With Ranch amenities closed for the COVID-19 pause, Unit 8A-ers tested the old adage “exercise is one of the best stress relievers,” using their combined exercise miles to take a journey across the country. The final destination was an unknown, but unit residents were enticed to get moving with the promise of a party when Ranch amenities re-open, themed, of course, after the city/state where their total miles would eventually take them.
Unit residents started tracking and reporting their daily walking, biking, and jogging miles on March 17. Each day, the group’s total miles-to-date were posted on a resident’s casita door so that participants had to walk, jog, or bike through the neighborhood to see the latest update.
By the end of the 15-day journey, 56 Unit 8A-ers had walked and biked a total of 2,971 miles, ending up in Lubec, Maine, the Easternmost town in the contiguous United States, just at the Canadian border. But, their journey was not over as they had to walk and bike back to the Ranch. So, after a day of rest, Unit 8A-ers started coming back home on April 2.
The group now had a route to follow home, through 14 states with scenic coasts, national parks, museums, monuments, memorials, burying grounds, sports arenas, and sites of historical significance. The daily update was expanded to include tidbits about the towns and cities on the route home. Unit residents also shared personal memories and pictures of places lived or visited, sites to see, and things to do. A few even “detoured” to visit family or a favorite restaurant, attend birthday parties, or shop.
The group figuratively stopped at major tourist attractions on the journey, but also enjoyed a few off-beat sites, such as the birthplace of Paul Bunyan in Bangor, Maine, world’s biggest golf tee in Casey, Ill., home of the smiley face in Worcester, Mass., Woody Guthrie Museum in Tulsa, Okla., Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City, and the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Of course, no trip through the Texas Panhandle is complete without a steak at the Big Tex Steak House in Amarillo, topped off by a slice of pie in Pie Town, N.M. The group also visited three of the 12 Madonna of the Trail statues in Illinois, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Sixty Unit 8A-ers walked or biked a total of 3,109 miles on the trip home. While individual miles were not officially tracked, Ernie Nedder walked over 300 miles round trip and Marci and John Whitehead together biked and walked over 650 miles.
Participants arrived back at the Ranch on April 15, a day earlier than anticipated, and with 138 miles to spare. All were ready to sleep in their own beds after a month on the road.
Over the next few days, it was time to rest, wash clothes, put air in bike tires, replace worn shoes, and get ready for the next Unit 8A adventure. For now, the next project is planning a party themed around Lubec, Maine.