The Ultimate Pod Cast

Sue me, sue me, what can you do me?   So sings Nathan Detroit in Guys & Dolls.  Poor Nathan.  He sings his heart out to his girl who just wants him to go away (Don’t worry hopeless romantics, it has a happy ending).  Lately I’ve found myself transposing a few words to that tune, arriving at shoe me, shoe me, all you can do me as I think about the miles walked and walked and walked this year.  It truly has been the Year Of The Tread.  Through the Caspian desert terrain of Azerbaijan, the incredibly steep city hills of Tbilisi, up mountain rivers in Tajikistan, deep into the bazaars of northern Iran, and more, much more, I tromped with the technological feats (sorry, another pun) of the day; rubber-soled, air-injected, spring-loaded, dayglo-coloured, lightness-engineered, my footgear both softened and hurried with joy my leaps and bounds and, yes, regular old strolls about town.

Shoes at rest, Tbilisi, Georgia. Copyright James V. Michalec 2014

Shoes at rest, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2014

 

If this was the year of treading the landscape, then it was also a year of testing the tread.  I’d never worn out more than a single pair of foot-huggers per year until now.  I recall a last mile for a set of trusted lightweight stompers in the Czech Republic, for instance, in the town of Ceske Budejovice.  This is the town from which the original beer yeast for the American Budweiser beer was taken, next appearing out in, of all places, St. Louis – but that’s a big beer/Czech immigration story and one for another day.  Back in Budejovice I went out for an exercise run around the old village centre and soon became disabled with sore feet and I mean sore.   I’d been putting up with this for a few weeks, but I knew this was it, the end for a pair of running shoes that had carried me through many an adventure.  If I insisted on running any farther in those poor old soldiers I’d have been wheeled back to the hotel – or a hospital.  With the pair of troopers pulled from the foot race and headed for summary execution, yet still clinging desperately to my feet as if begging for a reprieve, I hobbled to a department store in search of  fresh recruits.  Thank the goddesss Nike that the Czechs no longer live in those good old days of state-orchestrated production plans.  If not, only steel-toed workbooks size 14 would have been on hand.  Instead, rack after rack of new running shoes met my happy eye, and even happier wallet- the dollar is pretty strong in the Czech Republic these days.   Outside on the sidewalk I changed into the soothing new pair and committed the old hill hoppers to a nearby public trash can,   A glance over my shoulder as I hustled down the street, a sniff (though I might be adding this for dramatic effect), and a new chapter on foot-peddaling had begun.

Shoes at rest, Plzen, Czech Republic. Copyright James V. Michalec 2014

Shoes at rest, Plzen, Czech Republic.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2014

 

No shoe, no clue, I say.  Simple as that.  Driving around just doesn’t allow for the close encounters needed to sense things.  If it’s life we wish to experience (what else is there?) then it’s good shoes and a good walk that give us the chance.  In the United  States, unless one lives smack dab in a big urban centre, life is about the automobile, arguably making encounters of substance difficult.  Daily connections are auto-driven, not human-driven (pun intended).  Go to the bank, bakery, school, work, out to eat, post office, you name it, and it seems there is nothing that can be done without a four-tired machine except walking the dog.  And even Fido prefers riding in a car according to most polls I’ve taken.  I fight the tendency whenever I can.  Most of the world lives in the walking space, that’s where you run into the most interesting, real, things.  So shoe me, shoe me, and I’ll see the world, truly.

Even car shoes need changing.  Merageh, Iran. Copyright James V. Michalec 2014

Even car shoes need changing. Merageh, Iran.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2014