Dan Loses His Mind While his World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled (part 6 of 6)

Prelude:  Many people have approached me in the three weeks since my temporary amnesia/aphasia event saying something like “It must have been scary.”  It was scary in 2002.  At that time, with similar symptoms, I had no idea what the future held.  It scared the sh%$ out of me.

Since it happened before, this time wasn’t so scary.   For the first hour in 2017, I had no idea what was happening.  Why would I be scared if I had no idea what was going on!

During the second hour I could sense I was remembering more and speaking a little more clearly.  I was not scared; I was encouraged, especially since I remembered that previously in 2002 I came out the other end just fine.

If it happened again in the coming year, now that would be scary!

So, what do we know with any certainty?   Not much.

Fact #1: On June 27, 2017, I had a temporary episode of amnesia (I didn’t remember squat) and aphasia (gibberish flowed from my mouth).

TIA or TEA are acronyms being thrown around as possible diagnoses.

TIA stands for a transient ischemic attack (ischemic relating to the heart).

Hitch D and H with paddles

Re: TIA.  My echocardiogram and carotid artery tests suggest that my ticker is doing just fine.  No surprise, my parents lived healthy lives into their 90s.  To cover all bases, the neurologist wants me to start taking baby aspirin daily, just in caseAspirin prevents blood clots from forming in the arteries. It can help certain people lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

I have no limit on my physical activity; pickleball, ping pong, and working out at the gym top my agenda.

Next week, the neurologist wants me to wear a Holter monitor for 48 hours, which will continuously record my heart’s activity as I go about my daily activities.  I’ll keep you updated.

But a TIA is not the neurologist’s first choice.

It’s the TEA.   TEA stands for transient epileptiform amnesia (which in my case might apply since the neurologist couldn’t rule out some form of epilepsy after reading my EEG (electroencephalogram).  So, there’s no certainty, but it’s the leading choice in the clubhouse.

YH bases

To cover all bases again, I have been put on a low dose (500 mg twice a day) of Keppra to prevent seizures, if some form of epilepsy is what I have.

The bottom line is that the neurologist doesn’t know what caused my temporary amnesia/aphasia.

YH safety net

So, a reasonably wide net has been thrown to cover a host of possibilities.  I get that and am thankful for the caution.

After such an event, by law I am not allowed to drive for three months.   I get that caution, too.  Not driving will be inconvenient but hardly a sacrifice.  I am retired.  Hannah and I regularly play pickleball and go to the gym together.   I have a modest social life (read: limited).

So, for three months, we err on the side of caution despite an uncertain diagnosis and no explanation for a cause.

YH dehydration

I wonder whether dehydration due to caffeine consumption and not drinking enough water (2002) and not drinking enough water (2017) might have triggered the temporary amnesia/aphasia.  The medical professionals never suggest such a connection.  And why this time, when I have been dehydrated many times before?

Without any explanation for the cause of my two events (2002 and 2017), I still wonder.

Takeaways:

YH water

Whether dehydration had anything to do with my temporary amnesia/aphasia, I have become a zealot for drinking water daily.  Each morning when I awake, I drink two eight-ounce glasses of water.  Three more follow: mid-morning, before lunch, and with lunch.  Dehydration will not be the cause of any future such event.

I live in a town on the coast of Maine with a great community hospital and in a country with excellent Medicare health coverage for seniors.  I’d recommend York Hospital for its effective loving kindness health care.

YH David and Dan

David Stoloff, my department chair at Eastern, stopped by to check on me.

Since posting of these blogs, I have appreciated many people contacting me and wishing me well.

I heard from a childhood friend who referred to me as Brother Dan in his email of support.

Thank you, Brother Tom.

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Dan and Hannah at Molly’s Math Night with Owen and Max

Math 1 Molly leading

Molly

A teacher for seventeen years, Molly is the oldest of our three kids.  While years ago I saw her teach algebra to eighth graders at Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, Hannah has never seen her teach.  But that is all about to change.

A text arrives from Molly inviting us to her Parent’s Math Night in late November at Fiske Elementary in Lexington, Massachusetts.  As a math specialist working with teachers and kids during the day, tonight Molly will lead a workshop on teaching parents how to support their kids when it comes to learning and loving math.

Math 1A H and O working on math

Owen and his Omi at Math Night

My takeaways from our night at Fiske:

One, it was really cool that Molly asked us to come.

Two, always looking to have adventures with our grandsons, we made it an event by taking Owen (6) and Max (4) along for the evening.

Three, no matter what she does, Molly’s energetic and passionate.  Tonight, she is articulate, composed, and well-organized.

Four, she made an excellent choice to make it a night for parents and kids.  That saves parents the hassle of finding babysitters.

Math 1B 5 principles

 

Five, Molly included other teachers in the presentation for over one hundred.  Being a part of a team helps teachers beat the isolation and exhaustion that the teaching life can be.

Math We Believe

 

Six, throughout the night, the team of teachers, reinforced key points of what they believe about the teaching of math.  In addition, they encouraged parents to never say “I can’t do math.”

Seven, here and there, Molly and the teachers would talk for only two to three minutes.  To keep us all engaged, they had chunks of time for parents to listen to their kids as the kids noticed and wondered about the math questions and puzzles that they were given.

Eight, parenthetically (we were the oldest ones there.).  It felt like we fit right in.  You’d enjoy living in our delusional world.

Math 1C Carol Dweck

Stanford University’s Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Nine, there were a couple of pertinent and articulate TED talk videos (2-5 minutes [referenced below]) and Carol Dweck references.  As such, the evening was thoughtful and never dragged.  See Carol’s wisdom to the left.

Ten, there were five raffles of math-related games, a math book, and math puzzles.

Math games

Raffle prizes

Eleven, the night was scheduled to go from 615-730P.  Wisely, the night ended five minutes early.  Students (and parents) of all ages love getting out early.

Twelve, Hannah and I loved the post-presentation clean-up party.  Many parents joined us in folding up chairs, placing them on chair carriers, and breaking down tables to be stacked at the end of the gym.

Owen and Max got to participate and by osmosis saw what people do to support one other.  It takes a village to clean up a gym.

Thirteen, I end with a video clip of Molly’s intro to the parents and kids.

 

 

Here are the links to the two superb videos that were showed: Dan Finkel and Annie Fetter).

Dan and Hannah Come to Montgomery, Alabama for Delayed Justice

“Ah, sweet justice!”  Not so fast.  Fact is, justice is not always so even-handed in these United States, here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  There is justice for whites and the quasi-justice for others.  Hannah and I have been fortunate leading a privileged life in America over our 70 years.  I suspect being white had a little something, or make that a lot something, to do with it.

civil map of mont 3

I have no idea what it must be like to be marginalized, threatened, and living in fear because of the color of my skin, be it black or brown; especially with threatening tweets descending like warning shots across the bow from the highest office in the land.

Let me back up and tell you how we found ourselves thinking about justice during our visit to Montgomery – the one-time poster child of cities for racial injustice.

Planning to visit Monroeville in southern Alabama, the home of Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, Hannah read in Time magazine of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama’s capital city, Montgomery, which would be on our way to Monroeville.  The memorial is dedicated to the 4400 African-Americans lynched, almost entirely in the American South.

Civil rosa parks

Montgomery has a history!  You may remember or have read about the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott in the mid-1950s sparked by Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, who was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man.  After a year long boycott, segregated buses were ruled unconstitutional; but full-fledged justice remains elusive for many non-whites.   

Hannah and I have come to bear witness to these abhorrent times.

On our way to the Peace and Justice memorial this mid-October Thursday, we stop first at the nearby Civil Rights Memorial Center in downtown Montgomery honoring 44 victims of racial hatred and injustice.

Civil 2B Heather Heyer

Since the Civil Rights Memorial Center charges only $2 per person, it allows most everyone access to the displays and stories of these victims of injustice.  In fact, it is so up-to-date that it includes a photo memorial to Heather Heyer, murdered by a domestic white nationalist terrorist in Charlottesville, VA in the summer of 2017.

We watch a short film about the courageous lives of these martyrs.  The Memorial words and pictures below begin to tell their story.

 

 

 

Civil 1B Maya Lin explanation

Maya Lin, the architect of the Vietnam Memorial, designed the Civil Rights Memorial

 

Civil 2 pictures of racism oppression

 

Civil 4 Wall of Tolerance

Hannah and I add our names to the Wall of Tolerance at the Civil Rights Memorial

 

Civil 3A D on wall

 

 

Civil 3C H with H on video wall

 

Walking ¾ of a mile in clean, uncluttered, friendly downtown Montgomery with the Alabama Capital as a backdrop, we come upon the National Memorial for Peace and Justice with its vertical black stone monuments to those lynched in America’s recent past.  Again, priced reasonably at $5 per person, this memorial recounts another sordid chapter in America’s troubled racial history.  The images below give you a peek into the power of this memorial.

Civil 4AA first one

 

Civil 4C explanation of memorial

 

Civil 4D more explanation

 

Civil 4G more explanation

 

Civil 4B chained black men

 

Civil 4A black hands of drowning men

 

Civil 4E slabs

There is a vertical stone for each county in the South and some in the North where lynchings occurred.

 

Civil 4F slabs close up

Listing of the eleven lynchings in Little River County in Arkansas

 

So, has this visit to Montgomery changed me?  Time well tell.  Today, on a personal level, I reaffirm that I will treat everyone I meet with love.  The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.  – Brian Tracy 

Further, Hannah and I voted in the mid-term elections of 2018; we donated to my childhood friend Tom Hallock’s Multiplier to support fifteen hotly contest house races (That seems to have worked as the Democrats thankfully flipped the House.).  Further, we donated to the campaigns of Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Stacey Abrams in Georgia, and Andrew Gillum in Florida.

I will meditate further to learn what is mine to do.  Stay tuned.

Dan and Hannah’s Connection to the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks

A young man has died.  We never knew him, but we know of him because we know our friend, Kim.  Way too young, the young man will be laid to rest today in Santa Barbara this third Sunday in November.

mark map of carp

Let me back up.  Last winter, Hannah and I spent the month of February in Carpinteria, California (south of Santa Barbara) because we are soft and the winters in Maine are hard.

mark map of TO

Carpinteria is 18 miles north of Ventura

Renting a VRBO condo for a month, we had the good fortune to be neighbors with Kim.  Over the month, we got to know her – we had dinner together, an evening of wine and hors d’oeuvres, she brought us the local paper each Thursday, and we even went to see Wonder on a Sunday afternoon at the local Alcazar Theater in downtown Carpinteria together.

We’ve been in touch throughout the year as we will return to Carpinteria again this winter.  Yup, we are still soft.

mark ventura county sheriff

Then a week ago, all hell broke loose at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, some 40 miles south of Carpinteria.  Thirteen people were murdered by a domestic terrorist.  Stunned and horrified, residents got an up close and personal view of the tragedy of mass shootings that plagues the United States.

The young man was gunned down that Wednesday night, just having started working at the popular local country bar.  It turns out the young man was the best friend of Kim’s son.  He would have turned 21 tomorrow.

We ache for Kim who we know and love, we ache for her son who we know must be a good guy as he is Kim’s son, and we ache for the young man’s family who we have never met.

mark kim

Hannah and Kim

This is not a blog about the insanity of gazillion guns in America killing our fellow citizens.  It’s about our friend Kim, her family, and her community dealing with an outrage that breaks her heart and breaks ours.  It will be nearly two months before we can hug her and have her feel our love in person.

So, we sit 3000 miles away on the coast of Maine and wonder what we can do to support Kim and her son.  We do know that Kim has a tradition with her son and his girlfriend where the three of them go out for breakfast from time to time.

What Hannah and I can do is pick up the tab for breakfast for them in Carpinteria.  They’ll have each other for support, and they’ll know friends in Maine are thinking of them and they are not alone.

Click here for the young man’s story in the Carpinteria’s Coastal View News.

Click here for the Santa Barbara’s Nooshawk story on the young man’s memorial service.

PS  Earlier this morning before I posted this blog, we heard from Kim that she is going to use the breakfast money to “pay it forward” by donating it to the family of the young man.

 

Dan and Hannah Hike the Tallulah Falls Gorge in Georgia

Talu map of Talu in GA

Who’d have thought Hannah and I would find a home away from home in north Georgia!  Two Yankees – a New York Girl and a Jersey Boy!  First drawn to the Peach State to hike our 14th of 14 Appalachian Trail states, we stumbled on the good folks of the Yonah Mountain Pickleball Club, 80 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Talu 3 warning sign

 

From our association with them we learned of stem cell treatments that have been a godsend for our once balky knees.  Friendships grew with Clarissa, Pat, Laurie, and Linda and here we are returning to the Peach Tree State one more time this mid-October.

After overnights with our sister-in-law Becky and her guy Derek in North Carolina, we travel southwest towards Yonah Mountain by way of Tallulah Gorge State Park with its daunting 1000 steps into the gorge.

Talu 2 falls themselves

The descent brings to mind the the 729’ of elevation gain overly similar metal stairs at the nearby Amicalola Falls State Park, which just happens to be the starting point for the Appalachian Trail.  Click here for that blog.

Talu 1A rubber pavement

For a simple $5 American we enter the Tallulah Falls and soon have the park ranger explain the trails into the gorge as well as on the North and South Rims.

Talu 1 H by rubber sign

The trail actually begins here in the Interpretative Center building as we head down towards the 80’ suspension bridge spanning the gorge.  Immediately, our feet are caressed by the rubberized trail made from old tires.  Bouncing for joy just comes naturally.

Talu 3A stairway down

After viewing the falls themselves from the North Rim, we turn towards the first 260 steps that will take us down to the suspension bridge.  With fall colors still four weeks away on this mid-October Tuesday, we hike among retired couples of all shapes and sizes and moms and dads with their preschoolers.

Talu 5A more gorge valley

Descending the stairs to the suspension bridge across the gorge is like skipping in the park, an easy peezy descent with a miniscule cardio-vascular workout.  The afternoon rain has yet to arrive, so the footing is reliable and solid on the metal see-through steps.  With ten overlooks into the Tallulah Falls Gorge, we feast on north Georgia at its finest.

Talu 3E H at bridge suspension

Crossing the swaying suspension bridge, we take the lower trail of the South Rim further into the gorge.  The walk in the park ends at the turnaround and we have 261 steps and more to head back up to the South Rim.

Talu 4A D and H on South Rim of Talu

Our assault is relentless but manageable.  Sure, Dan, the Older, is  breathing heavily; fact is, he is in his eighth decade.  Returning to the Interpretative Center by way of the North Rim, we take to the trail which eventually leads to our final 220 steps to Inspiration Point.  And that completes three miles of hiking and high stepping in under two hours.

I return to Outlook #2 to record this video of Tallulah Falls for your enjoyment.

 

Additional images from Tallulah Falls

Talu map of park

 

Talu 3C H on stairs

 

Talu 4 more gorge falls

 

Talu 4B WArning and steps on south rim

 

 

Dan and Hannah Hike the Palmetto Trail in South Carolina

Palmetto Becky and Derek

Becky and her guy Derek; sadly he was on the short end of the 2018 World Series.  Go Sox!

Do you know what a halfback is, and I don’t mean a kind of football player?

It seems many retirees from the Northeast who have been worn down by winter’s ice and snow move to a Florida retirement community.   After a few years, Florida gets to them; perhaps it’s the traffic, congestion, being so faraway, the flatness, or mind-numbing sameness and they want to move back.  But they don’t want the winters in the Northeast either.  So, they move halfway back to North or South Carolina, hence they are halfbacks.

Palmetto trail map

The Palmetto Trail begins just south of Becky’s hometown of choice, Tryon.

Our sister-in-law and hiking guide Becky now living in Tryon, NC has come up with another hike for Hannah and me.  Today we drive five miles to the man-made Lake Lanier just over the North Carolina border into South Carolina for the start of the Palmetto Trail.

Though the state of South Carolina is not a part of the Georgia-to-Maine Appalachian Trail (pronounced locally as App-a-latch-in), South Carolinians do have the 425-mile, multi-use Palmetto Trail from Lake Lanier to the South Carolina coastline.

Palmetto 1A B and H at the start

Becky and Hannah begin hiking in the Palmetto State

This mid-October Monday morning with the temperatures going to 80F (40s in Maine!), we are one of two vehicles at the trailhead parking.  Setting off on a well-marked trail towards the distant Vaughan’s Gap, we three walk side-by-side on a tree-covered, red dirt fire road.

 

 

 

Palmetto 2A trail sign

Squint and you can see Hannah and Becky

Hiking with Becky is a delight as she is a friend of nearly 40 years; she like me is an out-law (i.e. we married into the Kraai Family [my entre was Hannah Kraai and Becky married Hannah’s brother Doug Kraai]).  Though Doug died of brain cancer nearly 17 years ago, we have maintained our friendship with Becky over the years.  Hiking with Becky is a joy for she is a positive life force, sees the glass ¾ full as we all participate equally in the trail conversation.

Palmetto 1B first lake on trail

A trailside pond

Though fall foliage color has come and nearly gone in our native Maine, here in South Carolina the brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges are waiting to burst forth in three to four weeks.

 

Palmetto 2 falls

The trail gently rises until Becky veers right, through some brush towards the Palmetto Trail Falls, which she has learned about as a member of the local hiking group.  Flopping grass gives way to a narrow trail to the falls.  In short order we come upon a soul-enriching, life affirming, got-to-believe-in-miracles falls coming down the mountain ahead.  See the video below for yourself.

Palmetto 1CC D and H on trail

This side trail to the falls eventually weaves back to the Palmetto Trail which we take in the direction of Vaughan’s Gap.  After 70 minutes out in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we about face and return to the trailhead with the back and forth conversation of old friends.

That night, our short and sweet evening blessing is Thank you for the food before us, the family beside us, and the love between us.  (Thank you Tara and Anthony for these words.)

 

 

 

 

 

Palmetto D and H in Rocker

Chilling in Tryon, North Carolina

 

 

Dan and Hannah Hike to the Raven Cliff Falls in Georgia

It is was all because of an email.  Let me explain.

Hannah and I had come to Georgia in the fall of 2016 to hike our 14th and final Appalachian Trail state.  As newly minted pickleball players, we also checked out the pickleball sites in the area and contacted local ambassadors about play.  Only one responded, and she with details and a heart-felt welcome to come play with her Yonah Mountain Pickleball Club.

Raven pickleball group

Yonah Mountain Pickleball

We did.  Taken in like family, we played, we breakfasted together at the local Huddle House (similar to a Waffle House) and we have returned time and again staying overnight with our new compadres.  Hannah and I have Laurie Lee to thank for starting our enduring connection to north Georgia.

Raven 1B wooden walkway across stream

Today prior to outdoor afternoon pickleball at Yonah Mountain, we have the hope that the waterfalls at Raven Cliff Falls State Park will be thundering.  You see, we’ve been here before during the drought of 2016 and saw but a trickle come down from within the mountain.  With hurricanes and heavy rains of late, we have our fingers crossed for a deluge.

Raven 6A H by steam

The five-mile round-trip hike is one of my favorites as the trail is always in sight of the mountain stream tumbling over boulders, into pools, and rushing with nature’s sweet melody.

Raven 4 H at lower falls

Hannah beside a trail-side mini-falls

With overnight rain, our trail is moist, but not muddy.  But that will be of little concern over the 2.5 miles to the falls as the trail, though rocky and rooted, is very level with a hardly noticeable 700’ rise in elevation from trailhead to falls.

Raven 5C climbing down rocky steps

Rocky climb to the falls (top center)

Often wide enough for the two of us to talk, the tree-covered trail beside the watery turbulence has us heading deep into the Chattahoochee National Forest.  Cascades and mini-falls prime us for the upcoming tumbling water from the heights of Raven Cliff.

The final climb to the opening in the cliff is steep but not so wet as to be hazardous.  The falls deliver watery wonder just over an hour after we began our morning hike.

Raven 5A closer view of interior falls

The tucked in the mountain Raven Cliff Falls

Returning to the trailhead after just over two hours of hiking has warmed us up for afternoon pickleball on the outdoor courts at the White County Community Center with our Georgia kin.

 

More pictures from the trail

Raven map 2

Raven 1 Han at sign

Raven 1A trail begins

Raven 2A more cascades

Raven 2B quiet stream

Raven 3 H on trail

Raven 3A D on trail

Raven 4A D at lower falls

Raven 6 H on trail back

Raven 6B flowing stream

Dan and Hannah Hike the Watkins Glen Gorge in central New York

Wat map 2

Watkins Glen Gorge State Park promises nineteen waterfalls!  Hannah and I are all in!  Though we are hiking on a late October Friday in the low 40s, it turns out it’s a great time of year as many of the low hanging leaves have fallen and views are extraordinary.

Wat 1 Brooks

Brooks with his Daddy

Coming to hang out with our grandson Brooks, and, of course, his parents, we are pleased to see that they have taken to parenting like fish to water, like Dan and Hannah to pickleball, like Tom Brady to being the GOAT (greatest of all time!).  Despite the many sleep-deprived nights, Will and Laurel show their love to their happy, laughing bambino hour after hour, day after day.

Wat 1AAA Watkins sign

Driving 25 miles west of Ithaca, New York, we come upon the upper parking lot by the picnic areas and massive Dirty Dancing-size swimming pool of the Watkins Glen Gorge State Park.  The attendant takes our $8 and says that with a few more cold days, the park will close.

Wat 1AAAA H at start of trail excellent

Feeling the administration of state parks could use all the financial support they can get, we gladly pay.  It’s $8!  Please!  The employees need health benefits, a livable wage, and the park needs tender loving care.  I encourage you to go out of your way to pay the very modest fees at state parks when you hit the trails.  Check out the trio of videos and the cavalcade of photographs below to see what you get from this 1.5 miles of trail that drops 400 feet from stem to stern!

From the parking area we descend to the gorge by following, get this for irony, the Gorge Trail.  It’s all well-marked as we quickly descend through the Spiral Staircase Tunnel.  Passing behind this rocking falls, we feel the H2O that’s heading towards Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes here in central New York.

We are soon sloshing along the stone walkways of the narrow Gorge Trail from the many falls.  With 832 steps from top to bottom, we have evidence of the Civilian Conservation Corps creativity and dedication in digging into these narrow gorge walls to make a trail of slate steps.  This extraordinary waterside trail/walkway is evidence of the master craftsmanship of the stone artisans plying their trade during the Depression of the 1930s.

Busier than I would have guessed, the Friday midday crowd has us walking leisurely as we take the time to smell the metaphorical roses of the cascading water, rather than being hell-bent on getting exercise as we usually are.

With barriers to the gorge most of the way until you get to the flatter upper trail, the slate walkway is a great family hike.  The final ascent up what is known as Jacob’s Ladder is 180 steps.  By the way, Jacob’s Ladder is referenced in Genesis as the up and down pathway to heaven for angels.

As you might have guessed, we rocked with many hiking angels today.

 

More gorge photographs

Wat 1 H by red tree

Proceeding to the gorge from the parking lot

 

Wat 1AA Han at falls at start

 

Wat 1C narrow gorge

 

Wat 2 D in gorge on stairs

 

Wat 2B gorge falls

 

Wat 4 falls through trees

 

Wat 5A longer view of side falls

 

Wat 6 Jacob's Ladder sign

 

Dan Hikes the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

Doug and Becky Corrie's wedding

Doug and Becky circa 1998

As young adults, Hannah and I knew no better athlete than her brother Doug, a marathon runner, collegiate rower, fitness fanatic.  Then within six weeks of diagnosis at a youthful 56, he died of brain cancer (glioblastoma).  56!

Carl 2C D and B at bridge

Dan with sister-in-law Becky at Carl Sandburg Home Historical Site

His wife Becky has remained a good and constant friend for the 17 years since Doug’s death.  Moving South to Tryon, NC on the North Carolina/South Carolina with her guy Derek, Becky is loving life living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains after years as a true blue, snow-bound Yankee.

Carl map bold print

It turns out her Tryon of 2000 residents is an upscale pocket of blue in a blanket of red smothering the American South.  Retirees like Becky and Derek have found reasonably priced housing, low taxes, hiking trails, groups for their guitar and banjo playing, book clubs as well as a quieter pace in a climate where it rarely snows!  And when it does, it melts in a day or two anyway.

Carl 2B Becky on the trail

Becky on the trail to Big Glassy Mountain

On this Sunday morning, while Hannah drives an hour north to Asheville, NC to spend the day with her sister Bettsy, Becky and I hit the trails at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historical Site thirty miles away in Flat Rock, NC.  Carl is widely known for writing six volumes on the life of Abraham Lincoln, of which I have read zero.

With the heat and humidity of the South gone this mid-October, Becky and I have gently sloping, tree covered, foot-pleasing dirt trails wide enough for side-by-side conversation.  We’ll ascend to the stone bald of Big Glassy Mountain that looks out on the next blue ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Carl 2D trail itself

Mid-October in the Carolinas

The trail is happy with people and it seems to confirm what Big Steve, my Arizona State classmate and born and raised Virginian, believed that People in the South are just friendlier.  As in the town of Tryon last night, hikers look us in the eye, smile, and greet us with a genuine friendly hello.

As with most of our hikes, almost everyone is white.  Do we Americans self-segregate by our activity more than we realize?  Or is it again a money thing since whites as a group have more disposable income for recreation?

Carl 2E D and B at top

Atop Big Glassy Mountain

It’s a simple 45 minutes of steady climbing to the summit (3.5 miles roundtrip), where a fellow hiker takes our picture with a Blue Ridge backdrop.  Down the mountain in even less time, we are ready for the dessert to our Carl Sandburg entrée.

Carl 1C closer of Melrose Falls

Melrose Falls

Driving back down the winding country roads to Tryon, Becky turns into an unmarked trailhead with room enough for two cars near Twin Bridges.  The trail is much more rutted and rock strewn than the hike to Big Glassy, but the payoff is greater.  Three hundred yards in, Becky leads me left towards the falls, still not apparent to my naked ear.

Carl 1B D at Melrose

An Ithaca Bomber mellows out at Melrose Falls near Saluda, NC

A rapid descent down a barely visible trail to the Melrose Falls has us enjoying the watery accompaniment to nature’s forestral orchestra.  Enjoy the video below.

 

Pictures from our time in North Carolina

Carl 2 home from a distance

The Carl Sandburg Home as the trail to Big Glassy Mountain begins

Carl Tryon H at SC border

On a morning walk with Hannah from North to South Carolina

Carl Tryon D at burn sign

Ever know this meaning of burn?

Carl Tryon H at smoking patio sign

Really?  A smoking patio that’s inside!

Carl Tryon M and M machine

M and M’s cascade at the private Lanier Library in Tryon.  A community library with membership fees of $50 for individuals, $75 for households.

 

A few favorites of Doug and Becky from their daughter Corrie’s wedding to Karl in 1998

Doug and Becky singing at Corrie's wedding

Doug and Becky and the karaoke lady

Doug and Becky doug on air guitar

Hannah’s brother Doug circa 1998

Dan and Hannah and Give Kids The World

GKTW map to boston

York is ten miles north of Portsmouth, NH

Up at four this Saturday morning, by five Hannah and I head south on I-95 to Boston’s Logan Airport.  Arriving without delay, we soon pass through the TSA pre-check point for our 815 flight to Atlanta.  We are traveling in the Florence and Michael Hurricane-ravaged South to see family in North Carolina, play some rocking pickleball in Georgia, and visit the hometown of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, in Alabama.

While waiting for our Delta flight, I walk the wide airport corridors to pass time and work out the stiffness in my legs.  Walking toward the Dunkin Donuts, I notice a sea of green tee shirts.  Moving smoothly, but discreetly to check out the shirts, I am blown away to see they say Give Kids The World!

GKTW volunteers

Angels from Melrose, Mass

Give Kids The World is the Florida-based wish organization that provides accommodations and free passes to the theme parks in the Orlando area for families with kids with life-threatening illnesses.

These volunteers from a Baptist Church in Melrose, Mass are off to the GKTW Village to support these families for the coming week.  They will serve breakfasts and later dish ice cream at the on-campus Perkins Restaurant.

Instead of just concentrating on the kid with the serious illness, GKTW wisely attends to the entire family.  They make brothers, sisters, mom, and dad feel like royalty, too.  Families with a kid with a life-threatening illness can fracture if the needs of and attention to the other kids in the family are ignored.

GKTW symbol

How am I such an authority on Give Kids The World?  Why in 1988, Hannah and I with our three children, Will (4), Robyn (6), and Molly (8), were gifted a trip to Orlando to be tenderly cared for by Give Kids The World since Robyn was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four.  Today she is a beautiful 37!

 

Dan and Hannah Win the Delta Lottery

In April 2017, Hannah and I agreed to be bumped from our 10A Delta flight from Atlanta to Richmond to another at 230P.  Being NASCAR weekend in Virginia’s capital, millions are heading to binge drinking, cars going aimlessly around in circles at ungodly speeds, and Southern fried sunburns; not NASCAR fans ourselves (what was your first clue?), we are heading for a Woo Girls Reunion in nearby Quinton, VA with three of Hannah’s College of Wooster classmates.  With the get-together to begin at 5P, we have plenty of time to wait out the delay and still arrive in time to pah-tay.

Delta D and H

Initially, we are offered $400 in Delta vouchers if we will wait for the 230P flight.  Seems like free money; we are all in.  When Delta can’t get the necessary seven volunteers to take the later flight, they up the ante to $800, then eventually $900 each, including us who agreed to take the $400 voucher!  The one restriction is that we must schedule our flights within the year.  Hardly a deal breaker!

Delta boston to atlanta flight

Four months later in August we fly to Atlanta from Boston for Hannah’s stem cell injections in an experimental procedure for her to regain the full use of her voice.  (By the way, the procedure was not successful.)

We find $110 round-trip flights for each of us.  If you are keeping score at home, we each still have $790 for flights in the coming year.

Returning to Atlanta for another treatment in October 2017, we fly from Boston with seats that cost twice as much at $220.  Even so, we still each have $570 to apply to future flights.

Delta boston to lax

Boston to Los Angeles and back

With plans to fly round-trip from Boston to Los Angeles for our month near Santa Barbara in February of 2018, we use our vouchers for two $349 Delta tickets.  Incredibly, after this third free flight, each of us still has $221 left for additional flights to schedule by April 2018.

Knowing we’ll be returning to California in 2019, we beat the April 2018 deadline and use our $221 vouchers for round-trip tickets from Boston to Los Angeles that pay for 70% of those $310 cross-country tickets.

So, let’s do the math; we score: (1) two free round-trip flights from Boston to Atlanta for both of us; (2) one fully paid cross country trip from Boston to Los Angeles for us two, and (3) 70% of one more cross-country trip to Los Angeles and back to Boston for each of us!

Our part of the bargain for these four free flights: waiting a mere four additional hours in Atlanta for our flight to Richmond.  As you will agree, Dan and Hannah won their version of the lottery.