Dan and Hannah Hike the Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park, Utah

As Hannah and I wait with our daughter Molly’s family (Tip, Owen, and Max) at Logan Airport in Boston on this first Saturday morning of April school vacation week, it’s not a good sign when Delta announces that our jet won’t have enough fuel to make the non-stop flight to Salt Lake City.  We hear that we’ll have to refuel in Minneapolis.  WTF!  What do you mean that our schedule flight doesn’t have enough fuel when you knew it was going to Salt Lake City six months ago when we bought our tickets!

Delta wasn’t exactly ready when we were!

Using all my Zen Namaste Peace and Love-ness, I settle in and think of Doris Day (i.e. que sera sera).  We then get the explanation that it’s a fuel pump that is not working.  Then, twenty minutes later we learn that the ground crew has worked their magic and got it up and running.  Though two hours late, we are appreciatively in the air for our 5.5 hour flight to Utah.

Enterprise Car Rental comes through as they always have.  From the landing, taxiing to the terminal, and walking to the on-site Car Rental cluster, we are driving south on I-15 through Salt Lake City within 30 minutes.

Stocking up for seven days on the road at the Trader Joe’s in Orem, near Provo, we then choose wisely to feast on two large Mountain Mike’s pizzas in the car as Molly drives us 200+ miles over four hours to Moab for the night.

Our three bedroom VRBO condo at the Rim Village in Moab blows us away. It has a deluxe master bedroom for Hannah and me, another queen bedroom for Molly and Tip, and a third room with twin beds for Owen and Max. There is a pool and hot tub in the complex. We rest easy after sitting for ten hours in a plane and a car.

The Rim Village master bedroom with Owen between us.
Our three bedroom condo in Moab, Utah

Before the others awake on Easter Sunday morning, I walk the Rim Village neighborhood in the dark and find the moon setting over the mountains.

Full moon setting over Moab

Our first of five days hiking in the national parks of Utah begins at Arches National Park.  To deal with the overcrowding of the popular national parks, the park service requires that visitors from May through October at the Arches obtain a timed entry reservation to enter the park at all. Our reservation allows us to enter this morning between seven to eight AM. 

Dan, Owen, Max, Hannah, and Molly

We begin our hiking morning with the park’s signature trail to the Delicate Arch. Though there are many folks on the 1.5 mile trail with nearly 500′ of elevation gain over sandstone slick rock, there is a festive rather than overcrowded feel to our hike. 

Max nearly 8 and Owen nearly 10 keep up admirably as we climb to the arch that is on many Utah license plates.

The trail just before the Delicate Arch
Our first view of the Delicate Arch (Owen, Hannah, Dan, and Max)
You can walk to the base of the Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch gets its red color from iron oxide. Although there is a rumor that the names of Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch were inadvertently exchanged due to a signage mix-up by the National Park Service, this is false. (See at the end of the blog the Landscape Arch and you tell me if the names were misapplied!)

Some of the nicknames for this iconic arch include “Cowboy’s Chaps” and “Old Maid’s Bloomers.” The first time the arch was called “Delicate” was in a magazine article in 1934. The writer noted that the arch was “the most delicately chiseled arch in the entire area.” Summer temperatures here often exceed 100 degrees. Our temps were hiking-delightful in the low 60s on this mid-April morning.

On the return trip we six pair off, with Owen and me trailing behind eventually walking nearly a mile with Lakota and Elena from Nashville.  They are engaging folks and interested in us, too.  Elena walks a half mile chit chatting with Owen while I talk college football and traveling the country with Lakota. 

Elena, Lakota, and Owen

With our big morning hike in the books, we drive to the parking area for the Windows Trail and the Double Arch.  Our hiking day has just begun.

The much more delicate Landscape Arch

Dan and Hannah Go Bouldering at Seven Falls, Then Hike to Inspiration Point in Santa Barbara, California

25 minutes away

This mid-February 2022 morning Hannah and I drive to a trailhead with two possible hikes: the uber-popular Inspiration Point Trail as well as the mysterious Seven Pools, Three Falls Trail, which we have been unable to find since we first came to Santa Barbara in 2014.  Perhaps today…

Parking on Tunnel Road among the mansions of Santa Barbara, we are well aware that our car will be towed if it strays beyond the white lines on this winding narrow road into the mountains. 

Cars toeing the line on Tunnel Road to avoid the hefty fines

Safely parked, we pass around a rusted metal cattle gate onto the ¾ of a mile of cracked paved road to the trailhead. 

Southern California Edison “paved” road to the trailhead
The cracked road continues above Hannah’s head into the Santa Ynez Mountains

Once at the trailhead for both trails, we have a steep climb on a wide fire road until the turn-off to the left for Inspiration Point as well as the Seven Pools, Three Falls Trail.

Figuring we will just hike to Inspiration Point, since we’ve been stymied in the past from finding the Seven Pools Trail, we fortunately meet up with an agreeable twenty-something hiker who gives us directions to the Seven Pools Trail. 

On the concurrent Seven Pools and Inspiration Point Trails

And find it we do.  But, and there is a big But

Hannah begins ascending among the boulders

This trail is not for hiking; it is for bouldering.  Bouldering is climbing over and around boulders in the creek bed.   This past December of 2021, the Santa Barbara area got three weeks of off-and-on rain.  A windfall for this parched, drought-ravaged area. That is the reason for the green hills and mountainsides that we see for the first time in years.  Fortunately, the rain has filled the pools which helps us identify the trail.

One of the seven pools
The boulders we must straddle

Bouldering up the creek, past a pool here and there, sometimes we stretch between rocks (see Hannah below) and most of the time we are use handholds to get up and over the rocks.

That’s one agile 74-year-old

Then a barrier of boulders presents itself and we skirt to a creekside trail that looks like it was made by others who couldn’t handle the boulders either.  In time this quote trail narrows and we are fully content wrapping up our Seven Pools Trail experience.  We make a quick 180. And, let me tell you, we will never go abouldering again.  It’s not a lot of fun. We’ll take hiking instead.

Along the creekside trail

Retracing our steps down the boulder creek, Hannah and I return to the Inspiration Point Trail into the mountains.  The trail is easy to negotiate and there is very little chance of getting lost.   The switchbacks take us to the top for a 180 degree view of the coastline out to the Pacific and the Channel Islands. 

Inspiration Point Trail
From Inspiration Point out to the Pacific Ocean
The Channel Islands are in the distance

Dan and Hannah Hike Pelican Bluffs in Point Area, California

Carpinteria Morning

It can’t be a surprise to the regular readers of this blog that Hannah and I come to California in the winter to be active in the great warm outdoors.  Mornings before breakfast, we walk the beach or bluffs in Carpinteria.  Then it’s often a hike or pickleballing.  After Dan’s nap and Hannah’s post card writing in the sun, we then have a late afternoon bike ride on our one-speed cruisers through the coastal village of Carpinteria. 

Sea Ranch, 150 miles north of San Francisco

Taking advantage of every minute we are in California and not in the cold of winter on the coast of Maine, we plan a road trip 500 miles north of Carpinteria to Gualala to visit our friends, Tree and Scott.  There, too, we will keep up our uber-activeness by walking their neighborhood before breakfast, hiking mid-day at Sea Ranch, and take in the Pelican Bluffs for our late afternoon hike along the Pacific.

Just four miles north of their home in Gualala, the trailhead is smack dab on The 101 north (truly a country road at this point in the lightly populated Mendocino County) to hike its spectacular bluffs. 

The 73-acre preserve is home to the endangered Point Arena Mountain Beaver as well as to a creek that is recovering from tons of crapola from cattle grazing.  Click here for a two-minute video of the park.

With a parking lot for ten, we meet up with Cliff, a neighbor of Scott and Tree’s, who gives us the low down on the two-and-a-half mile hike.  We have choices for a shorter or longer hike.  See the map below. No surprise, we choose longer.

We choose to go straight from the trailhead to the ocean and then turn south.

Cliff makes me wonder why people move to this remote area.  The nearest big city is nearly three hours away. Santa Rosa and Ukiah are two hours for a Target and Costco.  It makes sense that folks want to get away from the congestion and hectic-ness of the cities.  They do have a chance to become an important member of a small community.  It never snows here.  There is outdoor beauty that is a 10 of 10. 

Alas for us, it is Carole King “So far away.”   With family in New England, we will spring, summer, and fall in York, Maine where we have lived for the past 40 years.

From the trailhead through the coastal forest to the fields above the bluffs
Before arriving at the bluffs, we traverse the coastal fields
Ever see a monk from St Joe’s (Maine)? Now you have.

We leave the forest of redwoods and Bishop pines for the fields before we arrive at the bluff trail.

Along the Pelican Trail

Doubling back we take the field trail which is 0.9 of a mile to the trailhead.

Sunset hikes are just the best for picture taking

With the weather unseasonably warm, we could be in southern California. Our Strava app has the final word(s).

Dan’s Wednesday Quotes of the Week – #66

Fear is faith pointed in the wrong direction. What happens when we point our consciousness in the direction of our fears? We live in fear. Fear is the thief that robs us of the present moment.

Some of the worst things that I ever experienced never happened.

This idea, which has many versions and is sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, is my favorite because it strikes a chord of truth within my being. I wasted much time in my life living in fear of what might happen.

To counter this tendency, I put a note on my computer to remind myself to look at life differently. The note says,

“Best-Case Scenario!”

I invite you to join me in affirming the best outcomes and to live from that perspective instead of the worst-case scenarios.

Rev Bill Englehart, Unity of Tucson

Labyrinth at the Unity of Tucson

Dan and What is My Happy? – KGUA #84

For April 11, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:

What is Your Happy?

My happy often occurs over breakfast out.  It’s early and I’m fresh.  Sometimes I’ve played nine holes of sunrise golf on a course that hasn’t woken up yet.  Or I’ve taken a walk beforehand so I am warmed up for my first cup of coffee. 

I am a decafe guy at home, no cream, no sugar.  On the road it’s regular.  Why?  Regular coffee is just served hotter in diners and restaurants.  Fewer folks choose decafe so that it is often served lukewarm.  I also have the waitperson fill my cup 2/3 to the brim.  The coffee stays hotter longer.  Free refills are a must like I am served at the Morning Buzz Café in Amesbury, Massachusetts or at the Rollerville Café in Point Arena, California. 

Often I have just a muffin because my happy is not about the food or the coffee; it’s about the company.  I want to have breakfast with someone who is curious.  Certainly curious about me and my life as I am about theirs.  Someone who talks about their relationships and listens to mine.  Someone who shares their excitement for life with me and looks for hearing about the wow that is going on in my life. 

Fact is breakfast out with a friend is my happy.   I go away from such people energized and fully caffeinated ready to rock and roll my day, 

Words – 225

Dan and Hannah Meet the KGUA Superstars, Then Hike the Bluff Trail at Sea Ranch, California

Hannah and I have four big draws in Gualala that make us want to drive 500 miles from Carpinteria to this village 150 miles north of San Francisco.  First is Scott and Tree, our friends from York; they knock themselves out to make our time together filled with breakfasts out, hiking, and time to chill each evening.

Staff Photo by Herb Swanson, Sun, Oct 28, 2001: Scott and Tree (Theresa) Mercer run near their home in Cape Neddick Sunday. The couple will run the New York City marathon to raise money for the Firefighters World Trade Center Fund. Theresa’s cousin, John Crisci, was a member of squad 288 died in the WTC attacks.

The other two draws to the area are Mark and Peggy of KGUA radio in Gualala.  Peggy built a public service radio station from the ground up and was open to Mark’s idea to create a regular weekly segment for KGUA writers.  That decision has fueled my creative instincts since the spring of 2020 when Covid shut down my world.

Hannah with Tree at the KGUA studios
Peggy and Mark in their KGUA studio

Over lunch at the KGUA studios, Hannah and I meet our inspirations.  By the way, did you know that Hannah is also a KGUA writer?  While I submit my KGUA free write by a voice memo and later publish it in my blog on Mondays, Hannah has our daughter Molly, with the occasional pinch-hitting by her brother Will, to read her free write onto a voice memo, then send it on to Mark.

Mark, Dan, Hannah, and Peggy at the KGUA studios

Peggy and Mark are as gracious and welcoming as I had imagined. KGUA is a public station which airs news, science, politics, and music. It is a project of the Native Media Resource Center whose mission is to produce educational materials about Native American and Indigenous communities in order to promote harmony and cross-cultural understanding.

After lunch, Hannah and I drive a simple mile south on The 101 from Mendocino County into northern Sonoma County to the Gualala Point Regional Park. There we have access to the bluff trail of the exclusive (and by that I mean uber-pricey) Sea Ranch.

As a community developed in the 1960s as a getaway for city-bound Californians, Sea Ranch, of late, has been a refuge for upscale IT folks who can work remotely. The community includes swimming pools, tennis courts, and, yes, pickleball courts.

On an unseasonably warm (mid-60s) early February afternoon on the northern California coast, Hannah hike four plus miles round trip high above the Pacific Ocean.  Let my pictures take you there.

The bluffs of Sea Ranch
An example of one of the 2000 Sea Ranch domiciles; this one along the bluff trail
The bluffs above the rocky northern California coast
Sea Ranch houses along the bluff trail
Crashing waves
The afternoon sun

Thoroughly satisfied, Hannah and I return to our “Tree and Scott B&B” to rest up and chill with Wordle, the five-letter word game recently bought by the New York Times for $2 million.  Playing Wordle daily, we love the challenge and that the game is not a time suck.  There is only one word game per day.  Try Wordle here and be a part of the Hannah and Dan daily word challenge community.

Dan and His Inner Critic – KGUA #83

For April 4, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:

Your Inner Critic…  What does it tell you?

My Inner Critic and I are not on speaking terms.  I’ve pissed him off of late.  Let me explain.

Do you know Byron Katie?  She wrote Loving What IsRun, don’t walk to get this book.

Anyway, she’s all for accepting and embracing reality.  Stop with the negative self-judgment, dare I say letting the Inner Critic run rough shod over you.  Deal with life as it is, not how you believe you deserve it to be. 

Ergo, my Inner Critic has had less to work with. 

Take a recent case from this past week.  Hannah and I are traveling with our daughter Molly’s family of four to Utah in mid-April 2022.  Last May 2021, I booked a condo for four days in Moab, the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. 

And then this past January, I booked another condo for those same four days.  I totally forgot about the first booking.  Covid on the brain?  My advanced years?  Poor record keeping?  Living in the present?  Who knows?  I just double booked.  Sue me!

I realized the double booking just this week, less than three weeks before our departure for the Beehive State.  You see, at this point the first condo was now paid in full and the second half of the balance for the second condo was due on the first of April.

Different from the past, this time I gave my Inner Critic nothing to work with.  Stuff happens.   Without my Inner Critic muddling things, I went back and forth with the two condo owners and got it down to where we’d lose just $400 instead $1200.  That seemed like a win to me.

My Inner Critic is just so bummed. 

Oh, I stumble and not love what is all the time, but, in general, I’m starving my Inner Critic. 

Gee, it only took 74 years.

Words – 295