Dan and Hannah Hike Locally at Warren’s Woods in York, Maine

What would you like your legacy to be?

A good and decent friend? An ally to those out of the mainstream?  A courageous sort speaks to me? A career in service to others rings a bell for all you teachers?  A happy extended family who lived lives of purpose – whoa, that would be impressive?

Well, one part of Deb and Warren Taylor’s legacy is Warren’s Woods, the forested twenty-two acres they donated to the York Land Trust as a conservation easement.  Thanks to D and W, the public gets to enjoy this one-mile trail just across Corn Swamp from our house on Chases Pond Road.

Let me set the scene how we discovered this trail. Hannah and I are in the midst of quarantining after getting a Covid test at the York Hospital Clinic on Route One.  You see, we had close contact with our son-in-law Tip who has a sore throat and headaches. You see, earlier he was in close contact with his brother-in-law who contracted Covid.

In the interim while we wait for the results, Hannah and I are looking for just-the-two-of-us outdoor activities on this mid-October Saturday.  A bike ride in and around the rural Fall Mill Road near our home fits the bill. As part of that mellow ride on Sunrise Terrace, Hannah spots a permanent display that we soon realize is at the trailhead through Warren’s Woods.

Learning that we’d have a one-mile hike through the woods between Scituate and Chases Pond Roads, we decide to return later this afternoon to explore this trail.

Around 4 PM, we bike the two and a half miles to the trailhead. 

With the leaves turning burnt browns, mellow yellows, and rust reds, we follow the white blazes within sight of distant neighborhood houses.  Every so often we look around for the next white blaze, but in time we always find the trail.

Let the pictures below take you on our counterclockwise circumambulation of this loop trail.

A mile of local joy
Let the trail begin guided by mistress of the forest
Guided by the white blazes
I think Jimmy would approve of this trail.
Who knew?
The innards of this oak grab my attention.
If you look carefully, you’ll see the vernal pool. Vernal pools are seasonal small ponds similar to the one in our front yard.
The rock wall suggests that in the 19th century these forests were productive fields for local farmers.
We always eventwally found the white blazes guiding us around this one mile loop trail.

Within 30 minutes we are passing Tominy Pond back to the trailhead.

A simple 15 minute bike road home has us celebrating this little trail right under our very noses. Come hike it with us.

PS  As we expected, our Covid test results showed that we were negative for the coronavirus.

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week- #48

The same answer to most of life’s questions is: whatever is best for the kids.
Scott Galloway, NYU professor (who doesn’t accept a salary because of the millions he made as an entrepreneur) and author of The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning

I first learned of Scott Galloway on my favorite podcast, The Ryen Russillo Podcast.

Dan and His Mistakes – KGUA #68

For the November 22, 2021 (The day President John Kennedy was shot 58 years ago when I was a sophomore at Fair Lawn (NJ) High School.) KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: Do we define people (or ourselves) by their mistakes?  See where it takes you.


Danny Boy, sit down.  We need to talk.  About your quote mistakes.  Have you done any of the following?

Judging others?  Yeah, I guess so. 

Judging yourself harshly?  Ouch. 

Too hasty in making decisions?  Definitely. 

Lacking courage when courage is called for?  You got me. 

Not wanting to bother others?  Yes, indeed. 

Worrying what others think?  Guilty as charged. 

Could have been a better parent?  Husband?  Sib? Yes, yes, and yes.

We get the picture.  You are far from perfect.  But Danny Boy, who do you think you are, the Lone Ranger!

You were a kid.  You were younger than today.  You were on a journey of a lifetime – to find out who you are.  None of these were mistakes.  They were opportunities to gain experience and develop.  For heaven’s sakes, lighten up. 

Mistakes are lessons in life, oh aged one.  No need to regret.  Learn, heal, and move forward.

Your quote mistakes do not define you.  They brought you to the beautiful place where you are today.   You might even consider thanking them.

Words – 175

Dan and Hannah Hike the Cascadilla Falls in Ithaca, New York

Lee is to the east of Albany

Hannah and I have come to central New York to spend Halloween weekend with our grandkids and their parents.  Our goal whenever we visit is to babysit Brooks, Reesie, and Charli while Will and Laurel can get away for a few hours. Giving Hannah and me such time away was the best gift my parents ever gave us.

Stopping in Lee, Massachusetts for a break in the 390-mile drive from York to Ithaca, we treat ourselves to a mid-day walk, cups of McDonald’s coffee and bran muffins we brought from home. Our Strava app to the left records it all.

Poppa goes one on two with Charli (standing) and Reesie
Brooks with his Omi

Arriving just before dinner time, we are quickly welcomed by our identical twin granddaughters, Charli and Reesie, and their big brother Brooks.  While Hannah reads to three and a half year old Brooks, the 17-month-old girls use me as a climbing wall.  I couldn’t be happier.

Good fortune further smiles on us as our daughter Robyn comes down from Syracuse for the day.  She easily mixes with the grandkids and teaches her parents a thing or two about playing cards.

Later in the afternoon, Hannah and I with Robyn drive ten minutes into town to the Cascadilla Falls.  Heavy rains the previous Tuesday have made the falls the place to be.  See the pictures below.

14 seconds of roaring H2O
Climbing the exquisite stone stairways of the Cascadilla Gorge
Robyn in red leads the way
Thundering Falls
Our Strava app documents our falls hike

And by the way, the next day is Halloween and all three kids take part in the holiday street celebration.

Charli (left) and Reesie ready for All Hallow’s Eve

Finally Brooks with his Omi …

…and Reesie (top) and Charli enjoying dinner


Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week #47 – Parker Palmer

The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed – to be seen, heard, and companioned exactly as it is.

Parker Palmer (b. 1939)

Parker is an author and founder of the Center for Courage and Renewal.

The Center for Courage and Renewal helps folks “rejoin soul and role.” Their personal and professional development programs teach skills for deeper listening, wholehearted decision-making, exploring your vocation, and building trustworthy relationships. 

Dan and His First Car! – KGUA #67

One sweet ride

For the November 15, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: Write about a car memory?

My First Car

Nowadays it seems that kids from the suburbs have cars in high school, and certainly when they go off to college.  Back in suburban New Jersey in the 1960s that was not the case for me.  I walked a mile to Fair Lawn High with my guys.  In college, I had no need for a car as I took classes and played on the tennis team at the small, residential College of Wooster in Ohio.

But once I signed a contract to teach social studies, science, and Spanish to fifth and sixth graders in Anaheim, California (I had never taken a course in Spanish!), I needed a car.

The Volkswagen Bug (often referred to as a Beetle) spoke to me.  That summer of 1970, I purchased a used 1968 Bug for $1800 through the newspaper.

It wasn’t a month later that my brother Richard and I headed out for a 3000-mile trek across country for my first teaching job.  Though my Bug was quite a bit less cool than Ford Mustangs of the day, it got me around.  At the time, gas cost 24.9 cents per gallon.  Truly, to go another twenty miles, I once pulled up to the pump with a quarter.

A year later, leaving my VW in Arizona, I drove east with a friend in his car from Tempe to Atlanta, Georgia, then hitchhiked north to pick up Hannah in Ohio.  Along the way I was jailed in Knoxville but eventually arrived to drive with Hannah back to Arizona to see where our four-year on again, off again relationship might go.

We drove west in, get this, Hannah’s Mustang.  Yes, I eventually married someone who was far cooler than I ever was.

Words – 279

If you are semi- or three quarter-intrigued by my time in the Knoxville City Jail in the South in 1971, I wrote a six-part series about the experience.  Click on each part below for the full story.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Dan and Hannah Hike the Cataract Falls Trail in Newry, Maine

The Ellis Family Homestead

Ever have one of those early mornings all to yourself, before anyone else is up. This is such a morning for me. A little after 5 AM, I slip down to the kitchen of our friends, Donna and George, at their family retreat in Andover, Maine before anyone stirs.  Thirty-nine degrees outside, but warm at the kitchen table on this late September Wednesday, I open my laptop. 

I can’t wait to dive into a serious 25-minute final edit of a blog about our traveling Route One in Maine that I will be posting immediately once I am done.  Click here for that blog.

Next, I type in a first draft of yesterday’s hike to Mount Will in Bethel, Maine with the aforementioned Donna and George.  (Click here for that blog.) Still dark outside, I have time to redraft two more times to sharpen it further. As a writer, I find the first draft the most challenging part of the writing process – just getting something down as a starting point.  I find reworking and fine tuning subsequent drafts to be so much fun. 

It makes me think of our friend Steve who gets such joy from refinishing furniture into a work of art and creatively painting rooms with the end result that the job looks like wallpaper.  With great pleasure, our friend Fran solves electrical, landscaping, and building challenges.  For all of us who find such joy in our “work,” these are life-affirming opportunities.

With dawn breaking, Hannah comes downstairs and suggests a walk into town before Donna and George arise.  Taking to the country road heading into town, Hannah spots a snow mobile/horse trail that speaks to her, “Follow me, oh athletic one.”  We turn right.  In pictures we’ll introduce you to our early morning Andover.

The horse/snow mobile trail
We take the farm lane through the fields just outside of town.
It seems every New England town has a Congregational Church. Even in Andover, a village of 752 residents, down from 963 in 1999.
The town gazebo harkens back to a simpler time, less seduced by technology
Where once the thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail (which passes eight miles to the north of town) would refuel and refresh, today the General Store welcomes them no more (i.e., it’s closed).
AT hikers do have Mills Market for replenishing their supplies.
What seventy-year-old wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon reading in the quiet of this bibliotecque!
Andover Elementary has only 36 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade.

Once breakfast is relished, Donna and George have again thoughtfully planned another hike for their uber-outdoor-loving friends; it’s a favorite trail of theirs just ten miles away – The Cataracts of Frye Brook which promises riverside hiking and waterfalls to boot.  The pictures below show you what we found.

Let the trail begin with Hannah, Donna, and George
Above the rushing creek, the trail is clearly marked and easy on the feet
Trail mates
The trail is just delightful with the river as our companion.
The Cataract Falls in late September
Mid-stream before the falls,
The picnic bench by the falls is slowly returning to nature.
Three or four times we easily cross the creek.

After two hours of hiking over some three miles, we return for lunch, and then, this can’t surprise you, another afternoon of pickleball with D and G.  We can’t think of a better way to spend a day on vacation.

Hannah’s backhand softly drops into the kitchen

Dan and Who He Is Thankful For – KGUA #66

For this morning’s (November 8, 2021) KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: “Who are you thankful for?”

It’s my guys.  Rich and Steve and Nobes and Pfohl.   

Tubing on the Salt River

You see, as a first-born I was obedient to the max.  No surprise that I always colored inside the lines.  In high school in New Jersey, my grades were fine, nothing spectacular.  SATs?  Math up, Verbal down.

College in Ohio about the same pattern until I was just so unhappy that I said the hell with it.  I left for the Wild, Wild West in 1969.  And by that I mean, Arizona State University.

Not knowing a soul in the dorm (Irish Hall), I put myself out there and met up with four other out-of-staters.  We’d go to the Salt River north of Scottsdale for tubing with brewskis.  We stopped eating in Manzanita (dorm) cafeteria and came up with our own meal plan: Tuesday night at Hobo Joe’s for forty-nine cents all-you-can-eat pancakes and regularly at the Dash Inn on Apache Boulevard for forty cent beef burritos and fifteen cent iced tea.

Tempe, home to Arizona State University

Impulsively one weekend we drove 400 miles to Tijuana, Mexico to check out the scene.  Another time over Thanksgiving, Rich and I hitchhiked 120 miles to Tucson where on one ride we were kicked out of the car because we couldn’t pay and then were pelted with eggs as they drove off. 

My guys brought me out of my shy, introverted shell.  My confidence grew and my agency, a fancy way of saying that I realized I had choices.

With my growing self-confidence I went sight unseen to Anaheim, California for my first teaching job and had a willingness to challenge Uncle Sam on his plans for me in Viet Nam.

The guys showed me that there was a big, beautiful world out there that I never knew I could choose.  And for that I am thankful for Rich and Steve and Nobes and Pfohl.

Words – 297

A November 2021 update of my guys.

Dan, Rich, Amelia, and Nobes circa 2018, a mini-49th year reunion of our first year at Arizona State

Pfohl – First name Art, a Viet Nam War veteran who died some fifteen years ago, likely from complications from exposure to Agent Orange.

Steve – Big Steve, a successful entrepreneur from Virginia, died ten years ago of a heart attack.  I remain close with his widow, Amelia, and his sons, Brandon and Justin.

Nobes – First name Gale, an artiste and environmentalist who to this day walks the walk caring for the planet on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Rich – Inspired by Nobes to take up photography, built a successful small business with his wife Mary as wedding photographers; at each wedding his goal remains to highlight the bride so she looks radiant on her day.

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Will in Bethel, Maine

Ever been to Nowhere?  Say, Nowhere, Texas?  I’m guessing it’s out to the west of Odessa.  What about Nowhere, New York?  Maybe down a logging road in the Adirondacks?  Well, this morning, Hannah and I are going to Nowhere, Maine.  Check out the map to the right.  Andover, Maine is nowhere, just north of Somewhere Bethel and to the east of Outthere Rumford.

Hannah, Donna, and George

Andover does have its own elementary school.  It has one convenience store.  A gas pump or two.  To dine out or grocery shop it’s the aforementioned Bethel and Rumford.  But it does have Donna and George.  And that makes it the place for us.

Donna was a non-traditional student of mine back in 2010 when I taught preservice teachers in Writing and Reading at the U.  By that I mean the University of New England.  Non-traditional means she wasn’t 19 when she was a student of mine.  After a successful career in finance, she followed her dream of becoming a classroom teacher. 

After graduation and during her successful years teaching at Buxton Elementary outside of Portland, Maine, we got to know her hubby George, too.  We’d alternate months at each other’s house with wine, dinner, and games.

George examines the 3-mile loop (outlined in green) of Mount Will

Moved away to North Carolina, they do summer in Nowhere, Maine, oops Andover, where George’s family owns an 18th century roadhouse, a mecca for their extended family.

Invited for an overnight by the Tarheels, Hannah and I have an active day ahead.  After meeting at the Dunkin’ in Bethel for a coffee cake muffin and high-test coffee, we drive to the trailhead of Will Mountain.  Yes, you are correct. Our favorite son is named Will.  To begin the reconnecting, Hannah drives with Donna in their SUV and George rides shotgun with me in my 2016 Prius to the trailhead fifteen minutes away.

With not another car at the trailhead at 10 AM on this late September Tuesday, we have a three-mile loop to the heights of the South Cliffs overlooking the forests and farmland of the area to the Overlook to the Androscoggin River far below.

Promised 1000’ of elevation gain to Mount Will, we four climb steadily with our hearts apumping.  Hiking with old friends and in a wilderness setting makes for a great start to our overnight with our seasonal Mainers.

At 1726′, Mount Will is located on the Bethel Town Forest right on Route Two.

Let the pictures show and tell our story over the next two hours.

We hike counter-clockwise for our three-mile loop.
The green of late September mountainous Maine
The first red of foliage
In a year when we’ve seen more mushrooms in our front yard in York than forever, we are treated to the ‘shrooms of Mount Will.
The mighty Androscoggin
Dan, the selfie Man (I’m at the pre-K level)
Descending Mount Will
Who knew!
The Strava app documents our hike

Deeply appreciative of the company and the enjoyable physical challenge, we are pleased to learn that our day of activity has just begun.  For after lunch, we hit the pickleball court chalked onto their family tennis court.

George plays the soft game as Hannah and Donna are ready to pounce at the kitchen.

All the activity with good folks is our kind of getaway to Nowhere, Maine.

And one more connection to Donna and George. George’s younger sister Deborah died two years ago. With clothing from Deborah (skirts, shirts, and dresses), Hannah made five “Deborah Dogs” so each of the Deborah’s siblings and her husband could have a stuffed animal remembrance of their dear sister/wife. Each dog took seven to eight hours to complete, a work of love for Hannah.

George and Donna’s “Deborah Dog” at their home in North Carolina. Their young granddaughter enjoys playing with the stuffed animal and trying on the necklace and bracelet.