arrived in Clifton Heights too early for the parade. It was only 9:20 when I arrived there. Lots of folks were already staking out there spots though. The Lansdowne parade a few miles further down the road was at 9:00 a.m. so I was too late for that one. No worries I wanted to keep moving anyway.

I crossed over Church Road where Baltimore Pike becomes US 13 and into Philadelphia a few blocks later. I passed only a few people along the way (central air has ruined the 'feel' of neighborhoods IMHO) but the few people I did see were friendly and we wished each other Happy Fourth.

I reached 34th and Walnut at 11:30. It was time to find something to eat. Breakfast, although it was substantial, was before 7a.m. I had covered more than 11 miles by this time. At 18th and Walnut I stopped into Saxby's for a Greek salad with grilled chicken and a large water. Perfect! I spent some time in the restroom too cleaning up and re- applying sunscreen.

12 blocks to go.

At Washington Square traffic and pedestrians were held up for a protest parade. Can it be the 4th of July without one? This pretty large crowd was all about stopping the NSA spying on emails and phone calls. Kudos to the city for giving them the permit to have their say on such a busy day.

I arrived at the back of Independence Hall just in time for the "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony which began at 1:00. I didn't hang around there though. I wasn't in the mood for speeches. Truth be told I'm not a rah rah patriot anyway. Don't miss-read that now. I get and appreciate the importance of the 4th of July. I don't get the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem though. In my opinion we should be celebrating the Constitution more than we do. It's amazing that we have something like that and it still works! And even better if one doesn't believe it works one lives in a country where it's not only OK to say you don't agree but regular folks like us can be the force behind change. It's pretty cool!

I worked my way to the front of Independence Hall. It was still set up for the morning ceremonies. A nice lady took the photo at the head of this post. I couldn't go all this way and not have proof, right? I think she was disappointed to learn I wasn't from some far away place.

I found a bench along the mall and sat for a little bit to people watch. By now the sun had come out and it was uncomfortable sitting still in it for too long. Moving was better. I could have sat on the ground under a tree but - although my legs held up pretty good - I was afraid that getting back up off the ground would be a problem.

I made my way across the mall, down Market Street to the train station. For the first time I ended up on one of the new Septa rail cars. It was nice but the computer voice announcing the stops needs a little work. LOL

I was home again at 3:30.

I probably bit off a little more than I should have. But I made it so there is something to be said for stubbornness, right? I admit I have my share of that but a bigger part to making the trip was the freedom of no deadlines. It didn't matter when I arrived at my destination or when I got home.

Mentally, I felt great. I was tired but not ridiculously so. My left hip flexor started nagging me very early on. It's always been a whiny thing. It was a good reminder though to walk tall (no slouching) and take longer strides. That and stopping to stretch both sides a few times kept the pain in check and eventually it warmed up and stopped hurting altogether. My left ankle was wonky when I got home. No idea what that was about but some ice and elevation and it was fine before too long. Weird.

Appropriately, I watched "National Treasure" last night. A significant amount of time is spent at Independence Hall looking for clues to the treasure. :)
I expected my legs to be sore today but surprisingly they are not. I had a great time on this trip and want to do another one. My bucket list includes a multi day walking adventure. I'd need to work up to more than 14 miles in a day I think and practice what to wear and pack but I'm getting there. :)
Here is the route I took. There are more walkable options. Maybe some day I'll go both ways using different routes. 
Here are some photos. Blogger is giving me fits trying to put them in the body of the post. There are photos more here on my blogs Facebook page.
Too early for this one too late for Lansdowne

Staking out spots for the Clifton Heights parade

If there was a neighborhood prize for best decorated
these houses win. They were the only ones but they
sure have enough.


Protesters coming out of Washington Square onto
Walnut Street

I have arrived.


1 comment:

  1. That is so cool! I love that you just did that for kicks. Sounds like something I would think of doing and then not do.