All walks of life


Walkabout International’s Walter Konopka Jr. leads a walk and gives a naturalist lecture at the Tijuana River Estuary Visitor Center in National City with Dr. Pat Peterson at his side. Courtesy photo

Walkabout International
(619) 231-7463 or walkabout-int.org

By Pat Sherman

For 35 years, participants in Walkabout International have been placing one foot in front of the other, trekking across the county’s urban and suburban terrain in pursuit of fun, fitness and camaraderie.

This month, the organization celebrated its anniversary with more than 100 free walks, including several in the La Jolla area.

University City resident and longtime Walkabout member, Pat Walker, got involved with numerous organizations to stay active and meet new people after her husband died in the early ’90s, including the Silver Gate Yacht Club, the YMCA, a women’s auxiliary group, Mission Beach Plunge and Walkabout.

“Walkabout, to me, is the best,” said Walker, a retired bakery owner and American Airlines flight attendant. “You walk and you talk. You get your exercise and you meet all these people from every walk of life.”

Each year the group offers as many as 1,000 varied walks, most of them free or for a nominal fee.

La Jolla resident Addie Scholfield began participating in the all-volunteer, nonprofit organization shortly after moving to California, more than 34 years ago.

“It was a wonderful way to get acquainted with the city and the people,” said Schofield, who participates in about two walks per week. “What I like is that you don’t have to make a reservation (for most walks). You just go when you feel like it.”

(from left) Kay Hughes, Walkabout founder Larry Forman and Walkabout trip leader Jane Zeer. Courtesy

Since it was founded, Walkabout International has organized more than 25,000 treks, covering more than 2 million people-miles, or the equivalent of walking around the equator more than 80 times, organizers say.

The group also organizes some paid trips to various locales in the U.S. and abroad. Past destinations have included Switzerland, Scotland, France, Mexico and Japan. The group has planned a trip to Hawaii in April.

Detailed information about each month’s walks and meeting locations are posted on the group’s website, walkabout-int.org, or for a small annual fee members can receive a monthly newsletter in the mail.

Schofield said her favorite walks have included those in Tecolote Canyon and at Torrey Pines State Reserve. She has also taken part in several of the group’s day trips, including sojourns to the Anza-Borrego Desert and a tour of the late midcentury craftsman Sam Maloof’s home, near the Huntington Library.

Schofield will help lead a walking tour of the La Jolla Cove area March 26, which culminates with a tour of Casa de Mañana retirement community, where she resides.

“I like living at the Casa, but I also like having some outside friends,” said Schofield, who likes that the group plans “frugal” lunch outings with its walks, for those who are on a budget.

Walker said her favorite excursions were those led by the late “Downtown” Sam Minsker (1927-2001), who specialized in tours of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. A Walkabout tour on March 10 included a visit to Minsker’s grave at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, where participants paid their respects to the quirky tour guide who knew downtown like the back of his hand.

“He did simple things,” Walker said. “There’d be 30 or 40 of us out there throwing Frisbees around. People loved it. It brought you back to your childhood.”

A plaque in memory of the late Walkabout International tour guide “Downtown” Sam Minsker adorns a bench outside the William Heath Davis House in downtown San Diego.

That trip also featured stops at the Tijuana River Estuary, Liberty Station, La Jolla Cove and the San Diego Cake Club’s annual show in La Jolla.

Walkabout past president Dan Haslam has been active in the organization since he moved to San Diego in 2000.

Haslam, who is purchasing a part-time property in Cap Cod, said he hopes to start an affiliate organization there. The group currently has affiliations with walking groups in Phoenix (Walkabout Arizona) and Los Angeles (Footloose).

Walkabout has some members in their 90s, though the average age of walkers is between 50 and 70, said Haslam, who leads tours for the group.

One of his favorites was a tour called the “Beautiful Stranger,” which included sites in Coronado and downtown San Diego related to the supposed suicide of Kate Morgan, who died under mysterious circumstances five days after checking into the Hotel Del Coronado (and is believed by some to be the ghost haunting the property).

“We went to all the sites downtown that were associated with the suicide, (including) the place where she bought a gun and the mortuary where her body was taken. Then we went to Mt. Hope Cemetery and used a map to find her grave,” Haslam said. “It was just a fun day … almost like a scavenger hunt.”

Walkabout also includes a subgroup called TWEEBS (Tuesday Walkers Ethnic Eating Brunch), which ends each walk at an ethnic restaurant, from Korean to French.

Walkabout past president Larraine Marshall (left) and longtime member Kay Hughes during a recent excursion. Courtesy

There are also slower, lower-impact walks organized for those in wheelchairs or who use walkers, as well as walks in which leashed dogs are permitted.

Upcoming walks
• March 23, 9 a.m. Star of India tour. Walkabout member Elizabeth Schlappi will lead a two-hour tour of the historical ships and museum. Meet at the Maritime Museum, 1492 North Harbor Dr. $8. There is metered parking, or take the bus or trolley to cut costs. (619) 231-7463.

• Saturday, March 24, 7:15 a.m. Walkabout revives one of its most popular walks, “Late Birds,” exploring secret trails along San Diego Bay. Park in the meter-less parking area at Anchorage Lane and Canon Street in Point Loma. (619) 469-6223.

• Saturday, March 24, 6:15 p.m. “Saturday Night Live.” The moderate-level walk includes the Port’s “Greatest Generation Walk,” with a pass through either Seaport Village or the Gaslamp Quarter. Meet at the statue on the Harbor Drive side of the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway. (619) 303-7942.

• Monday, March 26, 10 a.m. Group will walk at a casual pace along the La Jolla coast, admiring the seals and gardens, followed by an escorted tour of Casa de Mañana retirement community. Meet at Casa de Mañana, 849 Coast Boulevard. There is two-hour parking by the Museum of Contemporary Art on Prospect Street. (858) 456-4260.

* More walks listed at walkabout-int.org (click on calendar).

Related posts:

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  3. La Jolla Jewish community gathers for Grand Menorah Lighting Ceremony
  4. A WindanSea sunset
  5. Art and Wine Festival a treat for the senses

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Mar 20, 2012. Filed under Community, Featured Story, Life, Outdoors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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