Hiking duo honored as parade grand marshals
Kenwood, nestled between two state parks along Highway 12, is a jewel because of its verdant vineyards, delicious restaurants and friendly community. Both Bill Myers and Dave Chalk were drawn to the area decades ago, from Ohio and Michigan respectively, and have loved the hills of Sonoma Valley ever since. For their unwavering efforts supporting the local environment and bringing together community, Myers and Chalk are being celebrated as the grand marshals of Kenwood’s 2019 4th of July parade.
The pair has been dedicated to their joint project, Bill & Dave Hikes, for almost 20 years. The project began as a way for both of them to contribute volunteer time to the parks after completing docent training in 1999. Over the years, their monthly excursions have become a way for people in the local community to not only experience the outdoors, but also to cultivate and preserve friendships.
One of the most memorable relationships for Myers is that of his friends Mike and Susette. Myers was even asked to stand up by the priest at their wedding, and proceeded to make sure that everyone in the audience knew that the couple met on a Bill & Dave hike. Above all, though, Myers said that the “most significant” relationship that he has formed through hiking is his friendship with Chalk.
“Dave and I are very different people,” Myers said. While Chalk always enjoyed the outdoors and was an Eagle Scout, Myers spent most of his time as a businessman and mainly ignored his health. It was not until a heart issue in his 40s that he realized the importance of taking care of himself and began hiking. Both Chalk and Myers think that hiking is one of the best ways to stay healthy.
“One does not need to hike far or high up necessarily, but just to hike regularly,” Chalk said. He also recommended the hiking for fitness classes provided by Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Jack London State Historic Park. Myers agreed, and pointed out the benefits hiking has for balance and joint health. “You can use exercise machines, you can play racquetball, volleyball, tennis… but as we age, what everyone is worried about when you get up to my age is falling and breaking your hip, and never being able to get out of the nursing home again. If you hike regularly, your balance is exquisite.”
Both Chalk and Myers find hiking to be not only an ideal form of exercise, but a meaningful and sincere experience. For Chalk, hiking is “good for the soul as well as the body.” Myers said, “It was originally simply done for my health,” but said that he has developed an appreciation for “that mystical quality about the beauty of nature.”
Bill & Dave Hikes has been a two-decade long project that both are determined to keep going after they plan to retire in 2020. “We are going into our twentieth year,” Myers said. “We’re looking for two people to ideally take over for us. We don’t mind what they change the name to… what we care about is that this service to the community continues.” He stated that they were open to a group of people taking turns leading hikes, as well, to continue the tradition. Myer’s and Chalk’s dedication and determination to provide for the local community and support the parks is worth not only being celebrated, but preserved.
Myer’s contributions to the parks led him to start another project, Funky Fridays, along with his partner Linda Pavlak. During the summer, concerts are held every week to raise money for the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation. Myers was adamant about how important the help of others is in fundraising and volunteering. “I’m not a serial do-gooder by myself; it takes a community.”
Being recognized as co-marshals of 2019’s 4th of July parade is an honor to Chalk and Myers. “We’re all family hoping to instill happiness in our valley,” Chalk said.
Myers said that he has “never missed it… I go to the parade in the morning and then I lead the 4th of July fireworks hike in the evening.” Chalk will be in Michigan with his son’s family, but Myers will lead the 4th of July parade. Then, as he always does, he will lead locals to Bald Mountain to watch the fireworks surrounding the gem that is Kenwood.