Travels with Buddy: In Search of Scarsdale
- Published on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 17:03
- Joanne Wallenstein
Greenacres resident Pat Simmermacher and her Welsh Springer Spaniel Buddy have walked miles together – in fact together they have covered every street in Scarsdale and Bronxville. How did they accomplish this and why? Read their endearing story here:
How did you get the idea to do the walk?
I found that I was walking the same roads over and over again and I was getting a bit tired of these routes. Since my children are grown and I was no longer carpooling, I wasn't seeing much of Scarsdale. I got a map of the Village Roads from the Park and Recreation Department, and thought that it would be fun to see more of our Village.
When did you begin in Scarsdale? How many months did it take? And why did you decide to continue in Bronxville?
I began walking Buddy on October 10, 2012. There was no schedule or regimen to our walks. We walked the streets when my schedule permitted. It took almost a year. We finished the walk on September 13, 2013.
I love our walks together because each walk is different and each feels like we are exploring. Some days we walk ¼ mile because we stop to chat with someone or because there are lots of interesting smells that Buddy wants to check out. Other days we might walk 3 miles. There is never a boring walk, and the walking never seems like exercise.
Buddy and I had so much fun exploring Scarsdale that we decide to continue to explore other towns. We decided on Bronxville because it's a manageable size and Bronxville's streets have little traffic and it is a pretty village. A friend of mine lives in Bronxville and we thought this would be a good way for us to catch up and walk our dogs at the same time. We started our walk on November 2, 2013. My friend was not able to finish these routes because her dog became ill. Buddy and I finished Bronxville in three weeks.
How many miles of roads did you cover in each town?
Bronxville is a very small village It is 1 square mile whereas Scarsdale is 6 ½ square miles. Scarsdale has 95 miles of roads.
What were some of the interesting sites you saw?
I loved seeing all the beautifully landscaped yards and gardens that thrive all over Scarsdale. Scarsdale homes are well maintained, and the architecture is amazingly diverse. Each neighborhood – and they are not just Greenacres, Fox Meadow, Heathcote, Quaker Ridge, and Edgewood – but a multitude of smaller, self-composed neighborhoods, who have their own personalities, energy and character.
I saw wonderful pocket parks and hidden neighborhood passageways to the elementary schools and neat weather vanes. With many homes I enjoyed contemplating what seems to be important to each family. Their yards and front doors and cars and sports equipment offered lots of clues.
What were some of the biggest surprises about your journey?
I was surprised to see how many people enjoy taking walks in Scarsdale.
Scarsdale is full of phenomenally successful and talented people. Rubbing elbows and getting to know such people is something I truly treasure. But on my walks I never encounter people in "Type A" mode. No one I meet is walking to win a trophy or accomplish anything. People walk to relax and regroup and enjoy being outside. It cannot be more simple. It is a delight to say hi and chat with them! It so often leads to wonderful conversations and insights.
Did people stop you along the way and ask why you were there?
There were many times when Buddy was sitting and staying at intersections, waiting for the traffic to clear, when people would stop their car, lean out the window, and say something sweet about Buddy. If they knew us, they would ask why we were so far from home. I would tell them we were exploring Scarsdale. It was fun hearing from them that they had seen us before somewhere, unexpectedly. It was like finding Waldo...or where is Waldo today?
Did you ever arouse suspicion?
No one ever questioned why we were in their neighborhood and we never aroused suspicion. However, there were a few homes that we passed where we wondered what was going on because the houses, unlike most houses, seemed dark, bordered up, or hidden by overgrown shrubbery.
How old is Buddy and what kind of dog is he?
Buddy is seven years old. He is a Welsh Springer Spaniel. Welsh Springer Spaniels are hunting dogs. True to his breed, he is active, loyal, and affectionate, and needs lots of exercise. Buddy has a brother and a half sister in Scarsdale.
Did he get into the routine and learn what to expect?
Buddy adores his walks! When I say, "Let's take a walk!" and go to the kitchen counter to get his leash, Buddy can barely contain himself. He jumps, he wiggles, and tears down the stairs to the door we always go out. As we walk he always seems to be smiling! It is impossible not to be happy while watching Buddy be so curious and delighted! During each walk, within 3 -4 minutes, Buddy becomes attuned to my pace and embraces it. He is an excellent walking companion!
Are there roads you could not walk due to the conditions?
Yes, there were a few roads we were not able to walk on like Saxon Woods Road and Weaver Street. They were either too narrow or windy, or had too much traffic. On roads that I felt were unsafe, I would put him in the car and we would drive down the streets. I wanted to be able to say: "Buddy has been on every road in Scarsdale!"
Did you carry the map with you or memorize the route before you went each day?
Early on we headed out without a map. But too many times we would head down one road and end up on different streets than what I intended. So eventually, I made a copy of the Village map and carried that and a pen in my pocket so I could mark off each road as we went. When I got home, I would take a blue magic marker and color in the roads that we covered that day on my large wall map. It was fun seeing the map get filled in and to plot out my next route.
Did you end up walking in bad weather at times?
There were a few unexpected rain showers that got us when we were too far away from our car, so we got pretty wet. Some of our most enjoyable walks were during and after fresh soft snow fell. If the conditions were too unsafe we wouldn't walk far, but on some of these snow days it was just glorious being outside! It was so peaceful. The only trouble with snowy days was Buddy couldn't pick up all the smells he enjoyed when the weather was warmer.
Anything you would like to add?
Every time Buddy sees a mailman or a white mail truck he sits pretty and waits patiently for a biscuit that he is sure every mailman carries.
Buddy's favorite spot in Scarsdale is at the intersection of Brewster Road and Chesterfield Road. That's where he gets 1 or 2 BIG biscuits from the Fox Meadow School Crossing Guard!
Buddy's favorite time to walk is around 3:00 PM when he sees lots of children. He loves the attention he gets and their affectionate pats.
The author John Steinbeck, in Travels with Charley: In Search of America, would say to his dog Charley: "You don't even know where I'm going." Charley would answer back: " I don't care. I'd like to go anywhere."
My Buddy says the exact same thing every time we head out!
Recently I read about a group of Chappaqua women who meet once a week to walk NYC blocks. Their goal is to walk every block in Manhattan. As long as I can include Buddy, it sounds like lots of fun to me!