A long walk home

Katie Curry, Staff Reporter

He sits behind his Mac computer in his classroom down E-hall, with classic rock playing in the background, and posters hung all over his walls. Technology teacher, husband, and father, Ray Cooper seems to be the average man. But there’s more than what meets the eye.

Most people travel place to place via car; especially when your destination takes more than 10 minutes to walk.  However Cooper isn’t most people as he has started walking to school or home from school on occasions.

“I live in Mckinney 10 miles away. Driving it, if its just regular traffic, I can get home in 15-20 minutes,” Cooper said.  “The first time I walked it in 3 hours and 45 minutes.”

For most people it may seem crazy for someone to walk that long after a full day job, or before taking on a full day on the job. Time is a factor to most people’s lives, and walking instead of driving takes up more time.

“Something that would take literally five seconds takes ten minutes because there are some places on the service road you can walk where there’s kind of a bike lane so I will walk out on that because my feet were getting so wet and those were the only shoes that I had,” Cooper said.

It’s a process that Cooper is beginning to understand more and more after each experience. Knowing what he was doing and actually doing it are two different things.

“There’s places where it gets super skinny and there are cars coming and you don’t want to be walking in the street obviously like some fool, but then there are areas where there’s a place to walk,” Cooper said.  “But I hurt my knee so its hard to walk and so even though its a straight line that should just take you 5 minutes sometimes it’ll be like 10 minutes just because.”

Walking 10 miles to or from the school isn’t for most people, but Cooper has his reasons for making the trek.

“I tore my ACL last year, last Thanksgiving I had it operated on. They repaired the ACL but all the cartilage they weren’t able to sew it back up, so they had to trim it all down and really ever since then I haven’t been able to do much physically,” Cooper said. “I’m turning 43 this year so that on top of my knee, I just wanted to be able to be active. It’s kind of a celebrations of being able to be active again.”

Along with the health and physical activity benefits, Cooper has other reasons behind the walking as well.

“I’m Buddhist and there’s a lot of mind meditations you can do and things you can do to kind of block things out. But sometimes that just doesn’t work,” Cooper said. “I like to be alone. Being able to walk home for three hours, sometimes I’ll listen to podcasts, sometimes I’ll listen to music.  I know it sounds boring, it really does, but it’s about being in the moment and enjoying what you’re doing even though it’s just walking.”

Cooper has taken numerous walks home already. His first and second times were walks home after school. The third trip was the first time he decided to walk to school.

“The thing about walking home is because it takes me so long, I really miss a lot of time with my wife and my kids,” Cooper said.  “It’s not fair for her to get home from work and then have three hours to herself with the kids.”

Because of these realizations, Cooper began brainstorming of alternative ideas.

“So the good thing I thought of, I’m waking up at three and leaving at four a.m. and so I’m not missing any time. And also I find that I wake up and start thinking and my mind starts getting revved up and sometimes if I do that I think what I’m doing is crazy and I need to go back to sleep. But then you try and go back to sleep and you can’t,” Cooper said.

His wife, Tammy Cooper is a teacher at Sloan Creek Middle School, and has opinions about her husband’s actions.

“Ray is an amazing man!  He is always doing things like this to test his boundaries.  If he wonders ‘what if,’ then he takes on the experiment and finds out,” wife Tammy said. “It doesn’t affect things much.  I have more responsibility with getting our son up and to school on the mornings he walks, but Ray takes Rush to school all the other mornings.  And on the afternoons he walks home, it just gives me and Rush a little alone time til Daddy gets home.”

With his big backpack, Cooper takes on the roads.

“It’s one of these things I’m doing for me.  I’m hoping to get in some better health habits,” Cooper said.  “I don’t know if I’ll do it every week for the rest of the year but I’d like to be able to get in better shape and maybe this will be the key for it.”