Dan and Hannah Pickle and Pick-up a Hitchhiker one June Friday in Utah

Hitch D and H with paddles

In addition to hiking the trails of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks near Moab, Utah during this first week of June, Hannah and I also make it a priority to play pickleball when we travel.  Thanks to the United States of America Pickleball Association website, we can find pickleball venues all over the country.  Today we join Moab pickleballers for a morning of play.

Hitch pickleballers

Moab pickleballers

With pickleball paddles always packed in our suitcases, we are ready to play on the taped pickleball courts superimposed on the indoor basketball courts at the Center Street Gym here in downtown Moab.  Throughout the morning we whack the hard plastic pickleball with a school bus driver, a saddle and rope tree trimmer, an Iraqi expatriate, and the pro at the local golf course.

Hitch 80 mph sign

Pickleball satisfied, we leave by noon from Moab for Torrey, the Gateway to Capitol Reef National Park, 160 miles away.  Over our stretch of Interstate 70 in Utah, there is an 80-mph speed limit; I channel my inner Dale Earnhardt, junior for an afternoon!

Arriving at Capitol (with an O) Reef National Park Visitor Center, we pull in this mid-afternoon Friday to learn of two fine trails for our hiking Saturday (i.e. Hickman Natural Bridge Trail and the Cassidy Arch Trail – you guessed it; it was named for Butch).  Returning to our vehicle, an athletic woman, who we later learn is the mother of two college age young men, asks if I can give her a ride to her car.

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Hitchhiking?   That’s a blast from the past.  As a college student who was a part of a generation that didn’t have cars in high school or college as many do now, I had a rich history in hitchhiking.   In the late 1960s, my brother Richard and I would hitchhike from our colleges (he Kenyon and me Wooster) in central Ohio to our Uncle Bill’s and Aunt Carolyn’s in Toledo on the Michigan/Ohio border.   We’d use a large sign that said, It’s Mom’s birthday.  It never failed – though it never was.

Hitch ASU

Transferring from Wooster to Arizona State University in 1969 to start my senior year, I wanted to check out the Tempe campus before my September enrollment as an elementary education major.  Getting a ride with my college roommate Mule (born Jim Francis) to his home in Idaho Falls, I then planned to hitchhike the 870+ miles south to Tempe.

My most memorable ride was very early Sunday morning when two cowboys, who had been drinking all night, picked me up.  Only once in the backseat did I realize their inebriation and my predicament.  I tried to tell them I was only going to the next town, but they were good ole boys and would hear nothing of it; in their happy state, they couldn’t do enough for me and took me an additional 80 miles.  As you can tell, I lived to tell this story.

Hitch Tucson

While a student at Arizona State, with my dormmate, Rich Meyer, I hitchhiked the 120 miles from Tempe south to Tucson for Thanksgiving; as two Jersey boys, it was too expensive to fly home across the country for that November holiday weekend.   Picked up by two dudes and a young woman, we were summarily dumped off on an empty country road when they wanted money and realized we had none.  Hitchhiking from there took some time; while we waited, we were pelted with eggs from a passing car.  None of the rich Arizona hospitality we were hoping for.

Hitch knoxville

At the age of 23 in 1971, I hitchhiked for the last time, from Atlanta, Georgia to Knoxville, TN where I ended up in jail; that saga is chronicled in a six-part series on my blog.   Click here for this link.  https://over60hiker.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/dan-has-some-explaining-to-do-about-being-jailed-in-knoxville-part-1-of-6/

Hitch Hickman Bridge

Capitol Reef National Park

My instincts with the young mom this afternoon at Capitol Reef are to say yes and I do.

With Hannah in full agreement, we learn that Rebecka and her family have parked their car at the Chimney Tree trailhead, then hiked the five-mile Spruce Creek trail through a foot of water in places to the visitor center.  Custom is is that hikers than hitchhike back to their car.

HItch Rebecka and Hannah

Arizona Women, Rebecka and Hannah

During our ten-minute drive to her car, Rebecka tells us that her 19-year-old son picked me out as one who would likely give her a ride.  I guess being mild-mannered and unassuming opens doors.  It turns out she is from Tempe, Arizona, the same Tempe where Hannah and I spent the first ten years of our married life.  And get this, she taught at both Holdemann School in Tempe and Nevitt Elementary in Phoenix where I taught.

In ten minutes, Rebecka seems like the cool mom we’d all like to have.  Full of life, setter of boundaries while still making life fun and adventurous for her two sons and husband.  Here is the email she sent the evening after we met.

Dan and Hannah,

Thanks again for taking me back to my car.  It was nice meeting you both.   I’m pretty sure you will be taking highway 12 to Bryce Canyon.  This road is very scenic!  There is a crazy spot in the road after Boulder heading towards Escalante, beautiful scenery but steep on both sides of the highway.  After that part heading down there is a 6-mile hike to a 126-foot waterfall.  The hike is easy and well worth it (lower calf creek falls).  We hiked in and out in approx. 2-2 1/2 hours.    https://utah.com/hiking/calf-creek-falls-lower

Continuing on this road towards Escalante, there is a hike called Zebra Canyon.  You can access this off of the road Hole in the Rock.  5.2 miles round trip. After second cattle guard (approx. 7.4 miles from main road) park on the right and take trail to the left.  Can be tricky to find this slot canyon, and when entering the slot canyon, you get wet up to your waist.  https://www.roadtripryan.com/go/t/utah/escalante/zebratunnel

Hitch Bryce panarama

Bryce Canyon is one of my favorites!  Drive safe and have a fabulous trip! 

Rebecka 

 

Though we took another road to Bryce Canyon, we now have a 126’ waterfall on our Utah bucket list.

Dixie and Scot, are you in?

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Dan and Hannah Pickle, then Hike the Rattlesnake Trail in Santa Barbara

Pickling

Newbie!  It’s a word that shouts outsider, who’s the new kid, let’s see what you got.  I am not a fan of being the newbie – the fish out of water when everyone else knows the ins and outs; has their circle of friends, knows what’s up.  It’s the antithesis of Cheers – Nobody knows your name.

Today has all the awkwardness of a first week at college or a new job or moving to a new town.  You see, Hannah and I have come to southern California to take a February bite out of winter in New England to play pickleball in Santa Barbara.

Fact is, many of the best things that have ever happened to me were because I had the courage to step past the fear of being the new kid – transferring to Arizona State University as a college senior, not knowing a soul, 2500 miles from home; taking my first teaching position in Anaheim, California without a friend or family in the area; moving to Maine with Hannah and our preschool daughters Molly and Robyn with no job, basically sight unseen.

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The four dedicated pickleball courts in Santa Barbara

So today, Hannah and I buck up, put on our big boy and big girl pants, drive four miles, and just show up at the courts of the Municipal Tennis Center in Santa Barbara.  Showing up! which you fans of the Woodman (Woody Allen) know the truth that 90% of life is just showing up.  To our newness, today we’ll add playing pickleball outside, something we don’t do as indoor players of the pickle throughout the year in Maine.

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The woman with the dynamite overhead smash

Arriving early to get used to playing outside on this first Wednesday in February, Hannah and I soon meet up with Brent and Wayne.  In quick succession, we hold our own and play games two and three; funny how no one seems to be paying much attention to us now, which they likely never were anyway.

Playing on a doubles team with Wayne, he turns to me and asks, Is that your wife, referring to Hannah?  What else can I say but, Yes, I’m the lucky guy.  He says, She’s good.  Something I’ve known for 50 since years since we first met as a first year students on the tennis courts at the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1967.

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With the sun setting, Hannah moves in for the kill

After playing for an hour, I take a break and watch Hannah work her paddle magic.  Across the way, I can see three very good players in need of a fourth.  And soon of a gun, if my body just doesn’t elevate by itself and move over to their court to be their fourth.  Playing to 11,  I succeed in not embarrassing every pickleballer in the state of Maine.  Courage comes in many forms.

Rattlesnake Canyon hiking

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The next morning, our plan is to figuratively go rattlesnake hunting in the San Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara itself.  Click here for excellent directions from the website, Santa Barbara Hikes, to the Rattlesnake Trail as well as details of the hike itself.  We learn that our chances of seeing a slithering, scaly reptile rattling its way up the trail are lower than, well, a snake’s belly.

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Driving from our cottage in Summerland, we jump on the four-lane 101 highway, exit Olive Road, eventually driving via Canoas Road to Skofield Park.  Here in the Front Country, tucked among the multi-multi-million dollar homes is an open area park for youth groups.  A group of mostly Hispanic-American middle school kids are seated in a circle and calling out the gratitudes in their lives, as three of American’s saints – public school teachers – encourage them and add their positive energy.

In the overcast, we walk 200 yards along the Canoas Road, and then cross a stone bridge over Rattlesnake Canyon Creek.  On our climb of 1000′ feet of elevation gain, our mission is to see the creek waterfall on our way to a meadow beneath the San Ynez mountaintops.

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With Hannah in the lead, the rocky trail is easy to navigate with switchbacks taking us up the mountainside.  Soon we easily step stone across the flowing creek.  After six years of drought throughout California, and especially in Santa Barbara County, any flowing water is a victory of hydroponic-proportions.  The bubbling sound makes it seem everything is right in the world, despite the turmoil across the country along the turbulent Potomac.

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Many times we see side trails that could be the main trail but aren’t.  Keeping the creek’s gurgling within earshot, we are unlikely to get lost.  Rating the hike moderate plus, we climb steadily, giving us the excellent workout we had hoped.

Creek crossings are easy as we climb into the mountain.  Seeing cascading water falling three feet over the rocks, we wonder does this pass for a waterfall in parched California?  It can’t.  That’s embarrassing.  We hike on.

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Bombing along the Rattlesnake Trail

With the 2000+ foot mountains high above us we hope for some big time falls, but clearly to think that, we must be on that now legal California weed.   With the trail skirting the Rattlesnake Canyon Creek, we, weedless, see more rapids, a cascade or two, but definitely no waterfalls.

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Our little buddy, the pocket gopher

Soon, high above the creek switchbacking on to the mountain meadow, we spot a rattlesnake snack sticking its head out of its recently excavated tunnel.  It’s a pocket gopher, maybe four inches long who checks us out, stays put, and decides today is not the day he will push his luck.

At the meadow, we know that we can take the Rattlesnake Connector trail, another ¾ miles to the Tunnel Trail.  Click here for our hike of the Tunnel Trail during the Great drought of 2014.  But that’s a steep and rocky climb.  Why ruin a fine day of hiking by being rock climbing idiots?   Hiking for us is for the enjoyment of a good workout among nature’s playground, not battling the mountain into submission.

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The meadow at Rattlesnake Canyon

Taking a water and granola break at the meadow, we realize that we, in fact, have totally missed the waterfall, thinking it was a mere cascade.

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The quote waterfall

Upon our hike down the mountain, we spot the quote waterfall, walk down to the water’s edge, where I find a fetching woman to model our discovery.   See my 17 second video below.

Dan and Hannah and their New Love – Pickleball

pickleball-paddle-and-ball

Just this past November, Hannah was leafing through the York Parks and Rec winter program guide and noticed “pickleball” among the activities.   She learned that York residents were eligible to play this paddle sport at the Kittery Community Center (the town to our south).  Knowing nothing of this game, we thought, What the hey, why not give it a shot?  Thinking that we, as modestly-skilled tennis and ping pong players, might take to the game, we showed up at the the indoor gym with three pickleball courts outlined in tape.

There we met the kind of teacher we’d like our grandsons, Owen and Max, to have.  Interested in us individuals, encouraging, knowledgeable, he gave us the time we needed to learn this paddle sport.  We had it all in Ted Welch, the pickleball ambassador.  Since then, we have met three other equally terrific and encouraging ambassadors, Roger Huppe and Bill Case here in Maine, and Laurie Lee in northern Georgia.

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Pickleball court dimensions

Playing doubles, we quickly learned that the wiffle ball doesn’t bounce quite as high as a tennis ball; ergo we whiffed on a lot of shots getting our bearings.   The court is 2/3 the size of a tennis court with rules quite different from tennis or ping pong.  Click here for an overview of the new rules.

To begin, the game starts by one player serving underhand to the opposite quarter of the court.  The returner whacks the wiffle ball back and we as the serving team have to let it bounce before we can hit it.

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The kitchen is that rectangular area on either side of the net.

Scoring points only when we serve, we learn we must stay out of the kitchen.  The kitchen (often referred to as the non-volley zone) is a rectangular area on either side of the net, seven feet wide from side to side of the court.  A player cannot step into the kitchen (the no volley zone) to hit a shot in the air.  She can step into the kitchen to play the ball off the bounce.

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The red area is the kitchen on these outdoor courts.

Honing our game on the pickleball courts in Kittery, Hannah and I became regulars playing two to three times per week.  Learning among good folks made the process even more enjoyable.   When we brought our friends, Donna and George, and later our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, for their introduction to pickleball, Ted and the Kittery pickleballers couldn’t have been more welcoming and encouraging.

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Dan giving it the ole topspin as I approach the kitchen (the yellow line)

Lately, to step up our game, we drive 30 minutes to Saco, Maine to play with the morning pickleballers at XL Sports World, just off the Maine Turnpike.  As with Kittery, Saco is a venue where we have found a community of players, mostly card carrying AARP members, where everybody knows your name.

Not even a year into my pickleball education, I am learning the subtleties of the game – how to dink and how to hit the third shot better and better.   Dinking is hitting a shot just over the net into the kitchen so the opponents cannot volley and smash it.

As for the third shot, the serving team must let the return of serve bounce before playing on.  The third shot is similar to the dink as its purpose is to hit a shot just over the net into the kitchen so the opposing team cannot volley it.

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Hannah ready to volley just behind the kitchen on the court in northern Georgia

I love the yin and the yang of pickleball.  I love the social as well as the competition.  I like hanging out with the good folks that seem to be the norm among pickleballers.  And too, I love developing my game to eventually becoming a solid 3.5 player (on a scale to 5.0).  I love having players better than I am to learn from – Pat in Georgia is such a person, Norm here in Maine is too.

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Hannah above the indoor courts in Beaverton, Oregon

Another great thing about pickleball is that it travels so well.   This past May while Hannah was taking part in a voice rehabilitation clinic outside of Tampa, FL, I played pickleball in Hillsborough County four days in a row.  When recently traveling to Mount Rainier and the Columbia River Gorge, Hannah and I found a morning of pickleball in Beaverton, OR, within minutes of the Nike campus.  And just two weeks ago in northern Georgia, we were welcomed as family by the Yonah Mountain Pickleball Club.

pickleball-usapa

(Click here to see the United States of American Pickleball Association (USAPA) site that helps anyone find games across America.  Select a state, then find a city, and voila you have the contact information for your next game of pickleball.)

Hannah and I bought two extra pickleball paddles for anyone who reads this blog and might want to join us for a game.  We’ll teach you the basics on the outdoor pickleball court just down the road from our house in Ogunquit.  Soon you just might be hooked on pickleball as we are.

PS  In the preview picture for this blog, Hannah and I are joined by our daughter Molly.

PSS  My favorite pickleball shirt to date says “Dink Responsibly.”

Dan and Hannah Nike, Pickle, then Hike the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

NIke 1F  D and H at Nike entrance

Staying overnight with our niece Corrie and nephew Karl in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, Oregon, we wonder what are our chances of seeing the Nike campus in town.  Thanks to Wayne who contacted Ron who arranged for Jane to give us a tour, we walk the college-like Nike campus on a 90F afternoon during the first week of June.

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Hannah with Olympian Michael Johnson on the Nike campus 400 meter track

Athletic women and men in casual attire seem to be upbeat and happy to be enrolled at the 13,000 employee “Nike University.”   There is a full size 400-meter track here and employees have access to free bicycles to ride from place to place.  With five recreation halls with basketball courts, rooms for yoga, fitness centers, and the like, employees have a sweet place to work up a sweat.

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In the Tiger Woods Center made entirely from golf tees

Learning that the campus is scrubbed clean of any mention of Lance Armstrong, we see the Tiger Woods Center standing proudly with this artistic rendering of Tiger, entirely created with golf tees.  It seems Mr. Armstrong lied face-to-face to one-time Nike CEO, billionaire Phil Knight while Tiger fessed up to his misdeeds.

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When the business of selling shoes was run out of a Volkswagen van, graphic designer Claire Danielson designed the Nike Swoosh and was paid $35 for her creation.  At the time, Phil Knight said, I am not really sold on it, but maybe it will grow on me.  Upon arriving home, I read the New York Times bestseller, Shoe Dog (2016) by Phil Knight about the genesis of Nike.  Click here to learn more about the book, which speaks to us sports junkies of a certain age.  I loved it.

Nike pickleball

With an evening red-eye flight from Portland to Boston ahead of us this Tuesday, we have come to play pickleball at the indoor recreation center in Beaverton, not three miles from Corrie’s place.   Like I did recently in Tampa, I use the USA Pickleball site to find venues to play here in Oregon.  Click here to access this site to find pickleball venues.

NIke 2 Beaverton Pickleball

Pickleball courts in Beaverton, Oregon

Sometimes free, often for a nominal fee, pickleball sites are generally open to anyone traveling throughout the country.  Arriving at 930A, Hannah and I are welcomed immediately into a game of doubles.  Over the next two hours we play spirited games with a variety of skilled opponents.  Pickleball players for the last seven months, Hannah and I have a new love that is both a great workout and a place to meet active, friendly folks of our age.

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On the trail to Elowah Falls

Showered and then fed by Corrie, we first nap, then pack up for a late afternoon waterfall hike on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.

The Oregon (pronounced Or-a-Ginn) side of the Columbia River Gorge has waterfalls without end Amen.   We choose a pair of falls (Elowah Falls and Upper McCord Creek Falls) not far from Portland with 3.4 miles of hiking on the mountainside with just 600’ of elevation gain.

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High above the Columbia River looking east on the Oregon side

Leaving the trailhead parking, we have 0.7-mile hike to Elowah Falls.   Climbing quickly into the forest on hard-packed dirt, we rise above I-84’s four lanes of commercial traffic and vacation seekers.   And then without warning, the smooth dirt trail turns mean, with sharply angled rocks.   But no matter, the slope of the trail is not steep, as we climb high above the mighty Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.

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289′ Elowah Falls in June

A series of switchbacks through the rainforest takes us down to an amphitheater canyon where the misty Elowah Falls drops gently off the mountainside, spraying the two of us.

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Dan with the Upper McCord Creek Falls in the distance

Hiking back a half mile or so, we turn up the mountain at the trail sign for the Upper McCord Creek Falls.   The steady climb on, again a rocky trail, is easy going without any huffing and puffing.

Nike 5 W and L with W and BE

Around the last turn the voluminous Upper McCord Creek Falls cascades higher up the mountain, above our previously viewed Elowah Falls.   With the trail ending above the falls a short while later, we spot a most appropriate landing spot on this horizantal branch to photograph our grandsons Owen’s Woodstock and Max’s Blue Elephant.  We love the W+L (our son Will and his wife Laurel) in our lives.

PS I emailed Volkswagen to confirm that the van with all the boxes of Nike running shoes was indeed a Volkswagen.  Here’s the response I got.

Reference # 160987898

Dear Mr. Rothermel,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us in regard to your recent visit at the Nike Campus in Oregon.

After researching further into this, I did stumble upon the story of Geoff Hollister traveling to track meets and selling Nike shoes from his van in the 1970s. Regretfully, we don’t have details here at Volkswagen of America to confirm whether Geoff’s van was indeed manufactured by Volkswagen.

I’ve never visited the Nike Museum so it was very cool to see the picture you shared. Additionally, I noticed links to your blog(s) included in your signature and after taking a closer look it seems as though you and your wife Hannah have enjoyed many wonderful travel adventures.

I apologize I didn’t have more information to share with you in regard to the van Geoff Hollister owned. However, you’re welcome to let me know if you have any other questions or need further assistance – I’m happy to help in any way that I can. 

Have a great weekend and I wish safe travels on the road ahead for you and your wife!

Kind regards,

Brittany A.
Customer CARE Advocate