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Great Hikes – Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona – March 1, 2018

4 Mar
Sunrise in Sedona

We love great hikes, actually we love walking and hiking in all types of weather. We like the exercise. We like to repeat hikes in our local area. It is always different. The same walk can be totally different each season, often different each month, and sometimes different each week. Hikes can be quite different before a rain, then after a big rain, or when it is cloudy vs. when there is a blue sky on a sunny day.

View from the town of Sedona

We had just finished our first 3 day REI guided hike. We stopped to visit family overnight near Phoenix and then drove up to Sedona for another two days of hiking, and exploring, with perhaps a bit of photography thrown in.

Photo of Sedona Sunset our first night in town

We had lunch in Sedona many years ago, on our way to the Grand Canyon, but you can’t really count a half hour lunch break as “seeing” Sedona. This time, we had two days and two nights and March 1st was our main hiking day.

“So what’s a great hike?” we asked our trip suggester in the front lobby of our hotel. “So what’s a great hike?” we had asked our REI Tour Guides a few days earlier. We were meeting up with two friends in the morning to hike, so they also had done an independent “So what’s a great hike” survey.

The consensus, “Get started pretty early…, before it gets hot and crowded, and take the trail up to Devil’s Bridge!”

We chose the longer and more strenuous Route 3 to connect with Route 2 and then connected to the main trail up to Devil’s Bridge pictured in the upper right corner of the map.

Our friends picked us up about 9:15 a.m. and we drove out to the Devil’s Bridge Hike Trailhead off State Road 152, just a bit west of Sedona.

View from the trailhead parking lot

We decided to take the Dry Creek to Chuck Wagon trail, the “more strenuous route” (not really we decided). Not after hiking for a few days in the Sonora Desert.

I loved the colors of these shrubs and the century plant.

Not strenuous, but it sure was beautiful.

We had a delightful walk through scrub and trees.

It was a lovely walk

The red rocks, red soil and spectacular views were at every turn and on all sides of the trail.

Then there were the lovely views of the distant buttes and rock towers and mountains of red mixed with interesting contrasting stripes and layers.

Getting an early start was great advice. One, we were able to get a parking space at the trailhead. Two, the sun was lower so the light was perfect for picture taking. Three, it was pleasant walking with our hiking layers on.

It started to get a bit steeper here.

I volunteered to take “sweep” position in our four person crew. Sweep to me meant I could pause, or stop and take a few photographs, while my three companions kept up a steady pace.

The three routes were well marked by stone cairns or signs.

I could also take action photos of my companions as they were hiking. Then I would speed walk or take a lite trail jog to catch up, thus maintaining a semblance of trail discipline by not falling too far behind and by not causing them undue worry.

I found this a perfectly agreeable arrangement. Great hikes also usually mean great photos.

The trail was just rugged enough. The vistas continued to be spectacular.

Eventually we came to the steeper climb. The last 1/3 of a mile we had to clamber up stone steps and rocks, level 3 or 4 hiking, not too bad, really, just enough to get our hearts pumping a bit harder.

The bridge was about fifteen feet across at its narrowest point above the arch.

The highlight of the trip finally yawned before us. We looked across a chasm, maybe 50 feet to see pairs of fellow hikers sitting or standing on “Devil’s Bridge”.

The bridge itself is a natural arch rising up over about 200 feet of nothing.

Devil’s Bridge

We traded off who in our group would go stand on the natural bridge and pose, my wife and our companions went first while I took their photo and then they returned the favor.

Some people were a bit worried when they walked out on this high rock arch. Even I was worried when I saw a young woman sit down on the edge and dangled her feet over all that empty space.

And they there was the crazy man who decided he would jog across the bridge and then leap a narrow gap from the bridge to another rock outcrop; all the while hoping his buddy caught his successful leap on the first take.

We decided it was time to head back down the mountain, this versus watching the crazy guy perhaps making a second or third death defying leap over the long, long, long drop to the bottom of the gorge.

The sun beams were very bright as they filtered through the trees

I enjoyed the walk down. The sun was high, almost over head, so the views were much more muted and sun-washed, but still spectacular.

But the morning views with the muted sunlight were even better.

On our hike back to our car I examined rocks, looked for fossils, and observed how the weather and the wind had carved the rocks and the soil.

View from our Thai Restaurant where we ate lunch.

It was hard to leave, it had been a great hike, but our stomachs were calling out for lunch and we knew, that just maybe, there would be time for another great hike in the afternoon. But that’s a different story.


Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian, a Hiker and a Photographer from Summoose Tales, +1.703.503.8834, summersbw@gmail.com

See Also:

Cactus League – then Cactus Hiking

Sedona Arizona Sunset

Uluru Adventure

Travel

Photos


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Digging into my Family Roots

21 Jan

A little over a year ago I was digging into my Family Roots, into my Dutch Heritage at the New York Public Library. 

There were several files there on the Van Zandt Family, and one particularly intriguing file on my 3rd Great Grandfather – Wynant Van Zandt III.  It said he founded a church in Little Neck, New York, (later renamed Douglaston, New York).

At the time my son was living in Ridgewood, Queens not too far as the crow flies from Little Neck, but a long way, over an hour, if you did not have a car. I as intrigued, but doubted that I would ever get over that way.  The only times I risked driving into Queens was to do a quick pick up to drive my son’s possessions to or from Ridgewood from our home in Virginia.

Roll forward  about eight months.

My wife and I were sitting in a bakery/cafe in Ridgewood, drinking coffee and eating lunch before heading out to visit my son in the hospital. There was a well loved (used copy) of Walking Queens, by Adrienne Onofri sitting on our table.  I thumbed through it and turned to the chapter – walking tours of Douglaston/Little Neck. In the first paragraph or two it talked about Zion Episcopal Church – founded by Wynant Van Zandt III (my third great grandfather).  I continued reading and learned that he had built a home in Little Neck, and then there was third mention.

Well, we had a car, I drove it up to Queens so we could visit my son in a hospital that was near Little Neck Parkway just a couple of miles from Douglaston. I checked the maps on my cell phone and ascertained, that yes, it was very close to the Zion Episcopal Church. We also knew there would be a gap of a few hours between visiting hours, and we like to walk and hike.  This seemed like an opportunity to explore family roots and also get some walking in.

We had a nice visit with our son, then my wife and I jumped onto the Little Neck Parkway following our Google maps instructions. As we drove down the hill into Douglaston, we saw a Van Zandt Street. I was intrigued, to say the least.

Digging into family roots

We went first to the Zion Episcopal Church, it was after hours so we thought it was closed. I took a chance, I call their phone number and the minister answered and told me she was just inside the door in the office, so she opened it and gave us a warm greeting since we were “Van Zandts”. She of course knew, everyone in the church knew, that Wynant Van Zandt III, my 3rd great grandfather, had donated the land and helped raise the money to build the church. He is the acknowledge founder of Zion.

Digging into family roots - Zion Episcopal Church

There was a plaque commemorating his founding the church in 1829, there is a Van Zandt Service Award given out annually, and Wynant Van Zandt III and 8 of his family members are buried in a crypt in the basement of the church.  There is a plaque commemorating Wynant and his family members.  The church had a fire a number of years ago. It was rebuilt and it is lovely. It is on a beautiful large piece of property right off one of the main streets of the town.

Digging into Family roots - Zion Episcopal Church, Little Neck/Douglaston, NY

Wynant III had been a successful merchant, and an Alderman for New York City. He lived in the area near Wall Street, and he had headed the building committee that built the current New York City Hall. Later in life, perhaps in his late 40’s, he retired to the country for his health.

Summoose Tales - Wynant Van Zandt III - my third great grandfather

He retired to Little Neck with view of a beautiful bay with wild geese and ducks. The bay was also famous for the “Little Neck clams” it produced.  In 1819 Wynant III bought a 100 acre farm and an 18th century Dutch farm house, the Cornelius Van Wyck House, was built in 1735.

Summoose Tales - Wynant Van Zandt III bought the Cornelius Van Wyck House in 1819

Wynant III and his family lived her for several years while he built a new home on his farm.

20180723_173114.jpg

Wynant III’s new home was started in 1819. It later was bought by the Douglas family and called the Douglas Manor. Little Neck was renamed Douglaston. The Manor later become the home of the Douglaston Yacht Club.

Summoose Tales - Wynant Van Zandt III built this home in 1819 in Little Neck, NY. It later become the Douglas Mansion and the Douglaston Yacht Club

I am proudly standing on the steps of the family house Wynant III built for his retiring years. I have vague memories of my mom talking about Douglaston. I asked my Dad, but he does not remember her ever talking about the town and they never visited there. I suspect my grandfather knew a lot about Douglaston and Little Neck since Wynant III would have been their great grandfather.

I went back to “Little Neck” a second time to walk around. The marshes around the town are beautiful.

When my son got out of the hospital, he and I also drove over to Little Neck for  a quick look around. We were very fortunate to find the new owner of the Cornelius Van Wyck House visiting and he was kind enough to spend about an hour with us, sharing stories about Little Neck, Douglaston, and allowed us to see the inside of the house that he was renovating.

It felt to me that the nearly 300 year old walls could talk. I sensed a family connection.

The house has a lovely view up and down the Little Neck Bay. 

It was a real treat to walk around the home and yard, to “dig” into and explore some of my family roots. For me it was a bit of family history coming alive. I hope you also have an opportunity to dig into your family roots.

**************************************

Bruce Summers, Founder, Summoose Tales, Personal History Consultant and Life Story Coach, +1.703.503.8834, summersbw@gmail.com

See Also: Family History, My Stories, Personal Historian


Can we be kids again?

14 Jan


My son and I decided yes, we can be kids again.

Well, after we finished shoveling out the driveway and the walkways, and clearing the snow off the cars for the third time in two days.

This was the first snow of 2019. It started on Saturday and finished up sometime dot early on Monday morning.

I have to confess, I jump-started – can we be kids again by sneakily packing and then throwing the first snowball at my son Bryce before we were done clearing off the first car the first time. Then, the broom he was using, to clean snow off the roof, just happened to brush about a hood full of snow over my way.

So far we were just being a bit playful, while doing our work. Surreptitiously, I packed a small snowball and lightly lobbed it over towards Bryce’s general direction. Well the snow ball lightly grazed his head, but then left about a quarter of its mass lodged inside and outside of his glasses.

Oops, I instantly apologized. Bryce disappeared inside. I knew I was in trouble when he came back with his glasses off. I realized I had made a few tactically mistakes, since Bryce had been the baseball catcher, pitcher and outfielder, while I had been the left out. Also, at age 25, his arm was still in its prime, while mine was good for short distances at best.

Bryce smiled, picked up his broom again and started to work on clearing snow off the hood of the car. I turned around a few moments later and – whack. He hit me in the back, luckily, with a well formed snowball. Why did I ever teach him how to pack snowballs when he was young?

I realized, that my best course was not to retaliate, and thus only got hit by one or two more snow balls, until after we finished our snow clearing.

Bryce then asked me, “do you want to go for a walk?” Since time had passed, and I thought we had in place an unspoken truce, I said yes. Bryce had already brought out the bag with the Truro Trails, our local neighborhood newsletter. Ever since Bryce was a young teenager, I have been delivering, often with his help, batches of Truro Trail to four neighbors, who then each deliver copies to several neighbors. It was great having one of my “kids” again walking with me and chatting up our neighbors.

It was still snowing, most of the streets had not been plowed, many of the sidewalks had not been cleared, but we decided it was a beautiful day. So, we continued our walk through our Truro neighborhood.

As we approached the stream crossing, we decided to amble through our neighborhood park. The stream flowing through the snowy banks, though the snowy trees, and under the snow covered bridges was spectacular.

It was a great day for a walk, and we did have our hiking boots and warm clothes on. What can be better than a walk through a snow filled park and neighborhood.

At a certain point, the kid in me took over my brain, and I thought… we could pull on the branches and create snow showers. And so we did, the rules of engagement were – we both had to be under snow covered branches, and we would alternate who picked the spot and who got to shake the tree branch.

Well, this worked out surprisingly well, and, as the snow piled up on our hats and hoods and shoulders, we each smiled and laughed. Sometimes, it really felt like heavy shower as snow cascaded in large clumps from 5 to 20 feet up. Sometimes, more fell on Bryce. Sometimes, more fell on me.

However, about half way through our neighborhood, I realized that I had again, missed a key strategic point. Bryce had his sweatshirt hood up and over his head and neck. I on the other hand, had a knit cap on my head and my hood was down, This made it all to possible for snow to shower down my neck and sometimes, even down my back.

Yet we continued, like the kids we were again, to alternate pulling branches to snow shower each other at least a dozen times each as we completed our long loop through our neighborhood. It definitely was the most fun I had had for a long time.

Notice the snow-berg on Bryce’s right shoulder

We completed our walk, changed clothes, dried off, had a steaming bowl of chili for lunch, and thought about possibilities. Maybe tomorrow, we could go sledding…

Summoose Tales - Can we be kids again?
Postscript – yes we did get in a bit of sledding the next day, since we had learned the day before that we can be kids again:)


Bruce Summers is the Founder of Summoose Tales, a Personal History Consultancy

Contact Information: +1.703.503.8834, summersbw@gmail.com

Sedona Arizona Sunset

31 Dec Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

Sedona Arizona is a beautiful, thin place…

My wife Mary and I traveled to Sedona Arizona on Feb. 28, 2018 after our REI Hiking trip to Southern Arizona. We had driven through Sedona about 10 years prior, stopping for lunch on our way to the Grand Canyon with our children. We both looked forward too a few more days of hiking and exploring this uniquely beautiful place. By thin place, I mean it is one of a few places around the world where you feel a bit closer to the Creator, to Mother Nature, to Gaia. You remember that Earth was not made or shaped by man, but by much more powerful forces. I felt the same way when I climbed in a live volcano, in St. Vincent, when I did yoga on the rocks at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, and when we watched the sunrise at Uluru, Australia. The following are photos from our first afternoon and early evening in Sedona.

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

In Sedona the carved red cock formations surround you…

It is hard to know where to look…

We were advised to head up to the airport for the best view of the sunset

To the west we saw the sun setting slowly, I dimmed the sunlight to get this view…

But in other directions the landscape glowed…

I loved the view of Mesas in the distance…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

But closer in, beautifully carved features…

Seemed to be everywhere…

And the sun was lighting…

All of them…

As then sun continued to sink slowly…

But surely, into the far western hills…

While at the same time, amazingly, the full moon was rising over the hills to our east…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

We shifted over to the main viewing area…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

To join the throngs of gathered photographers…

We were amply rewarded…

By views of layer after layer…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

Of back-lit…

Mountain ridges…

Going on and on…

Into…

Summose Tales - Sedona Arizona

Infinity…

How far could we see…

In the moments…

It didn’t seem to matter…

We were all trying…

Really hard…

Not to miss a moment…

Of Mother Nature’s…,

Of God’s show.

To the right, were beautiful features…

Front and center, the sun continued to sink…

The view…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

The sunset…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

Again, the view…

Again the sunset…

Summose Tales - Sedona Arizona

The rock features were glowing…

The sun was nearing the far ridge line…

The colors, and the layers…

How many layers and ridges was I seeing?

The main show is getting close…

But which way should I look…

I glanced quickly to the right…

To snap a few shots…

I climbed up on a rock…

Summose Tales - Sedona Arizona

To get a slightly better view over the crowd…

Again to the right…

Back towards the sunset…

I did a 180 degree turn to capture the moon-rise…

And then quickly around to catch the sun-setting…

Again the view…

The sun dipping…

I turned on my video recorder to capture the last moments of the sun setting…

Summose Tales - Sedona Arizona

And then it was gone…

But then, by changing settings on my camera…

I could capture the enormous after-glow…

That lit up the sky…

And much of the horizon…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

The happy crowd, the photographers, and the amazed spectators, started to turn away, while I just stared and enjoyed this miracle of nature, and counted my blessings… Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I reflected that tomorrow we would be hiking in these hills, but that is another story:)


Bruce Summers, is a Professional Personal Historian and Life Story Writer for Summoose Tales, Summersbw@gmail.com.  He is a former global board member of the Association of Personal Historian and served as director, regions and chapters.  He is a founding member of the Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington Area.

See also

Counting more blessings and saying Thank You.

Cactus League – then Cactus Hiking

Uluru Adventure

Travel

Photos

Why are these rocks “Remarkable”?

24 Dec

June 21, 2018. Our guide said we were going to visit remarkable rocks…

This was part of the second day of a nature and hiking tour on Kangaroo Island, located off the South Coast of Australia a few hours bus and ferry ride from Adelaide in South Australia.

We had already seen my first wild kangaroos, my new favorite bird the Australian pelican, and walked around huge sea lions. I personally had some concerns when our path back off the beach to the steps was blocked by a large male sea lion. A mother and her cub were just a few steps to our right, and three other cubs were gamboling in the surf a few more steps to our left.  For some reason, I kept wondering why that other huge male sea lion we had passed earlier, was bleeding?

We also had become accomplished koala spotters, we stood about fifteen feet away from a mob of kangaroos, and about 20 feet away from a clutch of gray seals.

We had seen so many, many, remarkable sites, and flora and fauna so what would make rocks remarkable?

From a distance, they looked interesting, perhaps they were glacier rocks, rounded in an interesting way?

We parked among large shrubs and could not really see anything. We walked along the board walk, winding  our way towards “Remarkable Rocks”, but honestly, we were more interested in spotting unusual birds with our nature guide.

But then, we could see the rocks in the distance, and that was all we could look at.

As we walked closer, one of the rocks looked a bit like a huge animal, almost like an extinct form of an elephant.

In this photo wife is taking her first pictures of forms that were…

Fascinating…

Unique…

Beautiful…

Colorful…

Massive…

Magnificently carved…

And etched…

Colored…

Artfully…

Arranged…

Sculpted…

Draped…

Shaped…

“Remarkable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And if that was not remarkable enough, this one looked like a giant petrified egg shell from some 500 million year old creature who must have been a “Remarkable” artist.

In the distance we saw more remarkable rocks, but that will be a different trip.

        

We took one last photo, then start back to our van for our next stop on a “Remarkable” tour of Kangaroo Island.

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Bruce Summers, is a Professional Personal Historian and Life Story Writer for Summoose Tales, Summersbw@gmail.com.  He is a former global board member of the Association of Personal Historian and served as director, regions and chapters.  He is a founding member of the Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington Area.

See also

Uluru Adventure

Travel

Photos

Counting more blessings and saying Thank You.

30 Nov

Let’s go hiking for a week in February… My wife, as usual, had a great idea. Normally we would try a couple of day hikes in February, on the weekends, and if the weather was mild.

Blessing #1: We would be hiking in Southern Arizona, I had never been there, and it is quite a bit farther south than Northern Virginia.

Blessing #2: This was our first hiking Trip hosted by REI, so we would be hiking with a group, with trained guides.

Blessing #3: They would help us with transport of our luggage and would provide lodging and food… on the trail or otherwise.

Blessing #4: Another couple, two of our good friends, would also be taking the same hike with us:)

Blessing #5: One of my wife’s cousins lived just north of Phoenix and we could stay overnight with them on two separate nights; first between adventures, and then just before we flew home.

Blessing #6: We were going to be able to get in a couple of days of bonus hiking in Sedona, AZ.  We had driven there once, the landscape is spectacular, and we were looking forward to exploring the region around Sedona for a few days.

Mixed Blessing #1: we had to get up really, really early for our flight to Phoenix. But, we had gotten up early before, and it meant we would have more time to visit the old town in Scottsdale, AZ. We were overnighting there and meeting up with our REI Group the next day.

 

 

Mixed Blessing #2: Though the weather was temperate, we noticed large gobs of people all heading to some type of stadium. We asked a stranger on the street, where’s everyone going? It’s Opening Day of Spring Training for the Cactus League he said. We took a quick walk around Old Town to spot a potential restaurant for dinner, but then we were each bitten, or at least I was bitten, by the spontaneous bug. We saw a man standing along the street trying to sell a pair of “great” tickets to the Opening Day game. “It’s sold out,” he said, he may have mentioned that his wife was ill also.  It may have been a story, but we felt we could afford a pair of tickets and decided to head to the Park to watch a bit of Professional Baseball Spring Training.

Blessing #7: Even though it was not sold out, the crowd was large, for that size stadium, and in a great mood. We sat, down the first base line, a bit into right field. We had a great view.

Blessing #8: Yes they did have hot dogs, no it wasn’t Southwestern food, but it went down easy with a bit of mustard and sauerkraut along with a nice cold bottle of water.

Blessing #9: We saw a couple of home runs, some decent pitching, some decent hitting and fielding, and a few errors of course. It was a hoot.

Blessing #10: We had a yummy Southwestern dinner with our friends. We live in the same area, but we had not seen each other very recently to catch up on the news. It was a great shared evening.

 

Blessing #11: We hit the lottery with our tour guides.  One was rated the #1 or 2 guide in the whole system. The other would have been a #1 guide on any other trip.

Blessing #12: It had rained recently in Southern AZ and the Saguaro Cactus were magnificently tall, plump, and everywhere.

 

Blessing #13: You never know how a week-long hike in higher altitude, in a desert, and during winter will go. Will we be fit enough, we wondered.  How will we shake down with the rest of group. Despite a small miss-adventure crossing the 3rd of 12 streams; we both did great with the hiking as did our friends.  About half of our group stayed back at the 2/3rds point of the hike and then the rest of us, “the rabbits”, I reflected charged off at an enhanced pace to reach the destination waterfall.

 

Blessing #14: The hiking was a bit more challenging, but the view of the waterfall and the catchment pools, and the ducks swimming in the lower pool was magnificent.

Blessing #15: We stayed overnight in a downtown Tucson Hotel. We had a superb southwestern dinner, slept well, geared up, and had breakfast in an old western bar. We then headed out for another great day of hiking, then lunch and visited a great park filled with southwestern Flora Fauna.

 

Blessing #16: We learned a lot about Saguaro and other Cacti during the trip, we saw animals, scat, climbed mountain ridges, and saw spectacular views across wide vistas.

 

Blessing #17: We had another restful night. Then an early morning departure, a tour of a large, now defunct pit mine, a talk with a local Native American Guide, a nice long hike, and then lunch in the park at picnic tables.

  

Mixed Blessing #3: A highlight was our visit to the border fence between Arizona and Mexico. We were surprised to learn that the high fence disappears after going east for a mile or so.  The conditions are arid and dry, not forgiving. Twice during the next day and a half I spotted black painted jugs. These are usually filled with water for the hundreds of people who  attempt to cross this desert border each year.

 

Blessing # 18 and 19: We drove up a high ridge to take in an amazing view of setting sun looking across multiple mountain ridges and ranges. Then we ate a scrumptious picnic supper outside. A special opportunity was an open discussion with a Border Patrol Agent who answered our questions and discussed the challenges, for Border Patrol Agents, to both help people survive who crossed the border to escape bad conditions and sometime threats to their lives, while at the same time trying to discover, and thwart, bad actors who tried to smuggle drugs and even children to become slaves or worse across the border.  I had the pleasure of riding down the high ridge with him back to our lodging for the night. It was a blessing to talk with him and to learn more about the nuances of protecting our border that are experienced by individual agents.

 

Blessing #20: After one more great hike, and a picnic in the rough, we head back to Phoenix. We rented a car, fought through an hour of congested traffic, and then arrived at my cousin-in-law’s home. We had not met her husband. He was a gem. Even better, he was a rock hound, and around his home he had grapefruit and other citrus trees and…

Interim count: Needless to say we got to 20 Blessings and 3 Mixed Blessings and we had not even started our excursion to Sedona yet. We highly recommend a week of walking in the Winter and we are very thankful for our health and opportunities to walk, hike and explore.  We hope everyone has a great Holiday Season and that you take a few moments to count your blessings.

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Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian at Summoose Tales, summersbw@gmail.com

He served as a global board member and director, regions and chapters for the Association of Personal Historians Bruce is a founding member of the Life Story Professionals of Greater Washington Area

See Also

Counting blessings and saying Thank you.

Counting blessings and saying Thank you.

18 Nov

It snowed Thursday. I needed to be at work downtown in Washington, D.C. early, but not too early.  I was co-facilitating a training class at 9:30 am.

Blessing # 1: As promised it had snowed overnight and it was still snowing. But it wasn’t too bad, the World Bank Group was open and cars were moving on the roads.

Blessing # 2: My driveway is built on a hill, so it was pretty easy to push 3/4 inch of snow down and away off the driveway. Though, it was a bit disconcerting that the snow was replacing itself almost as fast as I was scraping it off.

Blessing # 3: When I started sliding in my work-shoes, I could quickly transition into the snow boots I had already placed in the car for just such an eventuality.  “Be Prepared” I had learned as a Boy Scout.

Blessing # 4: I could quickly clear the snow off of my car with a broom. I think I learned this trick from a story about Chinese workers in Beijing being able to clear the sidewalks and roads with brooms, vs. snow plows.

Blessing # 5: I got on the roads and they were not too bad, people were driving a bit slower and cautiously, just right for travel in light snow. I turned right, then right again, and then left onto Prosperity.

Mixed Blessing 1: Traffic was starting to stack up at the first big hill down on Prosperity.  I saw a half-dozen cars turn around, some took an alternate route but it also had steep downs and steep ups. I decided to try my chances on Prosperity’s hills.

Blessing # 6: We slowly approached the congested section of the big down hill. After pauses and appropriate waiting, and timing when each up hill bound car would start its ascent,  we each slowly worked our way cautiously downhill. So far so good.

Mixed Blessing 2: The somewhat level part worked fine, then we started to stack up by the park. A couple of cars pulled into the park to wait it out. Ahead of us, up the hill, we could see two or three cars turned a bit askew.  They had tried unsuccessful tactics in climbing the big hill and were stuck slightly sideways blocking both the cars going down, and the cars like mine, that needed to go up. I duly queued up to wait my chance about 5 cars back.

Blessing # 7: I saw a woman from the second car, she was wearing a red coat, she got out and started walking up the hill to help.

Blessing # 8: I saw a second woman from the first car get out. She started walking up the hill to help the first.

Blessing # 9 and 10: Another man and I came to our senses and got out of our cars to walk up the hill to help the two woman push the stuck car.

Blessing # 11: A third man join us. The hill was steep, but with five of us pushing we gradually eased the upper most stuck car up about 75 to 100 feet and it had enough traction to keep going over the summit.

Blessing # 12 and 13: We walked down to stuck car # 2 and repeated the random act of kindness (RaOK), pushing the car up the hill until it could get traction. We walked down and repeated the RaOK with stuck car # 3. Then we all hurried back down to our cars since the hill was now clear.

Blessing # 14: the first car in the queue, with one of the pushers. Calmly and successfully scaled the hill no problem. The second car in the queue was also successful.

Mixed Blessing # 3: The third car got about half way up and got stuck. the fourth car in the queue, the one just in front of mine had to stop 1/4th of the way up. Then the man got out to push the third car.

Blessing # 15: Knowing one pusher likely would not work. I got out and ran up the hill, acknowledging blessing # 3 again and the two of us got the third car moving again.

Blessing # 16 and 17: The man in the fourth queued got a good start in his SUV and cleared the hill. So now it was my turn. I remembered to drive a snowy hill in lower gear.  I think I learned this from my Dad about 45 years prior. I started moving and kept moving at a slow but steady pace and easily cleared the hill, hopefully opening the path for 30 or more other cars that were queued up to go up or down the Prosperity hill.

Blessing # 18: I had no problems the rest of the way. The Metro (Subway) worked fine.  I realized that even with the hour lost pushing the cars up the hill, I would only arrive five minutes late for the start of the class.

Blessing # 19: I emailed my co-facilitator. She had negotiated her way into the World Bank Group by bicycle; a minor miracle I thought, this so she would not have to depend on the Metro buses, which are notoriously slow in snowy weather. I estimated I would be 5 minutes late for the start of the class.

Blessing # 20: The session started on time, with a recap quiz from last week’s session. My colleague was well prepared to carry on.  I was only four minutes late and we had a great session.

Final score: 20 Blessings, 3 Mixed Blessings, 4 cars pushed up the hill, a few RaOKs, I showed that I was prepared for life’s eventualities and I had done my good turn for the day. I was not the first to get out of my car to help, but I was one of only five that did get out to help our neighbors.

For all these blessings and for the lessons I learned in Scouting and from my father and my mother, I am truly thankful. I also remembered afterwards, that I had watched my son and three Boy Scout friends push 3 or 4 cars up a snowy hill in West Virginia about ten years ago, that was also a blessed memory.

I hope each of you has an opportunity to count your blessing, to do a good turn, and perhaps and RaOK this week.  Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday. To my four fellow pushers,  thank you for being good neighbors and for inspiring me to do my part.

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Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian with Summoose Tales. He is a member of the Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington Area, and a former global board member and director of regions and chapters of the Association of Personal Historians. Everyone has Life Stories to share. Learn how – summersbw@gmail.com 

See also:

What does Thanksgiving mean?

Thanksgiving – Show and Tell

Thanksgiving checklist: cranberry salsa, bread, and the Voice Recorder App.

Skills to “Actively Listen” and Record Family Stories during the Holidays?

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