Odd Thoughts: Long-time Langley fogey walks through time

The Langley Walk allowed Bob Groeneveld to connect with a diverse cross-section of the community.

The funniest thing I overheard at the Langley Walk on Sunday was a snippet of a conversation between a couple of stragglers.

The late starters were coming up to where the outbound and inbound routes merged in opposite directions, after winding a rough circle through Willoughby. One was taken aback when he saw the leading edge of early finishers coming towards him. An apparent realization that the Walk might be a little longer than he thought he’d signed up for gave his voice a wistfully disheartened tone.

Though the day was not particularly hot – a perfect day for a walk – sweat was already pouring off him. “We have to come back?” he said, and looked over his shoulder to review the vast distance he’d already travelled – nearly a kilometre and a half – with another three and a half kilometres ahead. (I’m just guessing, of course, that he was planning on the five-kilometre route, instead of the gruelling 10 km trek that only the hardiest of souls make these days.)

From the other end of the spectrum came a cheery voice from a little way behind me, exclaiming as the giant hoop of start/finish balloons at Langley Events Centre hove into view, “That was a very short five kilometres!”

But that’s the great thing about the Langley Walk. The sweaty guy and the cheery voice both took the time to get out into the community and support a 55-year-old (and counting) tradition.

But now we get to the part where I turn into an old fogey… the worst kind of old fogey… one of those “I remember when” old fogeys.

Traipsing through Willoughby, I recalled relatively recent Walk routes that have taken us through Fort Langley, which is one of Langley’s oldest neighbourhoods, and Walnut Grove, whose modern incarnation started in the 1980s.

I found myself comparing them to the brand spanking new revival of Willoughby.

The differences are striking.

The Fort route took us past old homes, followed the Fraser River with its gorgeous views, and led us alongside open meadows and peaceful pastures.

Walnut Grove offered wooded trails and placid neighbourhoods of nicely trimmed lawns and homes.

Willoughby, not so long ago one of Langley’s most rural areas, offered mostly row houses and tightly packed two-car garages with homes somewhere behind them.

Still, pretty nice for today’s lifestyles.

People have got to live somewhere.