Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I would walk 500,000 steps...

... and I will walk 500,000 more!

I took some much needed vacation last week, since our vacation plans in the past two years have kind of fallen flat. Our family decided that we were taking the time, even if we did not have plans. We managed to squeeze in a visit with my wife's wonderful cousins, go to the beach, a baseball game, and just hang out together like a family. What a great vacation.

In addition, my eternally patient and lovely wife allowed me to make some marathon walks. While logging the miles today, I discovered that I have walked over 500,000 steps. A half a million. That's a milestone that nearly slipped by for inattention to details.

In addition, some good friends have made donations at the site. Thanks so much! This is all about helping people living with Multiple Sclerosis. This disease affects 400,000 people in the U.S., particularly in northern climates like Michigan. The MS Society is a charity that makes sure much of the money goes to research and the people, so please make a donation today! If money is tight, please let someone know about this site and pass the word. It's free, but it still helps.

Thanks and God Bless.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Walk Grand Rapids


I am writing a second post today to welcome any new comers to the Walk Grand Rapids blog. This blog chronicles my attempts to raise money for the MS Society, most recently, by walking the length of every street in Grand Rapids.

So far, I have walked more than 250 miles of Grand Rapids streets to raise money for those living with MS. By the Grand Rapids City website, I have roughly 350 more miles to go. I have, in the past two years, walked 100 miles of streets each year. This year, I will cross the half way point to 300 miles.

This goal has been bigger and better than I imagined. At first I thought I would try it and share my progress with friends and family. Both the fundraising and walking has been fantastic. This year it is time to share with more people.

For longtime supporters, the blog address has changed to walkinggrandrapids.blogspot.com. I have moved all of my previous fundraising blog posts as well to this new site, so you can still find information on my previous head shaving and other fun.

Donating is as easy as ever. Just click the Donate link to go to the MS Society's donation site. I am registered as a Virtual Rider for the Michigan Chapter's Bike MS fundraiser.

Why am I a "Virtual Rider"? This all started a few years back when my friend Steve asked for help with his 20th year riding for Bike MS. I love riding my bike, but I am the kind of rider that can not ride 150 miles in two days (read - lazy). I said I would shave my head at the finish line of the Bike MS event to help raise money for Steve and his team. The response was amazing, partly because my hair was 33 inches long. That stunt only really worked for three years.

After hearing about a Philadelphian woman that walked every street in her city, I decided, though I could not ride 150 miles in two days, I could walk 100 miles each year, covering every street in Grand Rapids, my hometown. Here I am now 250+ miles later and loving every minute of it.

So, please take some time to find out about MS and how you can help. There are links to more information on the right, or dig in to this blog for some information. If donating money is not in the cards this year, please tell someone else about this blog and how they can help the MS Society.

Thanks and God Bless.


Friends, here are the long awaited maps of my travels in Grand Rapids.

This first map is from my map book and is a map of the city boundaries.
Each number represents a page in the map book. Last year, I decided that it was easiest to complete a whole page as a more satisfying indicator of progress, both for you and me. So far, I have completed two pages, with good progress toward two more. There are scattered walks on other pages from my first year and incidental walking. By the end of this summer, I will likely have completed four pages with progress on more. This will total 300 miles of walking, more than half way to the goal of walking the length of every street in Grand Rapids.

To give you an idea of the number of streets on each page, here are the detail maps of my completed pages.

These pages, 26 and 27, represent the majority of the 200 miles of my first two years. These are also possibly the most densely covered pages in the map book, along with page 29.

So, why so old school from a techie? Scans of paper pages from a map book, from a company that no longer produces maps? I have mentioned in previous posts that I find this convenient for the task at hand and here is why. There are lots of mapping programs out there, but I have found none for the kind of walking that I am doing, both in volume and logistically.

In my travels, I often find that I have to back-track, mostly as a result of the Traveling Salesman problem. More specifically, this is a special version of a Hamiltonian Cycle called an Eulerian Circuit, in which I wish to travel the length of every street. Visit the links for the geeky details, or take this less detailed explanation: It is really hard to walk a set of streets in any city and end up back at your car without walking a lot of streets twice. The simplest example is walking down a dead end street - there is only one way back. There are lots of blocks where it is possible to return to my car without repeating streets, but many more where it is not possible. The simple example most people have seen is the envelope puzzle. In this case, the circuit is possible, though may be difficult.

So, I have a paper map and a marker that help me log my walks. I do track miles in Google Maps and record them in a spreadsheet, with the name of each street walked. While many smartphone apps will also log miles, none help to eliminate the extra backtracking from the calculations. None, that I have found, has the ability to record every street walked on one map without difficulty.

I am working on a Google Map with polygons blocked off in KML, to show areas walked, but that is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. If anyone knows of a good solution for my problem, please leave a comment and I will gladly follow up.

More importantly, all of this mapping, walking and logging is for a reason: to raise money for the MS Society. Please follow the Donate link to their safe site and make a donation to this worthy cause. For the suspicious, the donate link can be validated by searching directly on the MS Society's website. I am registered as a virtual rider for the National MS Society · Michigan Chapter TeaMS in the 2011 Virtual Bike MS.

Though making a donation at my site helps me track progress and gives me incentive to continue my walks, any donation to the MS Society is great. If donating money is not an option right now, please consider passing on this website to a friend.