John Silas and company have walked 99% of Hollis’ roads
Friday, January 11, 2013
HOLLIS – It takes a lot of walking to visit all but six of the streets in Hollis.
Nevertheless, roads within the 31.8 square miles noted on the town’s website have presented no challenge to longtime resident John Sias, the retired CEO of a marketing company. He has walked the streets, roads, lanes, ways and drives of the town, three times.
The first two times he completed the quest, he walked with Marie, his wife of 43 years. Marie, also retired, was the dean of Academic Affairs for Nashua Technical College, now Nashua Community College.
The couple is used to high levels of activity. They ski at Crotched Mountain in Bennington. He has a daily routine of stretching exercises. They both agree that walking provides sojourns that are relaxing yet energizing. Walking also is a good way to get out on a nice day in the winter.
“You never get cold walking,” Marie said. “You can go out in the winter and enjoy a walk, rather than running right from the car into the house.”
John, 82, and Marie, 69, also concur that walking is one of the best of all exercises. Their goal to walk upon every one of the town’s street, enabled them to breathe deeply and take in the beauty of apple orchards and farmers’ fields. They marveled at the variety in home styles and mailbox motifs.
The third time around the town, John walked with his Great Dane, a 145-pound, 6-year-old, male dog named Max. The pet came into his life in January, on the same day that Dawson, his previous pet Great Dane, died. Dawson’s demise was due to a raging spinal infection that left no hope.
John chanced a glance at Craigslist, an online advertising forum. He almost immediately encountered a listing from a family with two Great Danes, too many children and too little space in their home. Within 12 hours, Max was adopted by John and Marie.
Today, Max is snugly ensconced in the new abode. The dog seems to enjoy sharing the house with John and Marie, two other small dogs, two kittens and three cats.
John and Max soon were off on John’s third tour of the town. John had retained a map of the city streets used in earlier travels.
He made a chart with columns noting days walked, miles walked, how many minutes he and Max spent walking, the streets they visited and additional random details.
Recently, John concluded that as of a month ago, he and Max walked on 49 days. They walked 141 miles in those 49 days. Each venture was three miles in length.
Total hours walked by the pair equaled 50.4. The number of days he and Max walked, between the start and finish of the third tour, May 20-Oct. 21, was 150 days. The number of roads in Hollis is 152, said John. He and his dog walked 146 of them.
The roads not taken, due to heavy traffic or too-narrow shoulders, include South Merrimack Road, Silver Lake Road, Routes 111 and 111A, Proctor Hill and Broad Street.
“When you’re walking with a Great Dane on a long leash, you have to have a little roaming room,” John said. “He likes a bit of room.”
He and Max had attempted to launch their springtime exercise sessions by walking in the woods around town. They enjoyed the outings. Then, John came home one day with eight ticks on his legs.
“That was our last time in the woods,” John said.
Instead, he and Max headed for the streets. John said he has taken pains to keep his dog from discovering that there is a road at the end of the family’s driveway.
It is a long, downward-sloping driveway with a couple of curves. He said wanted to take no chances on the big dog prancing down the driveway and walking off on his own to parts unknown.
“On the first day, I put Max in the car and we drove to the bottom of the driveway,” John said. “Then, I let him out. We started our first walks from there.”
Soon, however, the pair ran out of roads near to the house. They were driving farther away each time they headed for a new street on the list. John now knows that he and Max drove approximately 250 miles to arrive at, and return from, the streets at the more distant edges of the town.
The mileage notwithstanding, John soon found he was recognizing additional benefits of walking. The dog often wanted to walk fast. So, too, did John. There were no costs to the activity, other than gas for the car. There was no equipment to buy, other than the leash.
He said he was able to set a goal and “enjoy a sense of accomplishment” at its attainment.
“Our walks gave me proof that my community is a pretty beautiful place,” John said. “I noticed things I might not see if I was in my car. And I saw some really good stone walls.”
John is a veteran of the Air Force and the Korean Conflict. He said he enjoys taking on projects and completing them. He was the first president of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Nashua, a nonprofit known for helping youngsters attain social and educational goals. He also was instrumental in growing the Nashua Chamber of Commerce and earlier was affiliated with the Boston Chamber.
Marie watched as her husband donned a hat and lifted a dog leash from its place on a hook in the foyer. She said that when she is otherwise occupied, it is good to know that John continues pursuing an enjoyable method of maintaining his health and fitness.
“I want him to be as active as possible,” Marie said.
John smiled a reply. Then, he dangled the leash in front of a Max, who reclined nearby -- napping in a patch of sunlight. Instantly, Max was up and focused on the front door of the house – the house at the top of the hill, at the top of the winding driveway that leads to a street Max still does not know is there.
“Come on, Max. Let’s go for a ride,” John said, as he and Max took to the road, again.
Journal Staff Writer
Loretta Jacskon welcomes story ideas from our readers. She can be reached at email@example.com.