Author Archives: HD

Caroling at the Care Center

Sweet memories… Christmas caroling at the care center was an annual event until Grandma’s death on Thanksgiving Day in 2010. It took little effort to bring joy to so many. Someday, we’ll do it again to honor her memory.

Caroling 2008

From 2008: One of my favorite Christmas traditions continues to be caroling with Grandma Dugan at her care center.  We had a smaller group this year, but our visit was every bit as meaningful and allowed for more personal time with the residents needing an extra boost.  Lily was a big hit, as usual, and my youngest niece carried out her candy-gifting with confidence and charm. We wandered room to room, knocking on doors and singing in the hallways.  There was a group sing in the piano room, but most of our “performances” were for private audiences of one or two.

Caroling 2008 close-up

Highbanks Care Center houses both rehabilitation and long-term care patients, so we sang to both familiar faces and strangers that we’re unlikely to meet again.  Some were joyous, looking forward to returning home or entertaining loved ones at Christmastime.  Others are without family and fighting infirmity and loneliness in tandem.

One strikingly lovely lady, situated near Grandma’s room, caught my heart.  She was tearfully grateful for our visit. Her living space had been lavished with holiday love, but her family is far away and she is losing her hearing. She’s a music lover, no longer able to sing and struggling to hear anything at all.  She sadly showed me a wind-up kitty that she had thought needed batteries before realizing the extent of her hearing loss.

Standing next to her bed, I placed our sleighbells in one frail hand and held tightly to the other. The kids and I sang loudly then, hoping she could hear a melody and absorb some of the energy it carried. I won’t soon forget her delight as she shook those bells to “Jingle Bells”  -with such a smile.  It won’t be hard to pop into her room from time to time when I visit Grandma, so I guess I’ve made a new friend too.

Best of all, the kids realized anew how good it feels to give blessings to others.

**I’m headed to Mexico for a few days (with my camera, of course).  ~Should be able to post “Stories on Our Tree” from there; if not, look for it on Christmas Eve when I’m back in the US.


Smokey the Bear and Tibetan Monks? I Must be in Boulder (Utah)…

UTAH: Boulder fence and shadow

Boulder, Utah will never be confused with the bigger Boulder (that would be the more substantial map dot in Colorado), but we found it to be a charming stop on our journey through southern Utah. Renegade cows, a Russian waitress, Tibetan Monks and Smokey the Bear all combined to make it a memorable over-night stay.

UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park; Before the Hail
We arrived late in the afternoon, damp and mud-splattered (courtesy of Bryce Canyon National Park), with a strong desire for room service.

UTAH: Boulder Mountain Lodge; Anasazi

Our room at the Boulder Mountain Lodge was spacious with views of meadows and mountains and included a coffee table book that dissed “Smokey The Bear” in strong conservationist language.

This was actually a hilarious bonus for my group who had been terrorized by Smokey’s gargantuan remote-Smokey the Bear vs forest conservationvoiced presence at our Ohio State Fair in their younger years. Personal greetings from an over-sized and overly-friendly bear statue didn’t generate the warm “save the forest” feelings the Park Service was probably striving for. Which made the Smokey The Bear bashing book great environmental bed-time reading…

Our initial exploration took us to the fenced pasture across the road, alongside the breezy flowers of a vast meadow and on to a charming enclosure that concealed a 12-foot hot tub and patio. We gratefully soaked our feet after rinsing them in the adjacent shower and laughed over our afternoon’s adventure at Bryce Canyon. When we quieted down, the whole world was perfectly still. The pond just beyond the decorative iron fence hosted a bird sanctuary brushed by dozens of butterflies. And further out, mountains emerged from the rolling meadows.

As we crossed the drive to a restaurant, the Tibetan Monks were a bit of surprise. The purple-robed gentlemen arrived in minivans with minimal luggage and enormous smiles. The Drepung Loseling Monks were featured on the Hollywood soundtrack of “Seven Years in Tibet.” It seemed unusual to bump into them in southern Utah, but it turns out, Boulder, Utah is a yearly trek for them.

UTAH: Boulder; sunflower

We ordered surprisingly good carry-out from the Burr Trail Grill and chatted with another “Hannah” while we waited on our order. Home for the summer from school in California, she told us a little about growing up in an area canyon where they had to create escape routes with cut trees whenever heavy rains washed out the roads -and wear safety harnesses for the crawl above floodwaters to safety!

We savored our quiet evening. Hannah and I planned to run in the morning, and then we’d hike Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Escalante National Memorial.

Well, we got half of it right…

From September 2008.

Escalante Hotel Review

Next: The Cows…

More on Utah…


Travel vs Your “Fitness Routine”

Anna Maria; foot in sand

Mark Dilworth is a former Division I athlete, trainer extraordinaire and friend whose fitness and training savvy has been recognized by Stanford University Wellsphere (amongst many others). When he asked me to share how I fit “fitness” into my travels, I sent the following (from California where I was at the time hiking through Yosemite National Park, mountain biking in Mammoth Lakes and… you get the idea… ).

The gym is unfamiliar or even non-existent. Or maybe you’re in a different time zone, struggling against your own body clock.  Whatever the particulars, travel presents unique challenges for the fitness-minded.  More positively however, it can also gift you with some new opportunities to energize and enhance a humdrum routine!

A little research will widen your options from what is available strictly at your hotel.  Fitness offerings there can be as elaborate as a pass to a full scale health club or as paltry as a couple of dumbbells stacked in the corner of a closet-sized room! It’s good to know what you’re likely to find before you start packing. Check local websites for trails and parks.  Details won’t be necessary until you arrive but know your options by getting a visual of area parks and recreation areas.  Many hotels have runner’s maps available at the front desk or with a concierge, but don’t stop there.  A short drive or ride might take you to a more scenic trail that you’ll remember long after the endorphins fade away.

Note:  Before sprinting off into an unfamiliar area ask the right questions: “Are there any areas I should avoid?”  and  “Do locals or other hotel guests typically run this route?”  Carry your cell phone (with the hotel’s phone number in case you get lost) and focus on the details of your new route or trail.  Skip the iPod until you know the area better.

Of course cardio isn’t limited to runningVacation travel can and should be geared around the activities you already love or want to try outHike or run up a mountainside; rent a kayak, a bike or a horse…  Stretch your muscles and your mind with unique experiences.  The best destinations offer a range of flexible options.  You can build easy exercise into city stays by choosing hotels within walking distance of most meals and points of interest.  Plan ahead, and then plan to be flexible.

Weight work is typically harder to arrange if you lack a decent gym.  Have a plan to work with nothing more than your own body if need be.  Print out some new exercises to try in your hotel room. Push-ups and crunches in a multitude of challenging variations can be done anywhere, and playgrounds have monkey bars for pull-ups and chin-ups.  Pack swim goggles and resistance bands to create even more options for yourself.

~And don’t discount the tremendous value of local knowledgeWhere do you think travel books  and websites get their information? I make it a point to ask those I encounter for their personal suggestions and find many to be worth pursuing.  Area residents have directed me to excellent snorkeling spots, challenging trails and even lent us snorkels and hiking sticks!

Business and group travel and traveling with younger children can require extra creativity in achieving even an opportunity for workout time!  -But it’s always worth trying.  A few minutes of something is always better than nothing at all -if only for the fact that you are maintaining a habit of health.  The point is not to replicate your home work-out but to take advantage of what you find at your destination.  Consider it a sampling of the local fitness cuisine.  You can order “the usual” when you’re back at home again.

When travel lands you on a new playing field without all of your usual equipment, forget about your “fitness routine”.   Instead, make it your routine to pursue fitness in all its varying forms.

*Some fun ways to exercise on-the-road: running, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, climbing, zip-lining, walking, hiking, biking, wind surfing… Fitness has as many “shapes” as we do!

Columbus Things To Do

Hikes through Southern Utah

Cave Adventures

Kayaking with Manatees


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