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.”
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.