Thursday, May 29, 2008


Heartfelt thanks to those who left comments on the previous post. I appreciated the sentiments very much.

I got back to Woodbury last Saturday evening, and actually spent much of Sunday combing through my gear, checking my notes, and beginning to put lists together for TGOC 2009. Nothing like getting an early start. Sunday evening, though, it dawned on me that this wasn’t merely obsessive-compulsive, it was impossible. H graduates med school in the middle of May next year, and needless to say, I am not going to be in Scotland on that day. So I’m thinking 2010, which means I won’t need to begin planning for a couple of weeks yet.

This has been and will continue to be a year of travel. We were in Vieques just before Christmas, and in Chianti for three weeks in January; I was in Scotland for the Challenge; I’m in Arizona now, visiting H during her surgery rotation; we’ll be in Vermont and New Hampshire for a weekend in June; we’ve got a business trip to Seattle (which we’ll extend to Vancouver or Victoria for fun) in July. Most important and exciting, we’ll be heading off to Minnesota around the beginning of August for the birth of our first grandchild, and I expect a certain amount of back-and-forth between Connecticut and there during the fall. In the interstices, ankle allowing, I am hoping for some significant time in the White Mountains.

Now if I can just get over this 8-hour time swing....

Monday, May 26, 2008


The pedestrian part of my Challenge ended on Day 4, when my right ankle, which I thought had recovered from a twist suffered two weeks before, declared unequivocally that it had not. I “retired,” as the Challenge people so nicely put it, at Invergarry, having at least crossed the magnificent Knoydart peninsula.

One way to look at this is that I went an awfully long way for a very short walk. This is true, but not particularly accurate, because I wound up having a Challenge experience to be savored—it just happened to be largely inside out and upside down.

My withdrawal set me off in a downward spiral of emotions, from shocked dismay, to shame and embarrassment, to disgust and frustration. But having licked my wounds for a few days in my fetid little hotel room in Fort William, I bobbed up from the depths of (oh-so-attractive!) depressed self-pity to a state of rueful acceptance. I decided that since I’d had a spectacular time during my short functional period and had become enveloped in the aura of the Challenge (the people—the wonderful, uncompetitive, generous, friendly, positive people), that I’d try to stay as involved in the event as possible. No slinking out of town in imagined disgrace.

To make a long, heavily populated, and well-lubricated story short, I made my way around to Braemar, where I knew my former mates (and many others) would be coming through, joined enthusiastically for a couple of days in the infamous socializing, then took a deep breath and a couple of aspirin, and headed for the finish-line in Montrose to do it all over again. There I helped out as best I could and controlled my envy sufficiently to share the joy with my new friends as they arrived to sign the book and complete their walks.

I enjoyed the joyous final blowout of the banquet, many more drinks with many more Challengers, said my heartfelt thank-yous and reluctant good-byes, and headed home, deeply disappointed that I hadn’t been able to finish the walk, but having had a fine time—a superfine time—with a raft of spectacular people I’d love to see again.

I won't be posting a true diary, because I only walked for four days, but I’ll write more about the Challenge and Challengers—with names and photos—over the next few weeks.

Then I’ll have to decide what to do with this blog.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

And now for a short break....

Off to Scotland! Even though it’s gorgeous here in Woodbury—as pretty as it ever gets, and that’s saying something—I’m ready for the winds and showers of the Highlands. The pack in the photo is a little heavier and lumpier than it will be when I actually hit the trail. I’m sending things ahead to Kingussie and Braemar. Of course, even then it will be heavier and lumpier than I like, but I have faith that the Crocs will remain super-cool.

I began writing this blog in November, largely to see if I could make contact with British walkers in the hopes I’d gain some TGO Challenge insights and maybe the occasional strolling partner.

Now I’m about to leave for my little adventure, I just wanted to say thanks to a lot of walkers I’ve begun to think of as friends. I’ve had lots of help and have been made to feel very welcome, and I appreciate it deeply. I hope to meet many of you over the next two weeks.

To other readers, I’ll be back soon, a man either broken and limping; or tanned, two inches taller, ten years younger, and altogether too full of myself. (Well, forget the tanned part.)

Saturday, May 3, 2008


My dad had a social obligation yesterday evening, so instead of the standard Friday pasta, five of us went out to a favorite restaurant in a nearby town for a somewhat more sophisticated meal. And it was good.

We were tucked away in a nice corner, and part way into the meal, H called on her mother’s mobile with great news, and we passed the phone around so all—parents, godparents, and old friend—could have a word. She has been offered a fellowship that includes two simultaneous and integrated residencies. As part of this, she’ll come from Minnesota to Northern New England for three months next winter before she actually graduates from med school, then the whole crew will return for good early in the summer.

This is a big deal, mostly because it is exactly the program H wanted, but also because she and A (and by then, the baby—not to mention Jasper the Wonder Dog), will be back in the part of the world where they want to live. And they’ll only be a little over three hours away, so I will be able to pester them all in person. Frequently.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Stick in the mud

I’ve written several times about how I prefer not to walk solo, and I’ve been looking for a Challenge partner for months. Well, on this morning’s walk I was let down by my final possibility. He barked at me that he’s too firmly planted in Woodbury and he really doesn’t want to leaf town. He said he’d be rooting for me, though.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I won’t have any tonsorial concerns in Scotland. I went out yesterday morning and had myself shorn. Not quite a buzz cut (what my grandfather, who took me to the barber when I was very small, called a “pineapple”), but the last time I went this short was over 40 years ago. Back then, the result did not show this decided widow’s peak. And, of course, there was no gray hair on the floor afterward.

On the other hand, I think I can save the weight of that comb now.