Along the Missouri River, there are 26 rambling trails where you can walk or bike through soft marshlands, towering bluffs, pleasing pastures, and thick forests.

Those trails make up the Katy Trail State Park — the longest public area in the United States that was formerly train tracks.

Built on the corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, there's also quite a bit of history to be found on any outdoor excursion in this state park. Most trails go past restored historic depots and former railroad towns. It's no surprise all 240 miles of this park were added to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame in 2008.

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"It's like walking dogs, but you don't have to pick up poo."

That's how Chuck McCarthy describes his job as The People Walker. It's a joke, of course, albeit one that the L.A.-based actor delivers dryly enough over the phone that it almost feels profound.

But that's basically how he managed to turn people-walking into a second career. Acting work comes in waves, even for the biggest names in the industry, and he was looking for something to fill the time and get him out of the house when he was between gigs. He knew some people who made extra cash by walking dogs, but he didn't want to pick up poop, "which is really what you're being paid for," he said.

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When I was a kid, I went on a lot of nature walks with my mom.

We lived in the country in Central Texas and had a little plot of woods all to ourselves. We walked around big, ancient oaks and twisted, gnarly mesquite trees. Sometimes, we'd find a tree covered in big, ropey mustang grapevines and I'd climb up into the trees, pretending I was in the Swiss Family Robinson.

Other times, we went looking for animals. My favorites were the green anole lizards that lived on trees and flashed their red neck flaps at you.

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