Mike Pauwels walks to the library, he walks to the grocery store and he walks to the dry cleaners.
Starting Sunday, he’ll walk all the way to San Antonio.
It’s part of a challenge laid down by his son Hugh, who plays clarinet in the band at McCallum High School. Hugh practiced long hours and made Texas All State Band this year. The band will perform at the Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio next week, and Hugh, who had seen his dad log hundreds of miles walking around Austin, challenged him to walk there to see him play.
The 95-mile trip will take five days. Pauwels, 70, has plotted out a route that sticks to back roads and avoids Interstate 35. Hugh will drive out once during the walk to drop off clean clothes and cart away the dirty stuff. Pauwels will stay at hotels along the way, because although he likes to walk, he also likes to sleep comfortably at night.
So far, the weather looks perfect.
Pauwels, a retired electrical engineer, says he is making the walk to honor all the musicians from McCallum who made All State band, choir or orchestra. The adventure will mark his first really long, multi-day walk, but he’s been traipsing all over Austin for the last three years. He’ll carry a flag honoring McCallum Fine Arts along the way.
“I watch my son practice, go through regional and then area auditions … getting to All State takes a fair amount of effort, and walking’s not so hard,” he says.
Pauwels, a former runner who got hit by a car and underwent knee surgery, typically walks about 10 miles a day. Recently he’s been walking farther – on Wednesday, he logged 17 miles.
“I’d like to say I started because my son started using my car, but it’s just entertainment. Anybody can walk, but not everybody has the time,” he says.
Pauwels writes about his walking adventures in this blog.