Dan Loves his Fitbit

Hannah and I have been over-the-top uber exercisers forever.  We began running the canal paths of Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona as twenty-somethings.  Each with a degree in physical education, we were road runners for thirty years until, in our mid-50s, our knees creaked, No mas.  Putting the uber into uber-rageous, we biked the 190-mile Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia with its 15 degree mountain inclines; we both believe that’s the most difficult physical challenge we ever attempted.  (How do you like that humble brag in the lead paragraph!)

Now into my seventies, I pickle, workout at the gym, play ping pong, and walk the trails and side roads of Maine and California.  I don’t need a Fitbit measuring my every step to know I am rocking active senior until…

Tau Fitbit

…this past January when our son Will and daughter-in-law Laurel sent Hannah and me Fitbits to the house where we were staying in California for the winter.

For those new to Fitbit-dom, Fitbits primarily register the steps one takes in a day; the default goal is 10,000 steps per day.  Fitbits calculate our weekly average as well as allow Hannah and me to compete playfully to see who gets the most steps during a work week.  In addition, Fitbits scroll vibrating messages that show me my latest text or email.

It turns out that being in temperate California in January and February was the ideal breeding ground to fall in Fitbit Love.  Away from the ice and cold of the New England winter, Hannah and I walked daily along the Pacific or through the town of Carpinteria to add to our pickleball and hiking step totals.

But what I never expected was that my Fitbit would enhance my active life in at least six ways.

Fitbit york harbor cliff walk

Cliff Walk at York Harbor

One, I just exercise more.  My Fitbit regular reminds me to get some more steps and think to walk to the Cliff Walk in York or for twenty minutes in our neighborhood.

Two, I just move more.  My Fitbit has vibrating and visual reminders to get me up and moving around when I sit at the computer or read and write on our front deck.

Three, when in the early afternoon, after picking up 6000 steps at the gym or 8000 playing pickleball, I say to Hannah I need a neighborhood walk to get to 10,000.   And so we do.

Fitbit pickleall

Four, I no longer just stand around waiting on the court when playing pickleball.  When the other players are chasing the ball, getting into position, or preparing to serve, I walk around to stay loose, and equally important, rack up valuable steps.

Five, I no longer just sit for long stretches on the sidelines waiting for my next turn to play pickleball; I walk around to stay loose and be less likely to pull a hammy or rip an Achilles.  I’m ready to play without being stiff from sitting.  (Just a thought.  Perhaps, considering their serious injuries in the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson could use Fitbits.  I’m just saying.)

Six, I just dig the satisfying feedback that quantifies my activity.  The daily numbers reinforce that I am a mover and groover.

That’s Fitbit Love!

Here’s a Fitbit screen shot from my iPhone for June 21, 2019.  Notice the 17K+ steps for the day that came from an hour and 40 minutes of pickleball this morning, mowing 3/4 of our lawn this afternoon, and evening walk in the neighborhood with Hannah.  Do take note of the sweet nap I had earlier in the afternoon.  I thought it was 30 minutes, 40 tops.

Fitbit screen shot 2

Dan Learns of Antidotes to Fear and Worry

It’s not a deep dive to say these are challenging times.  Climate crises (not merely climate change).  The current president.  School shootings.  Polarization that eviscerates our nation.  White supremacy.  Poverty.

Antidote curiosity 3

Do these challenges have a way of overwhelming us to the point where spiral into worry and fear?

Justine Willis Toms speaks to me along these lines.  Curiosity is the antidote for fear.  Optimism is the antidote for worry.  Curiosity can support our understanding of our fears.  Optimism is its own reward.

Speaking of fear and worry, Hannah has a powerful question to put things in perspective.  When a certain mindset, habit, or behavior pattern distresses a friend of hers, she might respond, How is that (e.g. fear or worry) working for you?

Antidote optomism

I close with my guy of the heart – the Dalai Lama.

When someone asked him, Why are you so happy all the time, even while there’s genocide going on?  The Dalai Lama’s answer was simple: because it makes him feel better.  He said he doesn’t know how it’s going to turn out, so each day he’s just going to do what is right and good to do.

Hello Dalai, my kind of guy.


(Inspired by “Deep Dialogue” by Mallory Herrmann in the Unity Magazine (May/June 2019)

Dan Hikes Around Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park (Maine)

Jordan map

I awake before dawn in the queen bed at the Bar Harbor Motel; my friend Bill in the next room.  After yesterday afternoon’s climb up the Gorge Trail in sunshine (Click here for that posting), today’s forecast is for mist and drizzle.  It’s no morning to climb any of the rock faces of the many mountains here in Acadia.  A hike around Jordan Pond becomes an ideal trail choice.

After checking ESPN sports on my iPhone in bed, I slip into my hiking Merrell’s for an early morning walk to check out the weather and warm up on the Carriage Roads of  Acadia National Park just beyond the motel property.  A ball cap and Ithaca College jacket are enough to shed any light rain as I walk for 45 quiet minutes.

Meeting up with Bill for the motel continental breakfast later, we agree that hats and jackets will ward off any light precipitation.  Taking delectable small bites of a blueberry muffin while sipping my decafe black, I have my dose of morning nirvana.

Jordan Park Look Road

Park Loop Road in Acadia

Driving twenty minutes on the Park Loop Road, we arrive at a nearly empty parking lot at the Jordan Pond House.  Like most hikers today, we have come from away and are not going to let a little rain deter us.  Walking down the trail in front of the Jordan Pond Lodge, we are met by two unleashed, large labradoodles; I agree with our grandson Owen who likes his dogs small and not barking.

I am leery of new dogs, having been nipped and bitten before by dogs that “would never bite anyone.”  The female hikers see us, but as we approach the white demon barks wildly at us.  I step back immediately.  She says, He doesn’t like to be startled.  Ya think!  You saw us coming!  I think but don’t say.  Fortunately they head to Pemetic Mountain and we begin our circumnavigation of the pond.

Jordan 6 B and D back at start

Bill and Dan at Jordan Pond

The eastern side is a pleasant easy going, winding gravel trail within an arm’s reach of the water.  Though we see no beavers, we do see their handiwork; and, in this case, their impending triumph.

Jordan 2A beavers at work

Jordan 2 gravel trail

Jordan 2B Bill on gravel trail

My friend Bill

By the far end of the pond, we cross a man-made causeway, then a wooden bridge through the marsh and over the creek emptying into Jordan Pond.

Jordan 3 D at bridge

From here things get interesting as the granite boulders come down to the shoreline from Penobscot Mountain.  Never too difficult to climb over, the low lying rocks have an orange sheen (painted?) which guides our way.  Always within 10’ of the water, we never feel we might slip on the moisture-soaked rocks.

Jordan 4 bouldery trail

Jordan 4A more of bouldery trail

Then, for what seems like ¾ of a mile, we have a succession of planks a foot or two above the rocky, uneven terrain bordering the east side of Jordan Pond.  Though slick, the planks allow us to walk with a steady rhythm back towards the lodge.

Jordan 5 plank trail

Jordan 5A more planks with D

Jordan 5C newer planks

Two couples from Ontario, Au Canada and parents of a darting up and down the planks five year old boy with his three-year old sister brighten the morning as the drizzle ends.  With parents like these, these kids will grow up not letting a little inclement weather deter them from getting a healthy dose of Vitamin N (i.e. Nature).

Jordan 6A D and B again at end

Misty morning in Acadia (Jordan Pond)

Dan is Breaking Up with Facebook

Facebook Neil Sedaka

You gotta love Neil Sedaka’s classic “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.”  But in this case, it just doesn’t fit my divorce with Facebook after eight years.

Of late, I have been on a nine-month break from Facebook, but I just wasn’t ready to cut the cord completely.  The final straw was being reminded by David Brooks on a podcast (The Ted Interview) about the lack of meaningful connection that comes with a steady diet of social media.

Facebook no

Just because I wanted to break up, Facebook didn’t make it easy to sever ties (what they call deactivating).  It wasn’t exactly clear to me how to close my account.  My go-to response in tech uncertainty is to email our son Will for support.  But, before he responded, I thought, I bet if I googled “Closing your Facebook account,” I would find the key to unlock this door.  Ta-da!

Was the Russian hacking the reason?  No.  The ubiquitous ads?  Not really.

That I can be lazy and click on Facebook to just pass time (and by that, I mean waste time)?  Guilty as charged.

Primarily, though, I am disappointed that going on Facebook didn’t foster connections with others that I naively thought it might.  In fact, I think friendships wither when folks think posting on Facebook is enough to keep friendships going.

Facebook adios

So, I bid adieu to Facebook.  Adios, mi non-amigo.

By the way, Hannah has never had a Facebook account.  Wise beyond her years!

Dan Hikes the Gorge Trail in Acadia National Park (Maine)

Gorge map

York is to the east of Portsmouth.  Notice how much of Maine lies north of Bangor.

Looking to break up my 215-mile drive from our home in York to Bar Harbor at the gateway to Acadia National Park, I stop off at the Armstrong Tennis Center in Bangor to play pickleball with these central Maine “experienced” players.

At the indoor courts, the cacophony of whacking plastic “wiffle balls” fills six pickleball courts is sweet music to my ears.  Within five minutes I am in a game of doubles with Lisa as my partner v. Mark and Doug.  “Experienced” enough to give them a decent game, I have just the pause from the road that I wanted after two hours of steady play.

Driving on an hour to Bar Harbor, I am primed for an afternoon of hiking with the Canadian, my friend Bill Buggie of New Brunswick, from our days at the University of New Hampshire.

Arriving at the Bar Harbor Motel just after noon, I chat up the hospitality worker, Kim.  In response to my question about hiking, she suggests the Gorge Trail, a family favorite.  On a sunny afternoon near 70F, it’s an ideal 2-3 hour hiking choice for the two of us, who coincidentally, are on either side of 70 ourselves.

Taking the Park Loop road, I squeeze my Toyota Prius into roadside parking for five vehicles.  Being the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, and still not in-season, we are ready for an afternoon dose of Vitamin N (i.e. Nature).

Crossing a small creek, we hike 0.2 of a mile to the Gorge Trail itself.  For ten minutes we have the sweet level dirt that allows us to walk side-by-side, catching up on our lives as “give it our best shot” parents, long-time husbands, quasi-athletes, and former classroom teachers.

Gorge 1 B on gorge trail

Bill creek crossing on the Gorge Trail

Gorge 1AA D on stones on gorge trail

Dan hiking in shorts and an IC tee shirt on the Gorge Trail

Skirting the Gorge Creek for nearly a mile, we hike the very manageable rocky assent that will lead us to Dorr Mountain.  Crossing the creek multiple times, we have granite steps of master trail builders at our disposal most every footstep of the way.  The climb through the gorge comfortably warms us as the ascent is never strenuous or risky.

Gorge 1A mini-falls on gorge trail

Eight foot cascade tumbling down the Gorge Creek


Gorge 1B steps of gorge trail

The artistic and functional steps of the Gorge Trail

Gorge 1C D on gorge trail

The mostly functional Gorge Trail hiker on a trail that was not as difficult as this picture makes it seem.

Reaching the intersection on this well-marked trail, we have Option A of scrambling up the steep and boulder-y Cadillac Mountain, a truly nasty skyward climb.  No fools, we choose Option B, the less severe mountainside to Dorr Mountain.  Slow and steady with some hand climbing, we summit guided by mountaintop cairns (piled rocks to mark the trail).

Gorge 2 stones to Mt Dorr

The less severe mountainside to Dorr Mountain

Gorge 2A view to Cadillac Mt

Looking to Cadillac Mountain from Dorr Mountain.  By the way, Cadillac Mountain is the first land in the continental United States that the rising sun shines on each morning.

Gorge 2B D and B on Mt Dorr

Billy and Danny on Dorr Mountain with the Atlantic Ocean in the background

Taking the North Ridge Trail down the rocky crag, we have sloping rock faces for ¾ of mile that have us shortening our stride and cramming our toes into the front end of our hiking boots.  As the heroes you know us to be, we just tough it out.

Gorge 3 smooth stones in descent

The toe crunching descent from Dorr Mountain


Gorge 3A B on descent

And the rocky descent coming down from Dorr Mountain

Completing this three mile loop in just over two hours, we are ready to chill with our game of choice (Scrabble) and our Robert Mondavi wine of choice (bourbon barrell cabernet).

Topping off our day in this Atlantic paradise, we walk a mile and a half into town to Geddy’s, where we celebrate a mountain well-climbed with their primo Burrito Grande.  (You may be thinking, Dan, no seafood in this coastal town?  I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of le lobstere or les clams.  My roots in Arizona have me pining for Mexican food any time I can get it.)

Gorge 4 Geddy's


Dan’s Good Friend’s Quiz

What could be better than a quiz with no grades!

There are old friends, occasional friends, distant friends, new friends, and family friends.  There are good friends.   For me, a good friend is a regular, supportive part of one’s life.  To paraphrase Thomas Fuller, If you have one good friend, you have more than your share.

It’s a “true, false, maybe yes, or somewhat” quiz.  Let’s rock.

Friends and adventure

Uno, do good friends both like and actively show their interest in you?  Duh!  Pretty simple?  Many people may like you (i.e. find you pleasant, nice) but don’t really have much interest in your story, the details of your life.  With a good friend, you have a voice in the relationship.

Two, one of the primary characteristics of good friends is that they listen, and then listen some more?  (Not a hard quiz, yes?)

Three, do good friends have common interests?  To develop as good friends, must there be a meaningful intersection of mutual interests (i.e. being, say, physically active, talking politics, the same faith, involved in the community, or literary topics)?  However nice and decent two people may be, can their friendship jump into the good category without common interests?

Quatro, time.  Some folks in retirement have lots of disposable time.  People who are working, raising kids, and/or tending to extended-families do not often have the same amount of time.  Do those most reasonable demands by one party make growing a good friendship a challenge?

Friends and wine

Cinco de Mayo,  between times together, do good friends connect, evenly briefly, by say text, phone, or email?  Such digital communication may be just a line every week or two, but is it necessary to keep good friends connected?

Six, let’s throw in geography.  Without the casual contact friends, whether it be in the neighborhood, over coffee, on the pickleball court, while walking in town, can distances of even 10 or 25 miles away keep friendships from making it into the good category?

Seventh heaven, maybe a good friend is just someone who makes you feel special.