The importance of the 50-yard walk |

The importance of the 50-yard walk

Tom Boyd

It’s amazing what a 50-yard walk can do. I encourage everybody to try it. We’re a good town when it comes to doing a five-mile run, or a 50-minute hike, or a 15-minute drive, or a five-day backpacking trip, but everybody ought to try the 50-yard walk.I’d like to see more 50-yard walks in this town.Ever try a 50-yard walk?Give it a shot.It takes very little preparation. You don’t even need very good shoes. Just walk out your door, pick a direction, and walk about 50 yards down the street. Don’t plan ahead. Don’t think about it. Just do it and see what happens.Chances are, you’ll end up somewhere in proximity of a neighbor’s door. With one knock, you can explore more territory than a week in the wilderness. Tell your neighbor you’re looking to borrow some sugar, or baking powder, or just make something up. If you just say hello, you can learn more about your town than you ever could staying holed up in your house, hanging out alone or just with your close friends. And it’s all because right there, just a few doors down, there are 100 stories you’ll never hear unless you make the 50-yard walk.The 50-yard walk is what makes a town a town.The 50-yard walk is what keeps communities together.This is High Country Character Month at The Vail Trail, and basically we’re taking the 50-yard walk all over town. We’re knocking on a few doors and getting to know people, then sharing some of the amazing personal stories that makes Vail such a profoundly cool place to live.It just so happens that the Roses, who we profile this week, live about 50 yards up my street. Wouldn’t you know it, I’d never been inside their house before. In fact, I can only recall one or two times when I’ve stood out in the yard, or the driveway, and shot the proverbial sh*t with my neighbors, and that’s a darned shame.So I took the 50-yard walk and spent the better part of a day learning what I could about the Roses, whose son Derek is my age. Coming back down the road (walking through April snow, of course), my neighborhood suddenly felt just as friendly and warm as it had during my childhood, when I used to climb all around the hills going to visit friends (yeah, that’s right, I’m still in the same neighborhood I grew up in no snickers, please). Taking that 50-yard walk reminded me that, no matter how much everybody seems to keep to themselves these days, we’ve still got a pretty good crew surrounding us.There have been a few times over the past year when we’ve all been reminded of that. Unfortunately, most of them have been memorial services. Sometimes it takes a loss for Vail’s old guard to get off their collective fannies and get everybody together.We lost Brad Young about a year ago, a Vail Mountain School graduate who had lost touch with almost all his classmates. We also lost Marilyn Klein, a very loving woman who reminded me of “The Giving Tree.” We lost Beno senior, Vail’s first plumber and a wildly charismatic person. We lost Stuart Satsky, who cared deeply for his family and nothing for material greed. We lost young Tim Benway, who died saving others’ lives while working as an ambulance pilot.We lost many this past year.Normally I don’t write about these things until they happen. We get the phone call, or the letter, and we do what we can to celebrate people’s lives during a time of loss.But I think it’s foolish of Vail’s old guard to have to wait ’till somebody dies to get out and see each other, and I hope the rest of the valley doesn’t follow that example. I’m sure it was easier when there were more kids around, and parents would run into each other all the time without having to work too much at it, but that’s not the way it is anymore. It takes a bit of work not too much, but a bit.Caramie Schnell and I are going to be out on the streets, knocking on doors, and getting to know people all the year round in our High Country Character section. We love doing it because we get to see the world through other people’s eyes, if only for a while, and we think it makes us wiser, and happier, and it brings people together.And so does the 50-yard walk.So why are you still reading?Don’t you want to take a walk today? VTTom Boyd can be reached at, or in West Vail, on Arosa Drive, right on the corner, 50 yards from everywhere. You can’t miss it.

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