Urban Hiking: the Yellow Brick Road

It all started when I woke up to doggie diarrhea. I have wall to wall carpeting, and unless you are a product tester for Nature's Miracle, they just do not mix.

My dog has a sensitive stomach, and this isn't the first time for this kind of rude awakening, so after the mess was cleaned up, I decided to look for fencing materials. Sometimes these bouts of digestive distress can last for days, and I wanted to avoid multiple puddles while I am away at work.

So I headed out looking for abandoned chain link fence. Why pay $70 for more fencing material than I need, when I can spend 2 hours looking for some lying on the side of the road? We are branching off here into 'Extreme Hiking' which is an art form that myself and Sarah Powers developed while I was at RISD. The 'extreme' part is that it is a mixed-zone hiking form: we go by foot AND by car, and usually intersperse the two. The other important element of Extreme Hiking, is that you do not know where you are going. You just drive until you find something interesting or cool, and then you walk and check it out, and then you drive some more.

In this case the goal was fencing material, and the method was 'Extreme'.

I ended up about a mile south of the drive-in on Moreland St., past the state prison, when my attention was drawn to two cop cars with their lights blinking and thought (correctly) that this must be a sign. Upon further examination, BINGO, I also saw some fencing material, and turned towards the lights.

I also noticed, just after I turned, a road veering to the right, and decided to go down it for a minute and wait for the blinking to stop and the cops to go away. The road ended up leading to a trail head, with a round parking lot. A sign of 'Park Rules' indicated that this establishment was officially sanctioned, but there was no sign indicating a name.

I heard the rough voice of Leonard Cohen singing 'Hallelujah' and did a hot-diggity-snap, which is a variation of the southern-snap that I invented in October.

The trail itself was concrete and curvy, leading through thicket that was, well, pretty thick. As I ventured down, and looked back, the combination of the curve of the road and the thick of the thicket prevented my seeing very far down the trail in any direction. About 5 minutes in, I got a strange eerie feeling. The hair on the back of my neck standing up, and my dog started acting somewhat strangely. I was alone, so I promptly got off the trail into the woods, and waited.


Must have waited 5-10 minutes, and then decided to head back. When I got back to the parking lot, there was a man sitting on a semicircular wall who jumped when he saw my dog.

The man was dressed in a nice Uncle Vinnie style short-sleeved button up rayon shirt. The kind that would be a Hawaiian print shirt if it didn't have swirly dark blue and black early 90's swirls on it. He had pleated pants on and shiny black shoes. He looked scared.

And that's when it happened. Intuitive voices. Danger. This is the man that the police were looking for. I remembered that I had passed the State Prison just before turning in.

Who puts a large thicketed park next to a state prison. I'll tell you who: Georgia.

I told the man not to worry, and that my dog was very timid. I told him she was rescued from a junk yard, and that she would not go near him because she was scared of most people. I said when I got her she had been getting shot at, and was in really bad shape. Which was all a true story. I was trying to make conversation. Smile alot. Send love through my voice. Calm his fear.

He calmed down and said he had always wanted a dog. And then, in response to my story said that he probably shouldn't have one because it would probably get shot at.

I swear to God every word of this is true. And you can believe me because I love God.

We made small talk for a minute, and then I smiled, told him to be safe, and when I turned to walk to my car noticed another truck parked in the lot with construction logo on it. The man was on his phone. I realized that I could have asked that man to call the police, and let them know that the guy they were looking for was here. I had left my cell phone at home. But instead I asked him what the name of this trail was. He said he did not know.

And so I christened the trail 'the Yellow Brick Rode', waved again to the gentleman on the wall, and went to get my fencing material.

It took 5 tries, but later that day I finally perfected a fence that my dog cannot escape from. The irony of this does not allude me. I hope that the gentleman I saw isn't scared anymore, and that he has come to terms with his freedom.