Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in the same small Ohio town where I grew up. I’m a wife, mom, grandma, and friend. I work part time at the police department and I volunteer as a CASA-GAL, with a team that does outreach to people with addiction, and I co-facilitate a support group for people who have made discoveries about themselves or family after receiving commercial DNA testing results. Family, nature, travel, and the written word are what light me up. I’ve traveled for work and pleasure and I love that I’ve been able to visit 47 of 50 states so far. My favorite trips have always included visits to National Parks. The one park I’ve returned to again and again is the Great Smoky Mountains NP. As much as I love to travel and experience new places, most of my miles happen close to home, in my neighborhood and in local parks.
What are your favorite ways to get your miles?
Most of the miles I log are walking and hiking miles. My favorite miles, by far, are on trails with abundant natural beauty. I love our National Parks and some of the hikes that I remember most are in the National Parks. Earlier this year, my husband and I visited Arches National Park for the first time, and I have great memories of blue skies appearing just in time for a great view through Pine Tree Arch, after getting caught in the rain an hour earlier.
What’s your favorite outdoor memory?
The clearest memory that comes to mind is sitting around a campfire at Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The late autumn evening was clear and cool, and the only light to be found was a sliver of moon and the embers of our fire. A pack of coyotes came through the campground howling. They were within yards of my husband and I. Surprisingly, I wasn’t even a bit scared. I felt so connected to nature in that moment.
Do you have a “disaster” story?
Just falls. Lots of them. Some just embarrassing, a few that made for painful trips back to my car. The worst of my falls happened during a lunch time bike ride with coworkers. We were riding on the bike path that follows the river. Recent rains left mud behind on portions of the path. As I rounded a curve, I lost control of my bike in a patch of mud and down I went. I hit my head and lost consciousness for a bit, even though my helmet was securely attached. I came around, covered in mud and with more than a few scrapes. Though I insisted I was fine, my coworkers smartly insisted that there was no way I was riding back to work. None of us had a phone, so one of my coworkers sat with me while the other rode to find a phone. A short time later, my boss showed up in his truck to load up my bike and give me a ride back to work. His only comment, with a grin: “I told you exercise is bad for your health”. I cleaned myself up, changed back in to my work clothes, and finished the work day with a pounding headache and lots of sore body parts. I’m sure I had a concussion, and I should have gone home. But my stubbornness prevailed.
What have you always wanted to try?
I want to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago. I’ve had this on my heart for several years, and I hope to make it happen. I have deep respect for all the backpackers out there, and I love being in nature. But day hikes are my thing. The Camino seems different, though. When I walk the Camino, I will do the “princess package”, which means that I’ll carry a day pack and my luggage will meet me at the end of each day.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to traveling again! I’ve made the best of sticking close to home over the past year, but I’m itching to hit the road (and the skies). I’ve got a trip planned in the fall that will include a couple of days in Glacier National Park, and I can’t wait.
Becky, you log a lot of miles with your grandchildren. Do you have any tips to keep it fun for everyone?
My seven year old granddaughter is my walking buddy! She’s up for anything and she teaches me something every time we head outside to the sidewalk or the trail. I love seeing the world through her eyes, whether it be a unique rock, a bug, a bird, or an unusual plant. It’s always good to provide options about where we walk, and I’ve learned that double checking her gear and making sure we take a bathroom break before we head out are keys to drama free walks. If we go somewhere new to her, I try to make a big deal about something we come across to make our time together memorable.. Last summer, she went camping in the Smokies with my husband and I. On one of our morning hikes, we visited a “troll bridge”, and she still talks about that experience. Now I have a new great grandson and he’s already enjoying his stroller rides. I can’t wait to get him out in the woods!
Do you still find time to get out by yourself occasionally? Do you think that’s important?
I need time by myself to recharge my batteries, and walking is a great way to get that time to myself. I get about half of my miles by myself and I always enjoy those times. I rarely listen to music or podcasts – I’d rather listen to the sounds of nature that surround me, whether I’m in the neighborhood or on the trail.
Are you enjoying the 365 Mile Challenge?
I love this challenge! This is my second year participating in the 365 Mile Challenge and I know I’ll be back next year. The environment over in the Facebook group is positive, supportive, and inclusive. Not competitive. The challenge provides me with accountability, which I expected. The surprise has been how motivational it is to see the adventures other 365ers experience. We’re spread across the globe, but we’re connected by our commitment to moving our bodies and having fun in the process. I love reading posts from other 365ers who regularly hike 10 miles in beautiful places. I also love reading posts from those who push past an exhausting day and manage to walk around their neighborhood or hop on their elliptical to get in some movement before they close their day.
You are a big source of inspiration for the group. What inspires you?
Thank you! I work to find inspiration in ordinary activities in life. It’s easy to feel inspired in the “mountaintop moments”, but most of my life is spent in the ordinary. Ordinary people accomplishing things that are life-changing inspire me. One of the stories I always think about when I think life is tough is a local Mom I’ve gotten to know. She’s a Mom of five, and at one point her children were in foster care because of her addiction. She’s now clean for going on five years, she has all of her children in her care, she’s gotten promotions at her job, and she gives back to the community. I can also be inspired by something as simple as watching a momma bird bring food to her nest.
Anything that you’d like to add?
I grew up in an active family – a family that played team sports. My Dad played college football, then coached junior high football for a lot of years. Our family spent a lot of time around football fields and softball diamonds watching my siblings play, but team sports were never my thing. I would much rather read a book. I don’t remember a single time that we took a walk as a family. Even during the few years we camped as a family, there were no family hikes. Yet, I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors. During those camping trips, I eagerly joined Junior Naturalist hikes. As an adult, I walked often, but fully realizing what nature and hiking had to offer happened on my first trip to a National Park — Great Smoky Mountains NP. Experiencing the beauty of that park, from the vistas to the waterfalls, to the paths through the forest was life changing. I was in my late twenties and visited the park with my now-husband. I came home from that trip realizing the power that nature has to heal mentally, physically, and spiritually. Putting one foot in front of the other, preferably on dirt, is my happy place and I love sharing my happy place with my grandkids. I know everyone is different. My dad found joy on the football field, my grandson’s place is the basketball court. I have a friend who is in her element in the bustle of a big city. In the end, whether it’s sports, touring a city, or hiking along a river that lights them up, I hope they embrace a way of being active they love before they are in their 20’s!
Thank you, becky! It was great to learn a little bit more about you!