Hannah Fills You in on Fifty Things you just might not know about Dan

Even though he’s Daniel A. Rothermel (as was his dad) he is NOT a junior. (Dan’s middle name is Archer – his mother’s maiden name and now our grandson Max’s middle name. His father’s middle name was Angstadt.)

He was born 6 weeks prematurely – and his Grandmother Archer insisted on his coming home (against the hospital’s wishes) after two weeks so she could help nurse him up to fighting weight.

50 Algeria

As a junior in high school, he spent five weeks in the summer of 1964 on Rue Victor Hugo in Algiers, Algeria with a French family.

He delivered the afternoon Bergen Record newspaper for nearly six years well into his junior year in high school. The paper cost patrons thirty-three cents for six days of delivery. A seven cent tip was huge!

The hardest physical test he ever did was biking the 190 miles of the mountains of the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada over four days with me (my hardest too!).

Mamas and Papas

The Mama’s and Papa’s California Dreamin’ planted the seed for taking his first teaching job in Anaheim, California.

He quit that job as a fifth and sixth grade teacher of science, social studies, and Spanish by Christmas of his very first year.

The US government did not believe his contention that he was a conscientious objector during the Viet Nam War.

In retirement on Thursday afternoons he plays ping pong with his amigo George Derby, one week in York and the next in Kittery Point.

In 1973 he and I bought our first house at 542 West 16th Street, Tempe, Arizona for $21,000…fully furnished!

50 Tresh

He was president (albeit self-proclaimed) of the Tom Tresh Fan Club (a player on the New York Yankees in the 1960s).

He took me by train to New York City on New Year’s Eve in the late 60’s when we were dating as college students; clueless about making the most of this opportunity, we were back home in New Jersey before midnight.

He lived with as many as 11 other guys in a two bedroom apartment in Tempe, AZ; rent for the six of them who were actually paying rent was $30 per month.

He was a political science major/history minor at the College of Wooster, Ohio.  He transferred to Arizona State University his senior year and graduated with a degree in elementary education.

Super Bowl 49 Malcolm Butler

He still can hardly believe the good fortune of our New England Patriots winning Super Bowl 49 over the Seattle Seahawks.  Karma!

Pete Carroll is his favorite coach.  Not because he called the final play of Super Bowl 49, but because of his positive philosophy of life outlined in one of Dan’s favorite books of 2015, Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play like a Champion.

He lived in the Irish Hall dorm his senior year at Arizona State.  When the Arizona residents left for home on the weekends, he bonded with four out-of-staters in the dorm for his good times: Rich Meyer (Hawthorne, NJ), Big Steve Kyker (Vienna, VA), Gale Nobes (Muskegon, MI) and Art Pfohl (Bergenfield, NJ)

Doug with Hannah circa 1971

Doug with Hannah circa 1971

He was one of my brother Doug’s very best friends.

His first car was a ’68 Volkswagen Beetle.  He bought it for $1800 after graduating from Arizona State.

He and I shopped for our wedding bands at WOOLCO (aka Woolworth’s) just off the Salt River river bottom in Tempe.

He and I married on July 1, 1972 on my dad’s Christmas tree farm in East Penfield, NY.

50 Johnny Rivers

His choice of song for our wedding was Summer Rain by Johnny Rivers.  (By the way, I chose Crazy Love by Helen Reddy.)

We got married at 130P and by 430P everyone was gone.  No reception, though there was a wedding cake.  No first dance.  No best man toast.  No throwing of the garter belt.  Just the start of the ride of a lifetime.

Two of the ten best days in his life were July 3, 2011 (Molly and Tip’s wedding day) and April 25, 2015 (Will and Laurel’s wedding)

A third of his ten favorite days in his life was our first dance in the fall of 1967 at the College of Wooster in Severance Gym that started our five years of off-again and on-again courting.

He would hitchhike from Wooster to his Uncle Bill’s and Aunt Caroline’s in Toledo, OH with his brother Richard carrying a sign that read “It’s Mom’s Birthday!”  It worked wonders.


Born into the Lutheran Church, he spent a good part of his adult life wandering in search of a spiritual community.  He went to a Quaker Church with me, was a Unitarian-Universalist, and attended the local Congregational Church.  He was a square peg in a round hole.  Then two years ago our friend Donna Ellis talked about her experience at Unity.  Ever since, he and I have ourselves an excellent spiritual home.

After giving up tennis after college, he is just now getting into Pickleball on the courts of the Kittery Community Center.

Growing up, his favorite foods were: jello, Wheaties, and tomato sandwiches.

50 Wheaties

One year in high school he ate 1362 (he tallied each one) bowls of Wheaties, the Breakfast of Champions he thought.

For my 40th birthday, he sent out index cards to all my friends asking them to mail them back to me with words of wisdom that had helped them in Life.

On another of my birthdays he asked many of those same people to recommend their favorite book; many of them sent me a copy.

On still another of my birthdays in the 1980s, he sent friends a cassette tape on which to record their birthday message for me.

Tuesdays highlight his weeks as he and I drive to Chelmsford, MA to spend the afternoon and evening with our grandsons, Owen and Max, then have wine and dinner with Molly and Tip.

His brother Richard and sister Patty are two of the most generous people he knows.

50 Blue Highways

Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon about traveling the country in a van is a favorite book of his.

He would like to take a one month road trip with me to celebrate our 70th.  (not in a van!)

He ran the Fiesta Bowl Marathon in Arizona in 1981.  He was smoking a 7:15 per mile pace until he hit the “wall” at the eighteen mile mark and hobbled to the finish line at 3:48.  At the end of the race he couldn’t step down a curb.

He uses dental tape (NOT floss) – 18 inches at a time.

Hannah with Angel's Landing in the background

Hannah with Angel’s Landing in the background

Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park is his favorite hike.

He loves him some Carpenters, Barbara Streisand, Spanky and our Gang, Petula Clark, Dionne Warwick, and Barry Manilow.

Among his favorite songs: Monday, Monday by The Mamas and Papa, To Out of Three Ain’t Bad, by Meatloaf; MacArthur Park by Richard Harris (Oh no!!);  My Heart Will Go On by Celine; Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler; What the World Needs Now by Jackie DeShannon; and Abraham, Martin & John by Dion.

He took violin lessons for 4 months as an adult.  He played the clarinet in the Fair Lawn Marching Band.

50 blackjack

He gave blackjack playing in Las Vegas a shot.  He would count cards to see if the deck was rich in tens (an advantage for the player).  Even so, the advantage with card counting was a slim 1%.  He did not have the capital to withstand the inevitable swings of good cards and bad cards and returned to teaching.

His dream job was teaching teachers.  He lived the dream at Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of New England in Maine.

It took him three separate attempts to write his dissertation.  The title of his dissertation is Using Writing Composition Pedagogy in an Introductory Teaching Education Practicum to Learn about the Motivations, Journeys, and Understandings of Preservice Teachers.

He graduated with his PhD in Reading and Writing Instruction in 3.5 years from the University of New Hampshire.

Dr. Jane Hansen and Dr. Tom Newkirk were the key figures in getting him through.

CF 5 real CF with H preview

Comet Falls, Mount Rainier National Park

Comet Falls in Mount Rainier National Park is his favorite waterfalls hike.

The California coast is his favorite for bluff hiking.

Two of his favorite movies are The Graduate with Katherine Ross and Dustin Hoffman and Raiders of the Lost Ark with Karen Allen and Harrison Ford.

When we hike, he likes me to lead. (Same when we dance.)

During our mid-1990s family trip to Alaska our daughter Robyn’s appendix burst in Fairbanks.  While we four camped, she spent four days recovering in the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park

One day later he and I had all three kids hiking at Denali National Park.  (By the way, we did not win Parents of the Year in 1995.)

Dan and Hannah Hike the Gorge Trail in Robert Treman State Park, New York

Hannah at the flume of the upper Enfield Creek

Hannah at the flume of the upper Enfield Creek

After two nasty winters (read: long, cold, and snowy) in the Northeast, Mother Nature has smiled on the coast of Maine and much of the East during the final months of 2015.  Why this past Thanksgiving, the Family Rothermel walked in tee-shirts and shorts in Chelmsford, MA before the afternoon meal.  By mid-December no snow has fallen.  Hallelujah brother.  As you know, you can take the boy out of Arizona, but you can’t take the Arizona out of the boy.

High above Enfield Creek

High above Enfield Creek

One Arizona Christmas Day when we were living in Tempe it was 85F.  That’s Almost Heaven, West Virginia for me.  This year Hannah and I scheduled a trip to central New York in mid-December, which is always a roll of the dice since the Snow Gods take up residence there for months on end.  However, this year, fifties and even sixties are predicted for our weekend in Ithaca, New York with our son Will and his wife Laurel.

The wrestling venue at Ithaca College

The wrestling venue at Ithaca College

Our Saturday includes a noon wrestling match at Ithaca College where Will works in the athletic department.  I never realized I was such a fan of the grappling art.  I thought basketball was the ideal winter spectator sport with its inside warmth and games lasting but an hour and a half.  Well, let me tell you wrestling is even more spectator-friendly as each of the ten matches lasts seven minutes or less.  If a wrestler gets pinned, a match can take a minute or two.  Today these ten matches are over in 55 minutes!  It certainly helped my enjoyment that the #2 nationally ranked Ithaca College crushed Oswego State 45-3.  As a fan of Tom Brady and our New England Patriots, I am used to such scores.

On the Ithaca Commons

On the Ithaca Commons

After, we walk the Ithaca Commons, a two block pedestrian mall, checking out the Ithaca Ice Festival with its ice sculpture competition.  Though it is 58F, the warm temperatures don’t deter the Michelangelos of Ice as they wield their chainsaws and drills to craft their works of art.  By the way, on the walking mall in this liberal bastion of sanity (think Burlington, VT or Cambridge, MA, or Berkeley, CA), the only political table is for Bernie Sanders.

Ith 2A D and H at start of trail with Otter

Come Sunday, temperatures remain warm as we head ten minutes out of town on the winding road to Enfield Glen, a rugged gorge in Robert Treman State Park.  In winter, due to dangerous conditions created by snow and ice, most of the park’s trails are inaccessible.  Not today!  In shorts, I am living the winter hiking dream.

Along the Gorge Trail

Along the Gorge Trail

With Will and Laurel’s Golden Shepard mix Otter, we four climb immediately into the winter forest of bare-limbed hardwoods.  The rooted and rocky trail allows us to walk side by side high above the rapids of the Enfield Creek.  Even on a leash, Otter will travel ten miles to our five.

Down river of Enfield Creek

Down river of Enfield Creek

The Gorge Trail to the Lucifer Falls winds two and a quarter miles up the narrow canyon.  The eroding tar-paved trail looks like it was constructed a 100 years ago; it just may have been one of those CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) projects during the Depression of the 1930s.

Hiking in mid-December in tee shirt and shorts

Hiking in mid-December in tee shirt and shorts

With twelve falls along the way, we soon encounter our first falls.  As I walk with Will, we talk about his job and sports (he loathes the Patriots as the Colts are his team).  I think of the great opportunity he has working in the athletic department at Ithaca College.  At today’s wrestling match, we see him interact with the student athletes and their parents.  As a kid he was good at math and sports, but he is even better with people; he engages and listens.

Ith 4C D at stonework

After almost an hour of easy hiking, we approach the 115 foot Lucifer Falls.   The stone work steps and walks which allow us to hike up the gorge are something that the builders of the Great Wall of China would applaud.  The stone wall barricades are ample protection for the steep cliffs to the creek below.

Ith 4E upper falls

Winding our way to one final falls, it is hard to believe that we are just ten miles from Will and Laurel’s home and the town of 30,000 Ithacans.  At the top of the trail is another park so families can visit the waterfalls with just a short walk.  I call out to three hiking college girls who are in happy conversation, “Is this your pre-finals stress release hike?”   They smile and laugh and then continue to enjoy the gift of a warm December day with friends.

Ith 5 Finger Lakes sign

Heading back to the trailhead on the Rim Trail, we see white blazes which usually identify a major trail, like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail.  Following the blazes for a few hundred yards, we see a sign which identifies them as a part of the 600 mile Finger Lakes Trail in New York.

Along Enfield Creek

Along Enfield Creek

While Hannah and Will hike ahead with Otter, I check in with Laurel on her transition to Ithaca from Virginia.  As a top-of-the line ER nurse who has lived in Miami, New York City, and Boston before Richmond, VA, she is adaptable and makes an effort to make things happen in her life and their lives.  Already they have made football watching friends and have had colleagues from Ithaca College for dinners.

Will and Laurel at Lucifer Falls

Will and Laurel at Lucifer Falls

They get it.  No matter how long they stay in central New York, Ithaca is not just a waystation for them to mark time.  They are all in.  Making their house a home and building a community of friends for however short or long they are here are crucial to living a rich and meaningful lives.

Dan and Hannah Hike to a Trio of Waterfalls in DuPont State Forest, North Carolina

We have come to the South and discovered outdoor adventures that we never knew existed in our 67 years on the road.  The 729’ Amicalola Falls in Georgia.  Waterfall hikes in the Great Smokies of North Carolina.  And today a trifecta of waterfalls saved by a magnificent woman near the Georgia border in North Carolina .

Trip Brevard map 2

The town of Brevard bills itself as the gateway to waterfalls in North Carolina.   With classic southern hospitality, Camy at the Brevard Visitor Center cues us into the many area choices of waterfalls we have.  Selecting the ones of DuPont State Recreational Forest southeast of town, we use the map she gives us and take Route 276 nearly ten miles to Cascade Lake Road.  From there it’s two miles to the trailhead parking.

Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center

Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center

Once inside the visitor center at DuPont State Recreational Forest, we learn the story of one determined and still vibrant woman, Aleen Steinberg.  When a developer wanted to build million dollar homes near the waterfalls, Aleen fought tooth and nail to get the legislature to block that desecration.  In her honor, the one-time development office was renamed the Aleen Steinberg Center.

Trip 2007WaterfallMap

Our hike took us to Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls

At Aleen’s center, Volunteer Ruth Daniel tells us that among the 82 miles of hiking, biking, and horse riding trails and roads in the park, there are six waterfalls to choose from.  With a fantastic map that she gives us, we settle on a roughly four mile loop to three of them.

Off awaterfalling

Off awaterfalling

As we head out in this second week of October, we immediately meet up with 15 seniors, one of six hiking groups from nearby Furman College’s OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute).  As one-time OLLI members ourselves at the University of Southern Maine, Hannah and I had access to classes, outings, and events for over-50 dudes and dudettes.

The trail to the falls begins

The trail to the falls begins

On this Friday of Columbus Day Weekend, the parking lot is filling up; by the time we are finished hiking today there will be no spaces left and cars will be lined up and down the nearby road.

Triple Falls

Triple Falls

The imported white stone trail leads us into the forest on a gently graded 12 foot wide path.  Setting off for the Triple Falls less than a mile away, we hike on a tree-canopied trail.  Descending to the base of Triple Falls on a series of wooden steps, we see couples, seniors, and families where the water has pooled.  Viewing two of the three cascades of the 120’ Triple Falls, we learn that this was the setting for the Hunger Games (2012) and the Last of the Mohicans (1992).   The 18 second video takes you there.

In the dark at Triple Falls

In the dark at Triple Falls

Reclimbing the wooden stairway, we have one final view of all three cascades of the Triple Falls before descending steeply on a still wide and accessible trail to Hooker Falls.

River above Hooker Falls

River above Hooker Falls

As we walk parallel to the river bottom, there is a second parking lot where we see the Baptist Church ladies disembark for a morning of heavenly waterfalling.  It’s just 0.3 mile to the modest 12 foot Hooker Falls, our second of three waterfalls.  Once the home to a grist mill (a mill for grinding grain) for the locals, these smaller falls and fewer people bring a sense of peace to our Friday morning.

Hooker Falls

Hooker Falls

Beneath the falls, there is a popular swimming hole that today welcomes a young family playing by the riverside as well providing a lunch time setting for two women deep in conversation.  We do not disturb them, but I do shoot this brief second video.

What's a hike without a waterfall selfie (High Falls)

What’s a hike without a waterfall selfie (High Falls)

From there we climb the wide rocky trail back past the Triple Falls onto the High Falls, our third waterfall of the morning, through a forest that is a week or two from peak foliage.  A half mile side trail takes us to the base of the 120’ High Falls; a little easy rock scrambling gets us a better vantage point for some iPhone videotaping.  This third video rocks these falls.


The wedding proposal Covered Bridge

The wedding proposal Covered Bridge above High Falls

With our four miles of hiking over two hours nearly done, we take a side trail to a covered bridge.  It seems to be the meeting place for mountain bikers heading off into the, well, mountains.

As we return we see a young man in his mid-twenties drop to one knee and propose to his gasping girlfriend, who immediately covers her cheeks with both hands.  The mountain bikers join us in clapping and cheering for the couple who are lost in the moment.

In my 67 years I’ve never witnessed a proposal, of course other than my own to Hannah nearly 44 years ago in Tempe, Arizona.  Young love!  Senior love!  Love is the answer.

Later, lunching across from three families with eleven kids and enjoying their good energy, we know how lucky we are to have had six hikes over the past week in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia and North Carolina.  With four hours of driving on to Atlanta, where we will fly home to Maine tomorrow, we know these Yankees will be back.

Dan and Hannah Hike a Waterfalls Loop at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Today’s blog begins with a money saving travel tip I teased at the end of the last blog.  Other than the first night, we don’t often arrange where we will stay on subsequent days of our hiking vacations.  We never know how long we’ll want to stay in an area; we may learn of a new hike and want to stay longer.   Weather may change our plans.

BR 1 H at GSM sign

While spending the night at a Comfort Inn in Sylva, NC near Asheville, I search the Expedia.com site for a room for the next night near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).   Hardly believing a $64 price for a room at the Chestnut Tree Inn in Cherokee, NC with a queen bed, flat screen TV, and a hot breakfast, I am intrigued.  I especially want to understand what they mean by a “hot breakfast.”   You see, to save time on our hiking mornings and to get plenty of fuel (food), we look for motels that serve a full hot breakfast, not just a “continental” breakfast with mini-muffins from BJs and mini-boxes of cold cereal.

BR Chestnut Tree Inn

Loving the price, I call the Chestnut Tree Inn directly to find out the reality behind the come on of a “hot breakfast.”  With home fries, oatmeal, an egg dish, and pancakes, the breakfast rocks and will indeed set us up for our hiking Wednesday.  But here’s the interesting part, when I ask about a room for the night, she offers us one for $105.   To which I say I saw one for $64 on the Internet.  The desk clerk at the Chestnut Tree Inn responds, We can’t touch that price and you might as well go for it.  And we do.  The Internet has its bargains.

BR map of area

The next morning leaving Cherokee on US 74 Hannah and I drive to Bryson City ten miles away for some waterfall hiking.  Surrounded on all sides by mountains, Bryson City with 1400 residents is another gateway city to the GSMNP.

Deep Creek

Deep Creek

At 10A during the first week of October, the Carolina foliage hints that it is ready to burst out in oranges, reds, and yellows.  Not surprisingly this morning, we find a parking lot bustling with seniors and couples pushing strollers ready to commune with nature.  Taking the level, gravelly Deep Creek Trail, we have a riverside path ready to be enjoyed by walkers and hikers of all descriptions.   Being deep in Appalachia, the trails are not so mobbed as they have been at the base of Multnomah Falls in Oregon or yesterday at Clingman’s Dome here in the GSMNP.

Juney Whank Falls

Juney Whank Falls

Before we head into the interior along the Deep Creek we take a 0.6 mile loop to Juney Whank Falls.  It’s a steady climb on a well-maintained fire road until we jag right, down to the very modest falls themselves.  The falls are fine, just not under “spectacular” in the dictionary.

A narrow five feet deep trench is our steep egress back to the trail.  Tree-covered, the trail offers none of the Vitamin D Hannah is looking for.

Thomas Branch Falls

Thomas Branch Falls

Once back on the wide Deep Creek Trail we walk within a few feet of the river heading to the Tom Branch Falls.  In shorts and tee-shirts on a day going to 80F, we have our October paradise in North Carolina.

Indian Creek Falls

Soon there is a junction for a nearly three mile loop trail.  Before we do that, we take a brief side right turn for 200 feet to our third and final falls, the Indian Creek Falls.  The 20 second video captures the falling water of Indian Creek.


Deep Creek

Deep Creek

The loop trail continues along the Deep Creek for another 0.7 of a mile.  At this point we have three options.  First to our left is a trail with a sign saying “not for horses” that appears to climb steeply into the forest.  Across the river is a second choice that heads further into the interior along the Deep Creek to Wind Gap.  And third, we can cross the Deep Creek and return to the trailhead through the mountains to complete the three mile loop.

Deep Creek Fire Road Trail

Deep Creek Fire Road Trail

Since all we have been doing is walking a wide fire road with no elevation gain, I think the “not for horses” trail would be an invigorating, challenging choice.  Doubtful, Hannah reluctantly follows me up the very steep trail, unfriendly to her surgically repaired left knee and covered with wet dead leaves; a trail that it appears no one has hiked this century.  After two hundred yards, Hannah looks at me with a “Really!” look.  Bright enough to read these visual cues, I agree to turn around to see what is behind door number two.

Along Deep Creek

Along Deep Creek

Still looking for an extra mile or two of hiking we take the trail inland along the Deep Creek.  It gives us our first bit of mountain hiking into the forest now that the fog has burned off.  We stone hop over small rivulets heading into Deep Creek.  Hannah’s new hiking boots continue to give her trouble; so after bandaging her ankles once again, we head back to the trailhead for choice #3, the Deep Creek Loop Trail.

Mountain trail on Deep Creek Loop Trail

Mountain trail on Deep Creek Loop Trail

The loop trail has us steadily climbing for a half mile far above Deep Creek.  It’s a workout as we hike so far from the river that we can no longer hear the gurgling waters of this mountain stream.

BR 6 D fanny pack

Uncomfortable wearing a backpack, I prefer to hike with a fanny pack our daughter Molly gave me for hiking in Utah nearly ten years ago.  Holding two water bottles with three front pouches for energy bars, fruit, sandwiches, Band-Aids, gauze pads, and car keys, it’s a fantastic hiking choice.

BR 1A trail begins

Far from Deep Creek the trail descends for nearly a mile through the rhododendrons and pines of southwestern North Carolina.   Few are on this trail as we successfully reach our goal of three hours of hiking in the North Carolina woods, so far from home.  On a hiking vacation full of daily surprises and wondering what’s around the next corner, we have the trails of the Tarheel State as a compliment to our indeed most fortunate life in Maine.