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Early Morning Walk on the Cape Cod Canal

Quietly walking downstairs in the dark, water bottle filled, I opened the front door and slipped outside, hoping the dogs wouldn’t bark. They bark all the time… but thankfully not this time. I get in the truck and begin the drive to the Railroad Bridge (capitalized, thank you). 5:30 AM, it ought to be super quiet there, I think, just me and a couple of fishermen.

Pulling into the parking lot, I see just how wrong I was. The entire parking lot is completely filled with pickup trucks and cars. Every contractor in Eastern Massachusetts must be along the canal, rods protruding from shore in hopes of that big catch. I felt like a single woman walking alone into a bar full of dudes, and like her, promptly turned around and got the hell out of there.

Driving to the Bourne Bridge parking lot, I’m relieved to find it relatively empty, as if the fish don’t like the canal water a mile further. No matter, I’m not here to fish, but to walk. The aim was a bridge-to-bridge walk, but instead of the Railroad Bridge it’s the Bourne to Sagamore Bridge out and back. That net’s me roughly 6.8 miles, and that’s enough for this workout.

Early mornings are a lovely time to walk the canal, and the best time to do it without earbuds in. It’s best to hear what’s happening around you when it’s dark out. Situational awareness is important, no matter who you are. Random cyclists and salty fishermen on old bicycles ride past at various speeds. All I can do is hold my line and keep the pace.

Canal fishermen, and they all seem to be men at 5:30 AM, tend to fall into two categories: those who stay near the parking lots, and those who ride bicycles to their own private fishing spot. The bicycles are an odd mix of cheap mountain bikes and yard sale bikes of all shapes and sizes. Each has a basket for fishing gear and two or three PVC rod holders bolted on. I wondered quietly at the aftermarket potential for a bicycle rod holder business and decided it just wasn’t for me. These aren’t the kinds of customers who are going to go with premium pricing, and I don’t have the heart to sell commodity fishing bicycle accessories.

Mind back to the walk, the bladder begins to call. I promise myself I’m not going to stop until I get to the port-o-potty under the Sagamore Bridge, and, feeling the urgency, push my pace a bit to get there sooner. Just as I arrive another character walking from the other direction sees me and makes a beeline for the plastic throne. I silently grumble, walk beyond the bridge to 3.4 and turn around. On the return the facilities are blessedly empty and soon my bladder is too. Relieved, the walk began again in earnest.

Out and back walks always feel shorter on the return trip, and this walk was no exception. I was a known commodity for the fishermen on my return trip, and ambivalent good morning nods became indifferent been there, done that focus on the task at hand. The fish seemed to win the day, as I only saw two catches on the entire walk, and one of those was a heron catching its breakfast. The only winner, besides the fish, seemed to be Dunkin Donuts, judging from the endless parade of Dunks iced cups passed on the walk. Good coffee stock investment tip for those paying attention.

Finishing a long walk brings with it the satisfaction of clicking that key word “end” on the Apple Watch. Lately I’ve been competing against a couple of women who suffer from the delusion that I’m going to let up and allow them to beat me in a seven day competition. Ha! Competitive banter aside, it’s funny how adding some people to the daily fitness routine can really enhance motivation to do the work. This one in the books, I quietly drove back to the house, waiting for the heckling to begin. And knowing I’m one step ahead, at least for this day.

Not all fishing is done with poles
Bourne Bridge
Fisherman’s Bike
Canal traffic
Turning around to return under the Sagamore Bridge

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