Dan and Hannah Hike the Palmetto Trail (South Carolina)

September and October are golden months in Maine – daytime highs in the 70s in September, 50s/60s in October with the dark and cold of winter seeming like Stephen King fiction.  (Sounds like somebody is ready for some Vitamin C [that is Vitamin California!])

But this year in late October we are traveling; we have our Wedding of the Year in Asheville, North Carolina.  You see, my college roommate Big Steve and his wife Amelia’s older son, the stunningly handsome Brandon is marrying the breathtaking Ashley.

Ah, the American South in October.  With many opportunities to hike and play pickleball, the fall has none of the heat and humidity of its summer.   Here come the Mainers.

Landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Hannah and I drive northeast for three days of pickling and card playing with our Yonah Mountain brethren and sistren (sistren is an actual word).  After Laurie, Linda, Pat, and Clarissa once again take us in as pickleball family, we motor two hours north to the North Carolina/South Carolina border to hang out with our sister-in-law Becky and her guy Derek.

Palmetto Illusions

Becky married Hannah’s brother Doug in 1982; he farmed buffalo, make that bison, and she taught piano in central New York.  Unbelievably seventeen years ago, Doug, as fit as anyone we knew, died in a matter of weeks of glioblastoma (brain cancer).

At his memorial service, among many others, I eulogized him with this quote from Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach – Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished; If you’re alive, it isn’t.  Doug profoundly touched many people and his work was done at 56.

Moving to Portland, Maine from New York, Becky lived 45 minutes north of us in York, which allowed us to have monthly sleepovers, either at her place or ours.

Palmetto portland to tryon

After Maine, Becky moved to the little liberal burg of Tryon, NC with her guy Derek to make a life together.  So when Brandon and Ashley scheduled their wedding an hour north of Tryon in Asheville, we had one more reason to renew our kinship with Becky – and more sleepovers.

Palmetto B and H at love your neighbor sign

Hannah and Becky in front of the Tryon Congregational Church.  Do I hear an Amen?

On our first morning together, Becky takes us to the Palmetto Trail, ten minutes from their home, a trail that crosses South Carolina from northwest to southeast ending on the coast near Charleston.

Palmetto trail map

Driving around Lake Lanier, we park at a trailhead on a Thursday morning in late October for a walk in the woods, past a waterfall, and into the mountains.  Let these pictures and iPhone video illuminate this magnificent trail with our magnificent Becky.

Palmetto 2A trail sign in woods

Palmetto 2B more trail


Palmetto 2D colorful foliage



By the way, a palmetto is just what you think it would be – a smaller version of a palm tree.

Palmetto tree itself

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Major (NH) with Nancy and Maryn

Hannah and I go way back with our dear friend Nancy Turley – it all began pre-Molly, Robyn, and Will in the 1970s while we planted, watered, and grew our marriage in Tempe, Arizona.  Being from the Northeast, Hannah and I had never met real-life Latter Day Saints; Nancy and her husband Wayne gave us safe passage into their hearts.  By the way, they taught us our family’s favorite card game, “Mormon Bridge” – a game we’ve spread from sea to shining sea.

During the summer of 1992 trip to the Rocky Mountain states, we five Rothermels towed our home-made trailer behind our four-cylinder Subaru Wagon.  Later we learned this pipsqueak Subaru was never meant to tow anything.  Time and again, we struggled up the northern Rockies at five miles per hour!  Once, we had to go north into Montana because we turned back since the Little Engine That Couldn’t was unable to climb to the 9000′ pass through the Bighorn Mountains coming out of Sheridan, Wyoming on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

Turley mesa to show low

While spending three days with our Turleys at their home in the Valley of the Sun, Wayne found a mechanic who fixed our radiator, which we learned was running at 25% capacity; hence the major reason why we couldn’t get up those towering mountains.  As we prepared to head for home in Maine, Wayne and Nancy offered to hitch our boxy 3’ x 4’ x 6’ trailer to their Chevy Suburban and haul it from their home in Mesa at 1100’ to Show Low at 8000’ as we followed behind.  Road weary, we thanked our lucky stars high above the Mogollon Rim that the Universe brought our families together.

Turley york to panguitch

We learned so much from their parenting – to value experiences over things, making family time a priority, and the importance of traveling to all parts of the USA to broaden our perspective and increase our gratitude and empathy.  Twice we drove from Maine and they from Arizona to pitch tents at the KOA (Kampground of America) in Panguitch, Utah to explore Bryce Canyon with their family of eight and ours of five.  By the way, despite the spelling, KOA has nothing to do with the Klan.

Turley 4 going up the mountain

Hannah, Maryn, Nancy, and dear ole Dan

And now 40 years later, we come together with Nancy and her equally delightful 24 year old daughter Maryn at our home on the coast of Maine.  Wayne died two years previous, which made our first time together a celebration of his influence on us all, our longtime friendships, and the time we did have with Wayne and Nancy.

Turley 3 start of trail

Nancy, Maryn, and Hannah Banana

Turley york to mt major

To continue our celebration with Nancy and Maryn, we drive 45 minutes into New Hampshire to breakfast out at the Farmer’s Kitchen in Farmington.  Fully fueled, twenty minutes later we pull into the trailhead of Mount Major along the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Turley 5B M and N atop

High on a mountain top in central New Hampshire

Pairing off in conversation up the rocky 1.5 mile  trail to the top  for the next hour, we four catch up on each other’s lives (Maryn’s upcoming choice of law schools, Nancy’s desire to go on a mission to New Zealand, Hannah’s welcoming her sister Leni to Maine, and my upcoming spring trip with Hannah to visit Nancy in Utah).

Turley 5A all of us atop

Atop Mount Major with Lake Winnipesaukee in the background

Once atop this 2800’ mountain of granite in New Hampshire, we had the opportunity to honor our forty year friendship with the Family Turley.

Dan and Hannah Have Someone for you to Meet – Marianne Williamson

I’ve never been so moved by anyone! Hannah looks at me with tears in her eyes.  Inspired by Marianne Williamson myself, I ask her, Anyone?  It’s a resounding Anyone!   No hyperbole, Marianne gives us hope for 2020.

Marriane map from york to ports

Living across the Piscataqua River from New Hampshire in Maine, Hannah and I have access to the current Democratic candidates running for president.  Having donated to Marianne’s campaign, I get daily emails about her positions and appearances.  Not many people know that she is actually running for president since she is polling at 1%.

Marianne politics of love

With such low numbers, she has not been invited to the latest television debates; or just this past weekend in Iowa was not allowed on the stage because she couldn’t pony up the required $160,000.  Yet she comes to towns throughout New Hampshire, as she did November 3, 2019 when we saw her at South Church (UU) in Portsmouth, to speak her piece (It’s not peace, I checked.) with a plan to be the president of these United States.

Now, we have friends who think she has no chance; perhaps, they wonder why we waste our money or why we are so naive.  Think about it, how long of a long shot was the current president!

Marianne Jimmy Carter

And what about JC!  Last week, Hannah and I were in the American South and spent time at the Carter Center (museum and library) in Atlanta.  When Jimmy Carter announced for president, the leading newspaper in the state had this headline – Jimmy Who is Running for What!?

As a spiritual leader whom we’ve known through our association with Unity (spiritual movement), Marianne has written extensively on personal transformation and growth.

Here are five nuggets from our Sunday with Marianne that might spark you to give her a look.  Click here for her full platform.

Marianne on FAF

One, she speaks to a subject close to my heart – teachers.  She says, each time we see a teacher we should be thanking them for their service as we rightfully do our military.   It’s immoral that public education is funded by property taxes, giving the upper middle class (like our three kids) 21st century schools, and the poor decrepit ones.

Two, she values conversation over the demonization of the other side.

Three, she unconditionally supports the full rights, freedom, and safety of our LGBT+ Americans.

Four, she wants a referendum for all 18-26 year-olds to determine their support for mandatory national service. If this generation is for it, she would implement it at the government level.

Five, she promotes doable tax increases to pay for infrastructure, addressing the climate crises, universal health (not health care!), a Department of Peace, a Department of Children and Youth, tuition-free state colleges and universities, and a $15/hr. minimum wage.  Aligning with billionaire Warren Buffet who believes he pays too little in taxes, she would repeal the 2017 tax cuts and have those making over a billion pay an additional 3% tax.  Those over $50,000,000 2% more.  Would they even notice?

Marianne campaign sign

In front of our place on Chases Pond Road

So where do Hannah and I begin?  We donate.  We display our Marianne sign on our busy country road.  I post this blog.  Hannah tells everyone she meets how Marianne has affected her.

Marianne Williamson just might be worth a second look.  And yeah, Matt Santos was a long shot, too!

Dan and Hannah Hike the Uisge Ban Falls Trail in Cape Breton au Canada

Cape G map

How’s your Gaelic?  Take a crack at pronouncing the name of these falls.  See below.  I’m buying coffee all around when you nail this one.

With a sendoff breakfast of oatmeal, cut up fruit, and an introduction to the ugly stick, Hannah and I leave the loving embrace of Laverne and Gordon of the Baddeck Riverside B&B in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Uisge 1B G, L, and D

Gordon, Laverne, and the Bomber

Uisge 1C H and L with fish

Laverne and Hannah in August in Cape Breton

What is an ugly stick, you ask?  The ugly stick is a traditional musical instrument from Newfoundland made out of household items and those from tool sheds such as a mop handle, bottle caps, tin cans, small bells, and other noise makers.

Before we drive the 370 miles from Baddeck, Nova Scotia back to our friends Bill and Karen in Fredericton, New Brunswick for the overnight, we hit the trail one more time with waterfalls being gentle on our mind. (homage to the late great Glen Campbell)

Uisge map to falls

Uisge 2 UB sign

Uisge 2B map of trail

Following Gordon’s hand-drawn map to the park, we take to country road along the Baddeck River to the left turn for Uisge Ban Falls Provincial Park.  With only one other car in the lot, we’ll have a peace and love experience on the along the brook on this early August Wednesday.

Uisge 3B H on trail

Uisge 3C D on trail

Uisge 3D H on trail

Immediately this tree-covered level trail hugs a stream strewn with rocks and promises that will soon propel our getaway drive in the next hour.  Unfortunately, the trail bridge over the creek is out so we don’t have the Baddeck River view part of the trail.  Another good reason to return to Cape Breton.

Uisge 3A trail closed

Washed out trail bridge

Uisge 3E H on trail

Within 20 minutes we arrive at the end of the boulder-y trail to the sweet sound of crashing water.  Enjoy the video.

Uisge 4A falls again


(Please forgive the misspelling of Uisge in the video title)  Returning to the trailhead, we have hit the jackpot in our Cape Breton holiday.  We know that we’ll be back, and back soon; to drive the 700 miles from York to Cape Breton and then take the seven-hour ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland to explore its trails and toast its sunsets and perhaps get our own ugly stick!

Uisge map of newfie

Pronunciation of Uisge Ban Falls – ISH-KA-ban.  I’m buying you coffee anyway.  Just text me when’s a good time.

Dan and Hannah Hike the Middle Head Trail in Cape Breton au Canada

Leaving the northern reaches of the National Park, we drive by the hamlet of Cape North, where five years ago we spent the second of our three nights while biking the 300 kilometre Cabot Trail.  That third morning we awoke to light rain but had no choice but to pedal on.  Here is an excerpt from Day 3 on the Cabot Trail with pictures.


Cape Breton Highlands National Park

[After six hours of biking], I dismount and walk to the door of the church with my right knee cramping and barking with the ferocity of an angry bulldog.  No one is about, and I hobble back to my bike and painfully remount.  Little do I know that I will pay for having dismounted.  The pain shoots up and down my right leg and sets up camp in my knee; I say to Hannah, “Go ahead.  I can’t go on.”  She suggests I get back on the bike and see what happens.  I say, “Please ride ahead and have Pamela [owner of the B&B where we will stay tonight] come back to get me.”

Hannah pedals on and I decide to give it a shot and put my feet in my toe clips and let the left leg carry the load.  Fortunately, I find it easier to bike than walk.  The rain having stopped, I decide to pedal as far as I can until I can go no more.  The faster I go the less painful my right knee is.  So I go for it.

Middle H past D and H ready to ride

Middle H past H chilly at brook

Middle H past H at Smokey Mt

Smokey Mountain

Middle H past D ready to ride

Middle H past H with rain gear

Today as we drive where we previously biked, we can’t believe how tediously long today’s 70 miles of paved road seems.  Trees, streams, and small houses of Cape Breton are iconic but lose their charm after all day in the bike saddle.

We motor through Ingonish, Ingonish Center up the long climb of Smokey Mountain; we are in awe of what we accomplished on the third day of our biking adventure five years ago.

A little after 5P this afternoon, we turn off the Cabot Trail, snake our way for two kilometres by the Keltic Lodge to the trailhead for our third modest hike of the day (see map above).  Choosing the rocky and rooted trail to the south, we hike through the woods, with the occasional view through the pines to the cliffs above the Atlantic.

Middle H 1 trail out

Middle H 3 rocky trail out

Middle H 4 cove

The trail back is level and pleasing to the feet, but we are hiking-and-driving-weary at 630 PM, yet grateful for another hour of wilderness hiking 700 miles from home.

Middle H 7 D on trail back

With an hour drive back to Laverne and Gordon at their Baddeck Riverside B&B, we are coming home.  Pulling in at 730P, we are greeted by Laverne mowing the lawn who says that we’ve been waiting for you (with a “so glad you are here” vibe), shower if you’d like, and we’ll sit on the front porch with wine before dinner.

We relax high above the Baddeck Riviere.

Cleanse Beddeck River

Click here for the full account of Day 3 of our biking the Cabot Trail five years ago and click here for the final Day 4.