Summer is just around the corner, and with better weather comes endless opportunities to get outside and take a walk. There is nothing better, to my mind, than getting outside and enjoying the scenery.
Here in Maine we’ve actually had several really nice days in a row; it’s a welcome respite from the days upon days of rain we had previously.
Yes, I like rain, but we all like to get outside and enjoy our adopted home state as well. There is a reason, after all, that we chose to settle here permanently. Maine really just is that beautiful, and that peaceful.
This morning, I asked my mother-in-law if she would like to go for a walk. She decided that it was a fine idea, so then we debated where we wanted to go. Finally we settled on Summer Street in Kennebunk.
Summer Street is a street just under a half mile in length. Part of Kennebunk’s Historic District, the street is filled with beautiful old Sea Captains’ mansions of many different styles, including Colonial, Federal, and Greek Revival, to name but a few. Kennebunk was the first historic district in Maine to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, back in 1963.
Our walk had to be somewhat short, as my mom-in-law is still dealing with back issues and a sore hip after her hip fracture back in January. We walked down most of the street and back, marveling at the gorgeous houses, while I filled her in on the few details I knew about some of the owners, the sales histories of certain houses, and little hidden gems you miss from the car, such as the house with the conservatory, or the fairy-tale caretaker’s cottage down a hidden side road next to a grand, historic mansion.
Going for a walk is a fun way to slow down and really get a feel for a place. When I was still running, before the Plantar Fasciitis sidelined me (albeit temporarily, I promise), one of my favorite things to do when we went on vacation was to go out for an early morning run. Running, or walking, lets you see the details of a place that you would otherwise miss when flashing past at a very sedate 30 miles per hour.
Walking is a great activity filled with excellent health benefits, such as improving your mood, weight, and blood pressure; it helps your cholesterol levels, and can help you manage or improve your type II Diabetes symptoms.
Walking (or running) also gives you the chance to explore places you might not otherwise see. When you walk, you can really appreciate the atmosphere of a place–particularly since nobody really minds runners looking around as they jog past. Of course, cars that stop and sit outside houses tend to make people very suspicious, very quickly!
For example, one of my favorite “Rave Runs” (i.e. a beautiful, historic, or amazing place to run) was in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. In 2009 we stopped in Carmel on our way back from Disneyland, and stayed overnight. The next morning, I went out for a run before we hit the road again. I started out by our hotel, and looped past the Carmel Mission. From there I continued on, heading toward the Ocean, where eventually I found myself on a beautiful seaside road, appropriately named “Scenic Road“. All around me were gorgeous homes, complete with amazing ocean views.
When I returned to the hotel, and after we had checked out, I took my family on the same route I had taken, so they could see what I had seen. It was pretty in the car, but even then I had to stop to point out certain things I had seen on my run.
Just this past Saturday, I took another spontaneous walk that led me to an unexpectedly pretty area.
On Saturday, we spent almost the entire day at Short Sands Beach in York Beach, Maine. Short Sands Beach is one of our favorite spots to while away a lazy summer day. We played at the beach, visited our favorite shops, and then while the kids played at the playground, I left my husband to watch them while I took a little walk. I nearly did a loop of the green space, but then chose to head left along the water, going up a road to the side of Short Sands Beach that I had literally never been on before.
We’ve lived in Maine for over 15 years, and in all of our trips to York Beach, I had never been on this road. As I did with Carmel, I admired the pretty houses, even going up on the porch of one vacant house sporting a rental sign out front. I wanted to get a feel for what it would be like to have a house with a big, wide porch overlooking the ocean. And oh, was it glorious. I could seriously get used to it.
The whole walk only took about 20 minutes, yet I felt like I had taken a mini vacation, enjoying sights, sounds, and atmosphere different from anything else I’d experienced at Short Sands Beach before. It was less than a mile away, but a whole different feeling.
That’s what taking a walk can do for you. And, also as I had done with Carmel, when I got back to my family, I loaded them up in the car and drove them up to where I had been. My husband couldn’t believe that we’d looked at that road a thousand times from the beach, but had never been on it. And he loved it as much as I did.
Today’s walk gave my mother-in-law a chance to see some more of the town she has chosen to live in; she has made an offer on a condominium, and assuming all goes well, she will move into a place of her own in late June or early July. We’ve enjoyed having her live with us, but she’s eager to move out and create a new life all her own.
She also wants to get all her stuff out of storage–a feeling I totally remember and empathize with!
Your Monday Challenge is this: Go out for a walk, or a run, in the neighborhood.
It doesn’t even have to be your neighborhood. If you have explored your neighborhood to death, go find another one! Dust off your walking (or running) shoes and head to a nearby town, lake, river, mountain, or beach. It doesn’t have to be a long walk–ours was a bit over a half mile in all–and it doesn’t need to take you up hills or through forests.
Just take a walk, and look around. Explore a place you’ve driven past a thousand times, and I swear to you that you will come away with a new understanding of it.
Places look vastly different when you’re cruising past at 3 miles per hour!
Below are a few more views from our walk today–it’s just a taste of Summer Street. To do it up properly, you really need to walk it.
Or come out on Halloween Night.
But that’s another story.