Dan and Hannah Hike to the Mount Greylock Summit in Massachusetts (October 2022)

Have you ever been to the highest point in your state?  It would be impressive indeed if you have been to California’s Mount Whitney (14,505’)!  In Florida it’s Britton Hill at 345’ on the Florida/Alabama border.  Mount Katahdin in Maine at 5270’ would be a ten-mile roundtrip for Hannah and me so that ship has sailed.

Fifteen years ago, I hiked up the Mount Washington rockpile in New Hampshire (6286’).  Five years back, Hannah and I hiked the Appalachian Trail to Clingman’s Dome (6643’) on the Tennessee/North Carolina border, which makes it Tennessee’s highest point.  Click here to find the highest point in your state. 

Today I will add the Bay State as to my hiking to the highest point in a state when we hike to Mount Greylock in northwestern Massachusetts. 

Taking back roads through western Massachusetts, Hannah and I eventually arrive at the Visitor Center at the south end of the Mount Greylock State Reservation.

The sign at the north entrance to the park

Once inside, we are greeted by Mike, a knowledgeable ranger, who tailors his hiking suggestion to our desire to hike two to three hours.  He recommends driving five miles up the Rockwell Road to the Dynamite Parking area.  It seems when the Civilian Conservation Corps was building the roads and the stone walls to the summit, they would store the dynamite for blasting well away from the road to avoid any damage that might be caused by an accidental explosion.

Arriving at the Dynamite roadside parking area for ten cars, we cross over the road and take to the Campground Trail towards the summit.    

The two mile trail to the top begins.

It’s a peak foliage season this first Friday in October 2022.  At the start the carpet of yellow and orange leaves with the occasional red leads us up the gentle mountainside trail. 

Representing St. Joe’s College of Maine

Hannah’s joy equals the joyful trail to the summit out.

It’s an easy-going trail until we get closer to the summit
We hop on to the Hopper Trail for the summit

Along this popular but hardly crowded trail, we meet up with three delightful women in their 50s.  As we talk and hike, one woman brings up that her hiking partner has just completed her forty-eighth 4000’ mountain peak in New Hampshire.  Duly impressed, we then see her quickly pivot to minimizing her accomplishment by letting us know a four-year-old just did the same thing. 

Whether that was wise for four-year-old to do such climbing is not the issue.  The issue I have is that so many of us women and men have the damnedest time accepting a compliment without deflecting, poo poo-ing, or annulling the kind words. I would have loved to hear more about her amazing accomplishment.

Nearer the summit the trail steepens and the rocks of the Appalachian Trail rear their ugly head.

After taking the Hopper Trail, we jump onto the Big Daddy of them all, the Appalachian Trail which takes us to the top with the war memorial tower of Mount Greylock.

The Mount Greylock Veterans War Memorial Tower

Hannah and I climb the tower steps and are rewarded with its 360 degree views.

Hannah on her way to the top
Looking North from the tower

Looking down on the Bascom Lodge

Hannah descending

Later we step into the rustic Bascom Lodge to see what Appalachian Trail thru-hikers see as they take a break.

Though pricey for AT hikers, these accommodations are a welcome relief from shelter, tent, or hammock overnights.

The AT hikers heading north note the next shelters and the end game.

Southbound hikers have miles to go before they sleep to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

Today feels like we are in a national park with Mount Greylock’s extensive trails, welcoming rangers, and visitor-friendly atmosphere. 

Dan from the mountaintop

By the way, in 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president, the unemployment rate was 25%.  As part of his plan to combat the Great Depression, Congress created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to put men back to work and protect our natural resources in many places like Mount Greylock.

Dan and Hannah Pandemic Hike with Owen and Max at Weir Hill, Massachusetts

First off, New England has some unusual pronunciations.  Check these out! Weir of Weir Hill is pronounced Wire??  How about these towns in Massachusetts? Leominster is Lemon-ster, Haverhill is Hayve-rill, and Gloucester is Glaw-ster! 

Owen, Max, and their Omi, parents in the background

With the pandemic winter here in New England, Hannah and I fortunately are still able to winter hike with our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6) and their parents on a regular basis. 

Listen to this line-up of trails that we have hiked since the cold and dark of 2020 came to stay: the Ring Trail at Mount Agamenticus in York, the Little Harbor Trail in Portsmouth, and through Steedman Woods to the Atlantic Ocean in York Harbor.  Our daughter Molly has found us a sweet #4.

Driving 50 miles south from our home on the last day of 2020, we arrive ready to hike the trails of the Weir Hill Reservation, a 194-acre public park located in North Andover, Massachusetts.   Though two weeks ago a foot of snow covered these trails, this New Year’s Eve Day we find that all the snow has melted.    

We hiked the yellow trail that circles the property

The trail begins with no lack of enthusiasm

Fully masked, we opt the 2.3 mile Weir Hill Trail loop with just 130’ of elevation that circumnavigates the property.  Max matches up with his Omi, telling his parents to go ahead because he and Omi have some trash-talking to do.  Trash-talking for this six year old means talking about his strategy for Sushi Go Party, a game that they received for Christmas.

Max with his Omi and Poppa

Molly and Tip

By the way, a fish weir is a submerged woven fence with stakes to catch alewives, a type of herring.  Hiking with a first and second grader is not linear; it means stopping and starting; we see them jump on to the larger trailside rocks and balance on the logs along the path.  Other times, Max reaches for my hand and Owen for his Omi. 

Arriving along the trail to the Lake Cochichewick, Owen climbs up on a bending trunk and finds a place for his brother. 

Later, Owen and Max scamper out a horizontal tree just above the icy water.  For many reasons, it’s great to hike with Molly’s whole family; among the reasons are that Hannah and I are not responsible for the boys’ safety.  That’s what they have parents for.

Molly and Hannah on the home stretch

Heading back to the trailhead with Molly, I ask her what she thinks lies ahead with the roll out of the Covid vaccines.  Will she feel comfortable resuming normal life once she gets the vaccine?  She just doesn’t know. As a public school teacher, Molly will soon get the vaccine.  What if 80% of the population has received the vaccine, what will she have her family resume doing?  She and I have no answers about what we will do. Stay tuned.

Even though we are 70+, I’d be surprised if Hannah and I get vaccines before spring.  I take on a mindset – expect the good.   There is a part two when needed.  If the not so good happens, find the good.  Worrying ahead of time is just self-induced suffering.

With lots of families on the trail this festive New Year’s Eve afternoon, the Weir Hill trails deliver for us all. 

Dan and Jimmy Want You on Their Team

You probably correctly guessed that I am the “Dan” of the headline Dynamic Duo.  The Jimmy is the Jimmy Fund that raises money for cancer research and the care and treatment of cancer patients.

JImmy D and G

George and Dan at the 2016 Jimmy Fund Walk

Recruited by my weekly ping pong partner, George Derby, to join his “Team Barry,” I am taking to the streets of the Commonwealth to raise money to battle Cancer, the Powerful; but with your support, maybe not for long.

Barry was George’s friend who died at the tender age of 65 from cancer.  George is a walking miracle himself as one who has faced throat cancer and come out smiling.

On Sunday, September 23, 2018, I will be walking the final 10K (6.2 miles) of the actual Boston Marathon course to support all the families and patients and doctors doing research to solve the cancer mystery.



Our Team Barry begins at 10K point just before Heartbreak Hill

Please consider “joining” me as I walk by donating to the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk.

To make a contribution online, visit my personal page http://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/site/TR?px=1004734&pg=personal&fr_id=1060

To send a contribution, mail to:
Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk
P.O. Box 3595
Boston, MA 02241-3595

Make all checks payable to: Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk and put

Dan Rothermel #1004734 (my Jimmy Fund ID #) in the message space.  

Let me know if you send a check.


Jimmy and Danny thank you.

PS This is my second Jimmy Fund Walk.  In 2016, I walked with George for Barry and others on a magic Sunday in late September.  Click here for that blog.

Jimmy cancer institute

A little more about the “Jimmy” of the Jimmy Fund from 1998 by Dan Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe

The man whose story launched the Jimmy Fund, New England’s favorite charity, is alive and well, hauling groceries across the land in his 18-wheeler. On Friday night, the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Jimmy Fund, the real Jimmy will be introduced at Fenway Park before the Red Sox play the Yankees.

In 1948, (Carl Einar) Gustafson was a 12-year-old cancer patient at Children’s Hospital. Dr. Sidney Farber picked him to represent every child with cancer and dubbed him “Jimmy.” While America listened to Ralph Edwards’s popular “Truth or Consequences” radio broadcast, the audience heard “Jimmy” receive a surprise visit from members of his favorite baseball team, the Boston Braves. They hoped to raise enough money to buy him a television set so he could watch baseball games from his hospital bed.

At the insistence of Dr. Farber, the father of modern chemotherapy who died in 1973, Jimmy’s identity was never revealed. As years passed, and the Jimmy Fund grew into an army of doctors, nurses, clinicians, patients, volunteers, and fund-raisers, there was less and less mention of the little boy whose story spawned the miracle. Cancer survivors were rare in 1948, so even those who work for the Jimmy Fund assumed the child had succumbed to the disease. So Jimmy became Everychild, a symbol of all youngsters with cancer.

Dan and Hannah Bike the Cape Cod Rail Trail to Chatham

Map of Cape Cod

It’s the worst.  Bar none!  Traffic to Cape Cod in the summer is the worst in all New England, maybe the known world.  As residents of New England for thirty plus years, we wouldn’t dream of going to the Cape during July and August.  Conveniently, my high school classmate Lenny has invited us to the mid-Cape in September.

The Urban Dictionary describes Cape Cod as a small peninsula off Massachusetts that sucks money out of tourists to survive since the fishing industry is slowly dying. Basically we hate tourists, but without them we’d be totally impoverished.

You can find VCU Rams everywhere

You can find VCU Rams everywhere

Leaving after the morning Boston rush hour commute, we take I-95 south and then follow I-93 through the heart of Boston.  Gliding onto route 3 on the South Shore, we will have major highways for 98% of our 150 mile drive to the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

Once over the Sagamore Bridge onto the Cape, we take to the four lane route 6 which leads us east through the heart of the Cape.  Along the way we stop at the visitor center for bike maps and fortunately learn of the side bike trail to Chatham.  Nearby at their picnic tables, we lunch on our obsequious Subway Tuna and Chicken Salad subs.

Getting ready to roll

Getting ready to roll

The Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) is a 22 mile walking and biking trail from Dennis to Wellfleet.  As the Cape grew as a destination for vacationers in the early 20th century, the Old Colony Railroad transported travelers throughout the Cape.  Then, Henry Ford had the bright idea to mass produce automobiles and with that came the death knell of the railroad on the Cape.  With the building of the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges over the Cape Cod Canal in 1935, the rail lines soon fell into disrepair.  The silver lining of this playbook is that the Cape embraced biking as recreation and made the one time railroad into a modern day bike trail.

Cape Cod Rail Trail

Cape Cod Rail Trail

Exiting route 6 at exit 9 onto route 134, we pass malls, gas stations, and a barbecue grille store to find the trailhead parking lot on the left with room for 40 to 50 cars.  Since the elevation on the Cape never seems to change by more than a few feet, biking here is easy going and leisurely.  Ten feet wide with a dividing yellow line in many places, the CCRT on this Monday in mid-September has little bike traffic so Hannah and I can ride side by side.

Hannah as the trail begins

Hannah as the trail begins

The trail bisects the Cape Cod peninsula, which is a good thing considering its vulnerability to the inevitable rising sea due to global warming.  On this sunny day in the 70s, it is ideal for biking, but here is the rub – it’s not great for picture taking by amateur photographers like myself.  The sun through the trees on the trail picks up the light and darkens my pictures.  You might be thinking, Wah-wah-wah.  Give me a break; you are on the Cape with Hannah on a 70 degree day.  You got me there.  Mea culpa.  Sacre bleu.

Picked over cranberry bog

Picked over cranberry bog

Passing one of the many cranberry bogs on the Cape, I later learn that cranberries grow on vines in bogs layered with sand, gravel, and clay; some vines are more than 150 years old.

Biking east to Chatham

Biking east to Chatham

After three miles we break off the main CCRT and take the Old Colony Rail Trail to Chatham (Chatham is thought of as a drinking town with a small fishing problem – thank you Urban Dictionary).  Throughout our twelve miles of biking we never see the ocean as we pedal under spreading canopies of still green leaves.

Biking in 70 degrees is all it's cracked up to be

Biking in 70 degrees is all it’s cracked up to be

Finding the ride an excellent work out, we have a trail wide enough to easily pass others without slowing down. Though Hannah’s bike bell alerts others, many times walkers or bikers don’t hear it; just about everyone has ear buds and has zoned out listening to their favorite tunes.  With a strong wind to our backs (we are fortunate that much of our lives are that way), the pedaling is easy and the ride mellow.

Crosswalk courtesy

Crosswalk courtesy

Cape Codders are the new Canadians. Throughout our entire 24 miles of biking, not one car raced through the crosswalk as we waited to cross.  Not one.  Lenny suggests police enforcement may have a lot to do with that.  Even so, I am sticking with the Canadian heritage angle to explain their courtesy.

Hannah at Chatham Lighthouse

Hannah at the Chatham Lighthouse

The trail ends in Chatham; its over-priced Main Street of shops is easy to navigate on this Monday in September.  Like much of the Cape, Chatham is suffering from an exodus of young people and young families due to the high cost of housing and the lack of suitable employment. The majority of Chatham homes sit empty in the winter.

Hannah at Chatham Beach on Nantucket Sound

Hannah at Chatham Beach on Nantucket Sound

I have yet another lament to break your heart.  Beach walking is over rated.  There I’ve said it and I sense a lot of nodding heads and Amen, brothers.  Others are again thinking, Wah-wah-wah.  I get that, too.  Hear me out.  The beach sand is soft granules that give way with each step.  With no rhythm to our walk, we plod and plod some more.

I think you can feel my pain

I think you can feel my pain

Then at the shoreline, the bank to the water is so steeply angled that we are stepping four inches lower with one foot than the other. Give me the flat beaches at low tide in Scarborough, Maine or Hilton Head, South Carolina.  I sense very little love for my position on beach walking.  Give me a midday forest trail or a seaside road at 630 AM any time.

Heading back to the trailhead

Heading back to the trailhead

The twelve miles back to the trailhead is into a steady wind that has us pedaling in middle gears.  Even so, the trail is bracketed by 6 to 10 feet mounds much of the way and we catch a consistent pedaling rhythm here in paradise.

Mileage marking along the Cape Cod Rail Trail

Mileage marking along the Cape Cod Rail Trail

The Cape Cod Rail Trail and biking spur to Chatham are delightful “walk in the park” kind of bike rides. Let me tell you that coming to the Cape in the fall is all it’s cracked up to be.   I can see why tourists come despite, well, the tourists.

Dan and Hannah Take Gloucester, Massachusetts by Storm


The Perfect Storm of 1991!

Hannah and I have lived in New England (Maine) for 32 years, yet we have never driven one hour and change south to the seafaring town of Gloucester, MA.  Gloucester is the harbor town from which George Clooney sailed into the Perfect Storm never to return.  Like many coastal New Englanders, we remember this Halloween super hurricane as the epic storm of our lives.

Flying home at 8A from RVA (Richmond, Virginia) after visiting our son Will and his soon-to-be fiancee Laurel while Hannah was in Vermont with girlfriends this April morning, I persuade Hannah, who has picked me up at Boston’s Logan Airport, that this Monday is a gift for us to explore the Atlantic coast closer to home.

Gloucester, MA, northeast of Boston

Gloucester, MA, northeast of Boston

Driving north on route 60, Hannah and I soon take a sharp right eastward on route 128 to the seacoast town of Gloucester.  Having awakened at 445A to leave RVA on Delta Airlines at 630A, I am ready for a down-home breakfast before we hike.

Gloucester statue

After taking the rotary towards the downtown on Washington Street, we pass George’s Coffee Shop on the main drag.   It looks promising.  After we park, I approach a mail carrier and ask where do the locals go for breakfast?  George’s.  We have no idea how lucky we are about to be.

George's Coffee Shop

George’s Coffee Shop

Walking into the welcoming spacious front room with six tables for two or four and a counter of ten barstools, we find a table against the sidewalk windows.  And then Deirdre approaches.  A twenty-something young woman, who we later learn is of Irish descent, smiles over to us to see if we want coffee or tea.  With our Rand McNally atlas spread out on the table for four, she gathers that we are tourists and welcomes us to her hometown.

Hannah and Rand (McNally)

Hannah and Rand (McNally)

Asking us where we are from, we respond, We are from just up the road in Maine, not an hour away, and we’ve never been to Gloucester.  We are looking for a place to hike in the area.

Deirdre then opens up about her town and the area.  Since Deirdre isn’t a name you hear every day, I ask her if she liked her name growing up.  She did – until when researching her name for a school project, she found that Deirdre meant sorrowful and broken-hearted maiden.  Even so, she seems a most happy young woman who makes our breakfast food taste even better.  I wish that kind of person when you breakfast out.

Ordering our traditional two eggs, home fries, and toast for $4.50, we are set for a day of hiking along the Massachusetts coast.  The home fries are original and tasty; with my eggs over easy, I have a gooey mix of breakfast love.  Deirdre glides from table to table and still has time to chat us up now and again.

Funky Red Barn

And then the guy sitting behind me says, I hear you’re from Maine.  So am I.  He learns we are from York and we that he is from Bethel, though he grew up here in Gloucester.  We get advice for hiking and learn that he has a restaurant, the Funky Red Barn, in Bethel, which is near Andover, ME where we go with good friends.  We’ll seek him out this summer.

Then the lady behind Hannah says, I hear you’re from Maine, and begins to mention her Ogunquit, ME (the next town north of York) connection and how we might proceed through the town of Gloucester on our way to the Halibut Point State Park on the Rockport peninsula five miles away.

Hannah and Deirdre

Hannah and Deirdre

I’ve got a tip for traveling:  Lay out your atlas or road map on the table when you go into the diner/restaurant and you will draw the attention of helpful folks everywhere.

We over tip Deirdre, get her picture with Hannah, and know our lives are richer when we take the time to seek out these hidden breakfast gems.

The trails of Halibut Point State Park

The trails of Halibut Point State Park

It’s a simple drive along route 127 through Gloucester and Rockport to the petite Halibut Point State Park.  Rockport puts the quint in quintessential New England fishing towns – houses from centuries past with small shops and childhoods of Norman Rockwell.

California Dreamin' East Coast style

California Dreamin’ East Coast style

The winding streets hug the coastline on this April morning; with kids back in school after spring vacation, the town is turned over to us retirees and a few townsfolk heading to the post office.  Though we can only imagine how crowded these narrow streets are in the summer, we are resolved to return next April to bike this Cape Ann loop on a day when it is more than 50 degrees!

Halibut Point sign

Arriving at the appropriately miniscule parking lot, we gladly pay the very modest $2 (who charges just $2 for a state park???) and set out for this seaside park with a rich history in granite.

Starting point of the Halibut Point trails

Starting point of the Halibut Point trails

Called Halibut Point, it would make one think that it has something to do with the halibut fish.  It, in fact, does not.  Sailing vessels and clipper ships in the 1800s would have to “haul about” their sails around the Cape Ann part of this peninsula due to the shifting offshore winds.  “Haul about” with a Massachusetts accent morphed into halibut.

G6 trail at HPSP

The park is small.  There are 2.5 miles of trails that are level, easy going, really for walking more than hiking.   On this late April chilly morning in this still winter-ish spring we are always just a stone’s throw from the ocean.

G7 quarry at HPSP

Within a quarter of mile we are at the old Babson Farm granite quarry.  Do you remember Breaking Away, the 1979 coming-of-age classic where working class local kids (called cutters because of the nearby quarry where the granite was cut) clash with the affluent frat boys at Indiana University?  This quarry feels like a scene out of the movie where the cutters would often go to swim to kill time and figure out what to do with their lives.  No swimming allowed in this quarry.

G8 rocky shore at HP

Hiking the side trail to the rocky shore beaches, we are glad to have our hiking boots to climb over granite chunks, safely back from the ocean’s waves and forbidding cold.

Wrapping up an hour on the trails of Halibut Point

Wrapping up an hour on the trails of Halibut Point

This rocky granite headland with tidal pools below is a place for grandparents (Dan and Hannah) to take their grandsons (Owen and Max) for a day of exploration; then it’s ice cream cones for all.

As we head for home through Gloucester on the side roads to Ipswich and eventually past Newburyport, we know we are so returning to Gloucester to bike next April. It won’t be 32 more years before we are back.

Dan and Hannah Bike the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway from Bourne to Sandwich, MA

Ever find yourself looking for an enjoyable, none too taxing bike ride along the water in a bucolic setting?  No cars to look out for?  Paved trail for easy pedaling?  I thought so.  Do we have a 13 mile round trip (or less if you choose) bikeway for you! 

Drive south of Boston, take route 24 to I-495 south; exit onto route 25, which in turn takes you over the Bourne Bridge on to the Cape.

Southeastern Massachusetts, USA

Southeastern Massachusetts, USA

Now take note.  Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right and make your first right down Veterans Drive.  If you have gone to the Cape Side Convenience Store, you’ve gone too far.  At the bottom of the hill, turn right and .2 of a mile later turn left into the Bourne Recreation Area.

The final turn to

The final turn to the Bourne Recreation Area

Head right to the canal where you will find parking for 30 cars that is available and free.  (In the town of Falmouth, parking can be $20 per day for beach       going.)

And voila.  You are on Cape Cod Canal Bikeway.

Cape Cod Canal Bikeway

Cape Cod Canal Bikeway

At this point you have five miles of paved trail to your right heading to Sandwich, MA on the southern Cape side of the canal.

Ready to ride

Ready to ride

You’ll likely see sailboats motoring through the man-made strait which connects Cape Cod Bay in the north to Buzzards Bay in the south. The boats traveling the canal save 135 miles by not going around Cape Cod.  A swift running Canal current changes direction every six hours.  Opened in 1914, the Canal was first considered by Miles Standish of the Plymouth Colony in 1623.

A ten foot wide bikeway gives you plenty of room to ride side by side with no elevation gain to speak of.  On this pre-summer season afternoon, we saw many couples walking and riding this trail.

Cape Cod Canal Bikeway to Sandwich, MA

Cape Cod Canal Bikeway from Bourne to Sandwich, MA

Pedaling east we bike into a heavy headwind.  Again wind and the coast go hand in hand.  Across the river appears to be a companion trail just as accessible and easy to ride as ours.

Sagamore Bridge in the distance

Sagamore Bridge in the distance

Sagamore Bridge coming into view

Sagamore Bridge coming into view

Once under the Sagamore Bridge, pedal for another mile or so to a park in Sandwich, MA.  Today, many cars are parked there and people use it as a starting point for biking, too.

A mom and her three to four year old son, who both seem a little tentative, stand outside the men’s restroom.  I walk over and offer to watch the door if she would like to go in the men’s room with him.  She smiles, thanks me, and says, He definitely wants to do this on his own.  When I slow down away from home, it’s interesting what I notice.

Sunshine Hannah

Sunshine Hannah

There we have lunch.  I am again reminded of the low maintenance woman that Hannah is.  Lunch is peanut butter and cheese on Ritz crackers and apple slices.  And we both love it.   We are not into the fuss and expense of going to a restaurant in the midst of a ride.  Just find Hannah some sun, and lunchtime is sweet.

Super-size Barge

Super-size Barge

The ride home is pure joy as the east wind pushes us and makes pedaling easy.  Hannah’s bell is helpful signaling to walkers and other bikers that we are passing.  You may see a passing barge as we did.

Bourne Bridge with the Railroad Bridge in the distance

Bourne Bridge with the Railroad Bridge in the distance

Once back to the starting point we have completed ten of the 13 miles of this round trip bike ride.  Heading on towards the railroad bridge, we learn that this bridge is infrequently used; and when it is, it is for trash pickup during the week and for commuters on the weekend.

Railroad Bridge

Railroad Bridge

Railroad Bridge up close and personal

Railroad Bridge up close and personal

In the distance are wind turbines at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.  Controversy follows this seemingly perfect energy source.

Wind Turbine at Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Wind Turbine at Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Noise appears to be the major point of contention.  On the south side of the Canal, Falmouth has two 400 foot-tall wind turbines at the town’s waste treatment facility and, unfortunately, it’s near homes.

wind turbine too close

Though it considered spending $25 million to take them down, voters recently decided to keep them by a 2 to 1 margin, despite complaints from about 40 households of headaches, vertigo (dizziness), and problems sleeping.

wind turbine swindle

On this summery day, the darkening skies from gray to black clouds suggest an afternoon thunderstorm.  Turning around at the railroad bridge, we have a mere 1.5 miles back to the parking area.

This leisurely ride can be done by one and all in under two hours with time to appreciate the joy of just being away.

Cape Cod Canal as seen from the Bourne Bridge

Cape Cod Canal as seen from the Bourne Bridge

Dan and Hannah Bike the Shining Sea Trail on Cape Cod

Cape Cod mapToday Hannah and I are heading south from York to the Cape for a family barbecue at the Crane’s in Falmouth, MA.  Our son Will is dating the Crane’s daughter, Laurel; and her Mom and Dad have welcomed us to their home.

Will and Laurel

It is also an opportunity for two of your favorite uber-exercisers to bike the Shining Sea Bikeway trail going from North Falmouth to Woods Hole on Cape Cod.  For nearly eleven miles each way, we’ll have a paved, smooth riding bike trail.

Early afternoon in June on the Shining Sea Bikeway

Early afternoon in June on the Shining Sea Bikeway

The Cape has the reputation as having one of three worst traffic hells in the world (Shanghai is #1 and London #2).  Skeletons have been found in cars waiting to cross the Bourne Bridge on a Friday afternoon.  I’m kidding, but traffic can back up for miles at either the Sagamore or Bourne Bridges to the Cape.  As New Englanders for 30+ years, we avoid the Cape like the plague in summers and on weekends.  That said, we wouldn’t miss this barbecue if it were on a Fourth of July Saturday!

Approaching the Bourne Bridge on the Cape

Approaching the Bourne Bridge on the Cape

With bicycles on the back of our Hyundai Elantra, we take the two plus hour drive from our home in York, Maine; still on a biking high just one week after completing the Confederation Trail on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Shining Sea Bikeway

Shining Sea Bikeway

The Shining Sea Bikeway  was the one time-southern portion of the Plymouth and Vineyard Sound Railroad.  In early 2009, the town of Falmouth completed the 10.7 mile extension of the trail northward along this abandoned rail line.  The Shining Sea Bikeway was named for a line in the song America the Beautiful, written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates.

Shining Sea Bikeway parking lot in North Falmouth, MA

Shining Sea Bikeway parking lot in North Falmouth, MA

We drive to ample, free parking at the start of the Shining Sea Bikeway.  This asphalt trail keeps us away from Falmouth streets and vehicular traffic and is ideal for bicyclists of any speed.  Going from North Falmouth to Woods Hole we cross maybe 10 to 12 intersecting streets.

North Falmouth beginning of the Shining Sea Bikeway

North Falmouth beginning of the Shining Sea Bikeway

SSB H on trail by water 3

Amazingly at every intersection of road of the Shining Sea Bikeway, cars anticipate our arrival at the crossroads, slow down, and stop.  It’s true.  Even with school in session this mid-June day, the trail is pleasantly loving walkers and other bikers of all ages.  It’s level and wide enough for us to ride side by side for much of the way.

SSB car stopping on road 11

I am starting to think that people on the Cape are the Canadians of the States.  They are polite and courteous.

The white fences funnel bike riders as they approach one of the streets in Falmouth

The white fences funnel bike riders as they approach one of the streets in Falmouth

Since we are not riding on roads, we choose not to wear helmets.  On a day in the sunny 70s, it’s enjoyable to ride “free.”

SSB trail 4

As a coastal ride, wind is a steady partner to our ride.  Even in the early afternoon we bike into a persistent south wind; the same wind that will propel us home with much less effort.

SSB H on  trail 6

Parking is available at a number of locations along the trail.  Check out the website for parking information.

It’s a leisurely bike path with no elevation to speak of.  The word is that over the 11 miles of bikeway there is a rise of 18 feet.  We never feel it.

SSB H on trail 7 by water

The Shining Sea Bikeway ends at Woods Hole, a quaint New England community known for its Oceanographic Institution.  It lies at the extreme southwest corner of Cape Cod near Martha’s Vineyard.  “Woods Hole” refers to a passage for ships between the Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay known for its extremely strong current.

Woods Hole Harbor

Woods Hole Harbor

Pushed by a coastal breeze, we sail on the ride home.  The bikeway is delightfully made for vacationers and locals getting in some afternoon exercising.

We are reminded how retirement (Dan fulltime, Hannah part-time) gives us choices.  We are less hurried and don’t have to squeeze in what we would like to do around jobs.  Asked by our son Will if we have two mid-week days to come to the Cape, we can make it happen immediately.  Go to Virginia to see our grandson Owen?  We can do it when we want.  We know we are very fortunate.  That said, retirement is a good thing if you have your health.  We are lucky to have ours.  Hannah’s busted leg gave us a glimpse of getting older and being less mobile.  I promise you that we’ll keep eating our fruits and vegetables.

SSB D on trail 13

All the beauty of the Cape is highlighted that evening.

Hannah at sunset


And the sunset is pretty good, too.

Sunset on the Cape

Sunset on the Cape

Dan and Hannah and the Boston Marathon

This feels personal.  Boston is the big city we know best after living in New England for over thirty years.  Despite growing up a big sports fan in Jersey, I now root for the Patriots and the Sox.  Living just an hour north of Boston, we have family and friends who live there.  Our son Will goes there often.  I’ve been to Fenway Park and watched the Boston Marathon in person.  Living in New England feels like family.

All from Boston todayLet me tell you, there is no better day in Boston than Patriots Day.  It’s a celebration of spring, the buzz of happy crowds away from their daily routines of work and school waiting for runners who have trained all winter, supported by family and friends.  It’s a day when we cheer for people we don’t even know.  Except for a very few, no one runs to win the race.  They run to raise money for worthy causes, challenge themselves, check off a bucket list item, or because 26 miles of running is just what they do.

hopkintonJust six years ago Hannah and I were near the finish line of the Boston Marathon as our daughter Molly completed the 26.2 miles of running into 30-40 mph head winds on a stormy day.

Molly after 25 miles

Molly after 25 miles

She had trained all winter, raised over $6000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and doggedly fought the elements and finished with a time of 4 hours 2 minutes.  Remember that time.

Fast forward six years, if Molly had run the same pace in this year’s marathon, she would have crossed the finish line minutes before the first of the two bombs exploded at 4 hours and 9 minutes.  She would have been milling around the finish line in her thermal wrap and to collect her finisher’s medal.  We would have been at the finish line looking for her.  Amazing how random life seems.

BM Finish line

Six years ago I was teaching at the University of New England on the day when Molly was to run her marathon.  It was heart breaking not to share that moment with her, but I had to teach that day.   On campus in Biddeford, Maine at 830A for a meeting, I was ready for a day of getting updates from Hannah about Molly’s progress.  Fortuitously that morning a storm was brewing (the same storm that produced those strong winds for the marathon) and amazingly it blew a major tree over wires to campus and the university was closed by 9A!

Like a bat out of hell, I headed south from Biddeford, Maine, two hours north of Boston, to be a part of the Boston Marathon scene.  With everyone at the race and the Red Sox game at Fenway Park already begun, it was really quite easy to get into the city along Storrow Drive on this crazy, wonderful Patriots Day (which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution at Concord and Lexington in 1775).

Our son Will, neice Tara, sister Patty, Dan at Kenmore Square, a mile from the finish line

Our son Will, neice Tara, sister Patty, Molly’s friend Molly, Dan at Kenmore Square, a mile from the finish line (in sight of Fenway Park)

We camped out at Kenmore Square for Molly to come by.  Despite how gassed she must have been, she was cruising and loving life as we cheered her on.  We then meandered down to the finish line in this party atmosphere of the young and old just enjoying being alive on this windy day.

No longer will an 8 year old and two others know the sunshine and soul affirming joy of just being alive on a spring day in New England.  Our niece Tara who lives in Boston says in the aftermath, I still don’t feel completely safe – even though there are extra police and army men all over.

My childhood friend Tom from Radburn who works in Boston responded to my email about his thoughts on this day thusly:

Dear Dan

I’ve just returned from chapel at the UUA, feeling grateful that I work in a place that allows us time and space on a day like today.

It has shaken me to have an attack like this–one that could only harm the innocent– happen in our city, our home.

I grieve for people I don’t know, who lost so much so quickly.  Especially the Richards family in Dorchester who lost their 8 year old son, and whose daughter and mother remain in the hospital.

And I am aware that others around the world live with this kind of violence and unpredictability every day.

I am sobered that someone thought their pain would be eased–or their cause advanced–by maiming and killing people they didn’t know who were bound together in this moment only by their desire to cheer a friend or family member across the finish line.

These words from the Haggadah we used at our Seder this year have been with me.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that.                                                                                                                                                                              Hate cannot drive out Hate: Only love can do that.”       –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I wish you all light and love today–Tom

MLK light

And Hannah has the last word.

United we Stand

Even the Red Sox and the NY Yankees came together, “Sweet Caroline” and all.

Yes, those who would do their best to tear and rip others apart – women and children, no less – are nothing short of cowardly beasts.  Malevolent, indeed. 

Those who would do what they did in Boston have lost their humanity, no longer qualify as human.  Yet, in response we stand…united, selflessly, compassionately, sure and secure in our humanity.  We will not become like them. Instead, we become even more purely and utterly human….displaying the best of who and what we are.  May Love continue to be the arrows in our quiver.  And may the target be each other. Like the Amish, let us respond with Love…even more Love, towards one another.

Once again, united we stand – and love, fearlessly and tirelessly.  Terror is no match for Love.

United We Stand

United We Stand

By the way: President Obama must have been channeling me when he wrote his inspirational speech for the Inter-faith service in Boston Thursday.  I wrote my lead sentence two days before his speech.