Dan and Is it Ever Too Late to Change? – KGUA #96

For the August 29, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:   

Is it ever too late to change?

No!  At 74, I’d like to think that I’m evolving/changing from a Nice Guy (is that code for pushover?) to a Good Guy who speaks up for what he believes. 

Recently, Hannah and I were asked to transport two Appalachian Trail hikers that we met seven years ago on a trail in northern New England.  That day, we spoke briefly, and then we rarely communicated since they were from Away.  That is, until recently.  They needed a ride from the local airport an hour away, to stay at our B&B overnight, and then I’d take them to the Appalachian Trail two plus hours away.  Then ten days later, pick them on the AT, return them to our place, and the following morning drive them back to the airport. They did say they wanted to “hire” us. 

Ever agreeable, I said sure.  My Nice Guy-ness just can’t help itself.  Rather than take their money, I ask them to donate to my fundraising for the Jimmy Fund 2022 for cancer research and the care of cancer patients.   

What neither they nor I addressed, was how much they would pay for the transporting I would do. 

In the past, as the pushover Mr. Nice Guy, I would have accepted anything they offered, whether undervaluing or not.  But this time, thanks to the prodding of two pickleball friends, I’d first ask them what they thought my services would be worth. Then I’d respond that I agreed or I thought my services were worth more.    

So, I emailed them and they responded with an offer.  Thinking my services were worth more, I countered with a higher number.  We couldn’t agree. 

With no acrimony, we each went our separate ways.   For me, it was going to win either way.  It’s all on the road to the Good Guy Universe.

Words – 297

PS You might be thinking, Dan, how’s the fundraising going for your Jimmy Fund 10K Walk in just five weeks (October 2, 2022). Splendid! I have raised $4820 towards my goal of $5000. Thank you to all the readers of this blog who have donated. If you waited to donate, there is still time. Donate at my personal page at https://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/site/TR?fr_id=1840&pg=personal&px=1004734&s_hasSecureSession=true

Dan and Hannah Hunt for Weed on the Franklin Trail in Carpinteria, California – March 2022

No, no, no, I’m not talking about the retirement opportunity of a lifetime for Hannah and me dealing Mary Jane to the locals in Santa Barbara County or back in Maine. I’m just trying to better understand the conflict between the marijuana growers in Carpinteria and their nearby homeowners ever since California passed It’s Marijuana for the Masses (i.e. for recreational use in 2016).  With its temperate climate, Carpinteria is ground zero for legal cannabis. 

With our winter of 2022 in Carpinteria coming to an end, Hannah and I choose the local Franklin Trail for our hike today.  The sweet thing about the Franklin is that we can ride our cruiser bikes to the trailhead.

1.7 miles away (Santa Barbara is to the left on Routes 101/1

At the trailhead, we are dismayed to see the lack of care in dealing with the garden dedicated to our friend Susan.  As a Carpinteria High School English teacher, she gave her students an environmental focus to their education.  The neglect of landscaping is in stark contrast to her dedication to her students. We would not let that stand.  Check out the plaque below.


And then check out the plaque once Hannah and I removed, cleaned, and returned the plate to its rightful condition.

Click here for the story of the plaque transformation.

Though the Franklin Trail goes five plus miles into the mountains, today we’ll hike 3.1 miles to the Duca Bench high above the valley floor. We will test our will and lung capacity as we have a sun and clouds 1400′ of elevation gain into the coastal Santa Ynez Mountains.

The trailhead with our cruiser bikes behind the information board

Taking the corridor trails along the west boundary of Carpinteria High School past the avocado orchards and later the greenhouses for orchids and cut flowers, we do not see or smell any weed.  We are just high on life!

For a while, the trail parallels the athletic fields of Carpinteria High School

The avocado orchards are opposite the ball fields of CHS
Cut flowers possibly but no smell of weed. This part of the trail is within 200 yards of the high school

But our hike is far from over.  The bracketed fences of the trail soon rise above the playing fields of the high school. 

Sweet climbing switchbacks greet us as we scale the mountain.  Under filtered sun that makes for a hazy view out to the Pacific Ocean, we steadily climb. 

Switchbacks of the Franklin Trail

At the two-mile mark, we legally slip to the side of a trail blocking metal gate which leads us to a steady assent along a one-time fire road. 

The “no vehicles” gate at the top of the rise

It’s been three months since the beneficial rains of December 2021 have fallen.  The cracked dirt trail is testament to the lack of rain, especially during the eight weeks that Hannah and I have been here.

1400’ of elevation gain is no joke as we plod into the mountains. 

Prickly pear cactus line the Franklin Trail

A dry dusty trail in drought-stricken Santa Barbara County

No bears and no weed so far!

After one final turn, we settle in for pbj (pb for Hannah) on the Duca Bench three trail miles above the valley.  

The Duca Bench
Turning to the Santa Ynez Mountains beyond the Duca Bench

Soon local musicians, Keith and Frank arrive.  I call out, We have room on the bench for you.  Frank shares his homegrown orange slices and Keith invites us to the Lucky Llama, a local coffee shop Saturday morning for their music making.  Locals, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, have been known to get their morning cup of joe there.

Mission accomplished as we head for our Carpinteria home away from home

Back to the trail, sadly, we never smell or see any weed, be it as the growing plant or smoked by the local pot heads.  Nor do we find a jay discarded on the trail. You’ll be happy to know, Hannah and I remain pot-free and high as a kite (that is when we are on the mountaintop).

Postscript: Two days later, Hannah and I walk down to the Lucky Llama on Carpinteria Avenue to listen to Keith and Frank’s Americana Cats band.  After one set, Keith calls out a welcome us by name. Anonymous no more, we put $ in their guitar case and come back later with five of Hannah’s monster cookies, one for each band member. 

For one morning, there is peace in our part of the world.

Dan and Hannah Celebrate Owen’s 10th Birthday with Ted and Carolyn on a Mountain in New Hampshire – 2022

Can you really take a hike named Ted’s Trail seriously?  That’s like saying I can’t wait to pedal on Dan’s Driveway or drive the speed limit on Hannah’s Highway.  Real trails have names like Mount Monadnock (NH) or Landscape Arch (UT) or Hot Springs (Santa Barbara, CA).  Ted’s Trail lacks drama, gravitas, or a sense of outdoor adventure is at hand.  Sadly, it smacks of small time, something easily forgettable.  And to stay gender neutral, we’ll be hiking back on Carolyn’s Trail.  I’m guessing Carolyn is a sweetheart with a mountain woman’s tradition, but what about the Mount Carolyn Trail!  My expectations are low for our hike this first Tuesday in August 2022.

At the trailhead

How wrong could I be?   Mea culpa, mea culpa.  Hikers the world over will love this six-mile loop woodland trail with views to, yes, the aforementioned Mount Monadnock.  Our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip used the All-Trails App to find Ted’s Trail near Greenfield in central New Hampshire.  Scouting it out two weeks ago, they chose it for the five of us to celebrate their son Owen’s 10th birthday hike with his grandparents.  You might know them.  One Dan and Hannah.

Proud grandparents and the awesome ten-year-old

You see, Hannah and I are creating a tradition of hiking into the mountains of New England with our grandsons and granddaughters.  Two years ago, we hiked Mount Major in central New Hampshire with Owen and just this past June we summitted Mount Monadnock near Jaffrey, New Hampshire with Owen and his brother Max (8).  Our son Will’s kids (Brooks [4} and identical twins, Charlotte and Reese [2]) are swinging some heavy lumber and ready on deck.

Up before dawn, Hannah and I drive 70 miles to the Union Street Grill in Milford, New Hampshire to carbo load for our hike up Ted’s Trail and down Carolyn’s Trail.   Muggy, mid-80s temps are in the offing so an early start makes all the sense in the world.   Just opened this year, the Union Street Grill in the center of town gives us window seating as the town of Milford wakes up at 7 AM.

The Monk, the daughter, the son, and the Omi

At the trailhead, we slip into two of the four spots for parking at the trailhead. Molly’s family slips on their Camelback backpacks of water as Hannah and I wrap our fanny packs around our waists. As veterans of this trail, Molly and Tip will guide us up Ted to the top of North Pack Monadnock.  My superficial, most likely flawed, search on the Internet has it that Ted and Carolyn developed these trails and donated the land to the state of New Hampshire for us all to enjoy. 

13 miles, 26 minutes

Taking to Ted at the outset (a bold line for Ted’s Trail and a dashed line for Carolyn’s Trail)
The first half of the trail has a gentle rise and easy on the feet

Owen, Molly, Hannah, and Tip
Much of our hike is in this Wildlife Refuge
The Monk joins the other hikers

The hike begins with Ted who either he or a surrogate has conveniently nailed yellow plastic blazes to trees to guide us to the mountaintop.  Ted’s trail is steep in places and follows a dried streambed.  Though there is no such liquid exuberance during this summer of drought in New England, I can only imagine the cascades of water in springtime.

Blueberries abound at eye level.  Molly picking them makes for an artsy picture.

Look carefully for all the blueberries

Ever creative, Owen makes a cheese stick blueberry “sandwich.”

With 1300’ of elevation gain to the top, we have a serious hike. Thank you, Teddy.

Hannah, Owen, Pops, and Molly at the mountaintop

After lunch at the summit we descend on the gentle Carolyn’s Trail.  Owen finds more blueberries.

The planks behind Owen would be needed during the rainy season

Ten year olds?  This one is a joy.  He is adventurous, creative, good company and during the six miles hike his energy never flags.  Up for anything and grateful indeed, he and I talk about his upcoming fourth grade year and his life as a soccer player.  The parenting he and his brother Max get is exceptional.

Check out our daughter Molly’s celebration of Owen’s life to date.

As the month of July comes to a close, we wanted to share a few highlights as Owen turned 10 last week on July 23! He is such an incredible kid who loves being active outside, playing with Max (the two of them have an incredible imagination and have such fun together), kayaking, reading and reading some more! Last year, he had a fabulous time in 3rd grade and is looking forward to being a fourth grader!

Here’s a short video montage of this amazing kid!

And in Owen’s words, here’s what’s on his mind and what he enjoys:

Looking forward being 10 because: being the oldest person at school 

Some strengths: kicking soccer balls, being friendly, making friends

Proud of: my super-duper awesome family & my awesomeness 

How I want to make the world a better place: spread knowledge of animal protection  

Favorite colors: green, teal, and blood red

Fav food: gyros   

Fav dessert: ice cream cake

Fav board games: Dragonwood, Stratego, Ticket to Ride, ShaThead

Fav sport: soccer

Fav books: Percy Jackson series, series about animals and/or mysteries    

Fav shows: nothing recently. I’ve been enjoying movies recently 

Fav movie: Penguins of Madagascar, Home Alone, Home Sweet Home Alone

Fav outside activities: soccer, biking, salamander-catching, camping   

Fav inside activities:  Legos, playing with Max “Legos or otherwise”, game time (playing Dig This or PBS online games)

Fav thing about school: hanging out with friends

Goals for the upcoming year: be a better goalie in soccer

Anything else to share? I really like soccer.

Just a little glimpse into our son, Owen! 

We hope you are doing well. We wish you a wonderful and enjoyable August! 

With love,

Molly & Tip 

Dan Comes Up With His Own Prompt – KGUA #95

For the August 15, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:   What prompt would you like to have our KGUAWriters respond to? 

I choose to write from the point of view of something I use all the time –

My ping pong paddle

Look at me!  I’m shredded on the edges everywhere.  Danny Boy mishits and whacks me on the side of the table all the time.  Never apologizes.  It stings for a little while, both the whacking and his lack of remorse.

My paddle

Throughout the summer here in coastal Maine, his ping pong room is a sauna as the sun beats on the large pane windows.  I sit in the wicker basket under the ping pong table waiting for a chance to do my thing.  Fortunately, he has his ping pong buddy George who has a cool basement.  Danny drives me over to Kittery Point for our weekly game.  The basement also has five feet of space beyond each end of the table which gives the old boy room to maneuver and track the ball reasonably well.  We are buds so I can call him “old boy.”

Those two love to rally.  I swear they go back and forth for 45 minutes before they play their first game.  My favorite shot is when Danny winds up with me at shoulder height for his topspin backhand slam into the far corner.  That’s when our teamwork is most apparent. 

When the guys do start, he slices me under the ball so I put a sweet underspin on his serve.  Let’s be clear, and I am not overstating this, he literally could not do this without me. 

Though I am old and ratty looking, I preform and he knows it.  He’s never talked of replacing me with another model from Amazon.  Well, at least, in my presence.  Though I’d be lying if I weren’t a little bit concerned.  He likes shiny objects and has begun to shop online.

A lot!

My veteran paddle

Words – 283

Dan Hikes His Favorite Trail in Acadia National Park (Maine) – the Jordan Pond Loop (2022)

Acadia National Park in green

After summiting Pemetic Mountain yesterday with my friend, the Canadian, Bill Buggie, I am ready for some lighter fare this mid-May 2022 Wednesday morning.  Click here for the Pemetic climb blog.

The Carriage Road at 6 AM on a May morning with a 5:15 AM sunrise

Prior to our three plus mile hike around Jordan Pond, I wake early at the Bar Harbor Motel for a solo morning walk on the Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park.  Among the many reasons to stay at this fine motel (one of which is the delectable muffins with coffee) is that the motel grounds connect directly to the 45 miles of Carriage Roads of Acadia.

Jordan Pond at the heart of Acadia National Park

With the sun already up at 6 AM, I have a classic Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson) all to myself on this 46 degree morning.  Returning for the free continental breakfast at the Bar Harbor Motel, I pick up a coffee cake muffin, pour myself a cup of joe, and return to my motel room to watch Sports Center.  You got to be thinking, our boy knows how to live. Oui?

Later Bill and I meet for breakfast in the lobby of the motel and plan our hike around Jordan Pond, a hike we did three years ago.  The Covid pandemic kept us off the trails in Acadia in 2020 and 2021.

The trail begins down the lawn from the Jordan Pond House
From Jordan Pond, we see Pemetic Mountain to the right center and the North and South Bubbles to the left center.

Arriving by 930A on a windy, mid-forties overcast morning (remember it’s May in Maine!), we decide to hike the pond loop clockwise starting with the puncheons (planks of wood) above the pond-side undulating wetlands).  We have a mile of timber plank joy as we hike the east side of the pond.

The puncheons go on for nearly a mile on the east side of Jordan Pond
Bill on puncheons with turn-outs every 100′ or so for hikers coming in the opposite direction
The trail is always within feet of the pond. Bucky Beaver slipped away before we got to tell him how impressed we were with the first stages of building a dam.

After a mile, we have pond-side boulders to climb over.  This kind of bouldering is actually fun and a piece of cake as there is little elevation gain.

Bill on the easy-to-navigate boulders of Jordan Pond

At the far end of the pond, we cross a wooden bridge to an easy peezy wide-enough-for-two trail for the next mile plus.

The far end of Jordan Pond

It’s a gentle way to end our return to hiking Acadia National Park for Bill and me.

The sweet trail along the north side of Jordan Pond. Our boy sporting a pair of LL Bean zip-offs.
Like walking down main street albeit in a woodland setting

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week – #83 – Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

~ Neil Gaiman in Coraline

Coraline (2002) is a dark fantasy children’s novella by British author Neil Gaiman.  He is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book.

Dan on When I Think of Home – KGUA #94

For the August 8, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:   

“When I think of home I think of …”

I think back to our first house at the corner of South Roosevelt and West 16th Street (see map below).  I take you back to Tempe, Arizona, 1973.  Though Hannah and I had spent the first year of our marriage in a boxy two-bedroom in a charmless apartment complex in nearby Mesa, we figured that we could swing the monthly $141 mortgage to become homeowners. 

Our house is in the center of this map. My first teaching job in Arizona was teaching fourth graders at Holdeman Elementary School (lower left corner of the map). You can see how close we lived to the campus at Arizona State University (upper right). There was a railroad between our neighborhood and Tempe High that we ran along early in the morning.

Offering $20K, a thousand under their asking price, we hoped to purchase a small ranch house on a quarter acre within a mile of Arizona State University.  The owners countered that if we would accept the original price of $21K, they would throw in all their furniture.  Since our apartment in Mesa had one bedroom with Hannah’s childhood double bed for us recently married (July 1, 1972), another bedroom with a ping pong table, and our living room with a bean bag chair and not much more, we, without a poker face at all, were thrilled and jumped at their offer.

Home to Arizona State University, where we both earned degrees. Hannah a Masters in Health Education and moi, a Masters in Physical Education with an emphasis in exercise physiology.

With no thought of resale, we soon converted our three-bedroom place into a two-bedroom thanks to Hannah’s brother Doug.  Over one weekend, he helped us knock out a wall between two bedrooms to make a master bedroom for our now king-size bed (let’s be clear he did all the work and I handed him various tools).

Later, a father and son built a fireplace in our rec room, a former carport for one vehicle.  Think about it! How in the world could two kids from the Northeast (Hannah from New York and I from New Jersey) do without a fireplace in the Arizona desert! Summers only last six months here in the Valley of the Sun!  We once celebrated Christmas at 85F! No fire that day!

I think of the two of us, twenty-five year olds without a clue, 2500 miles from our childhood homes, beginning to make it on our own.  Who knew it would be the start of something special!

Words – 277

PS In 1979, we sold the 16th Street house, months before our daughter Molly was born in August; we moved to 1206 East La Jolla Drive in Tempe. In January of 1982 we moved to New England. We bought our third and current domicile in York, Maine in July of 1982. We qualified as “Mainers” forty years later, just last month (July 2022).