A repository of possibilities

A City Guides tour of stunning Pacific Heights, January 2004

A City Guides tour of stunning Pacific Heights, January 2004

“Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city,’ for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.”
Rebecca Solnit

I’ve always thought that walking is the best way to really get to know any place — a neighborhood, a city, the woods, the mountains or the beach.  So much is more easily visible to those who go exploring on foot.

While we lived in northern California, I used to love to go into San Francisco and just spend the day walking around.  I would be so absorbed in what I was doing that usually I would not stop to eat lunch (except for maybe an energy bar or some fruit), and I would not even miss eating.  I joked to Jeff about my “San Francisco diet” because, between walking up and down all those hills and skipping the snacks and lunches, it was a great way to lose a few pounds!

I especially loved the free City Guides Tours, which offered fascinating commentary and history on various neighborhoods.  Since the tour guides were all volunteers who were there simply for their love of the city and the fun of introducing it to others, there was lively discussion and time for lots of questions.  Often, those who were on the tours were visitors from other cities who offered up interesting information about their own home towns.

There may be a similar program in a town near you, but even if there is not, I highly recommend taking a day sometime soon to go exploring on foot.  When we take vacations, we make time for discoveries that we might never get around to in our own home cities and counties.  Perhaps an afternoon “mini-vacation” is just the ticket to brighten up a dull winter week.  If you do go exploring in your local area, send us some stories or photos – we’d love to take a virtual stroll with you!

One year ago today

On these walks

This post was first published seven years ago today. Perhaps the ideas about local exploration through walking are all the more relevant today, as Covid-19 is still restricting travel and many other activities.

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia! I love this quote. I sent the link from your post to Sandy, and she agreed whole heartedly.
    I emailed you a couple of photos from morning walks we’ve taken this winter.
    Have a lovely day!

    • Wow, I’m honored you shared this– thanks for sending the link to Sandy! I’m still wading through the emails that accumulated while I was on the road for half the month in January. I’m sure I’ll love the photos! Thank you for sending them to me. Hopefully I’ll get to them soon.

  2. Carol Hoyos

    Just yesterday my husband and I walked to the post office in town. A 2 1/2 mile walk round trip. Whew! We we tired. We usually go for 2 miles, that 1/2 mile more did us in. 😆 But once we got home and showered, it had set us up for the rest of our day, feeling good and taking pride in doing it. c

    • Carol, isn’t it amazing what a difference that extra bit can make? I guess that’s how bodybuilders and other athletes work, building up in increments to gradually increase their tolerance. Years ago I walked 5 miles a day in all weathers, no exceptions. But I began to have minor foot problems and the doctor advised me to cut back. Two miles is about my ideal, but most days I walk only one mile outdoors. I’d like to build that back up to two, but I might wait for spring to do that! 😀

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