By Marshall Harshman
Meet the Men of the Old West Highway: 89-year-old Al Douvier and 68-year-old Steve Boggs. Together, each morning for the past two years, Al and Steve have been walking the same two-mile route from their homes at Superstition Mobile Ranch down to the supermarket and back home via Old West Highway.
More than likely if you see them they will greet you with a smile and friendly wave as you pass by. They have become Old West Highway’s unofficial ambassadors of goodwill and healthy living.
The regularity of their route and the faithfulness of their exercise routine have caught the attention of motorists who pass by them each day. In fact, they caught the attention of Apache Junction Police Chief Thomas Kelly, who is also no stranger to daily long walks. Chief Kelly stopped along the highway to get the inside track on what drives the persistent pedestrians.
Al Douvier, formerly of Minnesota, told Chief Kelly that he walks to keep active. As if the two-mile daily trek isn’t enough, Al informed Chief Kelly that he works out at the gym each day when he’s done with his walk. Al was quick to point out that he exercises every day except Sunday, because that’s when he goes to church. Steve, a retired brick layer from Pennsylvania who now resides in Apache Junction year-round, is the younger of the two. Steve told Chief Kelly that Al inspired him so he started walking with him and he also joined the gym. He humbly admitted to not being as faithful to the gym as Al but pointed out that he does have some exercise equipment at home which he uses on days that he doesn’t go to the gym.
This was not Chief Kelly’s first contact with the duo. Last fall he stopped to give them some reflectors to wear so they would be visible to traffic in the dark. This time Chief Kelly presented Al with a bright orange florescent vest.
While talking to Al and Steve along the highway several cars honked as they drove by. Steve informed Chief Kelly that was a normal part of their walk.
“People honk at us to say hi,” Steve said. “Last week, a nurse stopped, got out of her car and told us that we inspired her and that she wished more people would follow our lead.”
If you’re inspired by Steve and Al and are considering a similar exercise routine, Chief Kelly would like for you to consider the following tips to stay safe out there.
Walk, run or jog on the left side of the road against the flow of traffic. If you are walking or jogging at night or before dawn, wear bright colors; maybe even florescent. Also, carry a flashlight of some sort with you. Many stores sell affordable LED lamps that you can clip right to your hat or jacket. This allows drivers to see you as they approach. A good light will help you see also. There are many desert areas around town with some uneven surfaces (and the critters that we love), so being able to see your path is of the utmost importance.
Ride your bike with the flow of traffic, on the right side of the road. Make sure your bike is equipped with reflectors. It is also important to have a light mounted on the front of your bike if you’re riding in the dark. It’s not just good common sense, but it’s also the law. Take some time to familiarize yourself with Arizona bicycle safety laws. Some may object to the unfashionable look of a bike helmet, but there have been some stylistic advancements made in the bike helmet world. You now can express your individualism with a variety of colors and designs, while protecting your brain. Nobody means to fall, but it happens. Broken bones mend, but brain injuries can be downright deadly.
Don’t forget to drink water. This is still a dry climate, and it’s important to stay hydrated. The cooler weather can be deceptive, and the effects of dehydration may not be obvious at first. Add to all the activity the coffee and tea that we all love so much, and you have a recipe for dehydration. Drink a glass of water with that toffee nut latte.
Whether biking or walking, pay attention to your surroundings. If you must listen to music through headphones while you’re enjoying the outdoors, it’s recommended you only use one and leave the other ear open to listen for approaching traffic or potential warnings of danger. AJPD wants everyone to enjoy the beautiful weather and all the amenities available in the Apache Junction area. We are currently passing out red reflectors at the police department. Just come into the lobby to get your free reflector. Stay safe out there.
Now get out there and enjoy the beautiful Apache Junction mornings – and say “Hi!” to Al and Steve, if you see them along the way.
Photo above: AJPD Chief Tom Kelly met up with Old West Highway trekkers Al Douvier and Steve Boggs when their welcoming waves sparked his curiosity.