Dan and Hannah Hike the Appalachian Trail in northern Maryland

A vow is a vow. Would Sir Lancelot go back on a vow?  Lady Lancelot?  Not even, Baby Lancelot would. If they wouldn’t, neither will we!

After having our spirits and feet shredded by the jagged rocks of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in eastern Pennsylvania near Wind Gap, we vow to never hike in the Keystone State again. So ditching our plans to hike the AT north of Harrisburg at Duncannon this late April morning, we drive south below Gettysburg, PA through the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland to the town of Smithsburg.

The blue blaze trail leads to the main trail, the Appalachian Trail

The blue blaze trail leads to the main trail, the Appalachian Trail

Only later do we learn that we have passed near the presidential retreat of Camp David.  Catoctin Mountain Park does not indicate the location of Camp David on park maps due to privacy and security concerns.   Arriving at Wolfsville Road, we return to a trailhead where we parked six months ago. At that time we hiked north on the AT; today we head south.

The white blaze of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland

The white blaze of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland

We need some mellow hiking today after yesterday’s jagged, spirit-breaking rocks, masquerading as a trail. Having previously hiked five times in Maryland, we pine for its mellow ridge line hiking with fewer rocks; it’s just the ticket to refresh our legs and renew our love of hiking.

Rocky stairway on the AT

Rocky stairway on the AT

From Wolfsville Road, we climb the switchbacks up a mountain with a different kind of rocks. Flatter and smoother, these rocks are positioned by trail makers that allow us easy access up the mountain. After a day of rain, the weather has cleared and the sun shines brightly on the hiker-friendly landscape of Maryland.

Hannah ridge line hiking in Maryland

Hannah ridge line hiking in Maryland

Once at the summit we begin our ridge trail hiking and soon spot a group of young hikers. Always looking to connect, we learn that they are from the Lancaster Bible College in Pennsylvania. As recent high school graduates, they are backpacking and camping and completing other non-classroom activities as part of a gap year of experiences before they begin their pursuit of their Bachelor of Science degrees in Bible Studies.

VCU Ram just north of the Commonwealth

VCU Ram just north of the Commonwealth

Logan, a senior intern, hikes along with us as he leaves the eighteen year-olds on their own for a while. For this experience, the students are outdoors for five days to learn about themselves in close quarters; that means they can’t avoid the issues that come up with each other on the trail.

MD gap yearI think of a gap year as a concept from Great Britain where students spend the year between high school and college traveling, working, volunteering, or completing an internship. It seems to me that such students would bring an earnestness and commitment to their academic studies after having a taste of the “real world.”

My top of the line colleague, Dr. Hair Koirala, in the Department of Education at Eastern Connecticut State University.

My esteemed colleague, Dr. Hair Koirala, in the Department of Education at Eastern Connecticut State University.

As a retired professor of education at Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of New England, I taught 18 to 22 year old undergrads as well as older, non-traditional students.  These older students were returning for teacher training after often having had another career. Almost always, they were fully invested in their studies after having this “gap” time between high school and their decision to seek teacher certification.

There are a few rocky stretches on the AT in Maryland

There are some rocky stretches on the AT in Maryland

The gap year reminds me of what Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) do when they complete an 18 month (for young women) and 24 month (for young men) mission, often after their first year of college.  With a specific purpose to bring the Word to others during their mission, they gain the added benefit of having time to reflect on their opportunities and how they can serve others.  I can only guess they also return more devoted to their studies after going on their mission.

Mellow ridge line hiking in Maryland

Mellow ridge line hiking in Maryland

Thirty-four students, interns, and chaperones are strung out over the trail here in northern Maryland, hiking in groups of six to seven. And just as you would expect, they are stereotypically delightful, upbeat, willing to engage, and make eye contact; they are excellent ambassadors of Christianity.

MD 3B H on less rockyIn a forest that is just about to blossom with new leaves in late April, our trail is ridge line so we have very little elevation gain as we hike. With no destination in mind, we plan to hike out 90 minutes and double back to complete three hours of hiking this afternoon. Our weary legs could use a break after the nasty, protruding rocks of the AT in Pennsylvania.  (We just can’t let it go!)

A few more rocks on the AT

A few more rocks on the AT

We do have rocky stretches, but they are just sections amid miles of flatter, softer packed dirt and rock terrain.  Today we have done a week’s worth of whining about yesterday’s rocky trail hiking; ergo we have used up our allotment of bellyaching and finally cease our grumbling.

MD 3A H on less rocky partWe run into “Little Buddy” (trail name), a twenty something out for a few days of backpacking with his father. They are agreeable sorts, in no hurry, and tell us of their surprise of getting to the Red Raven Shelter 12 miles back last night and seeing the shelter full of young hikers and tents everywhere filled with the Lancaster Bible students.

MD 3C ridge line trailFather/son bonding has many venues. Some do it on the trail. In two days, I’ll have the chance to do some of my own with our son Will on golf courses in the Richmond, VA area. I like my bonding on emerald fairways and greens that funnel my ball to the hole. Each to his own.

Will and Laurel toast picture

The future Mr. and Mrs. Rothermel

Descending the last mountain, I feel my left knee begin to ache from yesterday’s hike in the unforgiving rocks of Pennsylvania.  Tomorrow is a light day of canal path walking at Great Falls National Park near Washington, DC with the Family Rawding.

And then after, off to Richmond, Virginia for Will’s marriage to Laurel Ann Crane.

Advertisements

Dan and Hannah Hike the Rocky, Rocky Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania

Climbing the Appalachian Trail to Hahn's Lookout

The Appalachian Trail near Wind Gap, PA

Among Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, Pennsylvania has the reputation of being a trail with punishing, boot-shredding rocks. Hannah and I have no reason to doubt that reputation, but we’ve hiked in Pennsylvania before, once near the Delaware Water Gap in the east and again near Gettysburg to the south at Boiling Springs, and found no such mean-spirited rocks.

Marathon Molly in 2007

Marathon Molly in 2007

It’s a nasty Patriots Day on a mid-April Monday in New England as we travel by way of Pennsylvania to Virginia for Will and Laurel’s wedding.  In Boston, the steady rain is pelting the marathon runners similar to what our daughter Molly experienced running into 20 to 30 mph headwinds from Hopkinton to Boston in 2007.   Today we hope the drenching rain abates and our ponchos will deflect the light rain.

Mom and Dad 1

Mom and Dad

Crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York State and heading to Jersey on I-287, we pass the senior living complex where my Mom and Dad lived after moving from their home of more than fifty years in Radburn, NJ. Dad died three years ago while Mom passed on last year; they each lived rich lives into their 90s. As I get nostalgic, I do think how much they enjoyed hearing about the lives of their grandchildren. I miss not being able to call up and talk about Robyn’s recent college degree, Will’s new job, and Molly’s new house. But damn, I had so many good years of calls and visits; we all had a great run together.

Climbing the Appalachian Trail to Hahn's Lookout

Climbing the Appalachian Trail to Hahn’s Lookout

As we cross into Pennsylvania, we learn that this area is called the Slate Belt. That is an ominous sign for today’s hike. Thanks to my Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers Companion, we find the trailhead at the far end of the little town of Wind Gap. With the rain now just mist, we pack our ponchos in Hannah’s backpack as I big-heartedly carry our water bottles.

Ridgeline hiking on the AT

Ridgeline hiking on the AT

Heading under Route 33 to the white blazes of the AT, we are set to climb to Hahn’s Lookout, a mile south on the AT. Here the AT is a trail of finely designed switchbacks with the usual run-of-the-mill rocks; but no rockier than other trails that we have hiked up and down the AT.

In the cloud at Hahn's Outlook

In the cloud at Hahn’s Outlook

It’s like we have stolen a day of hiking since it was iffy whether we would be on the trail at all, given the morning’s drenching rain. But no two ways about it, we are hiking in a cloud. Arriving at Hahn’s Outlook there is nothing to see of the valley below. Mist goes from light to heavy; with a wet trail, we step carefully among the rocks.

VCU Ram on the Appalachian Trail in PA

VCU Ram on the Appalachian Trail in PA

Rising to the ridge line after a modest 400 to 500 feet gain in elevation, we start to see that the rocks are having baby rocks. Protruding from the ground like the fins of a shark or the scales of a stegosaurus, they make our foot plants uneven; we find ourselves hiking with swiveling ankles adjusting to the varied, moist rocks from the rain over the last 18 hours.

You want rocks?  Pennsylvania's got rocks for you.

You want rocks? Pennsylvania’s got rocks.

With little to see hiking in a cloud, we set a goal of finding the Kirkwood Shelter 4.6 miles from the trailhead. The rocky trail is very well-marked as we walk single file; we don’t expect to see anyone. Who’d be hiking in the mist of early April but Maine-iacs?  Northbound thru-hikers starting in Georgia are only a month into their hike, spending nights somewhere in North Carolina or Virginia. Southbound thru-hikers cannot even start til next month (May) because of the snowy conditions at Mount Katahdin in Maine.

On the AT near Wind Gap, PA

On the AT near Wind Gap, PA

Still buoyed by the thoughts that this is bonus hiking, we see no signs of the shelter 90 minutes into our ridgeline hike. Due to the rocky terrain, we are hiking at best 2 mph.   This is no trail for sneakers, but our hiking boots provide us with modest protection.  Over the next 20 minutes, we find no blue blaze trail (side trail) to the hoped-for shelter. The rocks are more than annoying as we start to feel it in our knees due to the many angled steps we have taken on the wet rocks.

Shark fins protruding on the trail

Shark fins protruding on the trail

At a clearing of high tension wire towers, Hannah has had enough. She takes off her socks to revitalize her feet, but she says, I’ll go ten minutes more if you want. (We’ve been out nearly two hours.) But I don’t want to and am ready to turn back. A full afternoon of exercise is what we wanted; and in that we have succeeded. There is no reason to subject ourselves to the rocky landscape anymore.

WG 4 H descending rocky trailTurning for home, we still have nearly two hours of rocky trail hiking ahead of us. We are now firm believers in the legend of the rocks on the AT in PA. We are, in fact, disciples.  Three hours of rocks has us swearing we will never return to Pennsylvania to hike. Ever. The Land of Brotherly Love? Not on the AT near Wind Gap!

In a cloud on the AT

In a cloud on the AT

The mistiness has stopped, but the trail remains wet and as you might have guessed, quite rocky. We have no way around the rocks but through them. The rocks rule. I bow to their majesty. I will never trespass their sacred realm again.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Maryland where we will find some of our favorite trails on the AT. Rocks? Sure, but not so sharp, unforgiving, or numerous. This part of the AT in Pennsylvania is the kind of hike that could make you hate hiking.

Hannah’s final words to others: Don’t Do It.   We’ve done it for you; you don’t have to beat yourselves up.

Do I hear an Amen!

Dan and Hannah in the Mojave Desert at Death Valley National Park, California

 

DV map of NV CAAfter breakfasting at the Comfort Inn in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, we drive west to the California/Nevada border on Route 160 to Pahrump, NV. As I drive, Hannah says she’s not really fond of heading into the Unknown. I think – it’s not the Middle East; it’s not Antarctica; it’s not Mount Everest or K2. Who would have thought we’d ever get to Death Valley in our lifetimes! Clearly not Hannah.

Sierra Nevada from Death Valley, California

Sierra Nevada from Death Valley, California

I was not always so adventurous. When my parents drove us three kids in an old Ford woody station wagon West, I would have just as soon stayed home; playing tennis on the Radburn courts or baseball at Plaza Field back in north Jersey with my friends. But, I have to say, those family trips planted the seeds for my wanderlust.

Badlands of Death Valley

Badlands of Death Valley

Given the chance to spend six weeks with a French family in Algeria in northern Africa as a high school sophomore, I grudgingly agreed to go and spent 42 days being homesick and wasting what could have been a great experience. As a kid, I was a homebody. Finally, realizing that playing it safe as an Ohio college student was leading me nowhere, I rolled the dice and moved to the Wild West and transferred to Arizona State. I didn’t know a soul but had the chance to kick the tires on the unknown and its possibilities.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Once we have gone the 60 miles over the 5400’ Mountain Springs Pass to the desert community of Pahrump, we then take the Bella Vista Road out of town to the forsaken crossroads of Death Valley Junction. From there it’s very desolate Route 190 with little traffic to Furnace Creek, CA, home to the Death Valley National Park.

DV1B Furnace Creek signAt 190 feet below sea level, Furnace Creek is 12 degrees warmer than it will be today in Las Vegas. The average daily high temperature here in July and August is 115F!  Furnace Creek had been the center of mining operations with the historic 20 Mule Teams hauling wagons of borax across the Mojave Desert. By the way, borax is used in household cleaning products.

DV1A  D at DVNP signDeath Valley itself is the lowest, hottest, driest area in North America. Located in the Great Basin, east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Death Valley was named by prospectors during the California Gold Rush in 1849.   Unsure where to hike, we learn from the ranger of the most popular hike in Death Valley is the Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch four mile loop hike.

DV3 Golden Canyon signThere are a surprisingly lot of people, both families and the ever present retirees, on this first Tuesday of March. Before we find the trailhead, we chat up the clerk at the Furnace Creek Gift Shop; I ask about the summer here. She says, With temperatures in the 120s, Death Valley in summer is still more popular than it is in March. Death Valley gets less than two inches of rain per year. Phoenix gets seven.

Hannah heading into Golden Canyon

Hannah heading into Golden Canyon

The terrain in Death Valley is badlands, which is an area that has been extensively eroded by wind and water. Three miles from the Visitor Center, Golden Canyon is just down the Badwater Road to the trailhead. The trail accommodates all sorts of hikers. There is a 2.5 mile up and back trail down Golden Canyon to the base of the Red Cathedral Mountain. Through a canyon that was once a paved road, we see chunks of weathered pavement along the river bed.

Fluted walls of Red Cathedral

Fluted headwalls of Red Cathedral

Once a mile in, we rock scramble through a narrow passage way at the base of Red Cathedral with its fluted headwalls. Fluted headwalls?  Grooved walls of sandstone on the mountainside. With little wind and under sunny blue skies, the 70F day is ideal hiking weather.

Golden Golden Mountains

Golden Golden Mountains

Once back at the loop trail, we climb into the golden mountains. The trail is a ribbon along the mountainside where the hiking is never perilous, but we do step carefully. At the top we view the salt flats and beyond is Mount Whitney at 14,567 feet, the highest mountain in the continental United States.

Mountainside trail

Mountainside trail

Marked with pliable four feet high plastic, the trail through the golden mountains is easy to follow in a land with almost no plant life. There is the occasional dried out mini-tumbleweed, but there is literally no vegetation around us. Death Valley seems appropriately named.

Entering Gower Gulch

Entering Gower Gulch

Climbing down the mountain we descend through the Grey Gulch dry river bed. Here, the trail is not well-marked at all; but it seems there is only one way to go – down the river bed. The occasional marker reassures us. We do some modest rock scrambling through the river bottom, but eventually we descend into the foothills for the ¾ of mile walk back to the trailhead.

Rock scrambling in Gower Gulch

Rock scrambling in Gower Gulch

Returning the 2+ hours back to the Vegas Metro area, we see many parallels to our one-time home in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona – the tract (look alike) homes in subdivisions one after another; a valley setting surrounded by mountains; interstate highways to move the transient population; shorts and sunscreen year round.

Comfort Inn, Henderson, Nevada

Comfort Inn, Henderson, Nevada

Our Comfort Inn has a free happy hour with a “Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra” octogenarian at the piano in the breakfast room.  Even so, we opt for our Bud Lights up in our second floor room looking at the snowless mountains surrounding Las Vegas.  For tomorrow in New England, there will be more snow than we’ve seen in 33 years living in Maine.

 

You might wonder what I do to plan our trips to escape the winter in New England.

As far as trips go, In Dan, Hannah Trusts. (in my dreams!)

Deciding where? For us, it is going somewhere in the 48 States, we think warm; we think hiking; we think far from population centers. This trifecta leaves out Florida and the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, but coastal California fits the bill as do the deserts of Nevada and Utah and the mountains of Wyoming and Montana.

Flights? I go to Expedia, which I find easy to negotiate. Orbitz, Travelocity, and CheapOair all have basically the same prices for flights. I check prices over a two week stretch three to four months before our planned departure to get a good sense of what’s a good price for non-stop flights. Nonstop is key for cross country flights. It’s worth the extra buckaroos. Traveling non-stop cross country for six hours from East Coast to West beats layovers that can make the trip eight to fifteen hours. A week and a half ago we got in the air from Boston and landed in Las Vegas on a day when 1500 flights were cancelled because of ice in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

One more thing. Once you have chosen the airline you want, go to their website to make the reservation. The price is the same as Expedia. If you have trouble and need to make adjustments with your flight, the airline will deal with you and not say, You made the reservation through a third party and we can’t help you. Please contact Expedia.

Rental cars. Start with Expedia or any other travel site to see what are the range of prices for the kind of car you want. Stick to national chains. We have been blindsided by local cheapy car rentals with all sorts of conditions presented to us once we reach the counter. As with airlines, go to the website of the car rental agency itself.

The mountains of Zion National Park from our second story deck at the Bumbleberry Inn

The mountains of Zion National Park from our second story deck at the Bumbleberry Inn

Be Flexible. If you are hiking, weather has a big say in when you can hike. Get a motel room for the first night of your hiking vacation so you have a place to stay when you first arrive by plane, but leave yourself open from there so you can adjust for weather conditions. The weather determines where you can hike. With rain in the forecast for Zion this past weekend, we were able to move up our visit by one day and hike both trails we wanted.

Bumbleberry Inn. Stay at the Bumbleberry Inn in Springdale, UT and breakfast at Wildcat Willies when you go to Zion National Park.

Dan Learns from Sheryl

The Sheryl is Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook COO and author of Leaning In.  Just over a month ago, her 47 year old young husband Dave died suddenly from injuries from falling off a treadmill. After a 30 day period of mourning, she posted her thoughts on grieving on Facebook. In days, her posting went viral. Click on her name above for the full text of her three page essay.

grieving-heartI loved this one bit of advice for those wondering what to say to one who is grieving. Rather than say, How are you?  Say How are you today?  She writes, When I am asked “How are you?” I stop myself from shouting. My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear, “How are you today?” I realize the person knows the best I can do right now is get through each day.”

When our four year old daughter Robyn was diagnosed with leukemia, many people didn’t know what to say.  I get that.  Some stayed away not wanting to say the wrong thing.  Others didn’t want to bring up Robyn’s name thinking that by doing so it would remind me of her cancer.  Whether one mentioned Robyn or not, I was thinking about her cancer all the time anyway.  Take a chance.  Say something.  I’ll appreciate the effort.  I really will.

Rather than saying, I am here if you need anything, let me know what you will do without me asking. I am too empty and shocked to know what I need.  Do something.  Don’t wait for me to come up with what I need.  I really don’t have any idea what that is.

Sheryl ends with a Bono lyric, “There is no end to grief…and there is no end to love.”  Reach out with love.  I won’t feel so alone.  We’ll find a way.

PS Today at 33, Robyn is a beautiful young woman.

Dan and Hannah Have a Dam Good Time at the Hoover Dam

HD map

If you are looking to do more than gamble when you come to Las Vegas, NV, you have many excellent options.  Hiking in Red Rock Canyon is minutes away from Sin City. On the Colorado River, Valley of Fire State Park is a mere 90 minutes northeast on I-15. Zion National Park is within three hours. And Hoover Dam is less than an hour from the Brittany Spears show at Planet Hollywood.

HD1 Dam itselfOpting for the Hoover Dam over Brittany in the first week of March, we drive southeast through Henderson to Boulder City just five miles from the dam. Snaking down to the Colorado River, we pay $10 to park in the new garage on the Nevada side.

HD1A  welcome to HDBoulder City was initially built in the 1930s to house the workers that built the dam. Once known as Boulder Dam, it was later named for the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover.  Built to control floods, provide irrigation water, and produce hydroelectric power, the dam also had its punsters.

By the way, what did the fish say when it swam into a wall? Dam!

HD3B toward Lake MeadThere’s a choice of two tours – the Turbine tour for $15 or the full Dam Tour for $30. Go big or go home. We are not coming back so we go large. The Dam Tour goes for an hour and also gives the payees access to the Old Exhibit Hall, the Hoover Dam movie, and the Visitor Center.

Within the tunnels of Hoover Dam

Within the tunnels of Hoover Dam

We go through a TSA screening, taking everything out of our pockets, removing our jackets, and walking through the screening booth. Today, they confiscate our apples and granola bars claiming they contribute to a rodent problem.

Arriving at 1015A, we luck out and slip onto the 1030A tour. A week before, our daughter Molly and hubby Tip arrived about the same time and waited two hours. If you must wait, you can watch the 15 minute film, check out the Visitor Center Exhibits, and walk on top of the dam to the Arizona side.

HD2B D in tunnel

A VCU Ram in the dam tunnel

Clustering our group of twenty in front of the elevator, our tour guides asks us, Are you ready for the dam tour? Smiling, she then asks if we have any questions. I ask, Is anyone is buried in the dam? She says, That is the #1 question we get. No one is buried within the dam. Concrete was poured three inches at a time when the dam was built.

She says, The #2 question is – is Jimmy Hoffa buried here? Jimmy Hoffa disappeared 30 years after the dam was built. I then ask, How many people work here? She wouldn’t tell me. It’s classified. I am a chatty son of a gun.

Picture taken from the air vent in the facade of the Hoover Dam

Picture taken from the air vent in the facade of the Hoover Dam

The dam elevator takes us 700 feet down to the turbine room where 17 turbines crank away creating the electricity generated by the dam. Looking out one of the four air vents in the dam, we get the full view of the Colorado River. Water comes from Lake Mead, passes through one of the four huge intake towers, circulates through the ginormous interior pipes, and then passes through the generators. This process creates electricity for a good part of Arizona, southern Nevada, and a mammoth amount for southern California.

The once mighty Colorado River

The once mighty Colorado River

The mountain West is in the midst of its worst 10 to 15 year cycle of drought in the last 80 years since the dam was built. There have been two times when Lake Mead was so full (1941 and 1983) that water was released over the two side spillways to avoid water cascading over the road atop the Hoover Dam.

Atop the dam with Lake Mead in the background

Atop the dam with Lake Mead in the background

Milling around at the top of the dam are families, couples, and three black jacketed bikers. Hell’s Angels love their American history, too. To avoid the weekend crowds, we have come on this Monday. When I ask, are the weekends busier?  She says, In fact, the weekends are not the busiest days; Monday is!  Arriving as we do just before the six weeks of Spring Breaks across the country, we find crowds, without it being crowded here in Black Canyon.

HD4A D on Bridge and 93For all the times Hannah and I would travel to Las Vegas from our one-time home in Tempe, Arizona, we would snake down the two lane road to cross the Hoover Dam and then inch back up the Nevada side. It was a nightmare of traffic jams as people crossed back and forth across the top of the dam from sidewalk to sidewalk. After 9/11, there were concerns about the safety of Hoover Dam. Hence, the Route 93 Bypass was conceived and built.

Chilly early March day high above Hoover Dam

Chilly early March day high above Hoover Dam

In 2010, soaring high above the dam, the new O’Callaghan-Tillman Bridge opened with six lanes of traffic. The architects have made this bridge a mini-tourist destination. From a parking area, we climb steps (there are ramps for wheel chair access) to the wide sidewalk on the bridge itself. Today at least fifty others join us for the view from the bridge. Wrapped in coats on a windy day, we travel across the bridge some 260 feet above the dam itself.

View from the O'Callaghan/Tillman Bridge

View from the O’Callaghan/Tillman Bridge

The story of the bridge’s construction is artfully laid out on metal panels along the bridge walkway. Named for one time Nevada governor Mike O’Callaghan and American hero and fellow Arizona State grad Pat Tillman (Dan – BA in 1970 and Hannah – MA in 1981), the bridge is worth the visit for its views of the dam and lake below.

After, we chill at our Comfort Inn in Henderson, Nevada (a suburb of Las Vegas) where we learn that from Monday through Thursday there is a happy hour with free beer, wine, and popcorn.

Bingo. Today is Monday!

 

Drought’s Extremes Tallied at Record-Low Lake Mead from the New York Times, May 5, 2015.  The article below tells of the effects of the 15 year drought in the Southwest.  Lake Mead is at 38% capacity.  Click on the link below for the full text of the article.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/05/us/droughts-extremes-can-be-measured-at-record-low-lake-mead.html?emc=edit_th_20150505&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=66895847&_r=0

Dan Has Another Good Book for You – The End of Your Life Book Club (#4)

Hannah recommends a book to me that she just love, love, loves – The End of Your Life Book Club.  During the last years of his mom’s life, Will Schwalbe and his mother Mary Anne, who is undergoing treatments for pancreatic cancer, read the same books and then they talked about them.

End of Your Life Book Afghan Library Mary Anne spent a lifetime of helping refugees throughout the world.  When she gets some good news that the chemotherapy has reduced the size of her tumors, she says to her son Will, If Afghanistan doesn’t have books, the people there don’t have much of chance. So that’s my New Year’s resolution. I’m going to get this library built.

Will’s response was Are you sure you feel up for that?

That pushes my buttons.  Clearly his response is from a place of deep love. But where is his trust that she knows what she needs or what she can do? Why not celebrate what she wants to do?

Are our interactions and responses too often dominated by our caution rather than our encouragement?

To Will’s response, his Mom frowned and simply said, If I’m not. I’ll stop.

Let’s marry trust to love.