Kayaking McDaniels Marsh


What a better way to spend my Sunday morning!  Over 2 hours and 4 miles of blissful, leisurely kayaking!  Thanks to Mandy who kept me company!  There were at least five different Blue Herons making their presence known.  One kept chasing another one around the trees!  It was great!  The sun was being lazy…never quite making it out from behind the clouds.  Probably a good thing! It would have been a HOT one!

There were also turtles, frogs and of course, beautiful flowers.  Stuff you just can’t see anywhere else.


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Weekend One

Of course it is of no use to direct our steps into the wood, if they do not carry us thither.  I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit…What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods? ~ Thoreau [Walking]

Today was the first weekend of my ‘training’ for the big climb.  I wanted to go on a longer loop but the weather didn’t cooperate.  I’ve been on the top of Aaron’s Ledge in the middle of a thunderstorm and it’s not fun.  I cut it down to 2 hours and 5.6 miles.  It’s the normal “long loop” that Erin and I take.  I had planned on taking a right and heading up to AL then around the rest of the mountain, down by Erin’s house and back home.  I’m figuring it would have taken an extra hour. Maybe next weekend. I’ll have an extra day with the holiday!

I did learn a few things though:

  1. This is my first time with a pack and it was fine.  It fits perfectly. However, I need to keep working on my shoulders–I found my neck was getting a little tired from the extra weight.  Nothing major.
  2. I prefer my Nalgene bottles over my camelbacks with the sipper.  And it’s hard to get the waterbottle out of the backpack…
  3. Need to take more pictures 🙂
  4. Need to work on stretching my back more…my lower back gets sore very quickly.  Yoga…yes.
  5. I don’t like my socks 😦  I gave in and washed my favorite ones…they were still in the drier when I left.  Wore a different pair and they aren’t as comfy.  My toe hurt after a little while.
  6. BUG DOPE…never leave home without it!
  7. I really, really love it out there!! But sometimes I forget to look around me and enjoy the journey…


Tomorrow is kayaking…

Transcendental Saunterer

HD Thoreau once said of walking, ‘No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independece which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers.’ ~ Walking, HD Thoreau

Jack Orrok in 1923

I think there might be some truth there.  Either you love it, or you don’t.  Either you yearn to be outside in the widerness, walking-sauntering-through the peaceful land, or you don’t.  But, then again, his grandmother WAS an Orrok after all.  Perhaps it runs in our blood.  My grandfather, Jack Orrok, was an avid hiker.  He left home every summer, traveling from Dorchester, MA to the White Mountains of NH, to work on the trails.  He was born into the family; or perhaps it was just passed down to him…then me.

I’m planning my first hiking trip up Mount Washington [yes, first but not last!].  Twelve weeks from today I’ll be heading back down the mountain, my back aching, my legs sore, my heart full and my soul soaring!  I’d love to say that this has been a life-long dream, but I’d be lying.  But it has been a dream since hitting 40 🙂 

So, as I count down the days and get myself in shape I’m hoping to share even more of my favorite moments with you all!

The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker–not the Knight, but the Walker, Errant.  He is a sort of fourth estate, outside the Church and State and People.  ~ Thoreau


There was a time I made excuses not to go for a hike: too cold, too hot, raining, snowing, bugs, mud, I’m tired, I’m lazy…it went on and on.  Not that I made excuses every time, just often enough to make them seem legit.  But tonight I realized that now I make excuses to hike.  On Saturday I was stressed from all the traffic–and noise–of bike week on my way to Fryeburg.  Of course I needed a hike!  Tonight I needed to go out because it’s the solstice.  Besides, it’s Monday.  One should always start the week off right. I have a new tracking program–I should really see how many trips I can rack up.  Bugs? I need to see if this new clip on bug replent really works (yes).  Raining?  It’ll keep the bugs away and it sounds really cool on the leaves.  Hot? It’s cooler in the woods.  Cold? I never get to wear that sweater enough anyway…and they just keep coming! 

What a difference a state of mind can make… 

Someone once told me it’s all due to Karma.  Damn! I’m gonna get it right this time so that next time…next time…

Get out there and enjoy life.  You only have one shot (you won’t remember this one on the next go-round) so MAKE IT COUNT

Solstice sunset

On Shoulders of Giants

I dreamt last night of a place where boys played;

A house made of memories my ancestors made.

Rooms of knowledge, etchings of names

On walls, staircases and window frames.

Books were written about their lives,

Each one had a chapter, even their wives.

As I wandered through rooms looking for more,

I awoke with the knowledge of what is in store.

No easy task this path will be,

No rooms full of answers are waiting for me.

Instead there are stairways, twisting and old,

There’s a wealth of life wanting to be told.

It’s all here in this house of my soul;

And when I’m worthy it will open and I’ll become whole

With the knowledge of giants on whose shoulders I walk,

As their memories speak- I will listen when they talk.

I wrote this poem several years ago and have always loved the title…hence the title of my blog.  (I’m not the best at poetry…)

McDaniel’s Marsh

Ah, an evening of complete and utter solitude!  As we paddled our way around the small pond, I couldn’t help think, “damn! This is the way to spend life!”  Not a sound to be heard: no cars, no dogs barking, not so much as a frog peeping (that came later).  We could hear nothing but the rustle of weeds hitting our kayaks as we maneuvered deeper into the pond. When we finally did hear a noise it was a pissed off heron blaring as it flew away.  It was a wonderful sound, an echo of nature we’d hear no where else. 

This was our first trip of the year.  I should clarify by saying it was also our first trip EVER.  I received my kayak two-and-a-half years ago for Christmas.  I had wanted nothing else!  I was so excited…and have never taken it out.  Summers came, summers went, and there it sat.  It’s hard to go when you have to leave your family behind.  But Kevin found a great used one the other day and now we plan on getting out there!  He even took Dakota out last night–what great bonding time!  It’s so wonderful in so many ways: out of the house into the fresh air, out on a peaceful, gorgeous pond–the perfect place to experience the beauty of nature, and of course, uninterrupted dad time!  I can’t wait to take my daughter out!  Kids miss out on nature today yet so much is riding on getting this next generation involved in the land.  When was the last time you heard a kid say they wanted to be a park ranger?  My daughter used to, but alas, life has gotten in the way.  Maybe I can reconnect her to that desire.  Someone has to care for the land!  If you haven’t read it before, check out Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.  Awesome eye opener! 


Another neat piece of this trip was being able to see the ledges I always climb to with my dogs.  A different take on my world!  While I’m usually looking down on this small slip of water thinking myself high above the “bustle”, here I was…not a bustle to be found!  It’s nice to know the peace and quiet reaches from hill to valley!

My town isn’t big.  It isn’t crowded.  It’s a good ole’ small town in New England.  I love it here.  I’ve been involved with the historical society for four years.  I sit on the board of trustees for my library.  I attend Old Home Days every year.  Yet, I’d never even ventured to this small pond across the road!  We think we know our surroundings so well, but until you go out and truly see the nature that surrounds you, it’s all foreign.  I love walking through the woods or paddling around this marsh and thinking about all the people who came before me…all the people who called this place ‘home’ decades–centuries–before me.  Perhaps their echo is here too.  I know I can feel it.


I saw a salamander today…the tiny, bright orange body resting in the trail. It’s the first one of the year for me, which is strange. But I took a different trail this morning and I’m wondering if it’s because my normal trail was torn up so much last fall (by the snowmobile club…gee, thanks).

I really, really wish I had found cross-country in high school. I did one year of track and it was enough for me. The two-miler was what I was slated for; I sucked. But I wonder if running through the woods would have been different. I love it now and I suppose that’s all that matters. The ground beneath my feet, the breeze on my skin, the blue sky and green leaves surrounding me. There is nothing like it! Today was my favorite combination of blue sky and leftover rain drops slipping down off the leaves. Rain and clear sky…the canopy of life above my head. Sure, it’s not the rain forest, but it’s just as precious to me! I couldn’t run on a treadmill or on the road with the same enjoyment.

This trail is one I rarely take, and I’m not sure why. The road is smooth and wide as it was a town road up until a few decades ago. There is only one broken-down house on the far end, but overgrown driveways remind you it was once rather populous. For Springfield that is. The first leg of the journey is easy—all downhill. Perfect for a run. The way back, well, I’m not to the running UP stage yet, but the hike is amazing and kick-ass.

I think I’ll have to give it a bit more attention.

New View

Don’t worry–you’re in the right place.  I’ve just shaken things up a bit and changed it all around. New view, new colors, same old author!  I hate being stagnant.

The header is from Wells Beach, Maine and I took it last weekend on a whirl-wind trip to celebrate my girlfriend/neighbor/hiking-buddy, Erin’s birthday!  What a beautiful morning it was!  Sometimes I forget the ocean is so close!  The smell, the feel of the wet sand beneath my toes, the pain in my back from hours of searching for treasures on the shore…ah, nothing like a day on the beach!  We didn’t get to enjoy much time on the beach this past visit, but it’s making me hunger for a return trip…

When we visited Ireland in 2007, we spent hours on a stretch of beach called the “Inch Strand”.  It was incredible.  To see sheep grazing right up to the ocean water was amazing.  The deep blue sea, the vibrant green grass, the snow white of new-born lamb’s wool…stunning.  Perhaps those images are why my main character (SHARDS) is a born landscape artist.  I envy the ability to put something so precious on canvas for those who cannot visit the scene themselves.  All before the invention of 35mm.

Sometime, when you have a moment or two, google search some landscapes from the Victorian artists.  Bloody brilliant!

Sidney Richard Percy (1821 - 1886)


Someday…someday I’ll make it there. Snowdonia, Wales

Living in the Past

So, they say if you live in the past, it limits your future.  Well, the little tab on my Yogi Tea said that anyway.  Of course, it depends on WHOSE past you’re living in!  I dwell far in the past but I find it only enhances my life in so many ways.  On days my hair doesn’t come out quite as hoped, I throw it back in a ponytail, shrug, and feel lucky I don’t have heat up irons on the fire for that added curl or have to shave it off due to lice!  There is always a bright side right?

Despite how we all believe our world is going to crap, we still have it damned good compared to our ancestors.  Don’t believe me?  Read “How the Other Half Lived” sometime.  It’s complete with pictures.  Three or four families snuggled up in a one room flat…barely enough food to get buy. Organic?  FRESH of any sort would have been nice! 

But we HAVE come a long way and we have longer lives because of it.  Make sure you appreciate that fact–get out, enjoy your life each and every day.  Don’t be too busy or too proud to let the people you love know it.  Friends are precious and few.  Keep them close!

….Even if they’re from the past!