Walking in a new town is an exploratory adventure involving barking dogs, songbirds, dead ends and wildflowers. My quest is a ninety minute loop away from heavy traffic, with a nice balance of shade and sun.

Not that there aren’t places to walk in Denton. There is a public walking trail a few miles from our new home, paved with crushed limestone. It follows the old rail road route, where the tracks have been removed. A few Sunday’s ago, Bob and I went for a very enjoyable, two hour walk down the tree-shaded Denton Rail. It was one of those bright, blue-skied days and we had the trail nearly all to ourselves.

The Rail Trail fits the bill except for one thing. I have to drive to it, and that defeats the purpose. The purpose being – to walk out the door and head into the day, as if I weren’t dependent on my car. I prefer to burn calories, not fuel, so I’m looking for a route that begins and ends on on our street, Mockingbird Lane.

On one of my first exploratory walks around my new neighborhood, I was treated to the sight of a scissors-tailed flycatcher, a bird we didn’t have in Colorado. It flew across open space and perched in plain sight so that I was able to look at it as long as I liked. That put a smile on my face that lasted for hours.


Day after day, walk after walk, I feel like I’m working my way through a maze as I systematically pursue connecting routes that will ultimately, add up to 90 minutes of stress-free fresh air and exercise. Like most communities in the United States today, the streets are laid out in small loops that lead no where as opposed to a navigable grid. There are few sidewalks and it is rare to find a tree between the sidewalk and the street. In other words, they are not designed for walking.

The other day, I walked to an unfinished development that led to an open field, and then a long lane which ended at a busy street. “This could almost work!” I thought, as I looked at my watch. Then I turned around and noticed the “No Trespassing” signs.

More often than not, I do feel like a trespasser as I walk past back yard fences and across people’s lawns to keep myself off the street. And when I encounter motorists, I imagine they view me as an inconvenience to be driven around or waited for at crosswalks. I confess to no small amount of frustration as I dodge traffic, wade through weeds, and send the lonely, stay-at-home yappers into frenzied fits.

Four days into the process, I once again put on my sneakers and set out for a walk. I was still winging it, despite studying the map – still hoping to find a footpath through an open field, which would give me access to a second neighborhood, and perhaps add another thirty minutes to my route.

Where Mockingbird takes a jog to the left, I saw a sidewalk stretching ahead for at least five minutes and turned onto it. Things were looking up! Five minutes later, the sidewalk ended at a busy street, but there was a footpath going north across an undeveloped field and I took out across it, hoping to add another five minutes to the route.

That’s when I noticed the wildflowers. They were spiky and blue. Next, I spied some tiny white and yellow daisies. I decided to pick some for the house on my way back, which came soon enough at a highway intersection.

The walk back was a whole lot more fun than the walk out as I searched for flowers and bent to cut them with my little pocket knife. With each discovery, the smile on my face broadened. By the time I got home, I had a huge handful of blue, yellow, white and magenta wildflowers. I was triumphant! I filled two bud vases and a mayonnaise jar and placed them around the house.

The bottom line is this – I won’t stop trying until I find a way to get my exercise without driving, and I am going to do my best to stop and pick flowers and look at birds along the way. Wildflowers

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.