Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

Panoramic photo from the northwest side of the Golden Gate Bridge
We woke to bad news on day 3 of our visit to San Francisco. Wendy’s health issue had worsened during the night. She was experiencing significant pain and even though she had some idea what the problem was and had been told it was not life threatening, she was feeling quite a bit of understandable anxiety. There was no way she would be able to enjoy herself until she knew that everything would be OK and could get the pain under control. So we made some tough choices. Dave and Wendy would go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital while Jenny and I went ahead with our planned bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. If all went well we would meet on the other side of the bay for lunch or dinner before taking the ferry back to San Francisco.

We walked down the hill to the bike rental shop. I had pre-purchased the bike rental at half price on Groupon during the final planning for the trip. The deal was for the bike rental company Blazing Saddles. Although I’m no longer a big fan of daily deal sites, I do sign up for deal emails when I’m traveling to a “touristy” place. Although this saved us money, Dave and Wendy were unable to use theirs, so it was a wash overall. That is always the risk when you prepay using a daily deal site. The remaining Groupon will never expire (this is because of a California law), but I’m not sure when we will ever use it.

Blazing Saddles has a very efficient operation. They started with a brief and a video describing the ride we were planning to do. They provided optional Ferry Tickets for the return trip that we could use or return with our bikes. That saved us some time later. The bike issue area was also very efficient, and was well staffed with helpful folks. They helped adjust the bike and helmet to smoothly get us ready to ride. We were out the door very quickly and they reminded us on the way out how to get to the bike trail. We were told to walk our bikes down the hill past the Hyde Street Cable Car turn about, then a left on Jefferson would put us right on the San Francisco Bay Trail. The route is fairly well-marked once you get on it. Although it is mostly flat there are a couple of hills to deal with. The first hill came much sooner than we expected, about a half mile from where we started riding. Although it was a small hill there were several people walking their bikes up it.

Riding up the first small hill on our Golden Gate Bridge bike ride

Since everyone else was stopping at the top we decided to make a short stop to check out the view…

View from the first small hill on our bike ride

There were low clouds covering the top of the bridge. Although this a very frequently the case, I never tire of this view!

One of the good things about this bike ride is that there are very few times that you are actually sharing the road with cars. There are a few stop lights though. I took advantage of one of the stop lights to snap a quick picture of Jenny with the Palace of Fine Arts in the background.

Stopped at a light on our bike ride and snapped a picture of Jenny and the Palace of Fine Arts

We were familiar with much of the rest of the route to the bridge because of our last visit to San Francisco in 2012. Crissy Field has awesome views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Today we rode most of the way through this area but couldn’t resist stopping for one picture under a small group of trees near the beach.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field on our bike ride

We realized when we were planning this ride that the ride across the bridge would be only a small part of the bike ride, so we were open to opportunities to see other things along the way. Before we headed up the hill to cross the bridge we decided to take a small detour to Fort Point, a Civil War era fortress built to defend the Golden Gate bay entrance.

Taking a short detour to Fort Point on our Golden Gate bike ride

The Bridge is actually built right over the top of the fort, preserving a unique and interesting bit of history. We actually didn’t decide to go into the fort right away. Jenny got this picture of me on the rocks just outside the fort. The rocks protect the seawall from erosion by the rough waters near the entrance to the bay.

On the rocks near Fort Point below the Golden Gate Bridge

We got an update from Dave on their progress (slow) and decided we would have time to do a quick walk through of the fort. Fort Point is run by the National Parks Service. It is completely free to enter the fort and all the activities there are free as well. We headed right for stairs to the top-level of the fort for the best views. There is a large courtyard in the center of the fort and several cannon mounting points on the bay side walls. On the back walls there are more mounts that were raised to provide even more firepower.

View of the courtyard and perimeter walls of Fort PointAs we walked around the top of the outer walls there were terrific views in every direction.  A seagull flew overhead just as I took this picture in the direction of Land’s End.

A seagull soring away from Fort Point toward Lands End

We also had a nice view under the bridge toward the Marin Headlands where we had gone the day before.  It looked like the low clouds might be completely covering the highest parts of that area today.

View from Fort Point of the Marin Headlands obsured by low clouds

There was also a unique view of the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge passing over Fort Point

I had Jenny get up on the most northeastern cannon mount to get the picture.

Jenny standing on a cannon mounting location on top of Fort Point

Even though I already had so many shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, I couldn’t help taking and apparently can’t help sharing this image of the flag over Fort Point with the bridge in the background!

View of the flag pole atop Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge

There was also a very nice view of the bay and city to the east.View back toward the city from the top of Fort Point

We headed back down the stairs to the second level and did a quick walk through of some of the rooms.  I snapped this picture of the Hospital Stewards room/exhibit before we made our way out of the building.

Hospital Stewardsroom and exhibit in Fort Point San Francisco

We will definitely return to Fort Point for the views and hope to spend more time there next time learning about the history of the fortress.  For now we had a bike ride to do!

It was short ride back to the longest uphill section of the ride. The hill up to Battery Park is steep, windy, and you share the road with cars.  Near the top we stopped at a clearing for some more views of the bridge before riding across.  The weather was a bit cloudy, but we could see some sun hitting the other side of the bay.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County from the East Battery Trail

We walked around for quite a while in this area, but eventually headed up toward the visitor’s center. There were tons of people there, so we got off our bikes to walk, but made a beeline toward the gate to the bridge’s east sidewalk. The day before, when we were heading back from the Marin Headlands, bikers had been on the west sidewalk. It would have been a lot less crowded, but the view would not have been what we were hoping for. For a schedule of which sidewalk is open for bikes and pedestrians see this link.

Once we got through the gate, the sidewalk was crowded. There were north and southbound pedestrians, runners, and bikers all sharing a fairly narrow sidewalk.

Crowded at the beginning of our ride across the Golden Gate Bridge

We were able to ride most of the way through this crowded section, but had to get off the bikes once when an emergency cart (half the width of the sidewalk) came along. The views of the city…

View toward the bay and city from the east sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge

and of the bridge…

Approaching the south tower on our ride across the Golden Gate Bridge

made the crowds seem less important. Most of the people were very polite and everyone seemed to be willing to share the road (sidewalk). We had to get off our bikes as we approached the south tower because the sidewalk narrows and curves around the towers. There also seemed to be more people congregating here also. The center section of the bridge, between the towers, was much less crowded. It was in this part of the ride that we actually got to experience “riding a bike” across the Golden Gate, not just dodging other people. It is obviously less crowded in this picture near the midpoint of the bridge.

Midpoint of the ride was less crowded

A little past the midpoint we decided to pull over to get pictures “on the bridge”. As I pulled over I finally met one rude guy. I looked over my shoulder before I moved to the right, but as I pulled over a guy behind me yelled, “Hey watch where you’re going.” I didn’t say anything as there was no collision even though he had flown by on my left at a pretty good clip. However, he wasn’t done. He managed to stop about 25 feet further along the bridge. He looked like he had just teleported in from the Tour de France. Expensive road bike and corporate sponsors on his shirt. Obviously he was in the middle of training for his next time trial. I guess I should have been thankful that he was able to take a few minutes out of his training to give me some pointer on watching where I’m going. I’m a pretty polite and calm person, but in this case I decided to exercise the “F*** you” technique. He would yell something about watching out for other people and I would simply yell back those two words. This went back and forth several times. He would lecture me on how to ride my bike and I would exercise the technique! Eventually the technique worked. He went back to training for time trials on a busy little sidewalk, and I got my picture “on the bridge”.

Stopped for one picture on the Golden Gate Bridge bike ride

The least busy part of the bridge was just before the north tower.

Approaching the North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge

Once we passed that tower (we had to walk around again), we started to have more pedestrian traffic from the other view area on the north side of the bridge. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the north is different, but no less impressive than the view from the south.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the north visitors lookout

This viewpoint is a favorite for tourist buses and cars driving along the 101. The first time I stopped here was in the late 1980’s. I remember it vividly, not because of the view, but because my oldest daughter was a baby at the time (almost 2 years old), and we had a little scare with her shortly after we left this view and drove north a few miles. She had a low-grade fever that day, teething maybe, but it was only about 50 degrees that evening so we bundled her up to get out of the car. When we got back in the car we only planned to drive a few miles before stopping for dinner and it had gotten chilly even in the car, so we left her bundled up. We stopped and parked on the east side of the 101 and walked across a pedestrian walkway over the 101 to get to a Sizzler. I checked on Google maps and the walkway is still there, but the Sizzler has been replaced by another restaurant. We left Monica bundled up and I carried her over the bridge to the restaurant. I remember it being cold and windy outside. When we got in to the Sizzler I held her away from me so I could loosen her coat. She was completely limp and unconscious. I set her on the counter to check her out, and could not detect any breathing. As I started CPR, the lady at the counter asked if there were any medical people in the restaurant. After just a few seconds of doing CPR I felt my knees give a little. I was very scared, in fact I’m getting a little emotional writing about it more than 25 years later! Luckily there were two EMT’s who came over to help. They moved her to an open table, removed the coat and other warm clothing we had on her and continued the CPR. She started breathing and regained consciousness very quickly which was a huge relief. We thanked the EMT’s then went up the hill to a nearby hospital to have Monica checked out. The doctor was pretty sure it was a seizure caused by her fever being held in by all the warm clothing, but felt she would be fine and we should not have to worry about this happening again. About 6 months later we were contacted by the local Marin newspaper for pictures. The two people who helped us were getting a civic award and they wanted a picture of Monica for the paper. A lasting memory and a valuable lesson for young parents – be careful about bundling up a baby with even a low fever!

On this visit to the Golden Gate, thankfully we had no scares, just a relaxing bike ride to enjoy. The hill to Sausalito is steep, curvy and is also shared with cars. Most of the way the road is wide enough to comfortably share the road, but it narrows just as you enter town, and so you have to really watch what you are doing on this stretch of the trip. We have been to Sausalito once before, during our honeymoon in 2012. We expected this visit to be much different. That time we had driven to Sausalito fairly late – almost 10 PM, and the town had lived up to its reputation as a sleepy little town! We had trouble finding a place that was even open so we could eat. Riding into town in the middle of the day was completely different. It is a bustling tourist location during the day. People drive here, are delivered by the bus load, take the ferry, and apparently a lot of people ride their bikes here – based solely on the number of bikes in the bike rack we used.

Large number of bikes parked in Sausalito

It reminded me of the bike racks I had seen in Copenhagen when I spent one day there a month earlier. The first thing we did was message Dave and Wendy to see how things were going. We wanted to see if they would be able to make it here for lunch. Unfortunately things were going slow for them. It was likely to be a few hours more. We decided that we should have lunch, check out some of the shops, and then continue our ride to Tiburon. When we returned to pick up our bikes there were already people lining up for the ferry back to San Francisco that would leave an hour later. These lines made continuing to Tiburon seem even more appealing.

Since Biking to Sausalito and taking the ferry from there back to San Francisco is an option, I’ve decided to put the rest of our bike trip in a “Part 2” post. If we had never been to Sausalito, we might have decided to stay for dinner and then ride the last ferry home. On this day the crowds were more than we were looking for, and we had the urge to keep riding! That is one of the things I like most about touring an area on bikes, your plan can be fluid and you can go where your spirit moves you!

Previous post in this series: A Few Days in San Francisco (Day 2 – 27 July 2014 – Pier 39 and Marin Headlands)

Last year, 2014, was not quite “to plan”. It was a very busy year, we had a lot of fun, made some progress on goals, but at the end… it also brought a lot of heartache and sadness. I covered most of the fun parts of the year in my recent End of Summer 2014 post. Before the summer started there was also a work trip to Canada, a getaway to Las Vegas with Jenny’s kids, and a lot of local hiking.

To keep myself honest I should probably review the 2014 top 10 countdown from my post Happy New Year – 2014!

10. Weekend project – install surround sound speakers! (Done)

9. Develop an Android App and publish it to Google Play. (Nope – I’m slacking…)

8. Weekend Project – Improve the storage in our garage so we can park 2 cars in the garage at once (novel idea)! (I say no, but my wife gives me partial credit for some of the things I did to make it a little better, but the big improvements will have to come in 2015.)

7. Our 4th consecutive season of Green Flash Concerts at the Birch Aquarium. (YES – we had lots of fun!)

6. Bucket List (progress) – Complete at least 35 new (never been on hikes) in San Diego County. (Sort of a yes – cumulative, but I think I really missed the spirit of this one. we did not hike at the end of 2014. It was very dry until near the end of the year and then we were booked.)

5. Bucket List – Walk across the Grand Canyon not once but twice on a rim to rim to rim hike! (Not quite… we hiked from the North to the South rim, but the a rim to rim to rim will have to wait until next time.)

4. Check at least one item off my Bucket List in the travel section. Need to coordinate this with a few people so I’m not picking one now… (Not from the travel section “per say”, it ended up being from the California section – see the first post for this trip – A Few Days in San Francisco (Day 1 – 26 July 2014 – Cable Car Museum and Dinner on Nob Hill).)

3. Visit family and friends in Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, and even here in California! (Yes!)

2. One of my daughters will get engaged! (OK cheating on the prediction side of things as it happened on January 2nd.) (Yep! Not one but two engagements in 2014!)

1. Bucket List – rock a grandchild to sleep in my arms! (Over and over again!)

However, 2014 was not all “fun and games”. Throughout the year there was an underlying theme of significant illness, and uncertainty. Some of this turned out well and some did not. There were also some terrible surprises at the end of the year. In November and December we lost several members of our immediate and extended family. Regardless of all the fun we had throughout the year I will always remember the end of 2014 as a time spent reflecting on past joys, feeling lucky to have known these people, and feeling the full brunt of their loss. One of my key philosophies on life is that joy and happiness would not be as sweet if grief and sadness did not exist. I will carry that as hope into the new year along with the wonderful memories I have of those we lost.

Now to continue the tradition I started last year… here is my Top 10 Countdown for 2015.

10. See at least one singer/act that I’ve never seen before from my Bucket List.

9. Do at least one item from the Adventure, Travel, or California sections of my Bucket List.

8. Eliminate my electric bill! (This one is already planned – so it’s an easy “done” for next year’s review.)

7. Leave room in our schedule for opportunistic travel and adventure and take advantage of at least one of these opportunities.

6. Complete at least one of the following home projects:
– Expand the storage area of my garage by at least 50% to give us more room for fun and games – ping-pong and darts anyone!
– Finish painting the remaining “contractor white” walls and woodwork in our home.

5. Plan and complete a family camping trip to Yosemite. This may be challenging with all our kid’s busy schedules this year.

4. Complete at least 20 new hikes in San Diego County to check off a few more trails on my page tracking the progress on my bucket list goal to hike all the trails in the book Afoot and Afield in San Diego County.

3. Focus on healthy living. I will lose the weight I’ve gained over the past couple years by eating better and exercising more.

2. Spend lots of time with friends and family.

1. Walk my oldest daughter down the aisle!

I hope your 2014 was everything you hoped for and then some, and that your 2015 exceeds all reasonable expectations! Happy New Year!

We had covered a lot of ground on our very early morning 3 hour walking tour of Copenhagen. After I dropped my coworker at the airport and turned in the rental car, I took the train back to the hotel for a nap. I knew I would be limiting my options for the rest of the day, but it had been a long week and we only had about 4 hours of sleep before going out to walk around that morning. Although I planned to nap for 2-3 hours it was closer to a 4 hour nap and after 1 in the afternoon before I got back up. A shower cleared away the grogginess from the nap. It no longer looked like rain, but there was a cool breeze as I walked back over to the train station to head back downtown Copenhagen. I decided to ride past the first downtown station at Kongens Nytorv and to get off at the Nørreport metro station. As I walked out of the station I was surrounded by an overwhelming number of people on bikes and bikes parked everywhere. If you’ve never been there, it is hard to explain just how many bikes there are in the city of Copenhagen. I’ve looked through all my pictures and none of them come close to showing the sheer number of people on bikes and the number of bikes parked in every part of the city. Just outside the metro station there were several two level bike racks. This is a picture of just one of the bike racks nearby.

One of the bike racks in Copenhagen

The Nørreport metro station is near Rosenberg Castle, but it was nearly 3 before I got there and I didn’t want to take the time to do a tour, if I could even get in one at that point. I decided to check out some of the other parks/gardens we had not walked through during our early morning walk. The first one I walked into was Botanisk Have (Botanical Garden). There is an amazing variety of plants in this garden including waterlilies in the pond near the center of the garden.

Waterlilies in the Botanisk Have pond

I could also see the reflection of what looked like a large greenhouse on the pond. I later found out that this is one of the Faculty of Science buildings for the University of Copenhagen.

University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science building on the grounds of the botanical gardens

My favorite part of the Botanical Gardens was a fairly large hill with a meandering cobblestone path, a man-made stream (water feature), completely covered in very unique plants. I took several pictures the showed the paths and stream close up…

View of the path and stream Botanical Gardens Copenhagen

and with a wider perspective.

Wider view of the path and stream Botanical Garden Copenhagen

Most if not all of the unique plants in the Botanical Garden were labeled.

Most of the plants were labeled Botanical Garden Copenhagen

I wasn’t keeping notes, but I don’t remember seeing the same plant twice. There was quite a large variety of plants.

Large variety of plants Botanical Garden Copenhagen

As I walked along the winding pathway…

Long meander path Botanical Gardens Copenhagen

I discovered favorite clusters of plants…

One of my favorite hillsides Botanical Gardens Copenhagen

sneak peaks of the unique buildings…

View of the buildings from the hillside Botanical Garden Copenhagen

and wider views of the unique buildings over very unique looking plants!

View of the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science building Botanical Garden Copenhagen

As I made my way toward the Kastellet the next park I walked through was Østre Anlæg. There was a long angled pond in the middle of the park surrounded by trees. A much less formal and more kid friendly park than the Botanical Gardens.

Østre Anlæg

As I exited Østre Anlæg I crossed the street to a market area near a metro station. I decided to go in a get a sandwich and drink to enjoy as I walked around Kastellet. As usual there were tons of bikes parked in front of the metro station.

Bike rack in front of the Metro and market across from Østre Anlæg

I crossed the street again to the park path around Kastellet. I found a bench not too far along the path and had a seat to enjoy a late afternoon snack. I had a pretty nice view of the old windmill inside the fortress.

Windmill at Kastellet Copenhagen

Although we had walked partially around the Kastellet on our early morning visit we had not walked all the way around and it had been too early to walk inside at 5 in the morning. I started my walk about where we had left off earlier and walked across the moat bridge…

Kastellet moat bridge to south entrance

to the south entrance.

South Entrance to Kastellet

I carefully read the brief description of Kastellet, its history, and the fairly long list of rules for visitors.

Kastellet History and Rules Plaque Copenhagen

Inside the fortress walls are cobblestone streets between old red barracks.

Barracks inside Kastellet Copenhagen

and at the other end of the street a view of the Commander’s House.

The Commanders House Kastellet Copenhagen

Rather than walking out the south entrance, where we had already walked in the early morning, I decided to walk up the ramp to the eastern fortress walls. At of the five points of the star-shaped Kastellet, well at least the two I visited, is a cannon for defense of the fortress! This is a view of the cannon from the point of the Prinsessens Bastion.

View from Prinsessens Bastion of Kastellet

Not only was there a cannon, but they were prepared with a neat stack of cannonballs, just in case!

Kastellet cannon with a stack of rounds

You can walk all the way around the bastions of Kastellet, but I decided to just walk the eastern portion of the fortress from the south entrance back around to the north entrance where I had entered. I took my time and enjoyed the views inward and out across the moat. There were several types of wild flowers including these red poppies.

Poppies on the Bastion of Kastellet Copenhagen

My Grandmother was in the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary for 50 years. I remember wearing a red Remembrance Poppy wrapped around a button on my shirt every Memorial Day growing up. Poppies have been a symbol of remembrance for soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in war since World War I. A poem “In Flanders Field”was in large part responsible for this association. Seeing these poppies growing on the sides of the Kastellet’s bastions brought a lot of memories back.

As I write this post it also brings up other fond memories of my Grandmother. My Grandmother, Mother, and my Aunt Betty visited us in Oahu in the early 90’s. We had a great time, but two things stick in my mind in particular. The first was a visit to the North Shore. It was the winter so they got to see the really huge surf that the North Shore of Oahu is so famous for. On the one beach we visited my Grandmother asked me if I would be going in for a swim. I looked at the waves which were very strong 6-8 feet swells with a big shore break and said that I better not. About 30 seconds later a young local girl walked past us. She could not have been more than 10 years old, maybe younger. She walked right into the water and swam out past the break to ride the swell up and down. I looked at my Grandma and said, “Well I guess I probably could go in…” She smiled and I got in the water. It looked a lot worse than it was. At another beach it was an even a little calmer and my Grandmother, in her late 70’s got her feet and legs wet in the water also!

The second story involved her service in the Women’s Auxiliary. While they were visiting us we went to the main Air Force Exchange at Hickam. In those days, they checked ID’s as you entered and you had to sign in guests if they did not have a military ID. As I signed them in, the woman at the door let them know that they could not buy anything and that I would get in trouble if they tried to. I’m not sure what we were looking for, probably just getting a few things for the beach. Anyway, after about 15 minutes I heard my name called over a public announcement, with instructions to come to the checkout area. My Grandmother had tried to buy a few things, nothing big. The clerk was explaining why she could not pay for her stuff and my Grandmother was explaining that she had been in the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary for 35+ years and she thought it would be OK. I bought the stuff for her, she got to share the pride of her service, and I got a warm and lasting memory of my Grandmother!

There was a different model of cannon at the Gevens Bastion, and a view of St Albans Anglican Church where we had started our walk that morning.

The Cannon guarding Grevens Bastion Kastellet Copenhagen

As I left the star fortress of Kastellet, I turned east toward the water’s edge, then south to walk back toward Nyhavn on a slightly different path than we had taken on our earlier walk. As I approached the summer palace of Amalienborg, an impressive building to the east across the narrowing channel caught my eye. I later learned that this was the Copenhagen Opera House.

Copenhagen Opera House

As I turned and walked toward the entrance of the square in the center of Amalienborg, I stopped at a fountain to get this picture of the water rising from the fountain with the Marble Church visible on the other side of the square.

Marble Church viewed from the fountain on the east side of Amalienborg

I didn’t enter the square as we had been in there already, but I wanted to see Nyhavn with businesses open, and filled with people. Actually I couldn’t get enough of Nyhavn, before I left Copenhagen I would visit there at least 4 times. The skies were still cloudy, but the buildings are so brightly painted it is hard to tell.

Nyhavn Copenhagen

I walk the length of Nyhavn this time, and checked out some of the history of the place. One of my favorite places was this Gelato Shop!

Gelato shop Nyhavn Copenhagen

After the Gelato, I decided I needed to walk some more so I walked through the Strøget shopping district. Although these shops were open also, I was more in a walking mood than an shopping mood. I enjoyed the architecture and fountains of the Strøget area…

Fountain in the heart of the Stroget shopping district

and there were some unique coffee stands.

Interesting Coffee shops Copenhagen

However, I decided to just pass through and check out another park before the sun set. Ørstedsparken was one of my favorite parks in Copenhagen. It may just have been the early evening lighting, but I found the park relaxing, and very beautiful. I decided to head toward a walking bridge in the middle of the parks large pond.

Walking bridge in the distance in Ørstedsparken - Copenhagen

As I walked toward the bridge I was glad that it had drawn me deeper into the park. The views as I passed around the pond/lake were spectacular. On one side of the lake the dark greens of the plants and their reflection on the water contrasted with the white buildings in the distance.

Dark Green vegetation surrounding one end of the water in Ørstedsparken

As a passed the bridge and continued my walk around the entire lake the greens brighten, there were more flowers. This looks like a completely different place, but it is was just a different side of the same park.

Lighter green plants and blooms on the other end of Ørstedsparken

I had to cross the bridge before heading out of the park to see more of Copenhagen.

Crossing the bridge in the middle of Ørstedsparken

As I left the park it was starting to get darker, but I was not ready to head back, so I decided to head toward the Metro Station at the Forum which was past a series of lakes. When you see these on a map it looks like a portion of a river. It even feels like you are crossing a bridge over a river as you pass between the lakes on the road. As I passed between two of the lakes on a broad road I noticed an older lady feeding some swans. I don’t think I’ve every seen this many swans in one place before!

Swans in Peblinge Sø - Copenhagen

The rest of the walk to the Forum St Metro Station was pretty boring. I got on the train intending to head back to the hotel, but when I got to Metro stop at Kongens Nytorv I decided to take another look at Nyhavn. It had started to get very dark, but I was able to get this photo of the large anchor at one end of Nyhavn.

Nyhavn Anchor at night - Cpenhagen

Then it was time to head to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. I had a long flight the next day. Since I turned in so early I woke up fairly early again the next morning. I decided to check out of the hotel, check my bag with the concierge and head back to Nyhavn one more time to get that coffee I hadn’t been able to get the day before. I got off the train at Kongens Nytorv (Kings New Square) station again. The metro station is on one side of the square and Nyhavn is on the other. There are some beautiful building around the square. Because there was construction going on in the center of the square it was hard to capture the beauty of the whole place, so I took some close-ups of some of the buildings. The metro exit is very close to the Hotel D’Angleterre.

Hotel D'Angleterre - Copenhagen

I crossed the square on the south side and got a closer view of the front of the Royal Danish Theater.

A closer look at the inside of the domes on the front of the Royal Danish Theater Copenhagen

The coolest part of this building were the domed ceiling above the second story balconies on the front of the building. Very ornate.

Royal Danish Theater - Copenhagen

I walked down the “less busy” side of Nyhavn and found an open cafe. I had a pastry and coffee and talked with a mother and daughter from the US who were heading out on a cruise later in the day. The weather wasn’t forecast to be good, but they had booked months ahead! I wished them luck on the weather and started heading back to the metro station. It was time! I got a couple more good pictures with my phone. One showing a very nice docked sailboat.

Nice sailboat docked in Nyhavn

Then a final picture of the colorful buildings lining this small harbor.

Colorful Nyhavn

My one day in Copenhagen had absolutely been worth the delay in heading home and the few hundred dollars it cost me to stay an extra night and day. The city of Copenhagen is beautiful, and the culture is very different from San Diego’s. I had planned to hit a few of the main tourist spots – Kastellet, Nyhavn, and Strøget. Kastellet and Nyhavn were awesome, Strøget was OK, but since I wasn’t planning to do a lot of shopping, not on the top of my list. I would definitely like to visit Copenhagen again. Maybe as part of a trip to Norway and Sweden! The big surprise to me was how much I enjoyed the city’s many gardens. They were well maintained and very lush for a place with such a short growing season! I highly recommend a walking tour of Copenhagen’s gardens if you are lucky enough to spend some time there.

Another year of life has passed and the day marking that passage was filled with cheerful birthday wishes on Facebook, in emails, and face to face. Although it’s been 3 weeks since I finished the Marine Corps Marathon, I’m still not completely recovered. The aches, the pains, and even the cheerful wishes all remind me that another year has passed and I’m getting older.

But then I received an email from my best friend… He started off by pointing out that we’ve been friends for 40 years, since I was 13 and he was 14. But somewhere along the way, his message of friendship and good cheer took a turn. When he got to “we’ll be fortunate to make it to…” I started to worry. But what the heck, a 20 year old might wonder about that too… right? Anyway, I decided to figure out what age we might achieve if we are fortunate. U.S. men have an average lifespan of 76 years and women about 81 years. So if my friend and I are fortunate we will exceed the average. Those averages also include a lot of people who were not fortunate enough to make it to the ripe old age of 53.

One of the great things about living longer, is the average life expectancy continues to increase based on your current more advanced age. The Social Security Administration will gladly calculate those factors in for you. Check out their Life Expectancy Calculator if your really want to know “what age you’ll be fortunate to make it past”.

Social Security Administration Breaks it All Down with Life Expectancy Calculator.bmp

For me that is currently 82.5 years, a bit better than the overall 76 year life expectancy for males. This make me feel a little better. Of course there is a limit to this increasing average thing. Eventually if you are really fortunate you exceed the ability of the Social Security Administrations tool to calculate your additional life expectancy. However, that doesn’t happen for men until you hit 120! It appears that 119 is a lofty goal, but a risky position to be in!

Life Expectancy Calculator reaches it limits.bmp

To put it all in perspective my friend was sure to remind me that we were of course “well past half way”! Just think of all those great memories! Yes, I have years and years and years of great memories. Many of them with him. But this is a two edged sword, lots of time has past to make those great memories so I have less time to make more great memories in the future. We went back and forth on emails a couple of times and came to the conclusion that we have fairly good recollection of some very early memories of our friendship. This exchange eventually included, “I suppose when I’m “really old” my memories well fade, and I won’t be able to remember hanging out at…”. I can’t blame that bit of joy on my friend, I had gotten into the spirit! I realize, at fifty-three (less scary to spell it out), I am “well past half way”! And if I didn’t the Social Security Administration made it easy by doing the math! With a bit more than 29.5 years remaining (if I’m fortunate) and 53 years of great memories, I’m definitely “well past half way”.

Dave also reminded me how lucky I am to have found my wife. He doesn’t have to remind me, she is a sweetheart! She’s loving, wonderful, adventurous, and I’m a very lucky guy. It wasn’t so much the reminder as the way he put it, you should let Jenny know how happy you are to… “spend your remaining years with” her. We have a terrific marriage, and a very full life, but she might smack me if I talk about our “remaining years”!

I gave Dave a hard time for all the talk of time, “the end”, birthdays and “how many more we may have”. But in truth I have thought about all these things myself over the last few years. It gets harder to avoid the older I get. There are reminders every day of how long I’ve been at this. The aches, the pains, the memories good and bad, and the number of past cheerful birthday wishes I’ve received are adding up. We all meet our Destiny one day (no not the girl you picked up at the club and spent the weekend in Catalina with). Regardless of “how long I have”, I plan to make the most of it. To me life isn’t about making money or collecting things. Even the memories of adventures, travel, and challenges met will be fleeting, no matter how much fun they are to collect. To me what is important is how I live my life, who I share it with, and how I will be remembered – regardless of how fleeting it will all be.

View of the Jefferson Memorial from the Martin Luther King Memorial

Although the Marine Corps Marathon was the main event, we intentionally planned our travel so we could enjoy Washington DC as well as running the marathon. We arrived on Friday, late afternoon. My son and his wife were coming in late so Jenny and I had some time to check out the area around our hotel. We flew in to Reagan National Airport and took the Metro to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown DC. I was hoping to be completely healthy after my taper for the Marine Corps Marathon, but a hip injury a few weeks before was still nagging me. This not only affected my marathon, it slowed us down for the rest of the weekend too.

Our hotel was only about 4 blocks from the White House so we decided to walk that direction after we got settled in our room. We crossed Lafayette Park north of the White House. The street between Lafayette Park and the White House has been closed for several years, so we were able to walk right up to the White House fence.

North Lawn of the White House

Jenny and Eric at the White House North LawnIt was a cool night compared to San Diego, but we were fine in light to medium jackets. There were several protester on the Lafayette Park side of the street, but there were surprisingly few people in the area. We decided to walk around the White House to see the South Lawn and the view to the Mall and the Washington Monument. As we headed south on 17th street a Presidential Motorcade passed us and headed in to the South Entrance to the White House. This was the first one I had seen in Washington DC, but I saw several over a 2 week period while stationed in Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station in Oahu. When President Clinton visited Hawaii in November of 1994, he stayed in a cottage on base… a very nice cottage near Pyramid Rock beach!

I had forgotten how much larger the South Lawn is. It also has a ton of trees so you really have only a limited view of the south side of the White House.

South Lawn of the White House

After we circled the White House we headed North to find a place to eat. We decided to try the Mio Restaurant on Vermont Ave, north of our hotel. It is a Puerto Rican Restaurant with a terrific atmosphere and good food. After dinner I was a bit disoriented. Jenny pointed in one direction (toward 14th Street), I thought we should go south along Vermont. We went the way I thought we needed to; unfortunately she was right! It meant a couple of extra blocks of walking, but we managed to find the hotel!

My Chris and Kim came in even later than I thought they would. It was a very long day for them. We decided to close the blackout curtains and not set an alarm. We got up about 7am… Pacific Time, or about 10am Washington DC time. Although we wanted to put in a full day we got a late start. After breakfast we headed to the Marine Corps Marathon Expo. Although it was extremely organized, the extra security slowed things down. By the time we finished getting set up for the Marathon it was after 3pm. The plan was to get to bed early and all the Italian Restaurants in the area were going to be very busy, so we made a quick dash through the Natural History Museum to check out the Jewels! This is a favorite of Kim’s and was very impressive.

Pasta Dinner the night before the Marine Corps marathonWe took a swing through the Dinosaurs, and then it was time to catch a taxi to the restaurant, Torino. We wanted pasta for the night before the marathon, and this place fit the bill. The food was terrific. Although it was very early for a Saturday, the place was packed by the time we finished. Most of the people were talking about the marathon and/or still had the bag from the Expo. The waitress told us that they were booked until about 8pm, then nothing. Lot’s of people who needed to get up early.

Sunday we ran the Marine Corps Marathon, but that is a different post: Marine Corps Marathon 2013 (Washington DC – 27 Oct 2013). We got back to the hotel in the early afternoon – very tired and moving very slowly! I didn’t even try to fight the urge to lay down in the bed. I was done. Jenny went down to the 5 Guys Burgers around the corner. After I ate is was time for a 2-3 hour nap. Then we watched a couple hours of TV, ordered pizza, and I went back to sleep for the night. I only got out of bed to shower!

Walking to loosen up the day after the Marine Corps MarathonOur flight on Monday was not until 5pm. Although this got us in late, I wanted to have a chance to do some more sight-seeing. At least that was the plan when we set this up. Although I wanted to go to a museum or two, my legs were still very sore, so committing to this seemed like a bad idea. After breakfast Chris and Kim headed to the Newseum, and we took the Metro to the Mall for an easy walk. We had a late checkout for 2pm, so we had time to cover some distance if my legs held up. If not, we planned to hail a taxi and head back to the hotel.

We started at the Smithsonian Museum Metro stop, and headed toward the Washington Monument. The Washington monument was still undergoing repairs for the damage caused by the August 2011 magnitude 5.8 earthquake. It has scaffolding completely surrounding it. They light the scaffolding up at night which is interesting. There were several marathoners walking the Mall, so I tried to suck it up and walk as normally as I could!

Just past the Washington Monument we came to the World War II Memorial.
Eric in front of the Pacific side of the World War II Memorial

Jenny had never seen this Memorial so we spent quite a bit of time checking it out. It was her favorite new monument/memorial. She liked the water fountain in the center of the memorial…

Jenny in Front of the fountain with the Atlantic part of the World War II Memorial in the background

and the views to the Lincoln Memorial…

View from the WWII memorial to the Lincoln Memorial

and back toward the Washington Monument.

Looking back at the World War II Memorial as we walk toward the Lincoln Memorial

By the time we got to the end of the reflecting pool, the stairs on the Lincoln Memorial looked very unwelcoming. I love the Lincoln Memorial and rarely miss a chance to go in for a moment of silent reflection on the sacrifices of this President and of the men who fought to keep this country together. But on this day we had different plans and two more new memorials to see.

Next up was the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. This memorial covers a lot of ground, but so did his Presidency. As you walk into the memorial the focus is on the Depression Years.

Inscription at the FDR Memorial

and the great efforts to raise the spirits of the citizens by putting them back to work on projects like the Tennessee River Valley Authority.

Waterfall at the FDR Memorial

The roar from this waterfall was bigger than its size. It sounded more like a waterfall in Yosemite than a man made fountain.

The last part of the FDR Memorial covers the World War II years. Near the end of this we took a break sitting on rocks engraved with “I Hate War” inscriptions.

Taking a seat at the FDR Memorial

I was stiff and sore, but we were running out of time and had one more memorial to check out.

Less controversial inscription on the Martin Luther King MemorialThe visit to the Martin Luther King Memorial was way too fast. There is much more to this memorial than we had time to take in. It was approaching 1:30 and we still wanted to take showers before checking out of the hotel. We got back out to Independence Avenue and started to head east. After about a quarter-mile we were able to hail a taxi. We checked out of the hotel, rode the Metro back to the airport, and I was able to give my legs a long rest! We’ll definitely be visiting Washington DC again, we did not even scratch the surface! Next time I hope I can take a nice relaxing 6-8 mile run on the Mall instead of the 26.2 I squeezed in this time.

All my Marine Corp Marathon Posts are listed on my  Marine Corps Marathon 2013 Posts (Including training half marathons)page.

This week signaled the end of summer for 2013 in San Diego. I can’t count the number of places I’ve lived in the world on both hands, so I know summer ended a bit earlier in some of those places (Iowa and Minnesota) and seems to never ends in at least one of them (Hawaii). Even though San Diego is blessed with wonderful weather it is not the same weather all year. This week we had a couple of cold rainy days… this doesn’t happen in the summer in San Diego! So the end of summer has arrived. We’ll be keeping the windows closed… or open less, putting the thicker blanket on, and maybe a thermal blanket too. It will be harder to get up and out from under the covers. Another summer has come and gone.

Eric Rial sailing September 27th 2013I love summer. I love doing the things that are best done in the summer like going to the beach, seeing a baseball game, going to an outdoor concert, sailing, early morning runs, and late evening runs. This was my 53th summer and it went by too fast! It almost slipped right by without doing a couple summer things like going to the beach, and sailing. However the week before last was one of the best weeks we’ve had in San Diego all year, we had friends in town so off we went to the beach and sailing. We will still have nice weather in San Diego on non-summer days, but it won’t be “the summer”.

Jenny and Eric hiking in Mission Trails Park North Fortuna Trail.jpg.08The winter in San Diego is different than most other places. There are much fewer people at the beach, but the weather can still be really nice. It’s unpredictable though. If you plan a vacation here in the winter, it may be beautiful and it may not. That means fewer tourists. However, if you live here you will almost certainly get to enjoy a few weeks of Faux Summer . Then there will be a few cold and rainy weeks… time to get some projects done around the house. But most of the winter will be cool butnot cold. This is perfect weather for hiking, biking, walks around neighborhoods, and if you miss the heat you can just drive inland for a couple hours and you’ll find plenty of sunshine most of the time. One of my favorite things about the winter in San Diego is that I can go for a run right after work at the beach and see a terrific sunset almost every time.

Running at Sunset at Pacific Beach

The end of summer is more than about a change in the weather. It’s about the passage of time. Everyone has a limited number of summers to enjoy, so each one is precious. When you are young you take this for granted… it seems there will always be another summer, and you’ll be happy, healthy, and ready to enjoy it. As you get older, and I’m definitely getting there, you realize that in 10-15 summers you will not be doing the same things you have loved to do all your life. You are likely to be less energetic, might have health issues, and even if you can still do it, who wants to see a wrinkly old man yank his shirt over his head and run into the water! So each of the passing summers becomes more important and the passing of a summer means you have one less summer to enjoy! All the more reason to take your life by the horns not the tail. Plan a full life, then live it!

Three Sisters FallsIt rarely rains in San Diego in the summer, so by late May anything that is not being watered is likely to be brown. But the winter rains bring new growth on the inland hills and small mountains. Winter and early spring are a great time to hike in eastern San Diego county and there are several trails that are near water or lead to water or waterfalls. My favorite is Three Sisters Falls. I’ve hiked there a couple of times, it’s really just a big kids playground with huge boulders to climb on and around. I plan to hike a lot this winter as we prepare for a rim to rim (to rim – hopefully) hike at the Grand Canyon late next spring.

The summer of 2013 is over, but it was not wasted. We had a terrific time, created some great memories, and spent a lot of time with some of our favorite people. The summer of 2014 is not far away, and I have high expectations! Hope you had a terrific summer this year and next years is even better! Until then enjoy the fall, winter, and spring.

PS: One other nice thing about the winter is there is less marine layer in San Diego so the views are clearer. We have a great view from our house and we’ll get to enjoy a clear view much more often in the winter.

View from our balcony Nov 2012 - views are clearer in the winter

We are who we meet illustration
The first people we meet are usually our parents. If we are lucky they are good people and we get to spend a lot of time with them. If we spend the “normal” amount of time with our parents they have a ton of impact on who we are. Even when it doesn’t happen that way parents have an impact on us. I’ve known several people in my life who never knew their parents, or could not remember them. I believe even this has an impact on who they were. Parents, one way or the other, have a huge impact on who we are and how we relate to other people.

After parents, the people we have relationships with are likely to be the most influential in our lives. The intensity, passion, entanglement, and influence a significant other has can truly change your life – for the better or the worse. Even if you “don’t value relationships”, you are susceptible to influence in these situations. The one lesson I’ve learned over the years, a very difficult lesson, is to choose wisely. Don’t let circumstances, availability, infatuation, or attraction lead you to give up the choice of who to spend your life with. It is your choice and there are few choices you will make that will have a bigger impact on your life.

We change a little with every person we meet. How much we change depends on how much effort we put into the meeting and how much effort the other person puts in to it. It also depends, at least to some extent on how long you know a person. A 5 minute meeting, no matter how intense it is, will be unlikely to have as big an impact as a 40 year friendship. However, each meeting is an opportunity to change. We might learn a new joke, a new way to look at life, love, and happiness, we might discover something about other people, or if we’re lucky we’ll discover something about ourselves.

We can’t even remember some people who we have met, even if we spent a considerable amount of time with them. Either the memories have faded over the years because they weren’t important to us, or we intentionally pushed these memories aside until they faded. Regardless of whether you remember the person, they may still have a big impact on who you are. For instance, I can’t remember my kindergarten, first, or second grade teachers in any great detail. I spent hours for the entire school year with these people, but I don’t remember them. Regardless, I’m sure a part of who I am is due to them.

Sometimes you meet people by reading a book, watching a movie or TV show, reading an article, or a blog post.  These meetings can leave lasting impressions too… even when the person you meet this way is not a real person, but a character!

I want to be clear, I’m not saying that “we become the people we meet”, in fact these people may turn out to be “shining examples of exactly who we don’t want to be”. In most cases the more you get to know a person, the more you find that they are a combination of things you admire and will emulate, and things that are less than admirable. We are all human, with weaknesses as well as strengths.

I can’t click the publish button without stating the obvious, we are also more than just who we meet.  How we process the meetings in our life and who we are right now is more than just a conglomeration of all the people we’ve met.  There is an inner being that processes those meetings and the experiences in a fairly unique way.  However, the total of who we are is absolutely dependent upon who we meet.

Serene view of Half Dome from our raft on the Merced River
There are events in life that will challenge your serenity. These usually turn out to be things that are “Beyond Your Control“. I try to keep a large reservoir of serenity stored up for just this type of event.  I’ve faced situations in my life where all my serenity was used up.  Where one bad event after another happened! When you find yourself in this situation you start to question everything, especially yourself!  So these days I keep a very large store of serenity inside of me just in case.

You ask, “How can you store up serenity?”

Funny you should ask…

I think we store up serenity when we make good decisions, let go of things when we have no control of them, fight for what is right, work hard, and love completely.  I was first exposed to the Serenity Prayer when I was a young boy.  It hung from a wall on my Grandma’s kitchen.  Even though my Grandma’s house is no longer there, the memories are.  I can walk through that kitchen in my memories and see the framed prayer hanging right by the stove.  I just wish I could also have some of that terrific potato soup I’m smelling…  The Serenity Prayer doesn’t provide all the answers, but it does point out three important things related to serenity:  acceptance, courage, and wisdom.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

This week I was faced with an event that challenged my serenity.  I had been living with something for the last couple years that I was certain I could change as long as I had the courage to take action.  When the time came to take action I approached my task with caution, asking all the right questions of all the right people.  I did my own research and was certain, in fact I still am, that I was fighting for what was right.  Unfortunately, the control I felt was an illusion.  Whether the change I sought was right or wrong did not matter; only the decision of someone I could not control mattered.  They approached the decision in a way that I would not have and in a way I could not have foreseen.   They seemed unsure of their decision and talked about how they felt that it could go either way, but they decided against me.  Finally they wavered one more time in their decision, made it temporary, giving me one more chance to influence their decision.  While this sounds like a situation that still holds some hope, and maybe it does, there is nothing worse for serenity than a situation like this!  Initially I thought I had the wisdom to know the difference between something I could change and something I could not.  I demonstrated the courage to seek the change.  Then circumstances made me question my original wisdom, and to top it off I was back to step one, decide whether this was something I could change or not!

Sound familiar?  This cycle repeats itself over and over again in our lives.   What I decided to do in this one case doesn’t really matter.  I didn’t give details of the situation intentionally.  What matters is that I realized that I had a choice to make.  When you don’t realize that you’ve been given a choice, you don’t think about your next action, and you miss a chance to at least try to make a good choice.   Even when you do realize you have a choice, approaching this choice with an open mind will be tough.  It is likely that you still feel like the change was something you controlled.  It’s just that the other person has made a mistake.  You may also feel that it’s up to you to correct that mistake.  What you may not be willing to face is that maybe you made the mistake, even if the only mistake you made was thinking you had some measure of control over this situation.   This is exactly the time to remember the Serenity Prayer.  Read it.  Think about it.  Do you have control?  What level of control?  At this point you must have major doubts about having any control at all!  Be courageous, don’t let your doubts overwhelm your wisdom.   Finally dig into that reservoir of serenity.  It will help clear your mind.  It will allow you to consider the possibility that you may not be able to change this thing, that acceptance may be the best course of action.  You may still make the wrong decision, we are all imperfect after all, but at least you are in the right state of mind to make an open-minded decision.

When things go right, be sure to tuck the serenity that brings away. That little feeling of “everything is right in the world” may come in handy sooner than you think! When things go wrong, remember all the things that are right in the world before taking action. It won’t guarantee anything, but it might improve your chances of making good choices.

Blog Year 3 CollageThe terrible twos are over, the rough patches for finding the path for this blog have passed. My blog is now three years old. I have posted 156 posts over the past 156 weeks, so I’m right on my goal of one post a week, although it took a little “catching up” over the past few months.

Immediately after the the thought that “the hardest part was over” for starting the blog came to mind, the question… how long will I keep doing this… popped into my head. It is a valid question. Everything has a beginning, and an ending. If a full life can end, so can a blog. I don’t have an answer to the question at this point. I don’t feel like “the end” is near, but I also hesitate to say I will continue doing this the rest of my life, or even the rest of my active life. I guess I can say that I will continue to do it as long as it adds more to my life than it takes away. There have been evenings that I’ve sat here typing a post and I’ve thought, could I be using my time for something more useful, or more fun? Could I be spending more time with my family? But when I look at all the terrific things this blog has inspired me to plan and do, the hours seem like a small price to pay.

Although the blog has changed over the last 3 years, its main purpose has been constant – to celebrate living a full life. With three years of posts on the blog some of the standard widgets and tools for giving access to these posts are starting to fall short. This year I added a sidebar tool with my “Favorite Posts – So Far” Most of my favorite posts are of me actually getting out there and living. I enjoyed writing these posts the most and I like to check them out occasionally, and hopefully make them easier for others to find too. Unfortunately I always find another typo while re-reading my posts. I guess that’s to be expected in a blog…

The Favorite Posts so Far also includes a few “resource” posts, and a single “Wild Hair” post Have Ice Cream and Chocolate Syrup in Your Cereal Once in Awhile, but as I reviewed the list I found that there were no Planning posts. Even though they are not as fun to write, I have gone back to read them when refining my plan or planning a second similar trip. Although these posts are not “favorites”, they are the most important. Without these posts, the favorite posts would not happen, or at least the trips/adventures would not turn out as well. Another type of post – Deep Thoughts has only the one post, which is also a Wild Hair post. While digging through the blog content for this post I skimmed back through my posts for the Deep Thoughts category (of course I found a few that shouldn’t be there) and read a couple. I love writing these posts, and I enjoy reading them, but I wouldn’t classify many of them as favorites for a couple reasons. First they are too personal. They are written from my point of view, how I feel about a topic or how I’m affected. Second, many of them tend to get preachy, mostly preaching to me, but that may not be the way it comes across. Preaching is not really my intent on this blog; that’s not who I want to be, although it must be a part of who I am because it happens so often in these posts. I’ll work on that and maybe more of these posts can become favorites. I’ll also consider some other ways to make it easier to browse through older posts.

Year four of the blog has a couple major events planned. First I will be running the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. This will be my first marathon and likely my last (we’ll see), so I’m hoping to achieve my time goal, be satisfied, and have a little more time to relax and/or do other things. There has been a lot of running over the past year. As soon as the Marathon is over we will start hiking a lot more. We are scheduled to hike from rim to rim at the Grand Canyon in the early summer next year. I did this in the fall in 2010, but next year we will have a larger group (including my wife), and we are doing some other things differently too. I know there will be plenty of weekend project posts over the next year with the new house to play with. Although my wife calls me a “planner”, I have left some room for surprises and spur of the moment adventures. I’m not sure if there will be much room for sitting on the couch and watching TV, but that is sort of the point!

Now it’s time to blow out the candles and have some cake… Happy Birthday Blog!

Sunset View from the house

You hear it all the time… just live in the moment!  That’s the key to happiness, lower stress, getting over past relationships, letting go of failure, etc.  It’s great advice for anyone enjoying a full life. For some this comes as easy as breathing. Unfortunately for me, and I think for a lot of people, it is a tough thing to do. This can be especially true when you are doing things you have done before. Other people may not think of running on the beach at sunset as an ordinary thing, but if you’ve done it dozens of times, it can take an effort to live even in that moment. However, it is an extraordinary thing and I want to make the effort to acknowledge it. What I’ve found is that it is hard to hold that feeling for the whole run, but I can absolutely take a brief pause, and really live in that moment.

The difference between living in the moment and living in a moment is the time you hold the sensation of now. To live in the moment means to let go of your cares, worries, and to take in the experience you are having right now. I’ve been there… it’s great! When I’ve been in the moment it is usually because the moment is so unusual, so engaging that it consumes all your attention. It takes no effort in these cases it just happens. Living in a moment tries to recreate that feeling for a brief moment rather than an extended time.

One of the great benefits of having lived in the moment is that you end up with strong, detailed memories of the experience. I love the feeling and the ability to recall all the details of an event or encounter. But I can’t just turn the feeling on at will. I can’t take myself there it just happens. However I’ve found that I can get to that place for there for a brief period of time – a moment!

Paused my run to enjoy a sunset

So, what does it take for me to get to that place? The first thing I do is get rid of the distractions. Stop planning, don’t think about the next thing you need to do, focus on what you’re doing right now. Let go of past failures, those lessons have been learned, what you need to know will come to you when you need it. I’ve found it helpful to think of this process as taking a mental vacation, because that’s what it is. Thinking, planning, worrying, experiencing regret are all work… there is a time to do that work but sometimes it is good to take a vacation from the mental grind!

Next, heighten your senses. Really experience the world around you, listen for things you normally just filter, birds, traffic, surf, wind in the trees… Do the same with your other senses, smell, touch, taste. Let in an innocent sense of wonder so you can appreciate all of these things as if you were experiencing them for the first time. Then hold on to that place as long as long as you can.

Enjoying a moment before heading up Bright Angel Trail Grand Canyon 2010

Not only is it possible to create a more lasting memory by living in a moment, it refreshes your soul, relaxes your body, dumps stress, and improves your mood. When you get back to what you were doing you continue to enjoy being more connected to the moment at least for a while. But eventually the thoughts and worries will return, but not quite as heavily as before.

So far I’ve been able to live in a moment fairly well when I’m alone, but not as well when I’m with other people.  I can focus completely on the people or I can zone out and take in my surroundings, but I have a hard time doing both.  This may be a “multitasking” issue, and humans in general don’t multitask well.  My time with others is very important to me, so I plan to at least try.   I imagine adding a strong focus on the people around me will be a key, focusing on them and the place at the same time.   However, this may be more difficult than it sounds.  A more likely way for this to happen may be to experience a comfortable silence with the people around me as we all take in the world around us, and share in the wonder of it.  Of course that can’t be done on demand… everyone has to get there at the same time on their own.

It would be great to be able to get into the now more on demand.  I will keep thinking about how to do this and try to make it more a part of my daily life.  I’m sure it will definitely be worth the effort.