Tag Archives: hiking

Cactus League – then Cactus Hiking

5 Mar


We were just looking for a place to eat… we kept seeing all these people with “Giants” and “SF” hats?

We flew into Phoenix, took a taxi to overnight in Scottsdale, AZ, stowed our luggage for our 4 PM check-into our hotel, and then got directions to Historic Scottsdale, “it’s just half a mile by foot.” We listened intently, received a map with some marked in suggestions of possible places to eat lunch and dinner, and then we were on our way to starting our Arizona hiking adventure.

We would meet up with friends for dinner, so we needed to do some scouting of interesting places to eat. Scottsdale is known for its historic, western feel,  and its old town. On our way to historic Scottsdale, we noticed a baseball stadium. There were police, traffic control, and significant streams of people laser-focused on going/getting to the stadium, this at noon on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Then we started to notice that everyone was wearing Giants and SF hats and jerseys.  They seemed to be in a festive happy mood. So we asked a couple. “It’s the first game of Spring Training, (professional baseball), it’s the San Francisco Giants versus the Milwaukee Brewers (two teams in the Spring Training Cactus league).”

We walked a bit further and saw lots and lots of more fans streaming towards the stadium.  We asked another couple, what time is the game? “1 PM they shared, each with a huge grin.” So, this planted the seed; should we check out Spring Training? When else will we ever get the chance to see a Spring Training game?  We like baseball, but we are not likely to schedule a vacation around attending Spring Training, but why not take advantage of this opportunity. “And we can get a hot dog… for lunch and watch the game…”

Next, a man on the street had two good tickets he was offering to sell, “My wife could not go, it’s sold out, these are good seats.” He explained that the Giants always do Spring Training in Scottsdale, so they are the local (favorite) team. Others later shared, that they buy season tickets for the local minor league team, mostly so they can get tickets to watch the Giants during Spring Training. We thought about it, and we bought two tickets for the game.

We completed about a mile survey of Historic Scottsdale, took photos of the historic artifacts, of the gardens and sculptures, and of a few restaurants and their menus.  It looked like a nice place to explore.  We picked out two or three good options for dinner with our friends and then joined the throngs headed to the stadium.

Inside we got our hot dogs, mine was a tasty bratwurst with mustard and sauerkraut, and a bottle of water. We found our seats, lower level, just a bit past first base on the right field side.  There were perhaps 30 Giants fans to each Brewers fan and there was a buzz in the air… Spring Training… first game.

“Our” Giants took an  early 3-0 lead, the Brewers closed it up, so by the 7th inning it was 5-3 with “Our” Giants still in the lead. We had seen two home runs, some decent baseball, some good, and some bad pitching, fun, but we were ready to go check into our rooms.

We had a nice Mexican dinner with our friends in Old Town.

We got a good night sleep a healthy breakfast, and then met up with our REI Hiking group and two guides.

We packed up our hiking gear and suitcases and headed south towards Tucson and our first of four days of hiking in Southern Arizona.

We arrived at the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, checked our gear, filled up our water bottles, and saw a mountain lion head with pelt attached. “Yes there are mountain lions and bobcats in this hills, shared a docent.” Good to know I thought.

We had already seen many miles of Saguaro Cactus, hills, mountains, desert on our drive down. This should be interesting we thought. We would ride a tram 2 miles to the trail head then start our hike up to Seven Falls. We passed endless hills of Saguaro and other Cacti. In less than 24 hours we had visited a western old town, attended the opening day of Spring Training, eaten a great Mexican meal, packed up and prepared to hike up our first desert Canyon. What a great first day:)


Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian, a  former Board Member of the Association of Personal Associations and Director for Regions and Chapters.  He is a member of the Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington, DC Area and an avid hiker and photographer. Summersbw@gmail.com 



Tromsø – Hike to the Cable Car via the Bridge

12 Jun

First view of the Arctic Cathedral

We agreed ahead of time that instead of a paid “excursion” we would hike across the high harbor bridge, past the Arctic Cathedral to the Cable Car. We had 4 hours and 15 minutes to get off the boat get there, explore the mountain at the top of the Cable Car and get back. We planned to walk there and if needed take the # 26 bus back. Our friend Mary agreed to join our personal “excursion”.

Tromsø is our next stop

Tromsø is about 240 miles north of the Arctic Circle, so we had our thermals and layers ready. It was a nice day, our good weather continued to hold, it was cool but not frigid cold. I prepared my day pack, we filled the water bottles, rolled up and stuffed in the emergency rain coats. We reviewed maps and confirmed our bus route back with the ship’s activities staff.


First view of the Arctic Cathedral

It was a beautiful trip into the harbor. Snow capped mountains surrounded the perimeter as far as the eye could see, all around Tromsø, some near while others far and then much farther in the distance. The city of Tromsø is the largest in northern Norway, about 70,000 people. We passed quite a few ships coming into and later out of port. Freighters, excursion boats, fishing boats, cruise liners, sailboats – all a lovely cacophony.

A tall bridge about a mile long dominated the channel between the major island the mainland. We knew this was the bridge we had to cross to get to the cable car. We saw on the map that our ship would birth fairly near to it. On our starboard side we could see the cable car on the hill and the platform 1,300 hundred feet above us. We would need to cross the bridge to get to it.

There seemed to be four segments to our trip. Walk along the harbor, take the 15 minute walk across the high bridge, pass the Arctic Cathedral and make our way to the bottom entrance station to the cable car, then ride the car up to top entrance at an altitude of 421 meters above the harbor.

It was 2:15 PM when the MS Lofoten snugged into its berth. The gangplank was carefully placed by a forklift. The crew prepared to check us out, we all queued up, had our Ship ID Cards scanned, “goodbye” it signaled, and the five us gathered on the pier, cameras and cell phones out and ready to take photos; then we were off. It was always great to get off of the boat for a few hours of exploring each day.

My son, daughter, and I alternated fast walking and taking the lead through the harbor piers so we would each have a few seconds to stop, snap some photos, then fast walk again to keep up with fellow hikers. Snap, snap – harbor, fishing boats, rowing boat team, statues, interesting houses, businesses, signs in Norwegian, the harbor, freighters, and then the bridge.

Once we were on the bridge it was a fairly long steep climb. Again the three of us fast walked, then paused to take pictures – city skyline, ships, piers, the Arctic Cathedral, the far shore, the cable car, and the many snow-capped mountains in the distance.

We stayed on the right side of the bridge, designed and dedicated for foot traffic. We saw or passed walkers, strollers, and joggers going both ways. Cars, trucks and buses used the center lanes. Bikers made good use of the left designated bike lanes, again being frequently used both ways.

Above us and beside us were sea gulls, floating on the natural breezes but also on the breeze being generated by ships passing under us, and by the vehicle, bike and human foot traffic passing along the bridge. They floated slowly by, hovering on the breeze slightly above us, beside us, or just below us – seemingly happy and enjoying the day. Sometimes it was just one bird smiling, Other times it was three or four birds together wafting along on their own excursion beside the bridge a couple of hundred feet above the harbor.

The steady climb up the bridge went on and on, and then finally it peaked and we started down towards the Arctic Cathedral. The walk down seemed much faster now aided by gravity. Our strides seemed longer and views of our destination drew us on at a swift pace. As we made a slight curve to the right we now had a clear view of the lovely Arctic Cathedral. We paused, snapped a few photos and then continued our march.

As we came off the bridge, we paused to take a few snaps and to orient ourselves. Our maps did not show a clear path by foot, to the bottom of the cable car. We could see the cables up the hill in the distance and decided to follow the road signs for autos to the cable car. We paused to take a photo of a phone booth. It seemed a common sight at the various islands and towns we visited during the cruise, but phone booths are increasingly rare in the US, at least where we live.

The air was fresh, the temperature cool, but not cold, it was a great day for a hike. So we set off up the hill following the road signs, After a bit of a climb there was another road sign up the hill further, then we saw the anticipated sign to the right. Another sign said the equivalent of “keep going”, in Norwegian. As per our norm, various members of our crew paused to snap a new picture of a house, a sign, the city across the harbor, the bridge, the passing ships, or the mountains in the distance.

Finally there was the expected sign to turn left and up the hilly parking lot was the bottom entrance to the cable car and we smiled inwardly, three legs of our journey done. We walked up the hill, turning once or twice to snap the view. We bought our tickets, getting two discounts for students (college students count). Then we had about a 10 minute wait for the next cable car.

These of course were not like the San Francisco Cable Cars. The cars are gondola type cabins are suspended by cables and ascend fairly rapidly to the upper platform – only a four-minute ride. Our group was first in line so we secured the optimal places in the car to look down and backwards to take more photos of the view as we rose to our destination.

We arrived to a small snack area, that opened at the front to a large viewing platform with a 180 degree view of the city and harbor area across the channel. To the right was the bridge far below us. On a hill diagonally in line above it were the 2 or 3 ski jumps, now bare of snow, that I had seen on the city map. We could see the airport on the back half of the island that had been hidden by the central hill above Tromsø. We could see the high, jagged snow-capped peaks in the far distance across the water behind the island.

We could see many other islands and snowy mountains on all sides in the distance. It was a lovely panorama. We had our friend Mary take group shots of us with the town and the mountains and the landmark bridge behind us. There were even large table like chairs on the viewing platform where you could lounge, out of the wind and just soak up the Arctic sun.

Behind us were hills still fully covered with snow, We had seen one man carrying snow skis earlier on our hike to the cable car. It was the first of June, but still ski season for some. Just outside of the snack shop there was a snow drift about 6 feet high. We could see where the hiking trails started, most were still snow-covered of course.

Several of us walked over to a far viewing platform through about eight inches of snow. There was a somewhat beaten path where others had walked, but it was a might slippery at times. Luckily my feet stayed fairly dry. Again the view from the far platform was stunning and slightly different than from the viewing platform. You could see another 45% degrees around to south with a long view across water to the farther away rugged snow-capped mountains and islands in the distance. It was a lovely view, I smiled inwardly, enjoying being up on a snowy mountain on the northern coast of Norway with the sun shining on my face.

We walked carefully, again with a bit of slipping and sliding on the snowy path, less beaten, through less walked path through the snow. We all got hot chocolate at the snack shop. They actually had an additional cafeteria space with tables and chairs, the Fjellstua Cafe. If we ever go back in the summer for a mountain hike, I would definitely take advantage of this. I walked out on the viewing platform for one more look at the view. Came back in and enjoyed my cocoa. We made sure we queued up early to get the prime front view in the cable car going down. After a five-minute wait we were on our way – four minutes down to the lower station while snapping more photos of the view.

We decided we still had 90 minutes to get back to the ship. My family and I decided to walk back. Our friend decided to try the bus. Again, gravity made the walk down to the bridge must faster. We stopped to take some external photos of the famed Arctic Cathedral. We decided to save visiting this for another trip, hopefully. We enjoyed our fast 15 minute walk up and over the pedestrian side of the bridge. We passed more walkers, strollers, and joggers, cars, trucks, and floating sea gulls. We did not see Mary’s bus, but we did see other buses crossing the bridge regularly. The air and the view were again lovely and interesting.

Off the bridge, we strolled through the city a bit, glanced over at Pepe’s pizza – no, no, not this trip… We got back to our ship with plenty of time to spare. We walked around the dock area a bit, then watched freight, still being loaded onto the M.S. Lofoten continuously for the past three hours. This freight was headed for still further northern, smaller, more isolated towns and villages on our cruise path north.

The M.S. Lofoten is a working ship. It carries freight and passengers to and from towns that may have no roads, air, or train connections to other towns.

We took off our extra layers, stowed away our gear, day pack, water bottles and rain gear, and assimilated back into “cruise” mode. Dinner was in another hour and a half and there would be lots to see as we started the next leg of our journey. Let’s see, it will be Skjervøy next at 10:15 PM.


Tromsø – Hike to the Cable Car via the Bridge is one of a series of blogs – Our Norwegian Cruise by Bruce Summers, summersbw@gmail.com  Bruce is a Personal Historian and founder of Summoose Tales.  He is a former board member, regions and chapters director of the Association of Personal Historians.

See also:

Preamble – Train from Oslo to Bergen


Geese in a row

16 Jan

Today we went for a walk with a friend around Burke Lake Park in Northern Virginia. Driving in I commented that there was a gaggle of geese guarding the west end of the lake.


Later I got some great photos on the gaggle on patrol.

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We have continued to have a mild winter so Burke Lake is free of ice and the gaggle seemed very content to congregate and guard their western border.

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Later, as we hiked around the northern boundary of the lake we saw an even more interesting group of geese.


These geese seemingly we practicing some type of goose oriented military drill.


They were sitting perfectly in line jutting out into the water in a southerly direction.


Occasionally, one of the geese would float out line and then look back at his or her colleagues to see if they were still in proper array. Then this goose would ease on back and rejoin the rest of the military gaggle.



It was a great day for a walk. I hope everyone is have a great start to 2016. When you get a chance, I hope you can take some time, and take a walk.  Maybe you too will get to see geese in a line in a lake.


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

See also

When and Where: Interesting places to visit in the Washington, DC Area

When and Where: Interesting places to visit in the Washington, DC Area

26 Jan

By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales
Board Member, Association of Personal Historians

January – Hemlock Overlook Regional Park provides access to some great hiking trails with rolling wooded hills. It connects to the 18 mile long Bull Run Occoquan Trail, it was fun to walk along the river and “runs.”  We even got in a bit of train spotting.

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It is also a great time to spend a day indoors exploring the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – a part of the National Air and Space Museum out near Dulles Airport.  We visited the recent open house and saw a lot of behind the scenes sections of the restoration center and archives. It was also a treat to see a large model of the Star Trek – Starship Enterprise.  Even when there is not an open house there are hundreds of exhibits, displays, planes, jets, rockets, space capsules, the Concorde and of course the Space Shuttle Discovery  to see.

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March – Spring is the prettiest time to be in the Washington, DC area. The trees start to bloom, the light green leaf buds emerge and spring flowers erupt. Many visitors make a special trip down to see the Cherry Blossoms, but I find the suburban neighborhoods around Washington, DC equally beautiful in the spring.

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July – A rooftop or balcony with a view of the Washington Monument on the 4th of July provides a perfect view of the spectacular national fireworks display on the National Mall. We enjoyed a beautiful 4th of July night with colleagues watching from the balconies of a federal building. The sunset made the rooftops of Washington, the U.S. Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial, and the monuments glow with rose colored hue and the fireworks display was amazing.

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OctoberWas a great time to stop by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, it is all outdoors with lots of water features and memorable quotes. Nearby you can take in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial or catch a few ultimate frisbee teams scrimmaging across the street.

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DecemberThe Hirshhorn Museum and the National Gallery of Art on a cool but not so cold winter day is a great escape. The exhibits in the Hirschhorn are a bit more avant-garde, they often provide novel ways to look at art. The National Gallery of Art provides a more historical view of masterful art. The two museums provide an interesting contrast. The nice thing about winter is that around closing time you get to see the sun setting over some of the grand spaces and buildings on the Washington Mall.

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Best wishes for an intriguing 2015

30 Dec



Mary and Bruce at Mt. Rainier National Park

By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales, summersbw@gmail.com

I was a bit delayed getting out my holiday season message — 2014 was a busy and event filled year.

Holiday Photo at Phipps Conservatory by Bryce Summers 2014

2014 Holiday photo by Bryce Summers

The first half of 2014 was filled with expectations as my youngest child waited for college acceptance letters – yea or nay, with mostly yeas from good schools. I think I suffered more from the parent version of “senioritus” than she did from the high school senior version.


Marching band trophies

My focus was on the last “this” – last District Band Concert, the last “that” – my last high school volunteering gig – helping out at her All Night Grad party, and the last time I had to wake up at 6 am to get one of my children up for school:)

As a Personal Historian and as a father I focused on capturing photos of her senior year – putting over a hundred photos together featuring many highlights of the year in a PowerPoint with captions. Perhaps one day this will be a photo book that she can share with her grandchildren.

The middle of the year focused on Graduation, my kids transitioning home, and then they were off again to work on the other side of the country or on an overseas service trip. We spent enjoyable days at Bethany Beach, DE, with my ever-present digital voice recorder capturing a few more family stories from my parents. I never tire of re-hearing fresh versions of old stories and I love hearing newly remembered stories they have not talked about for decades or perhaps ever.

I introduced adult “Show and Tell” at my Family Reunion with great results. Lots of family members brought objects or pictures to show and of course lots of family lore to tell.

My mother talked about her grandfather carving walking sticks and making fans. She and her cousins talked about the quilts their grandmother made for each of them. My first cousins all reacted with a “no way!” when told that their mother had been a baton twirler in high school. We learned that one of my aunts stole her cousin’s boy-friend during a sleigh ride. We heard that my great-aunt met her future husband because he threw a penny, with a note wrapped around it, out of a train window on his way to ship overseas for service in World War I.

20140713_182737 Richard Chichester handcrafted caneShow and Tell for Family Reunion

My great-grandfather Chichester carved walking sticks and made wooden fans

This was just the tip of the family story iceberg; 90-year-old photo albums came out which we cross-referenced. We figured out who great-great uncle William was, the one who aunt Margaret (as a child) saw laid out on the pool table during her visit to her grandmother. He had died, cutting her visit short. We pondered why my grandmother was born at a summer camp, and then we saw pictures of the annual New York Life Insurance summer camp for families, hmm… may that is the connection.

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Was my grandmother born during New York Life Insurance summer camp at this park?

Later in the summer we had a great family trip to Mexico and explored the ancient Mayan city of Coba where we climbed pyramids and explored the gaming courts. If this city was fully recovered from the surrounding jungle it would be the second largest city in the world (geographically). This all was very exciting since I dreamed of being an archaeologist in my youth.


We climbed the Nohoch Mul pyramid at the Mayan ruins in Coba

Then my wife and I celebrated a wonderful 25th Wedding Anniversary to Washington State with my brother and sister-in-law. We had a great time hiking and exploring “Paradise” at Mount Rainier National Park and then toured Washington Wine Country in the Yakima and Columbia River Valleys. This brought back great memories of our own Summers family agribusiness that lasted for over 100 years.


Sunrise at Mount Rainier was spectacular

During the Fall we had great trips to visit our children at college whilst seeing plays and watching marching bands perform. We visited Fallingwater and Monticello.

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Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s “Fallingwater” is spectacular

At Thanksgiving we all participated in Thanksgiving Show and Tell again by showing objects and photos and sharing family stories and laughs.

To wrap up the year as the kids returned from college we did several activities. There was the extended family viewing of the third part of the Hobbit. We went on excursions to the Mall and other stores in order to buy, return, window shop, exchange and return gifts. There were trips to and from Union Station and the airport to pick up or drop off our children. We attended and hosted holiday celebrations. We visited my hometown to spend Christmas with my parents.

It has been busy and bustling year with just enough time for my son to successfully assemble the new Christmas deer that lights up our front lawn and for us to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and other memorable movies. We also spent time organizing and supporting a service and outreach project at our church where we assembled over 700 snack-packs for local charities.

It has been a good year to be a personal historian. I was elected to serve on the international board of directors for the Association of Personal Historians where I will be focusing on Regional Operations. I completed interviews and transcripts for one client. I continue to work on two books for another client. I have the forty digital voice recordings from Show and Tell at the Family Reunion, a few dozen more recordings of my parent’s and other family members’ stories and I am starting interviews to capture early stories for the 60th Anniversary of my church.

I hope you and your family are having a joyous holiday season. I hope you take some time to snap a few personal and family photos, schedule time to do a family show and tell or to record a few stories. If you need help contact me or one of my colleagues in the Association of Personal Historians.

I wish you an intriguing and memorable 2015.


May you life be inspired by sunrises and sunsets


Our Trip to Paradise – Part 5 – Arrival in Paradise (Wildflowers were everywhere)

3 Oct

Arrival in Paradise

Continuing from Our Trip to Paradise – Part 4 – The Road to Paradise

We continue to climb. We finally reaching Paradise with its sweeping view of Mount Rainier peak.


As promised there were alpine wildflowers everywhere.

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Paradise Inn
We had booked our second night at the Paradise Inn


We checked in then headed out to join a ranger walk on one of the trails. The paths were covered with meadows of wildflowers at their peak.

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The views of the mountain, the trails, the meadows and the flowers were spectacular.

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There were more waterfalls.

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A great view of the terminus of the Nisqually Glacier

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We could hear and see the water rushing out of the bottom of the glacier, the headwaters for the river we had crossed and re-crossed earlier on our way up the mountain.


After our hike we thanked our ranger and headed back to the Paradise Inn. We were still unpacking in our rooms, it was getting towards dusk. Just across from our room we saw Paradise deer grazing. They seemed to also enjoy the wildflowers and the setting.

20140826_172057 Deer grazing at Paradise Inn Cropped

While the ladies settled in to relax a bit before dinner, Mike and I took a drive down to Reflection Lake hoping to capture a reflection of the mountain in the water.


Our timing was good. The sun’s rays were at a great angle.


But there was a little bit too much wind, causing ripples and waves on the lake. We could only get part of a reflection in some of the sheltered backwaters of the lake, not a full reflection.


However the late in the day sun’s rays did a great job illuminating flowers along the trails by the lake.

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We headed back to the Lodge to enjoy the sunset, a bottle of wine, a relaxing dinner, and a good night sleep to prepare for a full day of hiking in the morning.


See also:

Our Trip to Paradise – took 25 years

Our Trip To Paradise Part 2 – Northern Virginia to Longmire

Our Trip to Paradise Part 3 – The National Park Inn

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 4 – The Road to Paradise

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 6 – The Sunrise at Mount Rainier National Park (To be posted soon)

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 4 – The Road to Paradise

1 Oct

The Road to Paradise

We stopped to view glacier fed rivers




Beautiful Waterfalls


Majestic valleys


And stopped to see and admire views of Mount Rainer as it loomed larger and larger as we climbed the mountain to Paradise.


This waterfall seemed to have a permanent rainbow in the spray as it cascaded down the mountain.


See also:

Our Trip to Paradise – took 25 years

Our Trip To Paradise Part 2 – Northern Virginia to Longmire

Our Trip to Paradise Part 3 – The National Park Inn

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 5 – Arrival in Paradise (Wildflowers were everywhere) (New)

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