Dan and His Youth – KGUA #74

For the January 17, 2022 KGUA Radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to write to the prompt: Go back to a time in your youth.

I set off on my rounds in the neighborhood with the latest news wedged in baskets behind me.  I’ve been on this route for five years.  Putting a rubber band around a tightly wrapped small bundle, I wing it on to the driveway of 1 Beekman Place with a thwack.  Without missing a beat, I’m rolling on to 6 Beekman Place.

Delivering newspapers on my bicycle, two metal baskets in the back, I toss 35 copies of the Bergen Record on driveways after school through much of my junior high and high school years.

I charge customers $0.33 per week for six days delivery from Monday through Saturday.  In turn, I must pay the Bergen Record $0.21 per week for the papers themselves.  You can do the math to see that I make a cool $0.12 per week per customer, not including tips.  It felt like decent money for a kid in the 60s.

New name

And then one afternoon in late November, 58 years ago, the truck dropping off my bundle of papers is late, like two hours late.  I sit on the curb in disbelief, not at the late drop-off, but because I had learned earlier during my high school biology class that President John Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

In the era long before the Internet and cable news, I was the one to confirm what all my neighbors knew or were about to know that the president had been shot.

At the age of fifteen, it was the saddest day of my life.

Words –  253

Dan and Hannah Hike the Hot Springs Trail in Montecito, California

Our first week in California this January 2022 has been picture perfect. Hannah and I have mid-50s mornings to walk the Carpinteria Beach and afternoons to ride our Cruiser one-speeds along the bluffs above the same beach.

Carpinteria Beach at dawn

Today we are off to the Cold Spring Trail ten miles away in Montecito to hike into the mountains. Driving down East Mountain Road, we are surprised to see a parking spot at the trailhead for the uber-popular Hot Springs Trail. You see, the Hot Springs Trail has soothing sulfur-tinged warm waters in a series of descending pools that are, oh so popular in the Santa Barbara area. Just before the pandemic hit in March of 2020, we were introduced to this trail by our pickleball/hiking friend Claudia.

Notorious for little parking, the Hot Springs Trail trailhead is offering us a gift we can’t ignore. Ditching the Cold Spring Trail like a bad habit, I lace up my Merrell Moab hiking shoes to hike the 1.3 mile trail to its healing waters with Hannah.

The trail above the creek

Paralleling the creek bed to our right, the trail is filled with rocks that make catching a hiking rhythm challenging. Walking single file, Hannah and I are pleased to see the effects of December’s rain in the Santa Barbara area. Green grasses line the trail and spring green bushes make a corridor of life as we head into the mountains.

Hot Spring Trail into the mountains

Soon we notice the stream has turned milky in color and the sulfur odor cues us in that we are close to the warm pools. Spotting a graffiti-defaced sign for the Montecito Creek Water Company, we remember not to take what looks like the main trail straight ahead but make a sharp turn to the left over the creamy blue/white stream.

Make a left here to the Hot Springs

On this mid-January Thursday, we join eight to ten others dipping their feet or submerged to their necks in the warm waters.

Series of pools
Hannah cools her jets
It’s as idyllic as this picture makes it look!

Finding pool-side rocks upon which to de-boot, we soak our hiking shoes-bound feet into the soothing waters. Hot springs? No, they are not hot, but they caress our feet nonetheless.

You’ll see on our Strava map below that after soaking we hike briefly into the Santa Ynez Mountains above for our best views of the Santa Barbara coastline, the Pacific, and the distant Channel Islands.

Views out to the Pacific Ocean

On the way back to the trailhead, we meet up with three separate couples coming to the warm pools for the first time and let them know how important it is to turn left at the Montecito Water Creek sign. To a person, they smile in appreciation; ain’t it cool to be the one does providing just the right information at just the right time.

Returning to the trailhead

One point three miles each way which makes the Hot Springs Trail an enjoyable family hike (we’ll take Molly’s family here when they visit next month) and a delightful way to spend a few hours, especially when temps in Maine are heading to zero and two feet are predicted for January 29, 2022 throughout New England.

Dan and Hannah Bring Their Ripple of Light to California

It’s the last Friday in January. With two feet of snow and gale force winds bearing down on all of New England for Saturday, Hannah and I are with our sisters and brothers in spirit if not in body.

Monster cookies!

If you don’t know it, Hannah makes real good cookies. Her signature cookie is a Monster cookie with oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. She bakes them and, at a minute’s notice, has them in the freezer to spread her ministry of adding light to the world.

Two repairmen come to our condo complex to fix the Internet connection this morning. As they leave, Hannah gives each two Monster cookies in plastic bags. I won’t be surprised that their world becomes just a little bit more joyful at that moment.

Our condo manager Deborah brings our mail and makes things right for us all around the complex. Hannah has two cookies for her that I deliver. Her smile suggests to me that no one thinks of her quite like this. She in turn will spread more light all day long.

Ping pong at the beach

Late morning, Hannah and I play ping pong on the concrete beach table by the beach. At the picnic table 25′ behind us two musicians sing to their guitars. One, later we learn his name is Greg, calls out how much he enjoys watching us play. I, in turn, through kudos back at him for the folk rock musical accompaniment to our game. After we finish, we return to our condo for Hannah to pack up two more cookies for Greg and his bandmate Devon.

Fortunately, I am the messenger and see the light that Hannah spreads. They are so pleased to have the Monster cookies, and both immediately eat one. Today we make a small connection and bring a little light to their lives and ours.

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week – #57 – Losing part of Myself

The moment I have defined another being as my enemy, I lose part of myself, the complexity and subtlety of my vision. I begin to exist in a closed system. When anything goes wrong, I blame my enemy. If I wake troubled, my enemy had led me to this feeling. If I cannot sleep, it is because of my enemy. Slowly all the power in my life begins to be located outside. And my whole being is defined in relation to this outside force, which becomes daily more monstrous, more evil, more laden with all the qualities in myself I no longer wish to own. The quality of my thought then is diminished. My imagination grows small. My self seems meager. For my enemy has stolen all of these.

Susan Griffin, poet, essayist, and playwright b. 1943

Dan Has A Dream – KGUA #75

Charlotte and Reese

For the January 24, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: I HAD a Dream…

My dream is for our five grandchildren, Brooks, Charlotte, Max, Owen, and Reese.

I have a dream…

That they have an adventurous spirit and taste other parts of the United States beyond Maine and Massachusetts.  To support that dream, Hannah and I will give them the gift of experiences with us in national parks and on the coast of California.


That they have good friends for the good times and the challenging ones. Friends who listen, not solve their problems. So often our answers come from within.

That they learn to play pickleball with their grandparents.

That even when they are too cool for words, they hang out with their grandparents.

That they invite their grandparents out to breakfast on a regular basis.

That they learn to say yes to life and no often enough to set boundaries and maintain their sense of self.


That they watch La La Land and West Side Story (both the original and the Spielberg remake) with their grandfather.

That they have a sense of home wherever home may be.

That they have a sense of humor and not take themselves too seriously.

That they know that they are much more than their SAT scores and their athletic achievements.

That they do all they can to enroll at Arizona State University, the Geneseo of the West.


That they have big smiles.

That they have someone to walk the beach with.

That they, in the end, can say that they gave it their best shot.

And somewhere along the way, that they loved someone or somemany deeply.

Dan and Hannah Return to the Scene of Major Drama – San Ysidro Falls Trail

I am so glad it wasn’t Owen or Max, Molly or Tip, Hannah remembers that early afternoon five years ago when the trail beneath her feet gave way. She ended up on a perch twenty-five feet into the canyon, fifty feet below (See the links below to recapture that 2017 experience.)

A steep cliff on the San Ysidro Trail similar to the one where Hannah fell in 2017

She also remembers the sound of a crack she heard in her head as she landed on the rocky perch.  She thinks it came from the gash to the bone of her leg as the sharp rocks ripped into her leg. I remember after supporting her for a mile and a half back down the trail from where she fell that the paramedics said to Hannah, You can choose whether you go to the emergency room with us or go with your husband, but you are going with us. The wound to the bone was so severe that the ambulance was, in fact, her only option.

Four-mile roundtrip to the falls

Nonetheless, Hannah and I choose the trail to the San Ysidro Falls in Montecito as our first winter hike of 2022.  Due to the Covid pandemic we did not return to the Santa Barbara area in 2021.  As usual, we come back this mid-January fleeing the cold and snow of our home base in Maine. 

San Ysidro Trail at the start looks pretty benign.

A mere twenty minutes from our home away from home condo in Carpinteria, we have no trouble finding parking along East Mountain Road among the multi-million dollar mansions of Montecito.

After “easy pickings” walking the level beaches of Carpinteria, we have a 1000’+ of elevation gain to the falls.  Ever since the rainy February of 2017, the falls have not flowed when we have hiked because of persistent drought.  Also the debris flows of January 2018 that killed 23 local residents have scoured the ravine to recontour the terrain; deadly 15’ diameter boulders littered the ravine.

Guard rails along the trail

The first mile of the trail is a wide fire road with gravel and small rocks here and there on the trail.  Not so pleasant for the feet but not difficult at all for hiking.

At the one mile mark, we head on a single trail that weaves through the forest along the south side of the still, in places, steep cliffs of the ravine.  It doesn’t feel perilous at all, though we hike closer to the mountainside than the cliffs.

Since this area has received a good deal of rain over the last three weeks, we have green grasses and lush leafy bushes flourishing along the trail.  Winter is in fact the rainy season in Santa Barbara, but you’d never know it from our eight winters here when the parched and coughing brown landscape was all we saw.  The recent rains also make us hopeful that this year we’ll see water cascading down the falls.

And that we do! Weaving our way in sight of the falls, we are plumped to see the waterfalls some 100 yards away.  Where in 2017 we were able to hike to the base of the falls, the trail no longer exists to do that any more.

Returning to the trailhead looking out to the Pacific Ocean and the distant Channel Islands.

It’s another five-star day in Paradise.  The falls are tumbling, the sun is casting its glory on us, and Hannah safely returns to the trailhead after four miles of hiking in 2022.

Six blogs of 2017

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week – #56

Many of us, from childhood on, are taught that saying yes is right and saying no is wrong. We learn that acceding to demands allows us to avoid conflict and criticism, please people, earn praise, and prove that we care for the important people in our lives. Yet the right to say no is indelibly intertwined with the ability to make choices.

Madisyn Taylor

Those who are fans of Unity, Byron Katie, and the Stoics of Roman times will love Madisyn’s daily three-paragraph wisdom on living and life. Click here for her DailyOM link. 

Dan is Inspired by… – KGUA #73


For the January 10, 2022 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are are asked to freewrite to this prompt:

Who Inspires You?

Throughout the fall, he wins the close ones; he even wins the not-so-close ones.  Though I do my best to keep our ping pong games competitive, he wins many more times than not. 

It’s funny over our eleven years of weekly ping pong since I retired from the University of New England, there have been long stretches where I ruled the roost, other times when he held the upper hand.  And many years we each won about the same number of games each afternoon. 

But it was when he was losing week after week that inspired me.  Routinely after tasting defeat, he was upbeat and looking forward to the very next game with a smile.  No whining, no poor me.  On to the next game.  On to Cincinnati. 

He made me realize the magic of our ping pong was in the joy of playing, the friendship over a couple of hours, and the challenge for each of us to improve.  Winning was nice, but secondary.

So as of late when he started winning routinely, I returned the favor to him by being just as positive and supportive of his good play as he was of mine when I won.  Rather than being Danny Downer, I learned from him that the game wasn’t all about me; it was about us.

George, thanks for the inspiration.

Words –  223

Dan Escapes with Hannah to Carpinteria, California 2022

Escape feels like the right verb for my desire to leave New Jersey as a kid. As has been noted ad nauseum in this blog, I was quite the rule follower. To break that pattern at 21, I fled first west for my senior year at Arizona State, then the next year to California for my first teaching job in Anaheim. Though I lasted but four months as a molder of young minds, the experience planted a seed in my heart for the Golden State.

Carpinteria sunset on the Pacific

A seed I have watered yearly with Hannah since 2014, except in Covid 2021. Now at the robust age of 74, I find my escape is more primal, visceral, and insistent. One, I want to take the biggest bite I can out of Maine winters. Two, I want to be active and alive outdoors in a place where warm is the calling card. California allows me to be in the great outdoors in January and February in ways I can’t, let’s be honest won’t be in the winter cold of the Pine Tree State.

Morning beach walk sunrise in Carpinteria (ten miles south of Santa Barbara)

For an outdoor guy, the Santa Barbara area of California is winter gold.

Each morning Hannah and I get to walk up and down the Carpinteria Beach before breakfast. Staying at a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) condo literally on the Pacific Ocean, we basically fall out of bed and greet the predawn sunrise just above the lapping waves. The wet sand is easy on our feet and the shore birds wish us a good morning daily just after seven AM.

Dramatic sunrise on Monday past!
Shore birds discuss the pros and cons of the photographer
A heron of sorts on the Carpinteria bluffs with the Santa Ynez Mountains in the distance.

This past Monday, Hannah and I drive twenty miles south to Ventura to walk its promenade, pier, and beach with temps in the mid-60s.

Ventura Promenade with 60-something surfers
Beneath the Ventura Pier

On Tuesday, we drive ten miles under the bluest of sunny blue skies to hike San Ysidro Canyon into the Santa Ynez Mountains. Thursday of this week we hike to the warm pools of the Hot Springs Trail in nearby Montecito.

Returning on the San Ysidro Trail with the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands in the distance
Cooling her jets in the warm waters of the Hot Springs Trail

On Friday of this week, we play ping pong across the street from our condo. Abel, a local Carpinteria legend, notices we are playing with an inferior one-star ball. He gives us an up-graded three-star ball and are game improves dramatically.

Hannah balances our new, high quality, orange, three star ping pong ball

Each late afternoon, Hannah and I jump on our Cruiser one-speed, fat tire bicycles to pedal on the wet sand beach at our doorstep or along the bluffs to the Harbor Seals Rookery.

My Beach Cruiser
Harbor Seals of Carpinteria. Babies are usually born in February and March

Today, Saturday we will bike four miles south for the Rincon Classic Surf Competition.

Next Monday, we play pickleball with Santa Barbara friends, Claudia and Bill, in Montecito just below the coastal mountains.

Maine I love you, I truly do, but…California steals my heart two months each winter.

544A PT, 844A ET on 1.15.22

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week – #55

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact

of attitude on my life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.

It is more important than the past, than education,

than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice

Everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace that day.

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me

And 90% how I react to it.

Charles Swindoll (b. 1934), evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher.