Unique Streets: 12
Miles Walked: 4.8
Street Names (italicized have been walked on another day): Beechland Street, Mapledale Street, Oakville Street, Sequoia Way, Mooney Road, West Run Road, Gates Drive, Mapledale Drive, Homeridge Drive, Homeridge Lane, Marina Drive, Cassabill Drive, Rogers Court.
I got lost while apparently trespassing on this walk and I’m glad I was alone. I can tamp down my own panic pretty well when I’m not escorting a friend or one of my kids in unmarked woods. I had somewhat of a plan to finish the streets in New Homestead on this walk and I almost got there.
New Homestead sits on top of the hill that overlooks (Old?) Homestead and the woods of Hays. I parked on a residential street in the shade and started on my way. Like many mid-century housing plans in this area, the roads meandered near each other without ever assembling into anything like a grid. It makes it easy to remember where you walked, but covering each street means a pretty long walk.
I didn’t really see anything that stood out as too strange in this neighborhood until I got to a driveway lined with hand-carved statues. Most of the statues were busts of people I’m assuming are friends with the sculptor. A few looked like Easter Island heads and at least one mimic’d Mount Rushmore. Chisel your own Commanders in Chief.
Pretty soon I noticed the houses started to get bigger and newer and even bigger and not even built yet. Obviously New Homestead is about to get a few more parcels to tax. The appeal of this area was apparent. The houses on either side of Casabill Drive had backyards that went on for what seemed like miles. Behind the ones on the West side there was even a public trail system accessible from multiple area. Or was it???
Spoiler: It was not public. I pondered whether or not these trails might lead to a grouping of streets I needed to walk. W. Circle Avenue, N. Circle Avenue, and E. Circle Avenue appeared to be just on the other side of these small woods. If the trail did connect, I’d have a long walk ahead of me. If they didn’t, I could come back to where I started. No harm, no foul. Ha!
I accessed the great wilderness between the streets via Rogers Court and soon found a lovely trail lined with fragrant weeds and pieces of slate.
Did a train used to travel these trails? That seemed strange since they traveled the hills like a roller coaster. Could the slate have fallen from carts carrying the flaky black rock from mines in the valley below? Is this where nearby Slate Street got its name?
The trail was pleasant and I was pleased to find so many mulberry bushes on the sides. It was nearing lunch and I was getting hungry. Not a good time to get lost in the woods.
Soon the trail took me to a clearing filled with construction materials. Black corrugated pipes so wide that my 5-year-old could walk through lead to crumbled piles of cement tubes.
I still hadn’t been considering the fact that I was trespassing. I hadn’t seen any signs and this trail seemed well-worn. The discarded items made me start to question the legality of my presence.
Then, it happened. A figurative fork in the road. I make that distinction because I often find utensils in my path. Gross.
I took the one on the right not because it was less traveled but because it appeared to go in the direction of the scant other streets I was aiming for. It did not. The trail on the right led immediately back to the one on the left. The trail on the left, kept going left. At one point I had another decision to make and took the trail that was more mud and less pond.
If being lost in the woods was what I was going to do today, I wasn’t going to do it soaking wet and muddy. I probably should have gone for it.
The trail I was following seemed to go down and down into the depths of hell. At least it was cool down here. Less and less sunlight reached the forest floor below the mature streets. The light that did illuminate the ground was foliage-filtered into a surreal chartreuse. A few silken webs sparkled in the light that was gracious enough to touch it. I peed right underneath one of those webs.
It wasn’t one of my prouder moments but I was desperate and in that moment I felt like I was the only person on earth. Relieved but still at too low of an elevation to shove my sore body into my car, I started back up. I found myself in the middle of a power line clearing.
When viewing these areas from satellite maps, it’s easy to assume that a person could easily traverse the clearing. After all, it can’t be taller than ankle high grass. Right? Not in mid-July it’s not.
These weeds were taller than a 5’3.75″ person and surrounded one of them (yours truly) at every turn except the direction from which she came. I was NOT going back. I realized that if I’d been presented with these weeds at the beginning of my walk, I wouldn’t have even considered getting to the other side. They might as well be a barb wire-topped chain link fence or a ten foot living wall made of wolf spiders. Like I said, I was desperate. I made a bad decision and deserved whatever ticks or rashes I got from these weeds.
Is that Catholic Guilt or Caution Fatigue talking? Probably both. I also tricked myself with hopes of Salvation. Hard journeys always lead to rewards. At the end of every single Dead End Street I’ve walked, I always find something funny, strange, or out of place. What are these weeds that are growing out of a veritable hard mud wall going to lead me to? Oh. I wasn’t expecting a massive tree house with a slide on the other side.
Maybe I wasn’t on public land. Once I was back on Casabill Drive, I frantically searched for the property lines of the wilderness from which I’d just emerged. Please don’t let there be trail cameras…
The house that owns ALL of the land I was exploring and desecrating is now owned by the bank. I’m hoping that if the family who previously lived there did have trail cams, the batteries have run out and that if the bank put some there, they won’t publish any stills. I haven’t heard anything and it’s been almost two months. 🤞🏼
I took Casabill Drive until it ended in a thin border of trees on the edge of Mooney Drive. Down on Mooney I took a quick detour away from my car to examine a special shrine to someone’s fallen friend.
One final remark. If your name is Rich and you have a black truck and you like to dine at Chic-fil-a, you are an assh*le. Don’t throw your garbage out of your big truck window lest the one-eyed reaper comes to life and chases you down.