"On Saturday, May 3, 2003, the Shorewalkers will hold their 18th annual Great Saunter, a 32 mile walk around Manhattan's rim. The pace is steady, but not fast. Most of the route is fairly flat. We keep to the waterside as much as possible. There is no rain date. We go rain or shine and some of us will make it round, regardless of the weather. We walk through over a dozen parks, and touch a dozen cultures."
The weather was perfect for this year's Great Saunter, starting off cloudy as the walkers headed into the first turn out of the Seaport at 7:50 am, but turning into blue skies, while remaining cool, by the time of the Main Image at 11:33 am. This may have been somewhere around 150th street west of Harlem, judging from the apparent distance of the George Washington Bridge in Fig. 1, taken 1 minute later.
By this point, however, the Rube was beyond caring. The inhuman pace implied by the paragraph above had turned his heels into two giant blisters. Today he looked up "saunter" and it says "to walk at a leisurely pace; stroll." And truly, when he looked at the people who were passing him -- such as the two middle-aged stockbrokers, one actually wearing suspenders and with a WSJ in his back pocket to read during the breaks -- they did not seem to be walking fast. Perhaps it was the unrelenting steadiness of it -- the Rube hardly even dared to stop and take pictures for fear of falling even further behind.
Or perhaps it was the Doc Marten boots that a former girlfriend had given him -- these were now ten years old, and he still wore them, if only because they refused to wear out. And also, boots gave him more of a sense of security walking around the city, in case things fell on, or ran over his feet. And they were lightweight, for boots.
This girlfriend -- call her "Scout" -- Scout had had a recurring dream about being chased by thugs, and being able to drive them off by kicking them with her boots -- had given him another pair of boots, "Skechers", which were so heavy it was like wearing a pair of cinderblocks. Once the Rube overcame their initial inertia, they would kind of pull him after them, like a Slinky pulls its back-end going down stairs, or like the guy in R. Crumb's "Keep on Trucking" cartoon. On the morning of his fortieth birthday, the Skechers had walked him clear out of downtown Richmond to the outlying Amtrak station, and then later in the afternoon all the way from Union Station to the far end of the Mall in Washington. Even though that evening he was sure he had sprung both his arches, and his feet were now as flat as pancakes, it remained one of the high points in the Rube's walking career.
But in the Doc Martens, now, his heels had felt from early on in the march that they were coming down pretty hard on the ground. Perhaps, by inperceptible increments, the heel cushions had gotten thinner and thinner over the years. He remembered now that one of Scout's suggestions for his self-improvement was that he should lean more forward, on the balls of his feet, reflecting a more aggressive, proactive approach to life. This he endeavored to do, to spare his heels, but heels play a key role in walking.
The Rube had set out with "the first group" of walkers in the morning, led by the smiling man with the white cap on the left in the Context view. In three Paul Bunyan strides, this man was out of sight. The rest of the procession stretched out behind him, farther than the widest angle shot from "Lawrence of Arabia". By the time they rounded Battery Park looking towards Jersey City the Rube was already falling into last place when he stopped to take a picture, and then he would have to walk double-time to catch up ... the Rube hopes to finish up this story sometime soon -- for now, he will just say that Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 were two of the unexpected sights on this walk -- the latter was a particular treat as it is always pointed out on the Circle Line tours as the "jack-o-lantern" house.