One day, Nordic walking poles in hand, Mike Erwin stepped out of his Saanich home and embarked on a trip to walk every street in Oak Bay.
It took him nine days.
The adventure actually started months before, when he retired in July after 40 years in the navy.
“It got me out of the house. I tend to get underfoot with the wife a bit,” Erwin said.
He and wife Karen Hough (readers may recognize her as a French horn player with the Vancouver Island Symphony), had taken a pole-walking course led by former Olympic rower Linda Schaumleffel, so he opted for Nordic poles. Pole walking boasts benefits such as activating more muscles than walking without. He has lost 25 pounds since starting his adventures.
Oak Bay was his third large excursion.
First, he walked to Sidney – it took seven hours.
“My boots weren’t very good at the time. My feet were shot when I got there,” Erwin said.
Then he hoofed it to the farm of a family member in Cedar, avoiding the Malahat by taking the Brentwood Bay/Mill Bay ferry. That took four days with overnights at hotels.
His quest to complete all Oak Bay streets involved about 150 km over 30 hours on nine consecutive days.
He enjoyed the vistas – homes, landscapes including nature and seaside and of course, holiday decor.
Erwin came across many deer, a few seals, some eagles and a peacock. He also learned of a few new parks to take the couple’s pup Xena.
Despite a fair number of roads without sidewalks, not once did he feel unsafe. Erwin does point out that he did the bulk of his walking during daylight hours. People were friendly, with only one resident eyeing him up as suspicious, though Erwin suggests that was fair as he was taking a photo of a particularly stunning home.
He received the most attention when wearing his kilt – purchased for his 2008 wedding – but that’s pretty standard.
He lives just across the border in Saanich, so some days were just walking, others entailed a short drive and then a walk. He dressed in layers and wore a backpack to fill as he peeled them off.
Erwin printed a map – crafted a nifty waterproof bag and strap – and marked off roads as he walked them.
“If I didn’t highlight it as I went it was easy to forget,” he said.
His final day walking in the King George Terrace area stands out.
“That was a good day. A lot of it was in the sight of the ocean – beautiful views.”