Derek Johnson Muses

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Seward Nooks: South Trail

As I’ve written before, I love to walk, although since I moved I walk downtown more than I do on the trail near my new home. Technically, it’s the same walking trail as I used to walk on every day at my previous residence, but as you will see, the route feels a bit more cramped, and quite frankly, less inviting in certain spots.

Big Crossing...

Big Crossing…

The worst part of my walk is this intersection of US Highway 34, which is too wide, and at this moment, under construction. But it’s either cross here, or cross a bridge with highway traffic on it, so I always dart in front of the incoming traffic. (For Lutherans, the LCMS Nebraska District office is in the background on the left.)



Up a block from that vast highway cavern, I turn and head down to the low-land floodplain. It’s one of the better streets of old houses in Seward, as all of them are well maintained and have genuine old-world charm that’s unique to each house. Don’t get me started on the cul-de-sac at the bottom of the hill, though.



This is the bridge I have to cross to get to the main trail, and while the bridge is broad and modern, but the pedestrian walk-way is narrow and not big enough for two people to pass by each other. At least it’s not as busy as the interstate. After the narrow crossing I have to go down a narrow connector path to get to…


..the end of a spur.

This is where real trail begins. The John Deere repair place is in the background, on the other side of the soybean field. The trail is basically a whole bunch of curves around the river.






This part of the trail runs beneath US Highway 34. It’s the one part of Seward that feels strangely urban, with the shadows and the lights along the top. But you can always see the greenery from either side.



More curves and greenery. Off to the right is a small parking area with a couple of historical markers, one of I don’t think I’ve ever read, and another one of those tall Nebraska historical plaques, blue and metal. There’s also a picnic table that I’ve never eaten at. But if I was driving through town on a business trip, I’d like to eat my lunch there.



A few paces down fro the picnic area, this drain hangs over the river. It may not empty anything into the river, in fact it probably doesn’t. There’s a lot I don’t know about this town.



The south tail of the trail runs by the ever bright sewage/water cleaning facility of the great city of Seward, right by this weird dome. It looks like the Trop in Tampa, where the Tampa Bay Rays play, not a great for them.

Gravel Street...

End Line…

Here’s where the trail ends, at Columbia Street across from a farmhouse and field complete with livestock, which you can just make out in the picture above. Columbia turns to gravel just before the it gets to the paved trail, and if there’s a sure sign of a rural town, it’s a gravel street and livestock within city limits.



On the other side of the fence is this winter-bear-float. I think this a Fourth of July Float, but I’m not sure since I never go to the parade. Either way, it looks so cheap in this city yard down on South Columbia in almost-ghetto. You think the city could find some empty shed to put it in.

It’s a long uphill walk, but I don’t think it’s that bad. It’s certainly not as bad as having to go down a steep hill when you’re tired and try to keep yourself from stumbling and falling all over yourself. On the left are the cheap Fox Run Apartments. When I worked at Valentino’s, I had to deliver to a woman in those apartments who always ordered an extra-cheese, extra-black olives small pizza.



This headless mailbox stands in front of an empty house. Like I said before, my neighborhood is a mixed bag of homes that are kept up and homes that have been neglected, the degrees of neglect range from semi to major.

Turn Sign...

Turn Sign…

Here’s where I turn off Columbia. This street runs one way for a single block to accommodate parking for the vision clinic and the insurance agency, hence the reason there’s an inordinate amount of traffic bothering me. I have never liked that this street runs one way,  but if it’s good for the eye clinic, I get that.

Writing Starts on the Trail, and Other Techniques

A few weeks ago, I shared a writing technique that I use to jump start myself when I’m down. Today, here’s some more strategies that I use to write.

When I go for an hour walk, I start with a cluttered head and let that head sort itself out. Some people listen to music to get a clear ahead, but that usually does not help me. When I walk, I make mental notes of my most passionate thoughts, and what other thoughts are in association with that main thought. The raw form of a post usually comes out without a specific category. Sometimes it’s an obvious container, like a Nebraska football game or a trip I was on, but when it’s something like a personal update or assessing a book, then it can be tricky to find the starting point. And in this process, the starting point may not be the main point.

When I get home from my walk, I (try to) go to my computer or to a pad, turn on some music, and begin writing. This stage is more about getting all the points out, not putting them in order (that’s rewriting). Once I get going, it usually takes an hour and 500-700 words to get a solid post out, and I almost always go one or two points more than I should. I never outline, although sometimes I just write down one thought to see if anything follows it. If not, I move on.

The rewriting can be the most frustrating. My minimum rewriting requirements is that I get all of the spelling grammar errors out and get the flow working. If it’s a post about TV or movies or something else I don’t see as part of a larger market I’m putting forward, I don’t labor over it like I do my travel posts or my posts on Husker Max. There is a point where the extra labor is not being used productively, although more often than not I could have done more.

The one thing I have learn as a writer is that I will always have more ideas than I will know what to do with. If I type a sentence and nothing else comes, I tear myself away. Some of these I have come back to, others I’ve forgotten. Ideas want to get out, but if nothing follows the initial thought, it’s always good to let be as it is.

And there’s never any shame in sitting on ideas, if nothing coherently comes  The World War Z article was one that I waited to write until the movie came out. I knew back in January it was something that I wanted to write about because of how much the story of Jesika tore at me, but I needed to figure out how. (Frankly, I’m still not happy with the way that post turned out, but that’s the way it goes. At least I got it out.)

Site of most of meditation, on a bright fall night at sunset...

Site of most of meditation, on a bright fall night at sunset…


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