‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’ — strolling the streets of Glenwood with George Dana
Special to the Post Independent
If you happen to come across George Dana wandering around your neighborhood taking in the scenery and snapping pictures, don’t worry, he’s not lost.
Instead, the former local educator and coach is just out for his daily ramble, which started back on March 14 with the intention of walking up and down every street in his hometown of Glenwood Springs.
The “Glenwood walkabout,” as Dana has aptly named his big adventure, started when his favorite exercise spot and meeting place in town was closed due to the coronavirus health crisis that began to sweep through the country at an alarming rate.
“When they closed the (Hot Springs Resort) pool on me, I figured I needed to get out and get some exercise,” Dana recalled. “This idea just popped into my head one day when I was walking around my neighborhood, and I decided to try and walk every street in Glenwood.”
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Dana is no stranger to the area, and it’s not at all a case of a newcomer to the town wanting to get out and explore his new surroundings and meet some interesting people. He stumbled onto Glenwood and a teaching job during a summer of his youth many years ago, and he felt a nostalgic motivation to get going and reacquaint himself with the town and its people who have made his time here so rewarding.
“I was working as a firefighter during the summer of 1977, based out of Red Feather Lakes near Fort Collins, and we got dispatched to a fire up at Meadow Lake,” he said. “I was driving through Glenwood and I happened to spot the school district office on Grand Avenue.
“I went in and told the secretary that I had a biology degree from CSU, and that I was looking for a teaching position. She took me back to (superintendent) Nick Massaro’s office and he said they had an opening for an outdoor education teacher.”
Dana handed Massaro a resume that he had in his truck, and they talked for a while.
“He offered me the job, and the rest is history.”
Dana spent most of his career teaching science at the Glenwood Springs Middle School before his retirement in 2002. He created some impressive history of his own, putting in 25 seasons coaching basketball at GSMS, as well as serving as the head girls’ track coach for six years at Glenwood High School in the 1980s.
Dana also logged some extra evening hours by officiating basketball and volleyball in the area for over three decades.
On his daily walkabouts of late, Dana has come across several old students and friends that he didn’t even realize were still living in Glenwood. On all occasions, bumping into them has been a pleasant surprise, he said.
“This has been an uplifting and a learning experience for me. I have seen people that I haven’t seen forever,” Dana said. “Everyone has been friendly, and many of them have wanted to share some history about their family and their neighborhood.”
At the beginning of Dana’s walks, which started at the south end of town and included the airport and the Walmart area, running into people and having conversations was in short supply.
“When we first got the stay-at-home orders, I didn’t see many people out and about at all,” Dana said. “One day, I walked for about an hour in the downtown area and I only came across three people. It was kind of bizarre.”
But as the weather got warmer in mid-April and cabin fever started to set in, he said he began seeing more and more people. “They were everywhere I went.”
The historical part of the walk runs much deeper for Dana than just chatting up residents in various parts of town. Along the way, he stopped to read and take pictures of every historical marker he came across.
“I read every bit of information that I found. It was fascinating to me. I walked through streets and saw houses that I didn’t even know existed. When you’re driving around, you don’t really pay attention to things. Being on foot, I took the time to really look at places and take in views that were just beautiful.”
With only a few areas of town left to mark off his walking list, Dana is hoping his two-month-long journey will motivate others to get out of the house and check out this special place we live in.
“Anyone can do this, really,” Dana said. “I went out each day and walked for about an hour — sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. It wasn’t that difficult.”
He does have some sound advice for anyone who may get the notion to lace up the sneakers and follow in his footsteps.
“Make sure you bring plenty of water and sunscreen. But most of all, take your time and enjoy every minute.”
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