Smith Drive

From birth until the age of 10 I grew up in the country, upstate New York (Massena), on a small road called Smith Drive that was just off the highway.  Our house was 1 of 4 that sat between Motel Oral Campground and the Seaway Campground.  I have fond memories of this time in my life and thought  I’d bore you with them.   This is your chance now to click close…. I like to think of it as my own 100 acre woods.

Neighbors

Next door lived an older couple Bernice and Tex.  They had a tree swing and I remember swinging and talking Tex’s ear off as he rocked in his chair.  Next to them lived Mrs.  Gladis who was a widow and car caught on fire one night in her garage.  Lastly, the Howard’s lived in the last house and he was a bit grumpy, but he sharpened my skates.

Campgrounds

Living between two campgrounds was just the best as a kid.  They had pools and let me swim for free plus they had small stores full of pop and candy and arcades.  Each summer I’d meet new kids.  It would always start off the same.  I’d notice kid arriving and I’d hang near there campsite so they’d notice me.  The first day they’d be shy and just be with their family, but the next day they’d be so bored that when I came by they’d ask if I wanted to play.  Yep yep…and we were off!

Adventures

We had the old relics of the past to explore.  Old pinball machines and soft drink vending machines dumped in the woods at the corner of the campground.  We’d pretend they were spaceships that crashed and somewhere in the woods, the aliens were living.

The tunnel under the highway was the big dare.  Nobody ever wanted to do it, but if someone dared you…you had to go through it to the other side and back.  It was so dark and you could barely see a bit of light from the halfway point where a drainage grate was.  Afterwards, we reward are bravery with ice cream.

Glumpity Glump was also a riot to visit.  It was a ravine that led to the river and it was lined with clay.  We’d spend hours sliding down the banks and throwing clay balls at each other.  Ouch!  I can remember stepping into my house and my mom yelling, “Dwight David take those clothes off right there!”

The Bridge.  Behind our neighborhood was the Grass River with a huge bridge.  Underneath were crisscross metal beams for support and we’d often challenge each other on who could go out the farthest before returning.  I never made it too far, but it sure got my heart a pumping!

The BIGGEST

The Seaway Campground boasted of its biggest pool in the north country and I can’t count the number of times I almost drowned in the deep end.  We had the biggest tree we’d climb and could see for miles.  There was also the biggest hill where I bit it many times on my skateboard, and of course, we’d build the biggest jumps so we could crash like our hero Evel Knievel!

People

There was Mr. Shulty who owned the Seaway campground.  Once a week he’d let me help him pick up all the trash from the campsites and we’d head out in his old truck to the dump.  Now that’s some fun adventure for a 10-year-old going to the dump!  When we got back he’d always let me pick something from his store.

Andy the bus driver.  Andy was a farmer who drove the school bus for all of my siblings and me.  Think of grandfather and that would be a good picture of him.  Tough old bastard for sure.   Sometimes coming home from school he’d stop at the country store and come out with hot balls or bazooka gum for everyone.    There was an old bridge near a turn around spot on our bus route.  It was condemned and to get us going he put the front tires just on the edge of it and say I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it(go over it) …then back up and turnaround.  I can still hear everyone sighing in relief!

Elton.  Elton Robbins came up two summers in a row and we were inseparable.  He was from North Carolina and his dad worked on the highways in New York during that time.  I can remember every morning jumping out of bed, throwing on some shorts, and running through my backyard down to Elton’s camper where I’d sit on the picnic table impatiently waiting for him to wake up so we could take off on new adventures.  I also remember cutting our fingers and becoming blood brothers : )

 

Home

I’d be gone all day with my friends, but for some strange reason, my folks wanted me home for dinner.  It was torture.  I could hear the hooligans outside.  I’d stuff my mouth as fast as I could, be excused, then run over the side of the house and spit it out and catch up with everyone.  At night I’d lay in bed exhausted, sweaty, dirty, and thinking of tomorrow’s adventure.

 

Are you still reading?

Wow.  So there are some ramblings of my youth. I just felt compelled to write it down…just to relive again in my head.  Good times.  No mental frickness…just true living.  Can we ever go back to that “state” of awe in our life? Is that too much to expect?  Is the now “the real world, suck it up”???  I want to go back and hang with Mr.  Shulty, Andy the bus driver, and Elton and why not throw in Pooh and Peter Pan!

Thanks my friends for reading!

Love,

Dwight

Question from Jerry

Jerry is a friend of mine who recently became a widower at the age of 76 after being married for 53 years.  We were chatting away on the phone and he says I’ve got a question for you.  It went something like this:

Jerry:  What size bed do you have?

Me:  Queen

Jerry:  Where do you sleep on the bed?  Middle or side?

Me:  Side

Jerry:  How often do you change the sheets?

Me:  Every 2 weeks

Jerry:  Do you think it would be okay if you slept two weeks one one side of the bed, and then two more weeks on the other side before cleaning the sheets?

Me:  I guess I never thought about it.  (I’m cracking up and so is he)

Jerry:  I was just looking over at the other side of the bed and the whole side hasn’t been touched and everything is in order.

Me:  I’d probably knock myself out by running into the wall each night heading to the bathroom if I slept on the other side.  (I’m still cracking up..)

Jerry:  I’m going to ask a few other single people and see what they think.

Me:  Sounds like a plan I’d love to hear what they say.  I’ll ask around also.

So my little WordPress tribe what are your thoughts?  Isn’t it always interesting how others come up with questions you never even thought about?

*** At the end of the phone call after talking about other things he’s discovered he jokes maybe we should write a book on tips of being single 😊.  It is sad, but this was just a keep it light conversation as he works through all this…

 

 

My Hero

What if I told you I know a soldier who served their country for 30 years?   What if I told you during this period a great war was raging and each year this veteran chose to go one more tour?  One more tour.  This soldier started fresh full of passion and determination.  High ideals with great hope that this world would be a better place by keeping up the fight.

Year after year, day after day, this soldier pioneered on growing tired and weary but never giving up.  No awards were given.  No ceremonies.  No badges.  No other had taken this path because it was never recommended.  It was a death wish.    Five years tops they said and then get out.  But oh no…not this soldier!

As the years past, this soldier gave more and more.  Sweat, tears, love, money, and their health. Everything they had.  Lied to, stolen from, yelled at, misunderstood,… but kept on giving.  The body was no longer fit and trim.  The mental health was fucked but they kept on giving.  Along the way, love was lost and divorce came.

At the end of the war a small dinner was provided with beautiful words said, but this soldiers brother wanted more!  The brother wanted the world to acknowledge this great hero!

What if I told you this soldier wasn’t a soldier in the sense of the military, but a soldier of life.  A soldier as in a Special Needs(Ed) Teacher For 30 Years!  This soldier is my sister Victoria Hyde.  As I type, tears of love are flying.  I so love my soldier and am so proud of her!

We often don’t see or hear about the everyday heroes in our life.  We only see what’s right in front of us, judge,  and never know of the journey along the way.  The kids she’s helped, the Christmas presents given, supplies boughten, clothes boughten, love given…never to be heard of again.  Many of these kids homes are broken…just a mess with very little help in improving.  I can pretty much predict the school she taught at will not fill her shoes and for that I am sad.  But who else would take on this feat?

If this was a military soldier and they came home, we’d have awards, speeches, standing ovations, and even a parade.  We’d see how their service changed them physically and mentally and provide services to help them get better.  We’d treat them with love and understand where they are now and how they got there.  Articles would be plastered across the media and interviews would be requested.  Instead, my hero went off quietly into the sunset to be near her sons.  To rest.  To regroup.  I fear it may be too late.

This is my sister Vicky.  I flew out a couple weeks ago to New York to help drive her 26 hours to Colorado.  She is my hero and I wanted others to know.  Who are the heroes in your life?  We need to do a better job acknowledging the unseen heroes and give back to them!

Paper & Ink

IMG_0748I picked up my dusty journal looking for an entry and realized how very little I write now that I blog more on WordPress.  Just glancing through I was in a kind of ahhh on the range of topics and moments I had captured good, bad, and ugly.  Some juicy material in there let me tell you!!

 

This little rambling caught my eye:

“I wish I could just be naturally happy without effort and I’d make all the wise decisions and do all the right things without effort.  I don’t want to put in the effort, but I want the results of being happy and not alone.”

This was from 7/18/2017 almost a year ago..which was pretty interesting.  Anyway, you can obviously tell I had picked up the theme of it will take effort.  Here it is 7/17/2018.  What have I done?  I guess I’m a slow learner or should I say actually doing what I know I need to do.  It kinda of freezes you when you look back, you had the knowledge then, and for whatever reasons you didn’t do shit. Shit.  Life ticks by…

If you hadn’t noticed from my last post I know I have to move forward.  Those words were more for me.  I’m a little sad I didn’t make more progress.  I know life takes work.  It’s the good with the bad –  the happy with the sad.  If it was all good it wouldn’t be good.  What would you appreciate?  What would you be thankful for?  What problems would you solve?  Believe it or not, we all like to solve problems.

I think it’s about time for me to make more of an effort in this beautiful life I’ve been granted!

I think I’ll get back to journaling.  Happy Tuesday friends!!

A Hike in the Forest

BridgeWhat makes a 52-year-old man go on a two-day backpacking trip up one side of Pikes Peak and down the other?  Beats the shit out of me but I did it : )  My Little Dwight voice has been harping harping harping on me to get out and Do Something.  Little Dwight comes from way back when I was growing up in the country between two campgrounds and every day seemed to be an adventure.  Anyway, to shut it up I decide what the hell.  I think a lot of it was the norm was just the same old norm and I wanted to light it up in a big way – and Boom I did!

I’ve climbed Pikes Peak several times since moving out to this area in 1990, but in the back of my head, I always thought it would be neat to climb up and over.  So Friday after work I had my daughter drop me off at the Heizer Trail in Cascade, Colorado elevation 7,379 FT.    Mr. Pikes Peak sits at 14,114.  This was the boom part plus the fact I hadn’t done any type of training for this adventure!

There’s no easing into trails out in Colorado and Heizer Trail sure didn’t disappoint.  Straight up basically with very little switchbacks.  The first few miles I could still hear all the car noise zipping up the pass from below plus all the “traffic” in my head.  Yes, the monkey mind was in full force not to mention I couldn’t breathe and sweat was pouring out of me.   Jumped right into the frying pan and I knew this coming in.  That’s why I picked this route.  It’s like the Stones crossfire hurricane and it’s just what I needed.  No stinking my toe in the water here…just jump baby.  This seems to work the best for me because I have no time to over think it.  I had told some folks I was doing it and I wasn’t going to back down now.

PikesPeakI reached the 3.5-mile mark where the trail does chill out a bit and there I stood surrounded by mountains, trees, and silence.  A well worth prize.  Even within me, I could already feel a bit back to home.  I do admit I do get that “runners high” doing these type of workouts…this was a good reminder.  I hiked for 3 hours the first night and came around a bend to a wide clearing with a straight on shot of Pikes Peak.  This was where I set up a camp.  Not a cloud in the sky just Colorado Blue.  All around me were mountains and forest and I couldn’t stop smiling.  I got to leave my rain tarp off my tent, so that night I got to see all the stars sparkling down on me.

The next morning I continued on my trail which lead to Barr Trail.  Barr trail starts in Manitou Springs and goes all the way up to Pikes Peak.  There was a sign for Barr trail that said 2.5 miles.  Someone had crossed out the 2.5 and written in 4.  Unfortunately, they were right…it was more like 4.  I wasn’t quite sure at what point I’d pop out onto Barr trail and when I did my heart sunk.  The sign said 7.4 to Pikes Peak…ughh.  I was hoping I would have been higher up.  Did I mention I didn’t do much research for this trip?  I knew too much thinking would just be too much thinking and not enough Doing.

7.4 miles to the Peak and I still had to go over to the back side and reach treeline.  In my mind, I knew it was going to be a long day and in the end it took over 10 hours of hiking.  I got to stop at Barr Camp to rest a bit and refill my water containers.  Thank god someone let me use their water filter, since the last time I was there…over 10 years ago, I was able to get water from a well.  The well was no longer operating so all the water there came from a stream.    Like I said I’ve climbed this mountain many times.  Two times I even Ran/Walked it in the Pikes Peak Ascent.   One thing I’ve never done though is hike it with a 27 pound pack on my back.

Coming out of Barr Camp I  usually feel refreshed and can knock off the next few miles before treeline with very little issues.  Not this time.  I’d already hiked for 5 miles and had 6 more to go to the summit.  I was sucking air already and new it was going to be a long day.  One step forward.  One step forward.  Sit and rest.  Sit and rest.

ViewsAll around me was beauty, but all I can manage to do was keep my eye on the trail trying to keep my feet moving.  I did manage to though to take this shot for my peeps : )  When you are on Barr Trail above treeline you have 3 miles to go and for each mile, you gain 1,000 feet in elevation.  Not a fun way to summit.  There were all kinds of people on the trail.  I came across this one runner who passed me both ways several times.  I stopped and talked to him and he was training for the Pikes Peak Marathon.  He rode up in his car and was running down to treeline and back up 3 times to help train.  Inside I was like %$#@ you…yes I was impressed, but still %$#@ you.  I was barely making it.  I think I spent at least 4.5 hours trying to get to the summit in those last 3 miles.  Somehow I made it to the top even after going over the 16 Golden Stairs at the end.  Now, what kind of shit is that to have to do?  I could barely lift my legs!!!

I rewarded myself with a cheeseburger and a gatorade  at the top visitor center.   Did I mention you can drive to the top?  Now you must really think I’m a nut case!  Clouds were coming in so I filled up my water containers and headed out on the next trail which led to Devils Playground on the back side of the Peak.  My feet didn’t want to move, but I didn’t want to get caught in a storm.

I set up camp just at treeline. And when I say just at treeline I mean it.  I couldn’t go any further.  For some reason it’s hard to find a flat campsite on the side of a mountain – weird : )    I wedged my pack under my blow up mattress which helped a bit, but still it was a very rough nights sleep.  I was tired and I didn’t smell nice.Me

The next morning I packed up and hiked down the 4 miles to the end of my journey.  My plan was to just catch a ride home.  The only problem with this plan was it was 8 in the morning…so not a lot of traffic.  I hiked down the forest road a half mile with no cars at all.  Finally, I heard a car behind me.  I was prepared.  I had put on all clean clothes in the morning, deodorant, and even brushed my teeth.  I turned around to face them, put on my best happy face, even though I was dead tired…and they stopped.  I told them I was heading to Woodland Park and they cleared a spot for me and told me to jump in.  They were a married couple from Oklahoma out here camping and just the friendliest people.   When we got to Woodland Park I told them they could just drop me off in the middle of town, but the insisted on taking me right to my house.  The husband had done several backpacking trips in his past and could relate to getting out for an adventure and plus he didn’t want me walking another mile home…I must have looked tired out.

So that’s it my friends.  This is nothing I would suggest for anyone else to try without training.  This is a  highly personalized concentrated dose of reconnecting and getting out of my comfort zone and it worked.  There may just be more adventures to come!