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Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side

So Bob Dylan wins a prize and suddenly everyone wants to make a big deal out of the guy. "Oooooh, look at the singer-songwriter from Hibbing! He's all special because he won an awar-r-r-r-rd." Seriously, how prestigious is a Nobel Prize, anyway? I heard getting one of those is as easy as blowin' in the wind.

You want a real accomplishment? Try walking 125 miles in Minnesota state parks, Mr. Bojangles!

That's exactly what my wife and I did during our latest Empty Nest Adventure, and we didn't even have to pretend to be happy about the achievement, like a certain Guy from the North Country I could mention in a mumble. We're proud of it!

It all started last winter, after we purchased snowshoes in anticipation of becoming more active in the upcoming year. Of course, that wasn't going to be difficult since 2015 saw me get off the couch only in case of emergency (dead TV remote batteries and/or clean socks). But 2016 was going to be different, in a lot of ways. Our kid was heading off to college, leaving us with a black void that we decided to fill with exciting activities like snowshoeing. And sock washing.

After a couple of frosty moonlight waddles out at Jay Cooke, we heard about the 125 Challenge. Apparently, one of Minnesota's oldest icons, second only to Bud Grant's scowl, is Itasca State Park. To celebrate its founding in 1891, if you covered 125 miles by bike, boot or boat in any state park, you'd be proclaimed a 125 Finisher and awarded a free sticker. Well, if there's one thing Sue and I crave, it's a challenge. And stickers. So we started keeping track.

As we moved into full-blown empty-nesting last fall, a strange phenomenon occurred: We had time to do stuff. This, coupled with the fact that parks are located all over the state, allowed us to rack up the mileage. The Underground Mine in Soudan, Minneopa in Mankato, Flandrau in New Ulm, Crow Wing in Brainerd ... wherever we found ourselves, we sought out a park and hiked until that mileage log, ladies and gentlemen, it was a-changin'!

Last week, after a quick jaunt at Jay Cooke, we had our 125. Actually, Sue finished a week earlier but because she's a fantastic partner, and because I held my breath until she agreed, she went out again and we finished together. We then handed in our completed logs and obtained our cherished stickers, proclaiming us to be 125 Finishers!

And if the Nobel Prize committee is impressed with this particular triumph, we'd even show up for an award. Just sayin'.

Brian didn’t lose any weight during the 125 Hiking Challenge because he simultaneously took part in the 125 Pudding Challenge.

Brian Matuszak

Brian Matuszak is the founder of Rubber Chicken Theater and invites you to follow him and his theater company on Twitter at, like them on Facebook at Rubber Chicken Theater and visit their website at