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 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.

 

Dan and $5761 for Jimmy 

JW 1A Geo by start

Captain George ready to lead

Thank you, thank you to the hundred plus beautiful people who donated to the Jimmy Fund, which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Led by our captain and cancer-survivor George Derby (my weekly ping pong partner), eight of us on Team Barry will walk the last 10K of the actual Boston Marathon course on the penultimate Sunday of September 2018.

JW 1 at 30 sign with rawdings

Tip, Max, Owen, and Poppa at the Newton staging area

Driving a good hour south from Maine, we assemble in Newton, Massachusetts to collect our Jimmy Fund tee-shirts, bibs, and hats.  As one of the Top 250 fundraisers (#76!), I have earned special recognition including a sweet dry-fit Jimmy Fund tee-shirt.  Then in a surprise move, the volunteer offers tee-shirts and caps to our grandsons, Owen (6) and Max (4), and their dad Tip who have come to support me.  That volunteer, whom I refer to as the “gardener” has planted the seeds for three future Jimmy Fund walkers by her generosity.

JW 2A boys on trail 2

On Commonwealth Avenue with Max, Owen, and Tip

Walking a half mile to Commonwealth Avenue to meet up with some of the 9000 other walkers, Owen, Max, and Tip join me for the first mile of my walk.  With Sunday morning cars to our right, we four walk the sidewalks and town lawns towards Boston.

Over the next six miles, I have three refueling stops with bananas, apples, energy bars, cookies, peanut-butter crackers (a personal favorite), and bottles of water.

JW 3 passing BC

Gorgeous walking day in the 60s

As I walk, I call out to two women three feet ahead of me, asking about the names on the back of their shirts.  The names list friends and family of theirs who bravely fought cancer.  Another time, I chat up a woman who is walking the half-marathon (i.e. 13.1 miles) course to raise awareness and money for cancer research and the care of cancer patients.

Jimmy D and Mitch with NB shirts

Dan and Mitch walking with three of the NB team members

I ask another what the NB on her team tee shirt is for.  Neuro-blastoma – one nasty cancer that generally strikes kids under ten.  It seems forty have come from Chatham on Cape Cod to support a 13-year old girl who for the last nine years has been battling NB.

JW 4 G and D at finish

Captain George and his buck private flunky

Later, near the end I happen to walk beside Amy, the organizer of the NB team and, in fact, the mom of the 13-year old daughter with NB.  My big takeaway from our conversation is that caring for kids with cancer can take over your life.  The fears, the setbacks, the small victories consume everyone in its path.

How in the world do such families ever have the strength to go toe to toe day after day with such a formidable foe?  Basically it is very simple, they have no choice.  Their kid needs them to step up.  I believe, you, too, would rally the strength and courage if you had to!

JW 4B G's Living Proof

As a cancer survivor, George has earned the iconic yellow ball cap with  “I’m Living Proof”

After three hours of walking and learning the stories of others, our entire Team Barry crosses the finish line at Copley Square for our walking medals, clam chowder, creamsicles, pizza, and deluxe salads.

I know how fortunate I am to be healthy and fit enough to walk for all those touched by cancer and to have some many amigas and amigos to support my walk.

Thank you Adele, Amelia, Amey, a couplet of Anns, Anna, Anne, Anneli, Anthony, Barbara, Becky, Beth, Bills aplenty, Bob, Bobby, Brenda, Brian, Bruce, Callie, Cam, Carla, Chris, Cindy, Clarissa, Claudia, Cyndy, a few Daves, a few Debbys, Denny, Derek, Diane, Dixie, a pair of Dons, Donna, Duncan, Elsa, Eric, Genevieve, George, Gibby, Glenn, a pair of Janes, a duo of Jeffs, Joanne, Joel, John, Jon, Joy, two Karas, Karens galore, Kim, Linda, Laurie, dos Laurels, a helping of Lisas, Liz, Lou, Lynne, Mac, Mandy,  Mark or two, Marta, a Mary or two, Matt times two, Maureen, Maxine, some Mikes, Mitch, Molly, Nan, a passel of Nancys, Neil, Nolan, Norm, Pat, Patty, a sprinkling of Pauls, two Paulas, Penny, Peter, Rich, Rick, Richard, Ron, Sally, Sandy, Scot, Scott, Sheila, Shirley, Sue, Suzanne, Tammy, Tara, Targe, Ted, Tip, Tom, Tree, Wanda, Wendy, and Will.

JW 1AA Owen and Max with signs

 

JW 1B team barry at start

Team Barry (back row – Sue, George, Paul, Nancy, Neila, Diana, front row – Max, Poppa, Owen, and Mitch)

 

JW 3A team on the course

Team Barry approaching the Citgo sign near Fenway Pahk (Dan, Neila, Diana, Sue, Mitch, Nancy, Paul, and Captain George)

 

JW 3B D by boston strong

Within a mile of the finish, I head under the Boston Strong Bridge commemorating the many victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing

Dan and the Bad Ass Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park 

Precipice acadia map

Bad ass, really Dan?  Sans doute!  Though the Precipice Trail doesn’t have the death-defying heights and drop-offs of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, it was physically more challenging and exhausting.  Let me explain.

Prec 1DD closeup warning sign

Having past success scaling Angel’s Landing in Utah (click here for that blog) and the Precipice’s Little Brother in Acadia, the Beehive Trail (click here for that blog), the morning of our hike I keep to myself my wonder if I am up to the challenge climbing up the side of Champlain Mountain.

Arriving at the trailhead of the Precipice mid-morning on this last Monday in September, Mitch Sakofs, my buddy from my days teaching at Eastern Connecticut State University, and I park on the Park Loop Road beyond the trailhead.  I think, if so many people can climb this mountain, how hard can it be?

Prec 2 M as trail begins

My buddy Mitch as the rocky climb begins

Immediately, we are ascending a trail of rocks and boulders.  And then we hit the Massive Crucible Boulder.  At this point, hikers must lift their leg high enough to step up to a three foot metal rung, then again up to another rung, grasp for a stone handhold with the left hand, and elevate to the boulder above.  It’s a fabulous threshold challenge.  If you can’t mount this boulder, this is not the hike for you.

Prec 3A walkway on cliffside

Having the good fortune of hiking with an experienced mountaineer in Mitch, I have him lead, so I can watch where he steps and see what handholds he finds.  Constantly encouraging, he offers these climbing tips: (1) in each stone look for a handhold in the rock, (2) whenever possible take a small step rather than a big step, and (3) finally be sure on the cliff sides and stone slopes to have three points of contact (two feet and a hand).

Prec 3C keeper cliffside preview

Much of the trail I am grabbing the stone faces or pulling myself up with the rungs sunk deep in the rock face.  Every time I need a metal rung, there’s one there.  Throughout the climb I’m guessing I have 200 rungs and one well-placed metal ladder at my disposal.

Prec 4C more rungs

I never have an “oh shit” moment when I wonder what the hell I am doing or doubt if I will make it.  That said, it’s a bitch; as I climb I just keep repeating in amazement this is one bad ass climb as I step and stretch higher and higher. A few times I have to kneel to boost myself up onto the next boulder.

Though the trail is but 1.6 miles to the top, it takes us nearly two hours.

Prec 5 m with rungs

Once at the top, we chat up the twenty-somethings and enjoy the vista to Frenchman Bay.  To return to the Park Loop Trail, we descend on the far less steep Champlain North Ridge and Orange and Black Trails.

Will I do it again?  Only if someone really wants to climb it with me.  And as luck would have it, I have such a person – Hannah Banana.  She’s fired up for this vertical adventure!

Click here for a five minute YouTube video on the Precipice Trail.

Prec 5A d and m at top

Two recommendations: For breakfast prior – Sylvia’s Café in Ellsworth.  For lunch after – the Mainly Meat BBQ of the Atlantic Brewing Company in Bar Harbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prec 1 D at Sylvia's Cafe

Breakfast at Sylvia’s Cafe in Ellsworth, Maine (15 miles from Bar Harbor)

Prec 1B parking at trailhead 2

The fifteen trailhead parking spots were taken when we arrived at 10A, so 30+ of us parked in the right lane of the Park Loop Road

 

Prec 3 first rungs

Mitch leading the way

 

Prec 3B rungs on mountainside

The ever-present rungs to deal with the ever-present verticality

 

Prec 3D cliffside fair

The cliffside with metal rungs for stepping on and hand grabbing

 

Prec 4 more rungs nearer top

 

Prec 4B cliffside with rungs

 

Prec 6 atlantic brewery

Apres at the Mainly Meat BBQ of the Atlantic Brewing Company just outside of town

 

Prec 6A unattended children

Sign at the playground connected to the Mainly Meat BBQ

Dan’s Lawnmower Doesn’t Work Again, But…

I have a long uneasy relationship with gas machines around the house.  I recently posted on my aversion to the evil leaf blower.  (Click here for that blog.)  We once had a behemoth snowblower for our 150′ driveway.  It proved on unwieldy so now we have Nolan who plows when we get a big storm.

But this is a story about a lawn mower that went down a dark rabbit hole until…  Well, let me explain.

Mower - itself

After two years of lawn mower neglect, this past spring I take my mower to Eldredge Repair for servicing.  Returning home and pulling on the cord, the engine sputters, and then conks out completely after thirty seconds.  Really!  I just paid a C note for the repair!  (i.e. $100)

Checking the gas tank, I find it low, but not unreasonably so.  Even so, hoping for a green lawn miracle, I drive down to the Irving Station for some gas, return home, pull the cord – La meme chose!  Nothing, as it runs weakly for 30 seconds, then conks out.

When in small engine need, I default to reaching out to my neighbors for support.

Ergo, I text Marco, a thirty-something who lives diagonally across the street.  Marco responds, Remove the gas cap and see if the engine runs better.  If it does, this signifies a plugged gas cap vent and is quite common.  If u need to borrow mine, you sure can. 

mower - cap off

Unscrewing the gas cap, I pull the cord once more, but it nonetheless sputters and dies.  Still, the interaction with Marco brightens my afternoon.

With Bob’s Jeep in the driveway across the road, I walk over, explain my situation, and ask if he has any ideas.  Suggesting that I spray the carburetor, he says I can borrow his spray if I want.  When he hands me the can, I admit that I have no idea where the carburetor is.  Before I can ask for his help, he offers to come over to take a look.

Bob sprays, I pull the cord, but it’s déjà vu all over again; the mower sputters and shuts down.

Mower - Shed and mower

Ever hopeful and obviously very naïve, thirty minutes later I give my mower one more tug.  Pulling in vain, I see Bob behind me wheeling his mower down our driveway; he says, you can use mine until you get yours fixed.  How cool is that!  I gladly accept and mow our backyard to my heart’s content.

With a non-compliant mower, the very next day I return it to Eldredge’s.  Two days later upon my return, the smiling mechanic greets me.  He says, when I heard that the mower died after 30 seconds, I knew exactly what the problem was.  I took out the biggest mouse nest I have seen all spring.  The nest was blocking the flywheel of your engine.

Why the repair guy didn’t notice the mouse house in my mower the first time is another matter.  Still, it was a good day thanks to Mickey and Minnie reconnecting me with Marco and Bob.

Dan, the Disappointer, or Is He? 

Precipice acadia map

The Precipice Trail is on the Park Loop Road (near the c in Cadillac)

You see, I’d made plans with a buddy of mine to hike the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park here in Maine in mid-September.  More than a hike, the Precipice Trail is really a stone wall climb up the side of a mountain.  Enjoy this engaging five minute video from Unboring Exploring (click here) to give you a feel of the rocky cliff we’d be climbing.

precipice cliff

As the hiking Wednesday approaches, the forecast is iffy.  Rain is in the forecast for the day before, which will continue til the following morning on our hiking appointment with verticality.  Despite the forecast, my buddy leans toward giving the climb a shot; wet conditions have never stopped him before.  Fresh in my mind is my recent August hike up the stone facade of Mount Major in New Hampshire after a serious rainfall the day before (click here for that blog).  Though the sun was out, my former Arizona State classmates and I found the stony mountainside a tad slippery.

precipice rungs

You see, the Precipice Climb requires the grasping of metal rungs in order to summit; in other places we’ll be hand-grabbing up stone faces and cliffside-trail walking.  Leery myself of climbing on wet surfaces, I text back and forth with mi amigo about weather conditions.  Eventually I conclude I want to postpone.  We reschedule for two weeks hence.

precipice wooden walk

Now, I am not a big fan of disappointing others.  Who is?  I like to come through, but plowing ahead when new information is available is not always the bright thing for me to do.  Once seduced into deferring to experts, I now trust my inner compass much more.  When I ignore my gut feelings, I find that I can lose my “self,” have my soul get lost in the shuffle of meeting the expectations of others.

I know I have choices that I can exercise (appropriate word choice consider the climb ahead).  In fact, my world and those I deal with is a better place when others know what I think and what I want, rather than having to guess.

And here’s the bottom line: I can make any decision be the best decision.  If I don’t look back, neither ruing nor regretting, I can put all my energy into making the decision epic.

Addendum – Though my buddy may be disappointed, I bet he got over it quickly and moved on.  What’s the pay off in pissing and moaning when someone honestly tells you how they feel?

Dan, a Road Trip with Hannah, and Why To Kill A Mockingbird Matters – A Book Endorsement

Are you a Harper Lee groupie like me?  If so, I have a book for you.  – Why To Kill A Mockingbird Matters (2018) by Tom Santopietro.

TKAM tkam cover

First, let me begin by saying I never read To Kill a Mockingbird!  Fact is, I was never much of a reader through my public school and college years.  I read enough to answer the questions at the of the chapter, but I never learned to love reading.

TKAM peck

But…I did see the movie To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).  That must count for something!  I loved the film that was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture (but lost to Lawrence of Arabia).  Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch won the Oscar for best actor.  In fact, in the midst of writing this blog, Hannah and I watched the film one more time.  It stands up well as an inspirational tale of one man’s courage.

It was a little odd what got me interested in Why To Kill A Mockingbird Matters (2018) in the first place; it was a recent negative review in the New York Times Book Review section.  Click here for Roxane Gay’s unimpressed review.

So why would I read a book with a lousy review?  Because the reviewer let me know that the book is all about the backstory; of Harper Lee herself, the writing and publishing of the book, how the movie came to be, and what happened to the actors and Harper Lee herself since 1962.  I love me a good backstory.

Spencer Tracy was Harper Lee’s choice to play Atticus Finch in the film version of Mockingbird.  Unfortunately, he was filming at the time and couldn’t commit.  Fortunately, Gregory Peck was available.

TKAM atticus and scout

Atticus and Scout

Santopietero sums up why Gregory Peck had such appeal to many of us, … thanks to the role of Atticus Finch, in the public’s eye Peck had become not just a movie hero but also the personification of the quintessential American: the man his fellow citizens liked to think reflected not just their country but their own very best selves – a champion of the the underdog.

Well, I am happy to report that I righted the wrong in paragraph two and read To Kill A Mockingbird cover to cover a few weeks back.  By the way, the film is a quite faithful to Harper’s book.  Not getting enough, I read Critical Insights: To Kill a Mockingbird and watched both two documentaries: Hey Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird and Our Mockingbird .

TKAM map of monroeville

And the fruit of this infatuation is that Hannah and I on the road again, this time to southern Alabama!  Next month (October 2018), we fly into Atlanta and work our way to Monroeville, Alabama, the hometown of Harper Lee.  You see, Monroeville was the model for Maycomb, the setting of the novel.  The actual courthouse which holds a Mockingbird museum will be the centerpiece of our adventure.

Road trip!

TKAM critical insights

 

TKAM Hey Boo 2

 

TKAM Our Mockingbird

Dan Hikes Mount Major in New Hampshire with his Arizona State Bros 

ASU guys 2

Rich, Nobes, and Dan

Getting my boys (fellow 1969 Arizona State buddies, Rich and Nobes) up for a 6A departure to climb Mount Major proves to be easy peezy.  Willingly following my lead, we head north from the coast of Maine to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Click here for the background blog on my ties to Rich and Nobes.

MM at Farmer's Kitchen

Photo by Tiphanie one summer Sunday morning in New Hampshire

What’s a hike without a good breakfast out?  Looking online and finding the Farmer’s Kitchen in Farmington, NH on route 11, we hit gold.  Tantalizing blueberry pancakes this first Sunday in August set us up for our hike while owner/waitress Tiphanie brightens the morning with her engaging personality.

Driving a mere 20 minutes more to the trailhead of Mount Major, we find a spot in the parking lot, though 30 cars are already here at 8A.  It’s no surprise as Mount Major is indeed a family-friendly hike.  When Will was 6, Robyn 8 and Molly 10, our friend Steve Adler led us to this mountaintop on a late fall morning.

MM R and G on trail

Fearless hikers (Nobes and Rich) as the trail begins

As a member of the seventh grade team at Frisbee Middle School in Kittery, Maine, we teachers took 100 students here for this hike/climb.  My recollection is that every last kid made it to the top.

MM leisurely trail

Before the sharp left to the top, the trail is leisurely mellow

That said, this is no mere walk-in-the-park, but it gives the novice hiker the satisfaction of an Outward Bound, “damn-I-didn’t-know-I-could-do-it” challenge/experience.

MM rocky trail d n r

The trail turns rock-kay

The trail begins to climb immediately from the trailhead along a 12’ wide eroded path of stones and roots.  Stepping carefully, we have a warm-up for our climb to the summit.  Soon we are on a stroll-in-the-woods trail through the forest that is easy going and conversation inducing.

At the eight tenths of a mile mark of this 1.5 mile trail to the summit, we turn left, and the work begins.  Starting to bite into the 1100’ of elevation gain, we step carefully on a trail with boulders and roots.

MM Lake Winnepausakee

Lake Winnipesaukee from the summit

In time, the stone face of the trail emerges.  Watching the blue blazes (rectangular trail markers painted on trees and the stone itself), at times we use our hands to climb the steep stone faces leading to the top.  Other times, hikers step into the side woods to more easily make the climb.  It’s challenging, but that’s why it’s so rewarding.

MM D and R on top

Rich and Dan above Lake Winepausakee

Taking breaks to enjoy the scenery and views out to Lake Winnipesaukee, we take to the final stone face to the summit.  At the top there must be fifty others, but it never feels Disney World-esque.

Click here for more detailed information on the trail to the top of Mount Major.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MM G and D on top

Nobes and Dan atop Mount Major

I’m proud of my boys!

Dan and His Arizona State Turning Point 

ASU symbol

Before transferring to Arizona State for my senior year in 1969, I was at loose ends.  The War in Viet Nam loomed over my conscientious objector soul.  Not coloring outside the lines was just leading me down a fear-based path.  After the time-of-my-life sophomore year dating Hannah Kraai at the College of Wooster in Ohio, she and I lost our way; needing a big time change, I picked up and headed west to the Valley of the Sun.

Fortunately in Arizona, I found a group of guys to see me through.

ASU Rich and D

Rich and Dan, original Jersey Boys, for the mini-ASU reunion in August 2018

Three of us were from Jersey, Art, a marine from Bergenfield with a perpetual smirk, that endearingly made me feel like I was in on the joke; Rich, a 17 year old just good dude from Hawthorne coming West to be a pilot; and me looking to be So Far Away (thank you, Carole King).

ASU G and D

Rocking the sandals, Dan and Gale (Nobes is his last name) crush their cornhole opponents

There was Nobes, an art major from Michigan with a killer sense of humor and the smile that nothing was going to get him down.  Fifth was Big Steve from Virginia, who in the vernacular of the time, was the what’s-happening member of our quintet.

Why did we bond and remain friends for almost forty-nine years?  To start, when our Irish Hall dorm cleared out  for the weekend of all the Arizona kids, we had ourselves and not much more.  Using our cafeteria meal money at the Dash Inn, we dined on two beef burritos and ice tea for less than a dollar.  We spent 110F September Saturdays floating in tire tubes down the Salt River with a few brews.

ASU guys with Amelia

Dan, Rich, Amelia (Big Steve’s widow who coincidentally happened to be passing through during the mini-reunion) and Nobes

Only Art (Triumph sports car) and Steve (Ford Falcon) had cars, but each willingly lent theirs whenever asked.  Back in the day, a Coors or two together on Camelback Mountain in the late Phoenix evening made us bolder, the stories bigger, and the friendship stronger.

But really, you are still going strong 49 years?  For me, I felt accepted without having to prove myself.  Twenty-five hundred miles from home I was really on my own, beginning to find out what I believed and ready for the journey to find my way.

ASU guys 2

Summer of 2018 mini-reunion in York, Maine (Rich, Nobes, and Dan)

In this summer of 2018, 49 years later, Nobes, Rich, and I meet in Maine to toast our fallen compadres – Art to cancer from Agent Orange from his time in Viet Nam and Big Steve to a family history of heart attacks.

The me you see now has its roots in the connection to these guys.

Dan Updates and Thanks his Jimmy Fund Donors

Jimmy 30 with four

With Hannah, Max, and Owen, Dan rocks his 30th Anniversary of the Jimmy Fund dryfit shirt that goes to all Pacesetters (those who raise at least $1500)

My Jimmy Fund Walk for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute is a mere 13 days away on Sunday, September 23.  I have been preparing for this walk over the last 10K of the actual Boston Marathon course by playing lots of pickleball, working out at the gym, and hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  Many evenings I do walk the roads around our Chases Pond Road home with Hannah.

Jimmy 30 shirt with O, O, and M

Max (4), Omi, and Owen (6)

To date, thanks to you all, I have raised FIVE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE DOLLARS ($5761) for cancer research and the care of cancer patients.  Quite obviously, I couldn’t have done without you.  Thank you mucho.