It's been a while since I've posted in the Sole of Houston, and truth be told, ever since David Beebe moved to Marfa and I got a bike, we've kinda hung up our walking shoes. But that's just us. A guy named Brent Zius is picking up the slack.
This Monday, Zius plans to walk an even longer stretch of Westheimer than I did back in 2006. On that hike, Geoffrey "Uncle Tick" Muller and I started at West Oaks Mall and hiked to Main. Zius is starting three miles or so -- a good hour's hike -- to the West. He plans to start at 8 A.M. and be at Saint Dane's bar at Elgin and Brazos by 5 p.m.
Here is how he explained his mission in an email earlier this week.
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To answer your immediate questions - no I am not protesting something, no I am not raising money for a cause, no I do not need sponsors and no I have not gone insane (yet)! Why I am doing this is a little hard to explain but I will try.
In 2006 a writer for the Houston Press named John Lomax walked about 16 miles of Westheimer and wrote about his journey in this article. Later that year he walked a smaller portion of Westheimer again and has since walked many of Houston's thoroughfares including walking all the way from Intercontinental to Spanish Flowers restaurant.
John's walks really got me thinking about Westheimer, what it means to me and to this city, all the good, the bad and the ugly it has to offer. There is no other street in town like it, it is the artery that gives life to the entire West side and beyond. I have a thousand memories on that street from being a kid, through my teenage years to adulthood and on. I have driven it 10,000 times plus but have never walked it for more than a block. Why would I, no one in Houston walks anywhere, right? So . . . .
I have done no real training or preparation for this undertaking. I did take a 2 mile sample Westheimer walk from Bagby to Shepard as I wanted to get a feel for walking such a busy (and potentially dangerous) street and get some kind of idea of how long the big walk would take.
I will be documenting my Westheimer walk with live Tweets & Twitpics as I go. You can check in on the action on the day of the walk as well as enjoy all the buildup and after-journey reports on my Westheimer Walk Twitter profile here - http://twitter.com/WestheimerWalk. If you have a Twitter account please follow me - @westheimerwalk.
I will also be taking pictures and making audio notes of my walk which I plan to fashion into a narrated slideshow and post when it is all over. I'm walking with a digital pedometer to record my steps taken, time elapsed, distance covered and calories burned.
Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might be interested and please be at Saint Dane's to greet me if you can. I look forward to seeing you and sharing some Westheimer stories!
I called him earlier this morning and left a message but haven't heard back. Here is the unsolicited advice I was going to give him. First, take a companion. Going alone halves your perception and the interest level of whatever you write in the aftermath. Two -- there's no way you'll make it to Saint Dane's by five, and if you do, you aren't doing it right. The Sole of Houston walks are as much about the pauses as the forward motion. Three -- starting that far beyond West Oaks Mall is inadvisable. There is nothing out there, and if it's nothing you're after, there's still plenty of that between Highway 6 and Dairy Ashford.
And we also wanted to say good luck, and thanks for picking up the torch. It is extremely gratifying to inspire even one person to do one thing, even something as seemingly crazed to normal people as this particular Houston pilgrimage is.