Today’s blog records the events of June 24, 2022 – (our actual wedding anniversary is date July 1, 2022) as our 50th Anniversary Getaway to the Mid-coast of Maine wraps up today with more pickling and hiking.
After our surprisingly enjoyable pickleball at the Belfast City Park yesterday afternoon, I look forward to some play at the nearby Mid-Coast Recreation Center. Paying $5 each, we are greeted by Chuck and I soon find myself in a spirited game.
After two hours of play I’ve had a good workout. I am relearning that I most enjoy women and men who want to improve their games. As such, I gravitate to the players who play to improve their skills and figure they’ll get better if they hit to the stronger half the time. My pickleball game is not for everyone.
But the day just gets better. Buying Subway subs, this time in Rockland, we learn from a college student in line that the Beech Hill Preserve in nearby Rockport has some sweet hiking.
Before scouting out the Beech Hill Preserve, we drive to the nearby Owl’s Head Light, hoping there are trails, which we very quickly discover there are not. We check out the lighthouse, then head inland to Beech Hill.
We don’t know it yet, but we are about to the hiking highlight of our 50th Getaway.
Parking at the trailhead off Rockville Road, we have the greenest of green forests for our one-mile assent to Beech Hill. By the way, there is another trailhead off Beech Hill Road that is a shorter, gravelly path, without any of the charm of the walk in the woods that we have had.
At the summit, we check out the turn-of-the-century large stone cabin with daisies growing on the roof.
With views to the Atlantic and the Chickawaukie Pond, we have a hiking triumph on the Mid-coast of Maine.
Our low key getaway, pickling with good folks in Belfast City Park and the Mid-coast Recreational Center, walking through Rockland early morning, finding trails offered by the Boothbay Regional and Coastal Mountain Land Trusts has been such a good time that we are coming back to celebrate our 51st here next year!
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
For the July 25, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:
If you could be a celebrity (a fictional character, athlete, fairy tale character, entertainer-anything goes!). who would that be/why?
I immediately think sports for a celebrity to choose. As a high school and college tennis player, I think of two of my favs – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, champion tennis players. Grace, excellence, humility, and just so damn likeable.
Politicians? Just one – Barack Obama. Same characteristics as Roger and Rafa. Add in articulate and visionary.
Film? I first think of Martin Henderson. Say what? you got to be thinking. Martin plays Jack Sheridan opposite Alexandra Breckinridge (Mel Monroe) in the Netflix series, Virgin River. Season four just dropped last week. He’s just cool, down to earth, loyal, and as with my other three, a good looking dude.
Cool seems to be my go-to criteria in choosing a fantasy celebrity. As someone who has only come to cool later in life (occasional moments as a teacher, professor, and writer), I had very little, let’s be honest here, zero cool in high school. I was wannabe, but I just wasn’t as charming, glib, athletic, and good looking as the cool kids were at my Fair Lawn High School in northern New Jersey.
But my celebrity choice is Clayton Kershaw, pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who started in this past week’s baseball All-Star game. Before the game, he met a ten-year-old who, at a press conference with national media, told Clayton how important Clayton was to the boy’s grandfather, who died seven years ago from cancer. They hugged and the kid had a moment.
You see, Clayton is in a position to make magic happen for young boys and girls across this country because of his celebrity.
And that’s pretty damn cool. Check out the five minute video below.
Today’s blog records the events of June 23, 2022 – (our actual wedding anniversary date is July 1, 2022)
On our 50th anniversary getaway to the Mid-coast of Maine, Hannah and I look to the Coastal Mountain Land Trust for hikes. An inland hike on a peninsula into Megunticook Lake catches our attention.
We take the left at Fernald’s Lake Preserve Road off the Camden Road (Route 52) in Lincolnville Center for the Fernald’s Neck Preserve. Along the lake shoreline, we then take the gravelly road to a parking area for fifteen vehicles but with only one other is there this morning.
We choose to take the loop trail counterclockwise around the preserve for three plus miles of lakeside hiking, we think.
Once in the woods, Hannah and I see that trail winds its way through so many blowdown, spindly branches and fallen trees of grey and brown; we’ve very little soul-soothing green.
And then the mosquitos descend. Rarely do we have mosquitos on our hikes in the East, Mountain West, and on the Left Coast. Consequently, we never use repellant. This morning that is not a strong choice. Only if we keep moving through this really desolate area of pick-up-sticks trees do we keep the mosquitos at bay.
Though we are on a neck out into the lake, we rarely pass water until except here and rarely there.
Lunching on our Subway subs and ripple barbecue potato chips at Norton Pond near Lincolnville Center, we choose sparkly water as our drink of choice since late afternoon pickleball awaits.
While waiting for late afternoon pickleball at the Belfast City Park, Hannah and I walk the waterfront, then chill at the Belfast Free Library. Near 4 PM we arrive at the four dedicated pickleball courts at the in-town Belfast City Park.
Coming to a new venue for us is often a roll of the dice. Though our experience is that pickleball players in the main are very welcoming, it’s still new and uncertain what the play will be like and whether they will hit the ball to me.
You see, my love affair with pickleball is waning. Too often, players are single-minded in wanting to win. When we play doubles, I am much more a “let’s make it enjoyable for everyone – one way to do that is by hitting the ball to each player.” Rather than focusing on winning and the tournament strategy of targeting the weaker player, I like to play to develop my all-around game. I like long points which often include third shot drops and dinks. I’m not a big fan of short points, those when playing smashball, not pickleball.
After two hours of play with the guys and two women (one is Hannah), my love affair with pickleball rekindles. Men and women alike play third shot drops, dink, and powerfully put away shots when appropriate. They hit the ball to me on a regular basis! I am in heaven, West Virginia.
I smile all the way back to the Trade Winds Inn in Rockland 40 minutes away. And tomorrow we’ll wrap up our 50th anniversary getaway by hiking once more and pickling in Rockport at the Mid-coast Recreation Center. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll go two for two with inclusive, welcoming pickleball play and then find the best hike of our three days away!
For the July 18, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:
How Have You Changed Over the Past Two Years?
I am learning to relax about the challenges that come with my advancing years. Though 74 years young, I have put some mileage on these tires. Of late, I am more gentle with myself. I expect much less perfection than I did in my youth. Let me explain.
There is no delicate way to put this; I am in the seniors Weak Bladder Club. I used to think that exercises (e.g. Kegels) or just resisting the urge to pee would keep me from running to the bathroom so often. Nope. Lately, I have just relaxed my need to control this bodily function. As sung by and to paraphrase the Mamas and Papas in 1966, I go when I gotta go. Pretty simple. Life has been much better since I relaxed my unrealistic self-imposed standards.
Sleep? I just don’t sleep through the night much anymore. I often wake once or twice a night. Now I just deal with it. I’m old-ish. When I awake, I figure I’ll head to the bathroom, and then I’m back in bed in no time. I am in a new no self-judgment zone.
Being a Californian and Mountain States guy at heart, I love to travel west from our home in Maine. Lately, the prices of airline tickets have gone sky high and car rentals make me feel like I’ve been run over. The prices are what the prices are. No amount of fretting will change that. I relax and pay the going rate without bemoaning reality.
Maintaining a healthy weight? I no longer weigh myself. We’ve given away our bathroom scale. I relax and no longer define my self-worth by how little I weigh. My pants fit. I love being active. I eat reasonably well but love a glass of wine and regular desserts.
I am just relaxing and accepting that I am, indeed, 74.
Today’s blog records the events of June 22, 2022 – (our actual 50th wedding anniversary is July 1, 2022)
Over the previous few years, Hannah and I have talked about how we’d like to celebrate our 50th anniversary. By the way, we wed on Hannah’s dad’s Christmas tree farm in East Penfield, New York (near Rochester) at 1:30 PM on July 1, 1972. Ours was an outdoor ceremony for 60-70 folks. Just a few feet away, the “reception” included a wedding cake created by a baker/friend of Hannah’s family. There was no dinner, no dancing, just catching up with family and friends. Most everyone was on their way home by 4 PM. We were not hippies, didn’t smoke weed, but I did have longer hair (Quite the rebel!). Hannah wore a mini-dress for our wedding.
Ours was a low key event that suited our personalities. Now 50 years later, we think about a big bash to celebrate. For about a day. Just not us. We decide that our kind of celebration would be travel up the coast of Maine for three days of hiking and pickling.
Early on the first day of summer, we drive north on the Maine Turnpike in my 2016 Prius, take I-295 through Portland to Topsham. Soon we are tooling up two-lane Coastal Route One. As is our latest traveling tradition, we bring muffins from home to munch on with our $1 McDonald’s coffee (for seniors) in Wiscasset, 90 minutes north.
You might be thinking, where do you two find hiking trails in an area with which you are unfamiliar? It turns out looking online for area Land Trusts offers us many choices for hiking. Today, we use the Boothbay Regional Land Trust to discover the Linekin and Burley Preserves in East Boothbay, just north of Ocean Point. Ocean Point was the summer home of our dearly departed friend, Elizabeth Silliman, whom we met at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Elizabeth was a volunteer when our four-year-old daughter Robyn received cranial radiation for her leukemia (ALL) prior to two years of chemotherapy. (Robyn turns 41 this September,)
Pulling into the Linekin and Burley Preserves trailhead parking for just six cars at 11 AM, we find our good fortune continues (meeting Hannah kept my good fortune ball rolling) as we nab the last parking spot on this late June Wednesday. Check out the images below from our three-mile hike in the coastal woods along the Damariscotta River.
By early afternoon, we find ourselves a picnic table at the harbor front at the Ocean Point Inn in East Boothbay. It’s Subway subs, ripple barbecue potato chips, and Trader Joe’s Boatswain Double IPA brewskis.
Since we are pre-summer season (locals tell us things pick up on the Fourth of July weekend), we walk the waterfront Shore Road back to where we once stayed in the late 1980s with Elizabeth Silliman.
Heading out of town, Hannah locates the trailhead of another BRLT preserve – the Ocean Point Preserve. This one-mile hike mid-afternoon is just the leisurely walk in the woods for us to cap off our first celebratory day of our 50th.
For the July 11, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:
What difficult decision have you had to make recently?
I am breaking up with the American Red Cross. We’ve been dating for years. You could say we were going steady. I was in love, but it just hasn’t worked out.
Let me backtrack. I grew up in a family where my dad gave blood regularly. As a young adult it became a tradition of mine.
In the mid-90s, public school teachers of which I was one, were advised to get a series of Hepatitis B shots. The unintended consequence of those vaccinations was that I had trace elements of Hepatitis B in my blood system. The American Red Cross said that I was no longer eligible to give blood.
Sidelined for twenty years, when unexpectedly, I learned that the American Red Cross changed their guidelines and I was good to go. I have donated 32 pints since then.
Lately though, the Red Cross has given me signs that our relationship is fraying. Their outdated machines register that my hemoglobin (my iron) numbers are too lowto donate. Male donors need a 13.0 level of hemoglobin to donate. Their antiquated measuring devices would read, for example, that after pricking one finger on my left hand for a drop of blood, my hemoglobin was 11.3. Then trying my right hand, it was 12.4. I figured I was the problem. Breaking up is hard to do. But maybe I wasn’t el problemo!
Just last week, I mentioned this issue to my primary care physician. He checked my records and noted that for the last three years during my annual blood work my iron level had been between 13.5 and 13.9. He had me tested again this year and my hemoglobin was 13.5, well above the Red Cross standard.
Who has egg on their faces now! The imprecise measuring hemoglobin equipment of the Red Cross is looking like the culprit. I am in the clear!
Even so, our separation is amicable, but I am dumping them like a bad habit. Until they improve the quality of their measuring devices, we are splitsville! I am looking for a new blood brother.
Typically I don’t sleep well the night before an early morning departure, be it to catch a flight or as Hannah and I will do this morning, meet for breakfast two hours away at 7 AM. Waking repeatedly through the night, I am startled by the 4:30 AM alarm nonetheless. Off just after 5 AM, I drive with Hannah nearly two hours to the Monadnock Country Café in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
There we meet our grandsons, Owen and Max with their parents, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, for our pre-hike breakfast. You see, this morning we are all going to climb the granddaddy mountain of southwestern New Hampshire – Mount Monadnock. Eggs over easy, pancakes, both blueberry (Owen) and chocolate chip (Max), home fries, and delectable biscuits with our coffee, tea, or milk set us up to take on the challenge of one tough hike.
Driving five miles after breakfast, we know that Mount Monadnock is an outrageously busy state park on spring, summer, and fall weekends and holidays. Yet this last Tuesday of June we happily find that we have our choice of parking spots at 8:30 AM. But do not be fooled, usually one needs an online reservation, which we have for both cars, to get into the park.
We choose the White Dot Trail which can take two hours to climb the two miles to the usually wind-blown bald (treeless mountain top). Though comfortably warm at the trailhead, we bring extra layers for the expected chill of the mountaintop. It’s a steady rock-filled climb on this the second most popular hiking trail in the world! Mount Fuji in Japan is numero uno.
Generally I wouldn’t recommend an eight-year-old for this boulder-filled, hands-on-rocks climb. But Max is no ordinary eight-year-old. His parents have prepped him well for challenging hikes by making hiking a natural part of his young life. Consider just this past April he climbed to the high plateau Cassidy Arch in Canyonlands National Park as well as a mile and a half down at 8000’ into the amphitheater that is Bryce Canyon National Park.
Owen, Max’s nearly ten-year-old brother, scales rock faces and scoots ahead, both due to his joyful, energetic personality and his parents’ commitment to giving him many outdoor experiences. Regularly he reaches back for my hand as I climb the stone faces. Basically, I melt when he does that!
That said, Max is eight and is the first to need a break or have his mom carry his two quarts of water in his Camelback backpack. While both parents are understanding of the challenge of this 1800’ climb in elevation for an eight-year old, they know what it takes to motivate Max to keep him hiking/climbing. Tip has Max take slow or small steps but keep going. Molly says she’ll carry his Camelback as long as he is ahead of her on the trail.
At the top we are surprised that the usual 30-40 mph winds are but pleasant zephyrs. No need to bundle up today as we have done in past years. Nor is the mountain covered in the fog of the low hanging clouds.
Descending, within four hundred yards of the top, we choose the slightly longer (by 0.2 of a mile) but less steep White Cross Trail though the summer forest of southern New Hampshire.
The Indian trail tree grabs our attention on the way down. This is an example of the large trees that exhibit deformed growth and distinctive forms bent to a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing.
Four hours later we settle in for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruities, and veggies, washed down by sparkly water. I am already thinking of Owen’s ten-year-old hike – Mount Chocorua in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.