Dan and Hannah Hike on Santa Cruz in the Channel Islands off Ventura, California (Part 2 of 2)

Part 1 concluded with the uncertainty whether my breakfast would return due to the rolling seas on our one hour high seas voyage from Ventura to Santa Cruz Island.

SC dock

At last, the metal framed, erector set dock at Scorpion Beach on Santa Cruz comes into view.  Victory is in sight as my oatmeal stays happily tranquil in my stomach.  None of the other 140 passengers is aware of my gastronomic triumph, but it’s those small victories we all embrace that get us through our own personal stormy seas.  (Chew on that.)

SC 3 H at start

Santa Cruz is the largest of the Channel Islands, 22 miles long and from 2 to 6 miles wide.   Click here to access excellent descriptions of these National Park hiking trails and maps of Santa Cruz Island.

SC 4 cliff

The cliff edges are indeed close to the trail

Debarking, we passengers are collected for some final instructions by our volunteer guide.  She tells us, We do not have fences, we have common sense.  Trails can be as close as ten feet to the cliffs.  And we later learn these bluffs aren’t just 70-80’ above the beach as we saw in Carpinteria, but hundreds of feet directly into the salty brine.

In conclusion, she reinforces that the boat leaves at 330P, not 335P.  The next excursion to Santa Cruz is not until Friday, three days away.  We get the message.

SC 3A cavern pt trail

Later I ask this volunteer what happens if someone does get left behind.  She tells me sometimes people do get lost on the island but not often.  The park service has some provisions and finds a place for the errant ones to spend the nights.  From what we can see, they are not deluxe accommodations.

SC 3B H at cavern point

From the Cavern Point Loop Trail

Ready to rock and roll on the trail, we choose to climb to the moderately rated Cavern Point Loop Trail along the bluffs of Santa Cruz.  Within feet of the edge of the rocky cliffs, we are taken by what we imagine Ireland would be like.   Green on green meadows, beautifully highlighted by yellow flowers; unfortunately, we learn they are invasive.   We were told that with the previous years of drought the landscape had turned a gray brown.  Today, we, with about fifteen others, have miles of trail to ourselves.

SC 3C trail with yellow flowers

The meadows of grass are nearly treeless so our view is for miles.  At times, the trail is wide enough for two, and soon turns into the just slightly larger Potato Harbor Road.  Hardly a road, hardly a fire road, it is a delightful walk in the fields of emerald green.

On the North Bluff Trail, we meet Kirk and Alison, who ask us to take their picture.  Soon learning that today, Valentine’s Day, is their second anniversary, we feel a good vibe with them; but I forget to give them my business card with info about my blog. Damn, I’ve got to be quicker.

SC 4C potato harbor coral

Potato Harbor

Two plus miles in, we are high above Potato Harbor.  Though we have no access to the harbor below, we do see coral blue water, something out of Hawai’i or the Caribbean.

With no comfortable place for lunch, we hike back through the meadows to the campground with picnic tables, bathrooms, and potable water.   We day hikers know the value of sitting at a picnic table for lunch rather than hunched over on a rock or log.  Of course, we are soft and these accommodations suit us to a T.

SC 4F trail

As we leave, the aforementioned Kirk and Alison arrive to take our picnic table for their lunch.  Playfully, I point out that we warmed it up for them; not missing a second chance, I hand them my business card, mentioning my Saturday blog.  I add that this hike will be reported on in the weeks ahead.  They smile broadly; say they’ll look it up.

Funny, I hear from maybe 1 in 20 we connect with on the trail.  I get it that the trail encounter is a moment that fades once we are all back home with our routines, jobs, and network of friends.  (Not bucking the odds, they haven’t checked in… yet.)  That said, I am still in touch with Rob from Georgia who we met on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont.

SC 5 Smugglers cove trail

The Smuggler’s Cove Trail beyond the windmill

With two hours before we must be at the dock at 3P for the 330P departure for the mainland, Hannah and I look for more.   Climbing the rocky Smugglers Cove Trail above Scorpion Beach for more exercise on this beautiful sunny California day, we find a trail that is badly eroded by the recent rains, and awkward to walk on.   We persevere but wonder why.

SC 5B looking down from Smugglers

Scorpion Beach from the Smugglers Cove Trail

Taking a side trail to the bluff edge, we know that we can’t make it all the way to Smuggler’s Cove, 3.5 miles from the trailhead.  Hyper-cognizant of the departure time, we are aware how much we prefer a shower, a glass of wine at our cottage rather than the unknown accommodations here on the island for three nights.

SC 5A looking down from Smugglers

The view to the visitor center at Scorpion Beach

Like so many others, we arrive a good hour before the Island Explorer leaves the dock.  Weary from nearly eight miles of hiking, I plop down on the bench in the stern of the Island Explorer for the mellow trip back to Ventura Harbor.

SC 6 H by boat at end

Made the 330P departure.  Last ones on.

On our return, Captain Luke slows the boat, having found a pod of Pacific gray whales heading north in the Channel.   Within a hundred yards of these glorious mammals, we see the blows of six to eight whales; they then arch their backs, bursting out of the water.  This is all followed by their tails flipping up as they re-submerge.  Later, after the final blows, as if choreographed, six whales wave good bye in unison with their tails.  It’s nature poetry in motion.

SC island packers

On the ride home, which is incredibly smooth as promised, Hannah gets the brilliant idea to have the captain acknowledge Alison and Kirk’s anniversary.  Having passed the information on to the captain, we finally hear the announcement as we head into the harbor.  Beaming as the proud parents of this fine idea, we wonder if they’ll guess it is us.  We do hear clapping above on the second deck.

Hannah and I are just not “going out in any kind of boat” people, be it in lakes, rivers, or oceans.  But we both would say don’t miss this boat trip.  You have the trifecta of bluff hikes on unsullied terrain, whales, and dolphins on the ride to and from Ventura.  No race track could beat that winning combination.

Dan understands “It’s not all about me.”

I got a same day appointment for the doctor to check out the growth on my cheek and my right elbow tendinitis.  By 330P she was 30 minutes late.  My first thought was that the patient she was with really needed the extra time.  When she gets to me, she’ll spend all the time I need.  It’s not all about me.  (By the way, she did.)

its not all about me 2

This morning in bed before dawn I lay happily awake, Hannah beside me.  She moves and pulls the covers her way.  I think how comfortably snuggled in she must be.  It’s not all about me.

Good friends are moving away.  My first thought is how happy I am that they are on their next adventure together.  Our relationship is just taking a new form.  It’s not all about me.

I play ping pong each Thursday with a good buddy.  I am just so pleased when he hits a good shot, and I say so.  Funny, he’s that way with me, too.  I win some, he wins some.  It’s not all about me.

It’s taken awhile.

Dan and Hannah Hike on Santa Cruz in the Channel Islands off Ventura, California (Part 1 of 2)

Just don’t eat anything the morning before you go or you’ll be sorry.  The ride is rough out to the islands but smooth as silk on the way back.  Such was the advice that a woman I met at the Carpinteria Writer’s group gave me about the fifteen-mile, one hour Island Packers boat ride to Santa Cruz in the Channel Islands.  Click here for information on Island Packers.


I immediately thought.  Come on.  It’s a 9A departure; don’t make me miss breakfast.  We all know that there is nothing better than early morning coffee with Hannah’s biscuits.  Follow that with a bowl of oatmeal with all the fixings any health nut would love (blueberries, raisins, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cinnamon, and walnuts).   Even with the possibility of barfing, I can’t pass up such a morning banquet.  I am weak.

SC 1 boat in harbor

Island Explorer in the Ventura Harbor

Throwing caution to the wind, I breakfast at our cottage before we leave on this Tuesday morning for an easy 35-minute drive south from Summerland to the Ventura Harbor; there the Island Explorer awaits to take us to the high seas.

Being the last ones on the vessel, Hannah and I choose to stand at the front of the boat where we’ll have the wind and sea spray in our face for the full nautical experience.  Anyway, most of the seats for the 140 passengers are taken, either in the stern, in the indoor café with booths, or rows of benches on the open second deck.

Our round-trip tickets cost $54 each as seniors (regular adult $59); for that we have passage to the island, which many Californians, we learn, have never visited.  Santa Cruz was once the home of the Chumash Indians as well as to sheep farmers early in the last century.

SC snow

Some of Nolan’s handiwork in our front yard on the way to our generator

As we stand in the bow of the ship, I get a call from our neighbor Marco on Chases Pond Road in York, Maine.  He tells me that our area got blasted with two feet of snow.  (Thankfully, our friend Nolan plows our 150’ undulating driveway and shovels a path to our generator.)

Marco then tells me the “bad news.”  The snow plow has taken out our mailbox and he has the remnants in his garage.  Relieved that that is all the “bad news” there is, I smile knowing that for those of us living on country roads – mailboxes come and mailboxes go.

SC snow plow

To show how naïve (I prefer to call it hopeful.) I can be, I later call the York Department of Public Works wondering what they do when the snowplows crush a mailbox.   I’m sure they were smiling at the other end of the line when they politely said that the town does not reimburse home owners in such a case.  I’m told that the snowplow drivers do the best they can, which I totally get having lived here for 35 years.  Anyway, I learn that mailboxes are on the town right of way.  This is a classic first world problem.

SC 1A heading out to sea

Leaving Ventura Harbor

Our clever friend Patty from Oregon texts in response to Hannah’s news that it’s a sunny day for our trip to Santa Cruz.  Patty texts, You’ll have some Vitamin D and some Vitamin Sea.   Did I mention she also graduated from the Harvard of the West – Arizona State University?

In an intimate setting with passengers standing shoulder to shoulder or filling the benches and café tables, Captain Luke, a handsome young man in his thirties with a British accent, says this should be a smooth trip.  That is good news for one whose oatmeal still churns below.

SC 1B life preserver

Bow of the Island Explorer with Santa Cruz in the distance

Those of us in the front of the vessel are advised by a crew member that there is no jumping during the passage to Santa Cruz or they will close the bow of the boat.  Jumping?  Why would anyone jump on the bow of the boat?  Any idea?

Only later by asking one of the crew do we learn that some (might they be teenagers or twenty-something guys!) like to jump up as the vessel bounces on the waves for a feeling of weightlessness.  The problem is that such people get hurt or lose teeth smashing on the metal railings.

Cruising out of the Ventura Harbor at 5 mph, I have no idea what motion sickness possibilities lie ahead; my stomach is fine but on alert.   Soon it’s full throttle as we rise and fall, bouncing rhythmically to the beat of the ocean waves.   With an hour on the high seas, I am suddenly less sure that Danny and his breakfast won’t soon be parted.

SC island packers asea

To that end after 15 minutes in the bouncing stern of the ship, I grab the railings and go hand over hand, carefully making my way to the back of the boat, where there is much less bouncing.

The possibility of upchucking remains on my mind.  When was the last time you barfed?  Years, I’m hoping.  Do you remember an episode on How I Met Your Mother where Ted Mosby proudly proclaimed that he was vomit-free since 1993?  I guess that’s an accomplishment if you drink and drink some more.  Click here for a link to the video explanation of that episode, referred to as the Pineapple Incident.

SC 2 cliffs of SC

Approaching Scorpion Harbor on Santa Cruz

Hoping only to get this boat ride over vomit-free myself and begin to hike, I wouldn’t mind if the studly Captain Luke would just slow down!  And then, out of the blue, he cuts the engines and we just roll with the waves.  It turns out that we are within fifteen feet of thirty to forty dolphins which are following the boat.  Check out this homemade video on the high seas.

SC dolphins

Channel dolphins

Pleased to see dolphins, I’m not so pleased to be going in circles miles between Ventura and Santa Cruz, when upchucking is still on my radar.  Previously, we have been advised by the crew that if you feel like vomiting, come down from the second deck and go to the back of the boat, and lean over. No one likes a thoughtless guest

Part 2 of 2 concludes with the end result of my oatmeal as well as about the amazing hiking on Santa Cruz.

Dan and Hannah Hike the Franklin Trail above Carpinteria, California

My first go-round with California was as a brand new fifth/sixth grade social studies/science/Spanish teacher in Anaheim in 1970.  Renting an efficiency apartment in town at the South Bay Club, I had a fifteen-minute commute to Patrick Henry Elementary School that took me under the Garden Grove and Santa Ana Freeways in Orange County.

Frank map of anaheim

Anaheim, home to Disneyland

My point is that living 25 miles south of Los Angeles, I was part of the 120-mile top to bottom metroplex of sprawl from Ventura in the north to Mission Viejo in the south.  I had no idea that just 15 miles north of Ventura was the little town of Carpinteria.   Finding this “small town Maine” here in California, I continue my love affair with the Golden State.

In addition to winter highs in the mid-60s and the summer highs in the mid-70s, Carpinteria has the beaches of the Pacific as well as the small town feel on Linden Street with its low-key shops and restaurants.

With their own local Indivisible Carpinteria chapter challenging Trump, I’m at home with the progressive politics of California with its fighting Governor Jerry Brown; he has taken on Republican Washington and the Climate Change Deniers.  Click here for reporting on the governor’s assertion that the recent executive order on climate change is a colossal mistake.

Frank 1AA chief at Carpinteria HS

Out in front of Carpinteria High School, a school built the year Hannah and I graduated from college

And then there is the civic pride of Carpinteria which has manifested itself in the three-phase creation of the Franklin Trail into the Santa Ynez Mountains.  Phase I begins at the Carpinteria High School where the trailhead begins at the base of Franklin Canyon.  (If school is in session, park on the neighborhood streets across from the high school.)

I emailed a local Carpinteria historian about the trail name.  He replied:  The Franklins first came to the Santa Barbara area in the late 1800s. The Franklin trail is named after Franklin Canyon which was the access to back country from Carpinteria.  The original Franklin Trail was completed in 1913 through the National Forest section. This portion now known as phase 3 of the current project will be reopened sometime this year.

Frank 1 fenced trail

On the trail of Phase I

Taking the trail to the west of the high school, we pass the high school campus with some of the greenest baseball and football fields known to man or woman.  While chain link fences bracket us on either side, we hike the straight and narrow past green houses and fields of avocados.  Following the well-placed brown trail signs, we walk with very little elevation gain out of town.

Frank 1B fenced trail to mountains

Heading into the mountains on the Franklin Trail

On this second Sunday in February, the trail is happy with dog owners, “loving life” solo hikers with ear buds, and couples who are testing their relationship with their different paces, different temperments, and varying interests in hiking at all.

Frank 2A H on switchbacks

Taking to the switchbacks

As we approach the switchbacks of Phase II without any of the fencing, we have the full sun on a day heading to 70F; while back in York, 17” of the white stuff is falling on our snowbound brethren on the coast of Maine.

Frank 3 bear sign

Heading into b’ar country

As legend goes, bears inhabit the region.  Still with so many of us on the trail, I feel it quite unlikely that some big ole black bear needs an afternoon snack of Dan and Hannah.  Rather, our heart-pounding is due instead to the steady climb into the mountains.

Frank 3A trail with D

Ascending relentlessly with very little shade early in the afternoon, Hannah sets the pace as we can often walk side by side.  Never does the trail have a “too busy” feel, even on this first sunny day after the past week of rain.  (February is the rainiest month in southern California.)

Frank 3D fire road

Fire road of Phase II

Above the trail of switchbacks, we encounter a charmless fire road into the wilderness.  Without the native appeal of woodland trails, fire roads do get us conveniently from point A to point.  Our goal is to hike up to the Franklin Bench some 3.5 miles up the trail and chill there above the Pacific.

Frank 3E trail sign with mountains

Climbing from the Front Country towards the mountains for the past 75 minutes, we meander along the fire road still wondering where the hey is the Franklin Bench.  Doing the math of our pace with the distance traveled, we know we gotta be close.  We agree that we’ll turn around in another twenty minutes if we can’t find the bench.

Frank 4 trail angel

Trail angel

Finally, we hail a hiker passing in the opposite direction and ask how far to the bench.  Oh, you just missed.  It’s back a few tenths of a mile.  Leading us down the hill, he has saved us a mile or more on this sun-exposed trail.  The backside of this unknown Samaritan is pictured to the right.

Frank 4C double picture D and H

Omi and Poppa with Owen’s Woodstock and Max’s Blue Elephant

Debooting and looking out to the Channel Islands of the Pacific, Hannah takes five while I do my millennial thing by sending this dual picture of the Queen and her King to my Instagram and Facebook friends.

Frank map

Having climbed 1000 feet of elevation gain, we look to the mountains where Phase III will eventually include a 2.7-mile section of the trail that goes up to 3,720′.

Sum sunset

But that part of the trail is for a next lifetime for us.  (Click here for May 2017 opening of Phase Three of the Franklin Trail.)

We’ve hiked on a sunny California Sunday and are ready for an afternoon siesta back at our cottage and a cold Dos Equis to toast the Pacific sunset.


Dan and Hannah Hike to Paradise Falls in Thousand Oaks, California

PF Nolan

While we are away, our friend Nolan plows and shovels us out.

Winter in Maine is serious and lasts well into April, despite March’s claim to the first day of Spring.  (In fact, 11″ of snow fell on April 1, 2017.)  Coming to California to take a bite out of winter, Hannah and I leave behind our neighbors on Chases Pond Road this second week of February.  They are getting pummeled by 14” of gale-blown snow while we have a midday waterfalls hike in Thousand Oaks, roughly half way between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

PF map of TO

Over the last week, we’ve had very improbable southern California weather – light rain, heavy mist, and outright rain.  Even so, we know how fortunate we are compared to our snowbound New England brethren as we drive south in heavy, pea soup fog on The 101 highway through Carpinteria to Ventura and on to Oxnard.

PF 6A how green is my valley

Wildwood Park in all its glory green

And then with the wave of her hand, God whisks away the fog to reveal blue skies and sunshine.  Turning left on Lynn Avenue by the upscale houses of Thousand Oaks, we travel a mile down Avenida de los Arboles to the trailhead.

PF 1 H at start of trail

The trail to Paradise Falls begins

There, surprisingly the Wildwood Park trailhead parking lot is empty with a metal bar blocking any cars from entering; we do see 15 to 20 cars parked on the side streets in front of the million dollar homes.  Following two women to the park entrance, we see a sign indicating the park is closed.  We can only guess that it is due to the muddy trails.

PF 1B D at trail closed sign

They can’t mean me!

But as we look around, we see hikers 100 yards ahead on the trail.  Like many rulebreakers, we can’t believe the authorities really mean “us.”  So we and many others just ignore the sign.  Over the first hill, we have a scene out of Ireland at its greenest.  After six years of drought, the heavens have opened and how green is my valley.

PF 1A H at trail start

The trail to Paradise Falls all within minutes of the Los Angeles Metroplex

The trail is moist and muddy but not so messy that we can’t step around the puddles and mud slop.  A young mother pauses with her four-year-old who explores every puddle, rock, and spilled Cheez-it that he sees.  Seeing our grandsons, Owen and Max, in this preschooler, we think he’ll be in first grade before they see the falls.  Let me say, the mom is patient, sweet, encouraging, and, as are many great moms and dads, a master of distraction, which moves them a little further down the trail, step by step.

PF 2 river above falls

Arroyo Conejo Creek above the falls

After nearly a mile, switchbacks take us down to the pools beneath the Paradise Falls where fifteen others are enjoying this Thursday noontime break.  Though the falls have been but a trickle of late, today we are here for the Grand Re-Opening thanks to Mother Nature.

PF 3C falls after crossing

Paradise Falls

Strategically placed stones allow us to balance across the modestly flowing stream.  Check out this Paradise Falls video.

Waterfall-satisfied, we take the trail to Lizard Rock which follows the North Fork of Arroyo Conejo Creek to the Wildwood Canyon Picnic Area.  Crossing the creek three or four times, we find it all quite easy with planks nailed together to allow us splash-free crossings.

PF 4 H on creek trail

Our trail map is fine, but our best advice comes from our fellow hikers.  A young couple directs us with lefts and rights to the switchbacks approaching Lizard Rock.

Climbing high above the Thousand Oaks water treatment plant, we are transported to County Kearny of the Old Sod in Erin Go Bragh.  Having traveled to the Santa Barbara area for the last three winters when brown was the new green, we are flying high with the rich verdant carpet to our right, left, and center.

PF 5A H climbing to Lizard Rock

Trail to Lizard Rock

With 800’ of elevation gain, the trail to Lizard Rock gives us a workout.  Breaking off the main trail at 1p, we summit and ponder the advantages of delayed gratification.

On one hand, we can eat our chicken sandwiches and sip our Dos Equis brewskis uncomfortably next to an oversized rock OR…

PF 6B cactus on green valley

Or we can refuel with water and granola bars now; then hike the short 45 minutes to the car, drive the a mere 50 highway miles back to the cottage, where we can shower and sit in comfort on our deck that overlooks the Pacific.   We choose option B.

PF 5C H on Lizard Rock

Athena, aka Hannah Banana

As we come down from Lizard Rock, Hannah has an idea; she knows that she doesn’t want to miss what professional photographers call the golden photo op.  Zipping back up the mountain crag, she soon positions herself as the Goddess of Light, high above as I click picture after picture of my sweet Athena.

PF 6 green valley of Wildwood park

Two hours of hiking in, we head for the trailhead along Stage Coach Bluff.  High above Paradise Falls and its meandering creek, we have come to Ireland without going through customs, drinking warm beer, or sleeping in small beds.


Wisdom from The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Art of Purring (#12)

Readers of my recent blogs of Hannah’s adventures on the San Ysidro Trail near Santa Barbara, California were introduced to the wisdom of David Michie in The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring.  It’s a book that Hannah and I heartily recommend and most pertinent to us after Hannah’s fall off the trail.  To give you a taste of its practical suggestions for living, I include these eleven quotes.  Enjoy.

In the stillness, we discover that there are other ways of knowing things than through the intellect.

[Be] uncompromising on the importance of actions over words and others over self.

Buddha himself said…It is only when we have faced the reality of our own death that we really know how to live.

Life is finite; every day is precious.  And simply to wake up in good health truly is a blessing, because sickness and death can strike at a moment’s notice.

Page 89 – Formula for happiness?…The formula is H equals S plus C plus V… Happiness equals what’s called your biological set point or S, plus the conditions of your life, C, plus V, your voluntary activities.

What arises for you depends on your actions, on the karma and conditions you create.

Dalai Lama Art of Purring

Page 142 – The marshmallow experiment at Stanford University.  The advantages of delayed gratification and self-control that signal success.

Page 143 – A study about the circumstances whether or not prisoners would be granted parole.  Low blood sugar affects our judgment.  Eat well and regularly.

Four tools to practice equanimity (calmness, composure)  

First: impermanence.  Never forget: this, too, will pass…

Second: what is the point of worrying?  If you can do something about it, fix it.  If not, what is the point of worrying about it…

Third: don’t judge… When it happens, you think bad.  Later you may think [that’s] the best thing that ever happened. 

Fourth: no swamp, no lotus.  The most transcendent of flowers grows out of the filth of the swamp.  Suffering is like the swamp.  If it makes us more humble, more able to sympathize with others and more open to them, then we become capable of transformation and of becoming truly beautiful, like the lotus.

Happiness comes first, then success.

The Holy Secret is this: if you wish to end your suffering, seek to end the suffering of others.  If you wish for happiness, seek the happiness of others.  Exchanging thoughts of self for thoughts of others – this is the most effective way to be happy. 


Dan and Hannah’s Reflections on the Hike to the San Ysidro Falls with the Family Rawding (2017)

Dan’s Reflection:

SY2 D with family

That Hannah might die never entered my mind. That said, people could die from such a fall if they, as she did, slide uncontrollably down a nearly vertical wall of sharp rock and dirt towards the waiting San Ysidro Creek 40’ below.  At that moment of her fall, I was comforted in four ways: first, that she looked safe on the perch below; second, it didn’t appear she had hit her head; third, that we had Molly and Tip for support; and fourth, I had no idea how bad her injuries were.

I guess one is never ready for sudden death.  I can’t imagine what it was like for our friend Amelia, when her husband and my college roommate, Big Steve, died in his sleep as a seemingly healthy man just turning 60.  The deaths of my parents in their 90s were not unexpected, indeed a blessing after rich lives.  I had no idea that I might be a widower when I woke up that morning in late February, 2017.

I know tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but the events on that Montecito mountainside gave new meaning to that cliche.  I am very glad that the curtain didn’t come down on Hannah’s life story that day.  But as I think about it, in time, I would have been very grateful for my many years with Hannah.  Hannah was always the one!

On a lighter note, Hannah’s sunny disposition has served her well for 69 years.  Despite deep wounds in her leg, she smiled and limp-walked steadily for a mile and a half out of the woods.  Her confidence and perseverance gave me confidence.

This is a great country for seniors like us with health insurance.  Hannah’s bill from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital was $4200.   The ER was $2755, IV Therapy $1010, Drugs $152, Pharmacy $140, Medical Surgical Supplies $103, and Clinical Lab costs $37.   Since we have Medicare coverage, we ended up paying a mere $75!!  It’s not a stretch to think all Americans deserve such coverage!

I’m stunned how quickly she is recovering.  Get this, the very next day after the accident, she was slow-walking a half mile, within two days she was hitting the pavement for a mile, three times per day.  Within three weeks, she was working out at our local gym on the treadmill, elliptical, and Wave (roller blading motion).  Within a month she was back playing pickleball as if she had never been gone.  Her recovery is a testament to her lifetime commitment to fitness.

I buy the wisdom of The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring by David Michie. I wish that all of my students could ‘nearly’ die.  There is no better wake-up call on how to live… Life is finite; every day is precious.  And simply to wake up in good health is truly a blessing, because sickness and death [and falls off the trail] can strike at a moment’s notice.   

Our daughter Molly married very well. Tip is the kind of husband, father, and son-in-law we are thrilled to have.  That said, Tip hit the jackpot with Molly.

Life is not an exam. Life is for learning and healing.  We are learning and she is healing.  Hannah and I will be hiking the waterfall trails of northern Georgia and playing pickleball with our Yonah Mountain family in late April.

With my one degree of separation, I got quite the reminder that every day is precious and there is no time to waste.


Hannah’s Reflection:

SY2 4A five on trail

It is when we are confronted with…poignant reminders of mortality that we become most aware of the strangeness and wonder of our brief life on Earth.  Kathleen Basford


Nearly a month after my fall on the San Ysidro Trail in Montecito, California, I feel more tuned in to life than perhaps ever.  My perspective has once again been “re-set,” as challenging times have a way of doing.  I never did feel fear or pain – thanks, I believe, to my body going into “protective mode” to sustain me til medical attention was available.  Also thanks (especially) to Tip, our son-in-law, who provided his calm reassurance that We’ll get you back on the trail, Omi.  Mostly I feel grateful – that it wasn’t Max or Owen or Molly or Tip who fell.  And grateful that I didn’t fall any further, hit my head, or break any bones.

I believe I experienced what David Michie in The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring calls a “realization…”

A realization is when our understanding of something deepens to the point that it changes our behavior.      I wish that all of my students could ‘nearly’ die.  There is no better wake-up call on how to live.     A realization helps us to let go a little, to experience deep appreciation, even awe – just to be alive.      …time is precious and we must use it wisely.

I am grateful just to be alive and oh-so-grateful to those miracle workers and magic weavers (below) who, truly, brought me Home.


Molly, Owen, and Max


Zach and Dominique of AMR

Tony Anagnostou, MD

ER personnel at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

Corky Thomson & Jane May of York Hospital

Elizabeth Helmer, MD & Alicia, RN  – both of York Hospital



Eleven things my San Ysidro Falls fall taught me…

It’s all about the people.

Life just gets better.

We do not know what is in store tomorrow – or whether there is a tomorrow or even a tonight! But still, we have the golden present.

Our physical bodies are beyond magnificent.

I have so much to be grateful for.

How much I adore our grand boys.

How equally much I adore our children – and their father.

That I would give my life –in a heart beat – for any one of them.

What a rich, full life I’ve already had.

That I agree with Albert Schweitzer once again:  If there is anything I have learned about men and women, it is that there is a deeper spirit of altruism than is ever evident.  Just as the rivers we see are minor compared to the underground streams, so, too, the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what people carry in their hearts unreleased or scarcely released.

How proud I am to be our son in-law’s mother-in-law.

April 2017     Hannah B. Rothermel (aka Omi)