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November 21, 2017 Comments Off on Summer on the open road Latest, Nature

Summer on the open road

If teacher Deb Walter wrote about how she spent her summer vacation, her report would be thick as a book.

Walter lived out of her car traveling out West from the day school let out last summer until classes began this semester. She headed wherever her whim and mood took her with a kayak strapped to the roof of her Subaru Outback and a mountain bike on the back.

Enjoy the journey

Read more and see more photos from Deb Walter’s summertime trip at www.debwaltertravel.com.

Walter of Rogers started her trip with $1,200 in cash, vowing not to use a credit card. Turned out $1,200 was all she needed for fuel, food and an occasional campsite.

“I had $7 left when I got home and had a half a tank of gas,” she said.

Traveling by herself for three months wherever she felt like going became the adventure of a lifetime for Walter, 49, a physical education and outdoor recreation teacher at Rogers New Technology High School.

She drove 8,000 miles, visited seven national parks. Some nights she camped in her tent. Others she slept in her car or in a sleeping bag under the stars. Walter hiked, bike and paddled her kayak.

“Any body of water I stopped and paddled,” she said. That included four days and 100 miles of kayaking and camping on Lake Powell in Arizona.

Her 16-foot kayak carried Walter and her gear into slot canyons and past sheer cliffs that ring much of the massive lake. Cliffs made finding a camp spot tough. There wasn’t much flat ground.

“The first night I camped on a 6-foot strip of sand. Second night I found a little island,” she said. The water, the desert and listening to Italian opera were her companions.

Wavers from big boats bounced her around, nearly flipping her kayak and crashing it into towering rock walls

Grand Canyon is one of the national parks Walter visited and hiked 20 miles along the rim. Walter spent five days at a dude ranch, explored Oregon and drove down the California coast.

“All along the way I met the most fabulous people. I got so many blessings from so many kind people and I met other people who were doing the same thing as me, traveling by the seat of their pants,” she said.

At one stop, Walter’s keys came up missing and she was locked out of her Subaru. A man at the local Starbucks used his AAA auto club account and called a locksmith to open Walter’s car, where she had another key.

The teacher of 19 years started planning in March. Walter had gone through some tough personal times in recent years. She felt down, even wondering if she should return to the vocation she loves — teaching kids.

“I was at a reset point in my life, a turning point. I felt like I’d lost my spark,” she said.

Writing was an elixir that started to bring her around. Words flowed from her fingertips. Walter took up yoga, changed her diet and lost 50 pounds. Her summer travel adventure is part of a book she’s written, “Living an Authentic Life Through Inspired Passion and Purpose.”

The book is in the editing stage with a publisher, Walter said.

Mile after mile, Walter wrote a blog of her travels, which gathered 250 followers from around the world, including 25 of her students. “Postcards from the Edge,” she called her essays.

In August, Walter meandered back to Rogers with that spare $7 and a new outlook. Her spark, her zest, was back. She was excited, so excited, about teaching again. A solo trip is one she recommends to anyone, including single women like herself.

“One thing it did was reinforce for me that Northwest Arkansas is the most wonderful place. This pocket of beauty we have here, with all the lakes, rivers and trails and the economic opportunity. It’s just not like that in so many places,” she said.

Her itch to travel hasn’t gone away. Another summer adventure is already being planned.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fputthoff@nwadg.com or on Twitter @NWAFlip

Sports on 11/21/2017