Say you’re 66 and freshly retired and living in Rio Rancho.

What do you do next?

If you’re Terry Gates, you embark on a mission to walk (almost) every street in the city.

Maybe you’ve seen a stranger striding around your cul-de-sac or up and down your street, and he doesn’t look familiar. It could be Gates, although he expects this epic adventure to end sometime this month.

The city has more than 450 miles of paved streets, but Gates isn’t putting his life in jeopardy by strolling on either side of NM 528, nor entering gated communities. US 550 and parts of Northern are also off his list.

Still, you have to admire his grit and gait.

Shortly after retiring last November, he decided he needed something to do to stay active and be challenged, and this challenge began on Thanksgiving Day.

Terry and his wife of 43 years, Mary, have lived in the city since 1980. They don’t do a lot of traveling, other than occasional trips to Oregon to visit their son and grandchildren, so he needed something local.

“I’m gonna start walking everyday when I retire – an hour every day,” he remembered thinking. “I didn’t want (to walk) the same street every day,” so he wanted to change his route.

“Rio Rancho’s big. This’ll take years,” he originally thought, now thinking he’ll soon be done after an hour a day, which amounts to about four miles, and thus 100-plus days should rack up 400-plus miles. “I don’t care how long it takes.”

Barring an unforeseen injury or circumstance, this challenge will have been completed in less than a year.

A former runner, he’s been through Cabezon and Enchanted Hills – that took him 20 days to complete – and Mariposa and a walk from Mariposa back to Paseo del Volcan awaited him when the Observer accompanied him for a typical 124-paces-a-minute walk.

By the end of that 50 or so minutes, his heart rate was at 109 and he’d stepped 5,600 times, a little more than 2 1/2 miles. He discovered on his Garmin GPS device, which he uses for tracking his daily and to-date progress.

It’s not as easy as it seems, and if you’ve driven through some of Rio Rancho’s neighborhoods, you’ll notice they’re not all laid out logically. So Gates uses Google maps to get an area’s streets, and downloads a small map, upon which he uses a colored pen to lay out his route.

Not getting lost is a plus for Gates. Getting blisters on his feet hasn’t been as rewarding.

At first, he recommended Skechers: “You know what I like about them? They’re comfortable, but they break down.”

On his last walk, he reported, he was on his fifth pair of shoes.

Maybe the best result of this quest, for a retired man who wants to stay healthy: “I lost 20 pounds.”

Terry Gates, walking through Northern Meadows recently. (Gary Herron/Observer)