HAPPY HOLIDAYS ALL!!!!!
For this holiday season, we’re sharing what we’ve been up to in various ways:
Below you will find a link to Cailin’s travel blog, information on the Bitcoin start up Brian joined: factom.org (and a bit about Bitcoins), and an essay by Mary about HOW NOT TO TAKE A WALK IN THE WOODS, .
Cailin and her boyfriend, Jack, ran a half marathon last spring up in the hills of Edinburgh in memory of her Aunt Ann and raised nearly $700 for Macmillan Cancer. Next year, she hopes to tackle a triathlon.
Cailin has continued making the most of living abroad and her favorite new places in 2015 include: Budapest, Bruges and Slovenia. For tips and inspiration, she’s been writing overviews of her trips for friends and family far afield: siryoureonfire.wordpress.com
Here’s The Chief Scientist of Factom.org himself!
What’s a Bitcoin, you ask? Below is a link to a clear but lengthy explanation…just don’t click if you don’t care.
Here’s a primer:
HOW NOT TO TAKE A WALK IN THE WOODS
A Deery Adventure, Fall 2014
Recounted by Mary Struble Deery
“If you’re not back in two hours, we’ll send out the dogs.”
George’s words echoed in my head as we made our way along the trail. What should have been a sixty-minute walk had stretched to nearly two hours. Worry started to surface as we trudged through mud, scrambled over slippery rocks, climbed over fallen trees and hoped for any sign of civilization.
George, a retired lawyer, owned the cabin next door to the one we rented this past October. He loaned us walking sticks and strongly advised we carry lots of water. He generously led us on the first leg of the trek to a high ridge overlooking the Pisgah National Forest. Before heading back to his cabin George told us how to proceed. He said we had two choices: either head back down to our rental cabin and turn at a path distinctly marked by six large rocks, or, take a longer trip by heading to a trail that started in a clearing a couple minutes farther.
Just head back down or get a better workout by taking the longer trail? We decided to take on the bigger challenge. Or should I say, I decided and the other three went along. What could go wrong?
Our friends Marguerite and Jack were with my husband, Kevin, and me for a weekend in the mountains. We were near The Linville Gorge Wilderness area, part of the eight hundred square mile Pisgah National Forest. The cabin musty-cozy and the gravelly roads, steep.
As we reached the top of each crest we hoped to see signs of civilization. But at the top of each ridge, the trail just continued. After each turn along paths hugging the side of the slope, more trail. Certainly the path started at a road. We would have to run into a parking lot eventually, wouldn’t we?
George had informed us only camping and hiking were permitted on federal land–no vehicles allowed. So, if we were heading into the forest, we could have a very long night ahead of us.
In an attempt to tamp down panic, we distracted ourselves by stopping to admire surprises in the woods: red, orange and snowy white mushrooms, dew-laden spider webs twinkling in the sunshine, the first scarlet maple leafs like brilliant tiles nestled in the brown forest floor.
Finally, Kevin, who was in the lead, hollered back to the rest of us, “A trail marker!” It was a hand painted sign with arrows that indicated two paths—one The Red Trail, and the other, Lower Cross. It was not clear which was which, but it was a relief to discover we were on a legitimate footpath.
Initially we took what we thought was the Lower Cross Trail but we all thought the direction wasn’t quite right. It was comforting that our collective internal GPS were in sync. We back tracked to the other. (This photo isn’t from the same hike, but that’s how it all seemed to us.)
Marguerite said, “Shhhh,” then paused and asked “Are those cars?” The sound turned out to be an airplane. We thought there might be a road along the river we heard rushing in the valley below us. But we didn’t dare get off the trail. Besides these sounds, all we heard was the occasional crow and acorns falling to the ground.
As we continued, mostly up at this point, the trails started looking like river beds—huge washes littered with massive boulders. But we pushed on. We were working up a sweat now. We didn’t need our fleeces, which were back at the cabin. I don’t think I was the only one dreading a cold night in the woods.
After a jokey bear story or two (let’s really get worked up) we spotted a bear paw print in the mud. It was fresh and looked small. Where there’s a baby, there’s a mother. After the paw print spotting I remembered the whistle in my backpack. Would it scare a bear or just bring on rage? I couldn’t help remembering hearing about warning bells discovered in bear scat.
I continued to step from rock to rock hoping a tree didn’t decide to topple at a most inopportune time. Three hours now and it seemed we’d managed to go around the belly of the gorge. Which gorge we didn’t know.
As a joke, Kevin brought up Gilligan’s Island. Shipwrecked after a three-hour tour, that motley crew’s troubles continued for 98 episodes. A total of three years. The TV series Lost flashed through my mind, and “the others”—the survivors encountered in the first season. And there were The Robinsons from Switzerland. OK, back to putting one foot in front of the other. Best not to let the mind wander.
We passed under caves formed by gigantic rock ledges and discussed them as possible shelter. We were thinking ahead. But wouldn’t the bears think they were good sleeping spots, too?
A fork. What would Robert Frost have done? Like him, we took the one less travelled that was a dead end—but a dead end with a view. There were mountain peaks and gorges as far as the eye could see. This was early fall. Air still fuzzy with humidity, hillsides dotted with the occasional red tree in the green valley carpet. We felt lost, but not totally hopeless, yet. So we soaked in the beauty from the lookout.
Turning around to take the other fork, I silently prayed. We had not seen a soul since leaving George.
The woods were pristine, but loomed with danger. What if one of us sprained an ankle or worse? We had no phone reception, no compass, map, matches or GPS. No one knew where we were, besides George what’s-his-name. And he didn’t know our names. We’d brushed off his advice and had limited water and just one measly snack bar between us. We were in serious contention to win the Biggest Stupid Contest.
I looked at my watch. We were at three and a half hours now. I calculated that if we backtracked, we’d be back where we started by six o’clock– when it starts to get dark this time of year. When I floated the idea it received tepid consideration.
“One more hill, let me just look just a little further ahead,” said Kevin, our intrepid, but it turns out, also nervous leader.
We hung back waiting for the go ahead. No use moving forward if we were just going to backtrack. After climbing up the last hill, he yelled “cabin!” When we approached, three dogs penned on the porch madly sounded the alarm of our incursion. Music to our ears. Where there were dogs, there were people.
It turned out our route had been circuitous. We emerged from the rabbit hole to the road from which we started. I would have kissed the ground had it not been gravel embedded in mud.
As we took those last difficult steps up the road to the cabin, our sighs were deep and hearts grateful. We opened a very civilized chilled bottle of wine. Four glasses clinked merrily, toasting the splendid wilderness and celebrating our incredibly good fortune.
2014 was a wonderful year. We all just live in such far flung places now. But we will be together this Christmas, except for Cailin’s beau, Jack, who we hope will join us on Bois Blanc Island next summer. This photo was taken the last time we were all together, after laughing our heads off at The Book of Mormon.
The very best to all our family and friends across the globe.