“I wonder how much this cost us” the wife mused as she looked over the public skateboard park. It was behind the town fairgrounds and we ran into it while taking an “in town” hike. “I wonder if anyone ever uses it, or even knows it’s here”. She added. “Well, someone else put in their 2 cents worth” I said and pointed to a coupla pennies on the polished concrete ramp. Then the wife spotted a quarter and then …the foolishness started. It doesn’t usually take too long for me to instigate something. I quickly scooped up the 27¢ and declared a new classification of walk. The Wealthy Walk differs from our usual Healthy Walk in that the objective is not to find hilly streets to exercise our hearts and challenge our leg muscles, but to find articles of value. What kind of articles, and of what particular value, you might well ask. Well, I just told you how we increased our net worth by 27¢ didn’t I ?
The trick is in knowing where to walk. Never mind the picturesque views of the river or lakefront. Forget admiring the Main St. window displays. Parking lots with meters are what you’ll be looking for. In a blizzard, blinding snow makes fingers miss those tiny little holes in parking meters and the coins land … where they fall. Or, if the weather’s just too damned cold to bend down and retrieve that looney that fell in the snow, a wealthy walking scavenger can pick up a bit of scratch. Thar be treasure ‘neath those parking meters matey. ARRRRRRR ! Have you ever lost something just getting out of your car in a snowblown parking lot ? A wealthy walker likely owns it now. As Spring approaches, walk along the edges of the piles of snow that plows leave. As it melts, treasures materialize as if by magic, and not just once, but every day !
Diversification is indeed the name of the game. Don’t just limit yourself to coinage. There’s alternate ways to enhance your retirement fund with a wealthy walk. The same day we made out like bandits at the skateboard park, we scored another 27¢ in the form of a gas receipt from the Independent Grocer. You get 2¢ on a grocery coupon for every liter of gas you purchase. Some unfortunate soul dropped his receipt (in a parking lot – I’m tellin’ ya …) and we intercepted it on its otherwise journey to oblivion. Simply remarkable, it’s all right there for the taking.
To avoid becoming a victim of wealthy walking competitors, I always use-up my lowest coin denominations in parking meters myself. I figure it makes good money sense to keep the competition wanting, and I figure, if the town’s gonna nickel and dime me with parking meters, then I’ll just nickel and dime them right back.
It’s all a matter of knowing what has value to you personally. When I see coinage under a meter I say “Heay ! I got expenses”. When I see a hubcap on the roadside, I say “Heay ! I got a car”. A glove sticking out of a snowbank “Heay ! I got hands”, a sock in the ditch “Heay ! I got feet”. It’s as simple as that.
Seriously though, we really do carry foldup cloth bags with us as we walk the backroads. Particularly in the Spring, the Winter’s accumulation of automobile ejected waste becomes annoyingly visible as the snow melts. On the trails, the snowmobiler waste isn’t any better. You could call it a Beer Walk (as opposed to a beer run, which is when I go to get full containers of it). It surprises me how almost everything we pick up is recyclable, so why would you … ? Anyway, the beer cans and bottles far outnumber the rest of the crap, and at least they’re returnable (as stated, I like my beer too so I make regular visits anyway). Also surprising is the new found sophistication of the “back road booze cruiser”. 21st century brbcs seem to have developed a taste for imported beers. When you see a beer can in a ditch whose contents cost $7.00, you start to wonder if things aren’t quite right in the World today. We’ve even seen piles of cans and bottles sitting on the roadside that someone has harvested from the ditch. I guess they intended to return with a vehicle to pick them up. I met a guy returning bags and boxes of cans and bottles at the local beer store that he’d collected from roadsides around the county. He told me how he makes hundreds of dollars / year doing it. We’re devoted to helping the maintenance of our favourite walking roads, but we’re not fanatical about it.
Another type of walk we indulge in doesn’t have an official name but if it did, I imagine it would be a “Décor Critique Walk”. That’s a Springtime walk around the suburbs of town just as dusk is setting in. That way people are inclined to turn on inside lights but leave their curtains open. The wife can then critique their décor as we walk by. No they’re not all hideous. She’s quite flattering about some. Well, OK, most are hideous, but there are a few she likes. Well, OK, there’s the one on the street behind the grocery store she likes. The rest are hideous. I remember one had the exact same dining room chandelier we used to have. Fortunately, we changed it for a new one ‘cause … it was hideous.
Now don’t even try denying it, you know, I know, we all know, that you all do it. That’s why there are dozens of designer shows on HTV (I leave the “G” out of HGTV since there hasn’t been a Garden show on it since 1998, just those stupid designer shows … to my point). When I say “you all do it” yes ladies, I mean you. Us guys are just along as sounding boards, and to agree in a totally disinterested manner that you don’t notice, because we all know why we guys are there, and it … just … doesn’t … matter. We guys are checking out the ceiling height of the basement, calculating the square footage of the garage, and looking over the cars in the driveway. And no, nothing is hideous because, we don’t care.
Then there’s always the Clandestine Walk. That’s when you know damned well you’re the only ones who know there are fungi or berries on a particular trail … and there’s someone on the trail ahead of you. Are they experienced foragers who will discover your stash and jump your claim ? Or even worse, do they have kids with less brains than God gave cabbage, or a dog with twice the brains as the kids (and still drinks outa the toilet)? It’s heartbreaking to exchange friendly greetings with a family with 2 kids and a dog who walk past you, leaving every morel on the trail either kicked to pieces by tiny feet, or heavily mauled/chewed and likely covered in canine bodily fluids. It’s a kind of paranoia where you view everyone with a suspicious eye. I often wonder if they notice the slightly wild and threatening look I have in my eyes when we greet them. When I smile and say “Good morning, lovely day for a stroll” do they have the slightest idea that really means “Die ! Interloper ! Die ! “If you’ve touched one lousy berry on that bush behind that stand of birches on the west side of the trail just past the 2nd bridge over the stream and halfway up the hill … your children’s, children’s, children will regret it !” I wonder if they can see that in my eyes.
One of my personal favourites is the Relief Walk. This is the one where Ranger and I cruise about until we find a trail that, for some unknown reason, appeals to us both. Appeals enough to make us want to walk it, walk it until we’re just around a curve making the road not visible and with no farmhouses in sight. At this point I cock my ear and ask “Do you hear water flowing off to the west ?” Ranger turns his back and says “I dunno, but you’re gonna hear some over here any second now”. That’s his clever way of saying “Leave me alone for a minute”. It’s usually followed by a smart-ass remark along the lines of “I can walk into town for lunch, and walk back before you’re done if you’d like to do the same”. He’s referring to the fact that while he can almost write his name in the snow beside the truck, I can write the first chapter of Lord of the Rings across a frozen corn field. When I do something, I do it with gusto, with all my heart (not to mention a couple other parts).