Molly and Tip Final Baby Bracket Results

Owen Daniel Rawding was born in Alexandria, Virginia on July 23, 2012 at 3:56 AM

Here are the final scores for the bracket!

 1. Debbie Howe (Maine) – 85 points – She was the only one to pick Owen!

2. Ruthie Lasher (Virginia) – 77 points – She was the only to predict that exact date of Owen’s birthday!

3. MScott Berkowitz (Virginia) – 66 points

4. Shannon & Cali Titcomb (New Hampshire) – 60 points

5. Cindy McMullen (New Hampshire) – 58 points

6. Karen and Kalle Matso (Maine) – 55 points

7. Regina Manville (Virginia) – 50 points

8. Ann Jacob (Virginia) – 49 points

9. Karen McDonald (Canada) – 47 points

10. Bria Suprenant (Massachusetts) – 45 points

11. Neila Arnold (Maine) – 43 points

12. Bill Buggie (Canada) – 41 points

12. Karen Lynge (Maine) – 41 points

14. Tony Felt (Virginia) – 36  points

47. Hannah Rothermel (New York, Arizona, Maine)

48. Dan Rothermel (New Jersey, Arizona, Maine)

We are enjoying every second with Owen! He is so sweet and adorable!! – Molly and Tip Rawding

We look forward to seeing the little nipper in the coming weeks when we travel to Virginia.  – Omi (Hannah) and Papa (Dan)

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Dan and Hannah Bike the Grassy Trails near Cavendish in Prince Edward Island National Park

As we set to leave PEI, we wake early to take our hour walk along the Baywalk in Summerside, as we have the last two mornings.  Being preseason, our morning walks are ones of solitude and conversation about our love affair with, and in, PEI.  Do you have a place you go back to again and again?  PEI has that feel for us.

Over breakfast of French toast, I ask about Canadian health care.  The health care debate in the States is reduced to farce by outlandish claims of socialism and misrepresentation of what the new Affordable Care Act entails.  Ironically, the misinformation is captured by people who want government out of health care and add, Keep your hands off my Medicare.  Our breakfast guests are a daughter who has brought her 65 year old mother to PEI for holidays, a couple from Quebec, and our hosts at the B and B from PEI.  The folks seem pleased with their health care, though it’s the wait that can be discouraging.  Needing to see a specialist can take months.  The ER, as it is in the US, is the de facto (and expensive) universal health care for many in need.  Delays compromise care, no doubt.  Having no health insurance compromises care even more.  Our questions elicit no passion or condemnation, just the fact that universal health care is a given.

From a link my sister-in-law Judy, a Canadian (see her post script at the end of the blog), sent I learn that the average Canadian primary care doctor makes $125,000, compared to $186,000 for U.S. doctors. But American doctors spend an average of $83,000 a year dealing with insurance companies, compared to the $22,200 which the Ontario, Canada doctors spend on the government insurer.  Canada rates well on primary care, but struggles on wait times. A 2010 survey found that 59 percent of respondents waited more than four weeks for an appointment with a specialist, more than double the U.S. figure.

Having packed earlier for eventually leaving the island and ending up in Fredericton, New Brunswick with good friends Bill and Karen this evening, we head back to the PEI National Park in Cavendish.  Warned that these trails through forests and fields are best suited for hybrid or mountain bikes, we find only two other cars in the lot on this Wednesday morning.  That seems to be a theme in pre-season PEI.  The 9-10 kilometers of trails are set up in a figure eight that sends us first along the coast.

Homestead Trail

The crushed gravel trails lead us to the ocean.

Stopping at the beach of red rocks, we have heard that shoreline erosion is a serious problem on PEI.  It’s easy to see why.

Eroding Shoreline

The coastline of Prince Edward Island is made up of erodible sedimentary rock, composed mostly of sandstones.  Prince Edward Island is a prime example of where the demand for scenic waterfront property has led to a battle between the natural forces of erosion and a determination to stop, or at least slow down, the loss of shorefront property.  Average loss of shoreline on this part of the island is as much as 5 feet per year.  The higher erosion rate on the north and west coasts are directly attributable to the high degree of exposure to storm conditions.  In years to come Prince Edward Island will be severely affected as the influence of global warming takes hold.  Climate change will bring with it higher tidal fluctuations, increased incidents of storm surges, and increased erosion along shorelines.  The government and land owners of PEI don’t doubt the reality of global warning.

The bike paths are level with just two places of no more than a 50 feet stretch when one might need a mountain bike (i.e., There is one sandy stretch where our tires fishtail and one climb of gravelly rocks that we manage to climb though our tires slip as we furiously pedal, but that’s all.)  Our Trek hybrid bicycles easily handle the terrain.

It’s a simple one hour ride that turns out to be our favorite because of the varied, grassy terrain, the ins and outs of the trail, and only slightly because it is our last day on the island.

Done biking, we drive on country roads and eventually land at the shopping mall at the base of the Confederation Bridge.  There, we reward ourselves with PEI sweatshirts.

Prince Edward Island sweatshirts

Snapping a few pictures of the Confederation Bridge we know we’ll be back before the summer crowds come to our island paradise to bike the 273 kilometre (about 170 miles) Confederation Trail in June of 2013.

Confederation Bridge from PEI

Post script on Canadian health care from our Canadian sister-in-law Judy.

I am categorized as priority #3 out of 4 categories (#1 being urgent).  Based on which, I see the urologist in August.  If I were priority #1 then I would see the urologist ASAP.  So we do have waiting times but they are prioritized by need and I can personally say that I don’t mind letting more urgent cases go ahead of me.  The idea of paying money to jump the queue gives me a bad feeling in my gut.  It’s not a perfect system but I like that everyone is treated equally and that no one gets better care because they have more money or worse care because they are poor.  The even better thing is that no one gets a bill. Yes, taxes are higher here as a result but giving a basic right like good health to everyone is worth the extra contribution. We are only as healthy as the least healthy among us (that is what a former Minister of Health said about our healthcare system).  I believe that.

Anecdotal example from American health care in Maine.

Hannah broke her leg water skiing on a Sunday evening.  Monday morning at 730A she was in the Walk-in (kind of ironic since she was on crutches) Clinic for a first opinion.  She wanted a second opinion.  That consultation was held Tuesday afternoon.  Her surgery for a tibial fracture is set for Thursday afternoon.   Now that’s action!

Dan Drives the Shuttle Van for the Nubble Light Challenge

I wake early, I mean really early, like 4A, this mid-July morning.  Light peeks around the window shades in our bedroom.  I just can’t wait for the day ahead.  As a volunteer, I am going to drive the van to shuttle swimmers, escort kayakers, and spectators around the York Beach area for the Nubble Light Challenge, a fund raiser for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).  It’s a swimming race of 2.4 miles from Long Sands Beach, past the Nubble Lighthouse, to Short Sands Beach.

But back to me!  Why so thrilled at this predawn hour?   It’s because I am a part of a York team to make the Nubble Light Challenge a success.  As a first time volunteer, I have been made to feel that what I do matters by Bob, the race director.  It’s really quite simple.  And yet, so profound.  In talking about my role of shuttling folks around, I feel appreciated and acknowledged by him for my modest contribution.  On occasion in the past as a volunteer, I have had times where I was “invisible.”   Not checked in with; not acknowledged; not thanked even just briefly; not even nodded to with a simple unspoken appreciation.  By doing these simple things, Bob makes me feel like I am an important part of the team.  Now that’s leadership!

This belief about effective leadership dovetails with what I think about effective teachers.  Excellent teachers build relationships with students and know them as individuals.  Make them feel valued.   Students with a voice and a choice in the classroom blossom and grow.   We don’t need to make them standardized versions of each other.  But I digress.

Arriving as dawn breaks at First Parish Church in York to pick up the church van, I climb up and into the monstrous fifteen-seater, often used for the mission work of the church.  Tooling through the empty streets of our summer beach town, I pull into the York High School parking lot just after 6A to find a swimmer from North Conway, NH already in need of me to take him to the bath house on Long Sands Beach where the race will start three hours later.  He says he wants to get used to the ocean for this “open water” swim.  I turn onto Webber Road, then left at Long Beach Avenue to the bath house a half mile away.  Though the NLC has overall and age group winners, for each swimmer the race is truly an individual, personal challenge to finish.  Not just anyone can swim in the NLC; to qualify swimmers need to swim a mile in 35 minutes.

I loop back to York High and wait for my next contingent of swimmers, who turn out to be three women who swim such distance races throughout the Northeast, including the Peaks to Portland Swim in Portland Harbor the following week.  Dropping them off I already see vacationers putting out rows of beach chairs to stake their claim to this section of the town’s sandy beach.  The rest of my loop is to head down Long Sands Beach through downtown York Beach by the Goldenrod and Fun-O-Rama to the Freeman parking lot to pick up kayakers who previously have dropped off their kayaks at the bath house.

Kayakers and stand up paddle boarders play an important role in the race as escorts for the swimmers.  Out on the open water, there are also boats to rescue swimmers who might be overwhelmed by fatigue or the cold.  The ocean temperature is 62F.  If you don’t know what that feels like, come to York in the summer.  The water is literally bone chilling.  It takes your breath away.  When we locals see people in the Atlantic Ocean, we think they are either kids or Canadians.  Later I would learn that there were pockets of cold water of 54F near the lighthouse.

As I shuttle folks around, to a person, be they swimmers, kayakers, or spectators, they thank me for the ride.   Clearly they get that a major key to their happiness is being grateful.  It’s a busy beach morning along Long Sands on a humid day that will reach well into the 80s.  As I drop another group off at the bath house, a woman hands me a $20 bill that she found on the floor of the van.  She jokes, Here’s your tip.  I take it as a challenge to find the rightful owner, but first I step out to see the start of the race.

Swimmers are ready; most in wetsuits, though a few men and women in just swimming suits!  Their kayak support is already out on the water.  (Click on this link for the course map.)  The 150 swimmers are grouped in four waves to avoid a mad rush at the start as groups leave in two minute intervals.  There’s a buzz as swimmers listen to the count down and dive into the Atlantic Ocean just 30 minutes after high tide.  I almost wish I was racing today, but that thing about getting into the cold ocean water is still a slight impediment.

The swimmers swim and part two of my job begins.

I have spectators to ferry to the Nubble so they can see their swimmers go through the “gut” (that area between the mainland and the rocky island where the light house sits).”   It’s a party atmosphere as I pack the van to the gills with families with lots of little kids.  Sometimes, they are supporting Mom, the swimmer, and other times it’s Dad.  I ask about the $20 but no one claims it.
From there I shuttle them to the finish line at Short Sands beach.  It’s inspiring to see swimmers sprint for the finish line after an hour or two in the ocean.
As I watch the swimmers climb out of the water, I hear that four swimmers have already been pulled from the ocean.  That means my next stop is Town Dock #2.

Arriving at the dock, I soon see them in their swimming suits as they plod up the gangplank to my waiting van.  I smile; they smile back in that I-didn’t-think-today-would-end-in-this-way look.  They trained, and trained some more and today they just didn’t get to Short Sands Beach.  One said it was the 54F that got her.  One jokes, At least you didn’t make us walk back.  Another chimes, Or swim back.   Laughter briefly fills the van, but then it’s quiet.  It’s a quiet three mile ride to the ball field as they settle into their thoughts.  Another jokes, Now we’ve got to do the walk of shame.  Ouch.  And then as I pull by the ball field to let them off, I’m surprised, as, to a person, they look me in the eye and say thank you for the ride.  I think, they have started to mend.  Yes!  It’s far easier to do what’s expected than face the unexpected.

After dropping the five that didn’t complete the race at the ball field, I pull my van into a parking spot for lunch.  The barbecue of pulled pork, vegetarian chili, coleslaw, and noodle salad awaits.  Having not eaten since my oatmeal at 530A, I’m hungry and ready to hang with the other volunteers.  Immediately I see two from the swim walking purposefully to my van.  It is so clear they want a ride back to the high school, two miles away, and now is what they have in mind.   How do I explain that I am just going to get a quick bite and could they just wait ten minutes?  Well, I can’t.   I suck it up, smile, and say, Where you going?  They jump in without a thought about my stomach, and why would they?  We head back to the high school.  I am clearly no hero for doing this.  As Dr. Kent Keith says I think it’s between me and God anyway.   Well, now it’s between me and God and you all.   But I’ll explain my thinking for telling you in a minute.

I’m still wondering about the $20.  Throughout the morning I ask folks who’ve been on the van before if they lost $20.  No one has.  So as my day of driving the van ends, I still have the $20.  And then I think, why not put it in the collection plate tomorrow at church?  I’ll label the envelope with the money Amigos, for the program my church participates in to send food and clothing to children in Honduras.  No one will know where the money came from.  That’s right.  It’s between me and God, and …                                                      well, again of you all.

Prior to these revelations, you have probably formed your opinions of me, good guy or a little full of himself.   Self-promoter or moderately humble dude.  This seemingly recent braggadocio of my “good doing” notwithstanding.   I truly wish you didn’t know.  But I think it important to be models for our children to explain why we, as parents and grandparents, do what we do.  If we don’t know tell our kids/students or show them, how will they know they have choices, in this case, other than pocketing the $20?  So I tell this story for our children: Molly and Tip, Robyn, and Will, and any parents or grandparents who are still reading this posting.

I encourage you to be explicit in your explanations of why you do what you do and why you live as you live.  It’s not always obvious.  So that’s why I told you.  Make sense?

Dan and Hannah Celebrate Their 40th Biking to New Castle

Hannah and I have always loved to exercise.   Since forever.  We met on the tennis courts as first year students at the College of Wooster in Ohio.  Though somewhat coordinated and athletic, we were definitely not fit.  Never ran, never exercised at a gym, just played sports that required a modest amount of hand/eye coordination.  Though the Sixties in the public schools were not friendly to female athletes like Hannah (it would be 1972 before Title 9 became the law of the land), she learned to excel at various sports at Moss Lake Camp in New York State: waterskiing, tennis, canoeing, distance swimming, archery, riding, riflery, and dance.  Three years into our marriage in the mid-1970s, we weren’t doing much cardio-vascularly so we took up running.  Relatively cheap (the price of running shoes) with no need for going to a gym, running on the canals and along railroads of Tempe, AZ was how we knocked off 30-40 miles per week.  At Arizona State University, I loved being the one experimented-upon in the Human Performance Lab to determine aerobic capacity as the speed of the treadmill was increased and the incline rose.  Call me crazy, but I loved feeling spent after physical activity.
After 30+ years of running, our knees said No Mas.  So walking, biking, and hiking became our new physical activities of choice.   So I ask you?  Given that background, what do I do with the athletic woman of my dreams to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on the first of July?Why a big time bike ride on the coast of New Hampshire!  Into symmetry, we thought we’d bike 40 miles for 40 years of marriage. With our sister-in-law Becky down for the weekend from Portland, we rode 20 miles on the back country roads from York to and from Kittery on the Saturday afternoon before our anniversary so we had a mere 20 left to do this Sunday anniversary morning.
Setting the alarm for 515A so as to be on the road before the Sunday summer beach traffic gets heavy on this first day of July, we grab a quick banana, hydrate, and set out for Portsmouth, NH.  Stuffing Becky’s road bike in her Mom’s SUV, we use our Saris Bones 2 Bike Rack for Hannah’s bike and mine.   With no room for sitting in the back, Hannah sits on my lap for the ten mile trip over the I-95 Piscataqua River Bridge to Portsmouth to park by the mill pond just off the center of town.
Hannah and Becky at the Mill Pond
Leaving the mill pond lot at 615A, we indeed have the road to ourselves as we first pass the Portsmouth City Offices, formerly the Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where our son Will was born back in 1983.  (His sisters Molly and Robyn were born at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.)  At this early hour, we pedal onto nearly empty Route 1B into New Castle, NH.
Crossing into New Castle
In typical New England fashion the exact same main road that goes through this town is called Portsmouth Avenue, Cranfield Street, Main Street, and finally Wentworth Road in the space of two miles.  The why of such naming escapes me.  New Castle is a classic New England sea port community with many 18th and 19th century houses built right to the road with very little place for parking.  It is the smallest town in New Hampshire and the only one located entirely on islands.  It’s as New England-y as you get.
Hannah rolling by the marshes
Passing tidal rivers and marsh lands, we are fortunate to have Becky in our lives; for many reasons.  One being that there are few people we know our age, who would eagerly get up at this early hour to ride with us and relish a ride of such distance.
Becky rolling by those same marshes
Passing the Wentworth by the Sea Marriot Hotel and Spa we cross an open grate draw bridge on our way to Route 1A and the Atlantic Ocean. Though busier than Route 1B through New Castle, Route 1A at 645A time means there is still very little traffic.
Passing Odiorne State Park
Once past Odiorne State Park and the Seacoast Science Center, we are greeted by the sun already up above the Atlantic Ocean.  At this point on Ocean Boulevard (Route 1A), the bike path is wide and riding side by side is safe and friendly.
Ocean Boulevard
Faster bicyclists roar by us, usually with head down and pedaling vigorously on a mission to maximize their workout.  Our mission is a little more modest: to ride 20 miles and catch up on each other’s lives.
Further south on Ocean Boulevard
It’s summer vacation as we roll past Rye, NH with housekeeping cottages, rentals, and small summer homes on the marshes across from the beaches which can go for under $1000 to over $4000 per week during the summer season.  We first pass Wallis Sands State Park, then Ray’s Seafood.
We make Rye Harbor our turn around point.
Pedaling by Rye Harbor
Shooting for an hour of biking out and an hour back on our morning ride, we spin easily by lobster boats and small yachts.  Morning guests in mansions along the ocean wave as we head for home as traffic picks up along the shore road.   It’s biking central for serious bicyclists.
Passing Odiorne State Park on the return trip, we are approaching 20 miles with energy still in our legs and a look forward to Hannah’s homemade bread at breakfast.   By the time we return to Portsmouth, we’ve biked 25 miles in the early Sunday morning on a day that’s going to 90 degrees.
Back to Portsmouth Harbor
It’s a memorable 40th morning with the girl of my dreams.
When you next visit York and Seacoast Maine/New Hampshire, consider an early morning ride to New Castle, then stop by Dan and Hannah’s for coffee and toasted homemade bread with us.
We’re serious.

Dan and Hannah Celebrate Their 40th Biking to New Castle

Hannah and I have always loved to exercise.   Since forever.  We met on the tennis courts as first year students at the College of Wooster in Ohio.  Though somewhat coordinated and athletic, we were definitely not fit.  Never ran, never exercised at a gym, just played sports that required a modest amount of hand/eye coordination.  Though the Sixties in the public schools were not friendly to female athletes like Hannah (it would be 1972 before Title 9 became the law of the land), she learned to excel at various sports at Moss Lake Camp in New York State: waterskiing, tennis, canoeing, distance swimming, archery, riding, riflery, and dance.  Three years into our marriage in the mid-1970s, we weren’t doing much cardio-vascularly so we took up running.  Relatively cheap (the price of running shoes) with no need for going to a gym, running on the canals and along railroads of Tempe, AZ was how we knocked off 30-40 miles per week.  At Arizona State University, I loved being the one experimented-upon in the Human Performance Lab to determine aerobic capacity as the speed of the treadmill was increased and the incline rose.  Call me crazy, but I loved feeling spent after physical activity.
After 30+ years of running, our knees said No Mas.  So walking, biking, and hiking became our new physical activities of choice.   So I ask you?  Given that background, what do I do with the athletic woman of my dreams to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on the first of July?

Why a big time bike ride on the coast of New Hampshire!  Into symmetry, we thought we’d bike 40 miles for 40 years of marriage. With our sister-in-law Becky down for the weekend from Portland, we rode 20 miles on the back country roads from York to and from Kittery on the Saturday afternoon before our anniversary so we had a mere 20 left to do this Sunday anniversary morning.

Setting the alarm for 515A so as to be on the road before the Sunday summer beach traffic gets heavy on this first day of July, we grab a quick banana, hydrate, and set out for Portsmouth, NH.  Stuffing Becky’s road bike in her Mom’s SUV, we use our Saris Bones 2 Bike Rack for Hannah’s bike and mine.   With no room for sitting in the back, Hannah sits on my lap for the ten mile trip over the I-95 Piscataqua River Bridge to Portsmouth to park by the mill pond just off the center of town.
Leaving the mill pond lot at 615A, we indeed have the road to ourselves as we first pass the Portsmouth City Offices, formerly the Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where our son Will was born back in 1983.  (His sisters Molly and Robyn were born at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.)  At this early hour, we pedal onto nearly empty Route 1B intoNew Castle, NH.
In typical New England fashion the exact same main road that goes through this town is called Portsmouth Avenue, Cranfield Street, Main Street, and finally Wentworth Road in the space of two miles.  The why of such naming escapes me.  New Castle is a classic New England sea port community with many 18th and 19th century houses built right to the road with very little place for parking.  It is the smallest town in New Hampshire and the only one located entirely on islands.  It’s as New England-y as you get.
Passing tidal rivers and marsh lands, we are fortunate to have Becky in our lives; for many reasons.  One being that there are few people we know our age, who would eagerly get up at this early hour to ride with us and relish a ride of such distance.
Passing the Wentworth by the Sea Marriot Hotel and Spa we cross an open grate draw bridge on our way to Route 1A and the Atlantic Ocean. Though busier than Route 1B through New Castle, Route 1A at 645A time means there is still very little traffic.
Once past Odiorne State Park and the Seacoast Science Center, we are greeted by the sun already up above the Atlantic Ocean.  At this point on Ocean Boulevard (Route 1A), the bike path is wide and riding side by side is safe and friendly.
Faster bicyclists roar by us, usually with head down and pedaling vigorously on a mission to maximize their workout.  Our mission is a little more modest: to ride 20 miles and catch up on each other’s lives.
It’s summer vacation as we roll past Rye, NH with housekeeping cottages, rentals, and small summer homes on the marshes across from the beaches which can go for under $1000 to over $4000 per week during the summer season.  We first pass Wallis Sands State Park, thenRay’s Seafood.
 We make Rye Harbor our turn around point.
Shooting for an hour of biking out and an hour back on our morning ride, we spin easily by lobster boats and small yachts.  Morning guests in mansions along the ocean wave as we head for home as traffic picks up along the shore road.   It’s biking central for serious bicyclists.
 Passing Odiorne State Park on the return trip, we are approaching 20 miles with energy still in our legs and a look forward to Hannah’s homemade bread at breakfast.   By the time we return to Portsmouth, we’ve biked 25 miles in the early Sunday morning on a day that’s going to 90 degrees.
It’s a memorable 40th morning with the girl of my dreams.

Molly and Tip Baby Bracket Update (Top 22)

And the results (top 22 scores) after three rounds
1. 55 points: Karen & Kalle (Maine)
2. 49 points: Ann Jacob (Virginia)
3. 45 points: Ruthie Lasher (Virginia)
                Bria Suprenant (Massachusetts)
5. 42 points: MScott Berkowitz (Virginia)
                   Regina Manville (Virginia)
7. 41 points: Karen Lynge (Maine)
                   Bill Buggie (Canada)
9. 39 points: Kate Scully (New Hampshire)
                   Karen McDonald (Canada)
                   Paige Bordthauser (Virginia)
12. 36 points: Rose & Mike (California)
                   Shannon & Cali (New Hampshire
14. 35 points: Neila Arnold (Maine)
15. 34 points: Pauline Peyser and Paula (New Hampshire)
                   Cindy McMullen (New Hampshire)
17. 33 points: Dan Rothermel (Maine)
                   Tanya Garrity (New Hampshire)
                   The Derby Family (Maine)
20. 32 points: Amelia Kyker (Virginia)
                   Eric Fullilove (Maine)
22. 30 points: Sheri Garrity (New Hampshire)
4 points per correct answer from the third round added to the previous score
(1 point per correct answer in the first round; 2 points per correct answer in second round.) 
We’re down to the Elite Eight (four boys names and four girls names)
Boys Names:
Nolan
Owen
Alexander
Benjamin
Girls Names:
Julia
Sophie
Olivia
Amelia

Dan and Hannah Bike the Confederation Trail in Prince Edward Island and Meet a Fox

Days on our PEI “holiday” begin with an hour walking the boardwalk along the harbor of Summerside before our Green Willow Farm B and B breakfast.  In mid-June, the tourist season has not begun and we’ve the boardwalk to ourselves.

Harbor scene from Baywalk

With the same crew at breakfast (mother and daughter from Alberta, Canada and a retired couple from the States), we gab like old friends on this second morning together, mainly because Hannah greases the pan for it all to happen.  Invite her to any small gathering; Hannah’s lively, quick witted, and warms to her role as facilitator.
This morning’s bike ride is heading north on the Confederation Trail from Summerside to Kensington.  (Doesn’t that sound like we are in merry old England?)  We’ll bike ten kilometres (6 miles-ish) each way on the former railway (closed in 1989) (a similar initiative to Rails to Trails in the States) with its red crushed gravel, raised bed between fields of potatoes or grain.
Newly planted potato field
Gates alert us to cross roads and slow us down for our safety.
Safety gates on the Confederation Trail
And if those Canadians aren’t nice enough already, they will 99 out of 100 times stop in the road, even on the high speed Route 2 that goes through the heart of the Province to let us pass.   Soon we come upon three pairs of all-female crews cutting the brush on the side of the trail, mowing a breakdown lane of grass, and weedwacking the high grass.  Surprised that we see no males, we ask why female teams?   No reason, but it’s easy to see the Province is an equal opportunity employer.  Their Provincial tax (16%) pays for the necessary infrastructure, let alone health care for all.  I was surprised when I paid nearly $2 tax on a $12.50 pizza.  Beer is $14 for a six pack.  Helmets are required of all bicyclists.  Will the Socialists stop at nothing!  But I digress. 
On this windy day with no humidity, laundry blows on the backyard lines out of some early 20th century Anne of Green Gables scene.
As we ride, Hannah and I talk of how going away gives us the discipline to read and write and dream and plan in ways the routines and have-tos of life at home don’t.  There are always “necessary” responsibilities keeping us from the business of self-reflection and growth.  It’s easy to run in place tending to life’s “to do” list.
Going to Kensington on the Confederation Trail
It’s a light 50 minutes of level pedaling to Kensington.   Returning to Summerside, we see a few bicyclists who are invariably smiling and polite.  Off to the East some three hundred yards past the potato fields we see Route 2 with its traffic of commerce, and yet it’s quiet and peaceful on the trail.
Confederation Trail
As we bike for home, an idea grows.  What if we bike the entire 273 kms (about 170 miles) of the Confederation Trail from the North Cape near Tisdale to Elmira on the East Cape?  With panniers (bags attached to bikes) on our bikes we could carry all we need.   We’d start out after an early June night at a B and B and bike 60-70 kilometres per day.  That sort of mileage or kilometage would allow us to visit new PEI towns in the off season and complete the trail in four days.  It would be our own mini-thru bike (a la the Appalachian Trail) with the added benefits of a short duration (four days), not sleeping with snoring fellow travelers in a shelter, a bed! and private bathroom, and ending each day with a fine glass of wine and a hearty breakfast the next morning.  This is an idea that won’t be denied.
Potato field just off the Confederation Trail
Lunch, nap, and reading rejuvenate us for our afternoon of golf.
Green Willow Farm B & B hayfield the day before it rained
On a whim, I had packed three clubs and a putter, six balls, tees, golf glove, and golf shoes in the trunk of our Hyundai on the chance that I’d find a nine-hole course.  I had no idea that across the street from our B and B is a nine-hole par 3 course at the Summerside Quality Inn.  And for $7 to boot!  Hannah jumps at the chance to play, too, and we have an afternoon twosome.
Quality Inn Golf course
The holes range from 70 to 120 yards so it’s short iron stuff for golfers.  The greens are just more shaved versions of the fairways with weeds here and there on the putting surface.  The Masters it is not.  The score card says; please hold up on swing at #9 as there are people in the pool.  Oh, that’s not a lawsuit waiting to happen.  But no matter.  Hannah has not played in 30 years since we golfed in Arizona.  But she’s a Phys. Ed. major from the division 3 sports powerhouse, the College of Wooster in Ohio (look it up!) and is up for most any athletic challenge.  You all may remember her willingness to climb Angel’s Landing in Zion National Parkfor a second time when the rest of the family said, “No mas.”
We get to the first tee and I exchange my sandals for golf shoes.  It’s 96 yards long with pine trees sprinkled throughout what must have been an old hay field.  We play two balls each for the practice, as our games are rusty and there is no one else on the course.  After hitting her first seven iron, Hannah sees a cute red fox approach.  How PEI!
The red fox moves in
The fox slithers over and stands above Hannah’s Titleist.  Before we know it, he grabs the golf ball in his mouth and skitters off into the brush.  Stunned, Hannah is incensed.  She runs toward the fox with her 7 iron, but the fox is too sly and too quick (You all remember The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog from high school typing class which contains all the letters in the alphabet.  That’s truer than I realized.)  In a flash, we are down one Titleist.  Given fair warning, we are ready to go mano y mano (or animale) with this PEI fox.   For the second hole, I walk half way down the fairway (some 50 yards) and wait for Hannah to hit, prepared to wave my wedge at the offending fox when he reemerges from the woods.  This strategy seems to work but doesn’t discourage the fox from trying.
Hannah and her Seven Iron
At the third hole 79 yards, the fox lurks. Bold as can be, she comes within ten feet.  Hannah jumps into action.  Grabbing the flag stick from the third hole, she starts down the fairway waving the pole with its red flag chasing the fox.  The fox wants no part of this highly motivated athletic woman and scoots into the underbrush.  On the fourth hole he’s back.  At this point, the fourth hole flag stick will be in our hands at all times.  I go down the fairway, wait for Hannah to hit and then return to the tee box and hit my shot.  We repeat this dance for each hole.
Hannah with flag stick in hand
We yell and wave the red flag when he reappears.  Fact is, Hannah plays well.  She’s an athletic talent of the first order.   She hits through the ball and follows through nicely.
Dan looking to hole a birdie putt
We each hit some good shots and enjoy the ninety minutes on a sunny 70 degree day without losing another ball.  Returning to the hotel desk, we mention the fox.  And the receptionist, clearly not a golfer, says, That happens all the time.  She is smiling and oh so Canadian.  She adds in a perky way, Sometimes people have to stop playing because they run out of balls.  “Perhaps, you might have mentioned the fox before we went out to the first tee!” we think.
That night we get takeout pizza for dinner.  As we walk back Hannah steers me across the street to this sign below at a local Wilson’s gas stop on the main drag.
I wish you Hannahs in your life.
Our take away – We’ll be back to bike the entire Confederation Trail next June and be ready for the quick red fox.
A June 2013 return to the Confederation Trail