Walking the Beachfront
- story and photography by Lisa Monti
I’ve been taking walks along the beach for so long, I can’t even pin a year on it, other than it was before Katrina. The walks started out as an occasional distraction for the dog, but they were also helping me to organize cluttered thoughts and burn off stress. On a good walk, I could write a whole column in my head and even do a little editing.
It’s gotten to where skipping a walk isn’t an option, and weather is no excuse. If it’s hot, I go early. If it’s cold, layer up. If it’s terribly cold, I’ll reverse the route and walk the interior blocks of the neighborhood, away from the beach’s north wind. The only complication is rain, which actually is rare. And when your schedule is flexible, as mine is, waiting for a break in the weather isn’t a problem.
Beach to Bayou
The only thing I take along is my iPhone for its camera and the fitness app that keeps me honest. The iRunner app, which I downloaded for free and can highly recommend records where, when, how far and fast you walk and how many calories are burned up. When the info is locked in and synced, the route is mapped and a little walking figure populates the day on a calendar. There also are action figures for running, biking and other activities, and a Siri-like voice that offers congratulations. (“Workout complete. You rock!”)
The more little figures that lined up across the calendar, the more committed I felt to add days. A month later, I’d look at the parade of walkers in full stride and put on my walking shoes whether I felt like it or not. Soon it was a year of walks, then two years, and now I’m headed toward recording the end of my third year without missing a day.
Fortunately, walking the same route just about every day hasn’t turned routine. Even if you’ve been around the beach all your life like I have, there’s something different every day. The clouds, sky, the sand, the water and the wind, everything changes from one day to the next, and from morning to evening. The water can be crystal clear at times or churned up like chocolate milk at others. I imagine clouds are like snowflakes, no two are the same, and it’s not unusual for some awesome formation to stop me in my tracks.
Aside from the scenery, there’s plenty of opportunity to socialize on beach walks. Walkers not on the clock are happy to stop and chat. Most dog owners are enjoy making small talk while the respective dogs get acquainted. Casual bike riders can hold a modest conversation without losing momentum or having to circling back to finish a thought.
Walking restores my appreciation for our beach and makes me aware of how much work goes into taking care of this wonderful asset. Beach cleanup crews do, in fact, rock.
If you haven’t been walking along the beach in a while—or ever—I would recommend it. You don’t need a dog or an app, and you don’t have to walk all the way to Waveland. But it’s really not that far.
For a mile-by-mile description of the entire beachfront roadway in Hancock County,see our July 2015 Beach to Bayou column by P. Chris Christofferson