November 2, 2012

Walk This Way

Where's the metro?
Hens on Ice has taken me many places I never imagined I'd see, such as Paris, Cape Town and Stone Henge, to name just a few. This week I'm in another such place - Florence, South Carolina. It may not have historic landmarks or sidewalks, but it's also a place I never envisioned spending time.

We began our tour in mostly large cities, staying downtown - areas conducive to walking. Now that we have been spending weeks in smaller cities in the South, apparently no one walks in these places. The city of Florence, along with too many cities in the US, was designed assuming that everyone has a car. Why didn't anyone have carless groups of traveling show vagabonds in my mind when city planning?

I just want dinner.
We are staying in probably the best area Florence has to offer for us. Within one mile, which is easy walking distance for our lifestyle, there is nearly every chain restaurant and big box store we could need, along with a mall. But there are no sidewalks to get us to these places - only roads, parking lots, hills, highways, rocks and ravines. While the Chili's and Target may be in sight, that "easy" walk is a real-life Frogger game gone wrong - stumbling on rocks, jumping puddles, timing the traffic of the 6-lane highway with no crosswalk and burning leg muscles on the seemingly random ravines along the road. And after all that, Chili's closed at 10:00 p.m. Boo.

Asking for walking directions at the front desk is generally met with looks of confusion, as if my English came across as a broken third language. (It's pronounced "wal-king!") After the look of shock fades, the desk clerk points in the general direction, but then reminds us that we "can't walk there." We remind her that we will be walking there, and the look of concern returns to her face, as if an omen came her way about people trying to walk.

We made the "unwalkable" walk to Wal-Mart, in spite of walking through dirt, grass and water (not one sidewalk!), and dodging cars on the highway and vast parking lots. Now I wonder: at what point in American history did walking become not an option? Before Ford's Model-T, people had to use their legs or maybe horse (and oxen on the Oregon Trail). Now, trying to walk in much of the US, cars treat pedestrians like wild animals they've never seen before. Not only do they not know how to deal with us as we cross the street, they gawk as they pass. Either throw some feed out the window or keep driving!

Feed me. 


  1. So ... why DID the chicken cross the road!

  2. Any comment about the local obesity rate? Hen's excluded of course!

  3. Thank you for your comments! While I can't say why all chickens crossed the road, the chicken in this post crossed the road to get to Chili's, Target, Buffalo Wild Wings and Wal-Mart. As for the obesity rate, that is a weighty issue too large for this post.