Who am I and why am I walking?

 

Also check-out my Facebook page, Boomer Walking.

My name is Dave Stalls and I consider myself a walker.   I was born in the mid-fifties which makes me a Baby Boomer.  Thus, www.BoomerWalking.org.  And yes, I am the same guy who played in the NFL & USFL of 9 pro seasons.

I am walking long distances for 4 main reasons:

  • To travel to places I have not been or that have had significance in my life.
  • To express my activist self.
  • To be physically and spiritually engaged for the rest of my life.
  • To raise awareness and hopefully donations for the Street Fraternity, www.StreetFraternity.org

My “Dumb Phone”

I choose to try to mindfully experience each walk.  In fact, it is during my long distance walks that I find myself in a consistent meditative space.  This is part of the reason why I do not carry a “smart phone” and camera.  Future memories and your degree of connection may suffer, but I hope to have a much deeper experience by being more present in each moment.

Street Fraternity

The Street Fraternity is a place of brotherhood and personal growth for urban young men in the violent East Colfax Avenue neighborhoods on the Aurora/Denver border in Colorado.  Over 90% of our participants are former refugees from Burma/Thailand, Bhutan/Nepal, and many African countries.  We attract the active participation of over 93 unduplicated young men.   Please consider making a contribution on the Street Fraternity’s secure donation page: http://streetfraternity.org/donate/.

My Long Distance Walks

  • My introduction to long distance walking came from periodically providing car support to my son, Jonathon Stalls, on his walk across the United States (www.KivaWalk.com) in 2010.  His Denver based walking business (www.Walk2Connect.com) and passionate advocacy for reprioritizing walking in our lives and communities has put and kept walking front and center in my life.
  • Camino de Santiago de Compostella:  in September and early October 2012 Jonathon and I walked the entire 490 mile pilgrimage across northern Spain.  We started in St. Jean Pied De Porte, France and finished 32 days later in Santiago de Compostella, Spain.  This transformative journey helped me experience the meditative quality of walking and challenge of being present in every moment.  I discovered that my “true Camino begins at its end.”
  • Denver to Greeley, Colorado: in November 2013 I walked 56 miles mostly along Hwy 85 from Denver to Greeley.  For over 30 years I’ve driven this route to and from my college alma mater, the University of Northern Colorado, and never taken the time to experience the small towns, farm land, and oil fields along the way.  I took my time and completed the journey in 5 days and nights.  I now have a deeper appreciation for this land, its people and communities.
  • San Francisco, California to Port Orford, Oregon: I have wanted to experience this stretch of the Pacific coast for decades, but life was always too busy.  Finally the time was right.  My original plan was to walk solo 960 miles from San Fran to Seattle, but along the way my lower left shin decided I’d be done at about 450 miles.  On Sunday April 20, 2014 my walk began at the same Pacific beach in San Francisco (just south of the Cliff House restaurant) that my son ended his walk across the U.S. in 2010.  In the San Francisco area I was assisted by my Sigma Chi fraternity brother, Randy D’Amico.  Once I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, I caught U.S. Hwy 1 at Mill Valley, and headed north.  I carried about ¾ of my camping equipment, clothes, water, etc. in a jogging stroller.  The stroller kept me to roads and improved paths.  A big shout-out and thanks to my “trail angels” I met along the way, especially Susan Speier in Bodega Bay, Mike & Tina Halfhill at the Stonegate Villas in Leggett, and Mark Lankton & family in Port Orford, Oregon.   Here’s a few learnings from my Pacific coast walk:
    • I most enjoyed reaching and exploring small and medium sized towns, especially their local eateries and coffee houses.  By far my favorite town was Arcata, California and its Humboldt State University.  My second favorite town was Port Orford, Oregon.
    • There were so many wonderful bicyclists, many from other countries, who stopped and talked, but I only saw one other walker, Greg Hindy, who was walking across the U.S. and doing so in silence.
    • Most people are drivers and bicyclists, and when asked for directions usually have no concept of walking distances/times.
    • The redwoods are the magnificent living beings.  They create and participate in a magical canopy where there must be wizards, hobbits, angels, etc.
    • I enjoyed a consistently increasing number of moments in which I authentically and mindfully appreciated the present, for example the crashing waves on rocky cliffs and coves, magical shade of the redwoods, wind/breezes, rain, food, bridges, raccoons, pelicans, jays, California quails, grey whales, wild turkeys, ospreys, turkey vultures, seals, elephant seals, California gulls, otters, etc.
  • 50th Anniversary Selma to Montgomery Walking Classroom: organized by the U.S. Forest Service (what an outstanding group of passionate professionals) about 150 marchers from across the USA and the Bahamas walked about 36 miles of the original 54 mile voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.  I left Denver on March 18th by Greyhound bus and traveled to Montgomery…what an experience to ride the Greyhound.  Our march began in Selma on March 21st, 50 years since the day of the 3rd try to start the voting rights march.  We ended on Wednesday, March 25th at the Capitol steps in Montgomery.  This was my first significant experience in the deep South, and it was life changing on many levels.  While the actual walking was much less than I anticipated, the experiences honoring the true heroes of the past, getting to know my fellow marchers, and dealing with my conflicting feelings about the South has enriched my life.

Writings on Walking

While my walking motivations and experiences are not “religious”, they are often spiritual.  I relate to The Beatitudes of the Pilgrims (see below).  Thank you Gene McCullough of the Colorado Front Range Chapter of the American Pilgrims for finding this, and for so much more:

The Beatitudes of the Pilgrims

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you find that the Camino opens your eyes to the unseen.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if what concerns you most is not arriving, but arriving with others.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, when you contemplate the sights of the Camino and find them full of new names and of new dawns.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if your backpack empties of objects and your heart doesn’t know how to hold so many emotions.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you discover that a step backwards to help another is more valuable than a hundred forward taken without awareness of those at your side.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you search for the truth and make of your Camino a life, and of your life a Camino.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if on the Camino you meet yourself and make yourself a gift of time without hurry, so that you may not neglect the image of your heart.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you find that the Camino is rich with silence and the silence is rich with prayer and the prayers are encounters with the Spirit that awaits you.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, when you have no words to give thanks for all the wonders in every nook of the Camino.

Blessed are you, pilgrim, because you have discovered that the true Camino begins at its end.