With the Walk Owego initiative underway in Owego, and during the Lake Street project, it is no surprise that Melanie Ihrig and Lou Tassinary ended up in Owego last week; a stop that was part of an 1,800-mile trek.
Both in their early sixties, the couple decided to take a walk – across America.
Tassinary, who was sporting his third pair of North Face boots and pulling a cart filled with dehydrated foods and clothing, described the prompting of their venture.
“When Melanie retired last year she told me she wanted to take a long walk,” stated Tassinary.
“So here we are,” Ihrig swiftly responded.
Tassinary, at the age of 62, is employed by Texas A&M University and is a professor for the Department of Visualization in the College of Architecture. Tassinary also served, at one time, as an executive associate dean.
Ihrig, who is 63 years old, recently retired from the Houston Methodist Research Institute.
Upon Ihrig’s retirement she simply mentioned that she wanted to go for a walk, but in no way did she imagine that her desire would land her in Owego, N.Y. last week, and a mere 200 miles from their final destination.
The couple started their trek in Santa Monica, California in October of last year with a goal to walk across the Bunyon Derby – a race trail established in 1928 to promote the opening of Route 66. According to Tassinary, this was the original Route 66.
The couple began with their dogs, Geoffrey and Finn, and were able to get as far as Albequerque, New Mexico – approximately 850 miles. It was early January, but they both became ill and had to take a break.
“We came down with food poisoning and couldn’t get over it, so we had to stop,” said Ihrig.
Their break lasted for a couple of months, but they were soon back at it – this time beginning in Chicago in May, and without their two dogs – they needed a rest.
Their starting point, in Chicago, was Soldier Field, close to the point where Route 66 ended. Walking approximately 15 to 20 miles per day, the couple made their way east with a goal to arrive at the 1920’s location of Madison Square Gardens by the end of the month. The miles walked from Chicago, upon reaching their destination, will total 1,000, with an overall total of 1,800 when the original 800 walked is added into the equation.
And last Tuesday the couple made a stop in Owego, N.Y., and were planning to spend the night at the Holiday Inn Express. The day before, the couple stopped in Nichols, N.Y. and spent the night at The Fainting Goat Island Inn.
And with the end of their cross America trek in sight, the couple talked about how difficult, yet worthwhile their journey has been.
Ihrig, who wears Salomon shoes, is now on her fourth pair; Tassinary, with his North Face boots, is on his third.
And the hardest part of the walk, they shared, is getting up every day and doing it again.
“It’s not like a marathon where you do the run and you are done,” shared Tassinary.
And walking at a pace of approximately three miles per hour, Ihrig finds the hills to be most challenging.
They explained that they have a GPS tracker with them at all times so their family and friends know their whereabouts. The tracker, they explained, also has an S.O.S. function.
Walking in front of two carts, the couple also has everything with them that they might need on their journey. Ihrig’s cart, weighing approximately 50 pounds, contains a tent, sleeping bags, and camping and rain gear. Tassinary’s cart is 80 pounds, and contains their food, clothing, and any repair kits they might need for their gear.
Sometimes they will stay at hotels, while at other times they will find a campground, Ihrig explained.
By Wednesday they were expected to arrive in Binghamton, and there they would stop for the evening.
As for Owego, Ihrig and Tassinary loved the history and ambience of the village.
And as for the trip, overall, Ihrig stated that they went through some tough places on their journey thus far, but most were beautiful.
This couple can officially say that they walked Owego, in alignment with the alternate parking incentive, as well as the entire length of the United States of America.