Friday, September 14, 2018

An Endurance Swim "Race for the Ages"

Experience vs Youth.

Once a year, 74-year-old fitness enthusiast, Skip Hause, challenges a fellow swimmer to a half mile swim.  This year he invited 14-year-old, Vera Rivard.  The race was held on Friday September 7, 2018 at Lake Sunapee, NH from Skip’s Sunapee harbor home across the Lake to Dewey Beach.  

Skip will have a 14-minute head start.

Proceeds for this event go to benefit Vera’s invitation to travel to the Cork Swim Week camp in July 2019 in Sandycove Island, Ireland, a tiny island off the south coast of Ireland.  The camp focuses on training the invited swimmers to swim the English Channel.

Skip’s Bio. He is 74 years young and a lifetime Fitness Guru and Hogan Member at Coby-Sawyer College in New London, NH.  He has 5 years of Mitt boxing training.  He is an accomplished Open Water swimmer, years of pool swimming, a runner, and skier.

Vera’s bio is equally impressive. She is 14 years old and a Hogan member.  She swims for the Upper Valley Aquatic Club (UVAC), and is on the Kearsarge High School swim team. She has completed in many open water endurance events, and her accomplishments include a second place in the July 2018 25 mile (16 hours) Lake Memphremagog swim.

Outdoor Steve’s Involvement

Skip called and ask if I would document and produce a video of this event. I clarified to Skip that my videos on my Outdoor Enthusiast Blog are produced to motivate individuals and families to get outdoors.  Skip had viewed many of my blog posts and assured me he wanted me to do a video with interviews to share the experience of this fun happening.

As an amateur triathlete I certainly have some insights to endurance swimming and training, and I would bring this perspective for interviews with the two athletes in this challenge. I interviewed Skip, Vera, Darcie (Vera’s Mom), and Kevin (Vera's Dad).

Will experience win the day?  Will youth prevail?

The first video is 30 minutes and introduces you to Skip, Vera and Vera's family through interviews and learning of Vera's cold water endurance swims.  Feel the friendly competition race as seen from my kayak. Learn of Vera's July 2019 "invitation only" to the Cork Distance Week camp fund raiser, and Vera's vision of swimming the English Channel.

The Second video is 7 minutes and is a summary of the swim with minimal detail.

Cork Distance Week Camp

It is the toughest amateur marathon swim training in the world – with the fewest “frills”. By invitation only… References below provide more insight to the Cork Distance Week Camp.

Send Donations to benefit Vera’s Cork Swim Week Travel Fund
Make checks payable to Vera Rivard. 

Vera Rivard
PO Box 413
Springfield, NH 03284

Documented Marathon Swims by Vera Rivard
Support Vera in her Never say, "I wish I had ... trained to swim the English Channel".


Sandycove Island Web Book

Dangerous When Wet: Learning to Survive Open Water Swimming

Documented Marathon Swims by Vera Rivard

List of successful English Channel Swimmers


" Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

    Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

     Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life.

    Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy at

    Friday, September 7, 2018

    ORFS Hike Little Sunapee Associates Trail, New London, NH

    Know where you are going

    I volunteered to be the leader for the Outdoor Recreation for Seniors (ORFS) hike at the Little Sunapee Associates Trail in New London, NH. Given I had never hiked this area, I had to scout the trails. I went to the New London, NH Conservation Commission web site for a topographical trail map and trail descriptions.

    Of importance in the topographical map of the Little Sunapee Associates Forest would be contour lines, streams, boundary lines such as fences, roads, stone walls, and elevations (hills). And of course, the color-coded marked trails.

    The moderately difficult yellow to orange blossom trail was recommended as a 1½ hour hike for our ORFS group.

    I visited the Little Sunapee Associates Forest the week before the ORFS hike to get familiar with the area and locate the recommended yellow and orange blossom trails. This on-site research showed difficulty locating trail signs. The trails also needed maintenance (e.g. hard to see trail signs, down trees across trails and overgrown forest growth). It appeared to me this trail had not been maintained for a few years.

    My visit revealed the many pluses of the Little Sunapee Associates Trail outweighed its negatives. The forest has wetlands, a ten-foot rockbed  rippling stream from Little Sunapee Lake, unique red cardinal flowers, a moderate hill, different colors of mushrooms, stone walls, and ancient house foundations of farms and land for sheep and crops.

    The Yellow Trail is the steepest trail on the property as shown in the trail map profile. The Yellow Trail starts at Gate 1 (G1) on Little Sunapee Road then follows along the brook from Little Sunapee Lake. The trail turns right at the edge of the I 89 right-of-way where it meets the Red Trail and both trails proceed together along the wire fence marking the right-of-way with stonewalls and foundations, and ascend nearly 200 feet in a quarter mile, and then plateaus to an intersection with the Blue Trail at Burnt Hill Road.  At this point an option is to exit to Burnt Hill Road. The Blue Trail can be followed right downhill parallel to Burnt Hill Road, and an intersection with the Orange Blossom Trail and proceeds down to an old logging road trail off of G3 on Burnt Hill Road. Right on this logging road ends at an unmarked gate (G2) on Little Sunapee Road.

    OK, let’s look at the MAP

    1.  First, we start at G1 on map (unmarked), which is an opening in the fence, below a posted tree sign, “Yellow Trail”.
    2.  We immediately climb over a large fallen rotten tree, and in 175 paces come to a sign in the folk of the path with a Yellow left arrow and an Orange arrow to the right.  We continue left on the Yellow Trail.
    3. On our left is an outlet stream from Little Sunapee Lake.  Think of a poetic bubbling stream flowing over moss covered rocks.  We listen to this soothing sound as we silently hike on the path.  Red Cardinal flowers in the stream are a hiker’s delight - we "stop and smell the flowers".
    4.  We begin to hear traffic from Route 89. 
    5.  Shortly we come to a wire fence and turn right on the path.  We are walking parallel to Route 89N. The steep ascent identified in the yellow trail description begins.  
    6. We are still following the yellow trail, but the yellow markers are not plentiful, and we regularly pause searching for a yellow marker ahead.
    7. We search for the trail and pause before seeing a tripple red paint mark on a tree and then yellow paint on a metal stake. We encounter a farmer stonewall on the left, and the the remnants of what appears to be a foundation. The now Red/Yellow trail gets steeper.
    8. After peaking on the hill, we descend and up through a gully and see the road – Burnt Hill Road.  Burnt Hill Road could be a bailout road going right to Little Sunapee Road for another right to return to the parking area.  We agree to continue with the orange trail.  Not much change of getting lost on orange blossom trail because all you need to do is keep Burnt Hill Road in sight on your left.
    9. We follow the blue and orange signs, sometimes needing to stop and wander about before locating the next sign. Eventually we come to an old wood road.  Our map shows this old logging road from G3 on Burnt Hill Road. We go right on the old logging road .  The road runs parallels to Little Sunapee Road and we hear cars. We come to Gate 2 (unmarked).  We exit at Gate 2 onto Little Sunapee Road, whence we go right and back to our parking area and lunch with our kayaking ORFS friends.

    Little Chance of Getting Lost
    Certainly bring a whistle and a compass.  In describing the area of Little Sunapee Associates Forest… it is like a square.  If you stay within the square and go in one direction you will come out to an access area. If lost:
    • Going East you will come to Burnt Hill Road.
    • Go south you come to Little Sunapee Road.
    • Go west and you come to the stream, and then go South to Little Sunapee Road.
    • Go North you come to Route 89. You then go East to Burnt Hill Road, or South to Little Sunapee Road.
    Let's Hike the Trail

    Now, I never have to say, "I wish I had hiked the Little Sunapee Associates Forest Trail".

    Topographic Map

    The distinctive characteristic of a topographic map is the use of contour lines to show the shape of the earth's surface. USGS topographic maps also show many other kinds of geographic features, including roads, railroads, rivers, streams, lakes, buildings, built-up areas, boundaries, place or feature names, mountains, elevations, survey control points, vegetation types, and much more.

    A contour line joins points of equal height. Contours make it possible to show the height and shape of mountains, depths of the ocean bottom, and steepness of slopes. Basically, contours are imaginary lines that join points of equal elevation on the surface of the land above or below a reference surface, usually mean sea level. (


    " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

      Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

       Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life.

      Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy at

      Friday, August 10, 2018

      Never say, "I wish I had ridden in a race car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway"

      Automobile racing is one of the most popular spectator sports in the world.  However, until now, my interest was only superficial.  Thus, this blog post was difficult for me to write, as high-performance driving was something I had never paid much attention.

      On the flipside, my son Timothy has had a lifelong interest in high speed sports from dirt bike riding, snow mobiles, ATVs, car repairs and automobile shows among his high-speed interests.

      So why my blog post on high-performance driving?  Last winter I met a new friend, John, who shared with me he was a high-performance driving instructor nationally certified who teaches for SCDA, NASA, Porsche, BMWCCA, Audi, JCNA (Jaguar), Ferrari and a host of other clubs/marques across the country.  I told John about Timothy’s interests in high-performance driving.

      Last week John offered to have us join him for demonstration laps and classroom instruction at an event organized and run by the Sports Car Driving Association (SCDA) at which he was instructing.  The event would be held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, NH.

      With zero exposure to high performance driving, Never say, “I wish I had …” popped into my mind.  My call to Timothy was eagerly accepted, followed by my confirmation email to John.

      With this background to the reader, you can expect this post is not a “how to”, but a “Hmm … interesting” insights from a neophyte on performance driving.

      The SCDA provides the driving enthusiast the opportunity to experience high performance driving in a safe and controlled environment. Events are strictly driver educational events - they are non-competitive and are not timed events.  All novice drivers - those who have never been on a track - must ride with a certified instructor in the right seat.

      As non-certified drivers, neither Timothy nor I drove on the race course.  However, we did get the full passenger effect

      Pit Crew

      John had trailered his Corvette, and he had to change a brake rotor on his rear wheel before the day started. This is when John’s new Pit crew of one – Timothy - used his car and jump cables to help start John’s corvette.

      As we watched John began to remove the cracked brake rotor, the wrench slipped on the nut and John’s forearm smashed against the frame – “Ouch!” This was not a small hurt, and Timothy, who is a Journeyman Printer at the Boston Globe and responsible for maintaining the presses, and has replaced brakes on his own car, jumped in and worked with John to replace the broken brake rotor. In less than 10 minutes the car was ready for the track.

      Novice Classroom Instruction
      John suggested we start the day by attending the Novice classroom instruction.  The instructor had a screen of the track with a number assigned for identification to each section of the track.  The instructor briefly described the awareness of each section pointing out critical areas, and to “keep your eyes off the wall”.  “Focus only on the apron”. [The apron is an area of asphalt or concrete that separates the racing surface from the infield.]

      Walking tour of the Pit
      While John attended to his instructor responsibilities, Timothy took me on a walking tour of the pit providing me his insights.  This stadium can hold nearly 100,000 fans on a race day, the largest sporting event in New England, but was essentially empty today with about 100 or so SCDA students at this event.  

      The Two Videos

      Below are two videos. The first video is a summary of our day: Timothy pit crews for John; we attend the novice class; a walkabout of the pit; observe the racers from various parts of the course; saw a minor incident and the quick response of the emergency personnel and equipment (which is mandatory at such events) respond; saw both black and yellow flags in response to this incident, where the black flag is waved at all corner worker stations, and means that all cars must come into the pits to await further instructions until the incident is evaluated and the track cleared.

      John took Timothy on a six-lap drive, but it was difficult for me to video as the fences protect and prevent visitors from getting close to the race track.

      The second video is short snippet videos of my 5-lap ride with John driving his corvette.  The video starts with Timothy getting strapped in John’s car. For my run I hold my camera on the dash as we zip around the 1.6-mile course five times.

      A day at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway

      Five Laps Around the New Hampshire Motor Speedway


      " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

        Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

        Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

        Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy 

        Thursday, August 2, 2018

        Never say, "I wish I had been in the Lake Sunapee Sailing Day Annual Poker Cruise"

        When Bill called asking if Cathy and I wanted to be part of Captain Al's crew in the Annual Lake Sunapee Sailing Day "Poker Run", I could not pass up this unique outdoor challenge.  My motivational mantra, Never say, "I wish I had ..." had to be answered, "Yes!".

        The ANNUAL “POKER CRUISE” SAILING DAY HOSTED BY THE LAKE SUNAPEE CRUISING FLEET, promotes sailing fun on Lake Sunapee. All sailboats from sunfish to cruisers to racers are welcome to join a “Poker Cruise”.

        Sailing enthisasts are invited to rendezvous at the Lake Sunapee Cruising Fleet boat just outside Sunapee Harbor.  At the Committee Boat each sailboat is given instructions, a map of the course and a playing card.  Boats will then sail to four-mark boats on the upper end of the lake.

        At the mark each sailboat will receive another playing card. Following the “Poker Cruise” each crew is invited to bring their “poker hand” to a reception sponsored by the Lake Sunapee Cruising Fleet at the Knowlton House (LSPA) in Sunapee Harbor.  There are prizes will be awarded for the best poker hands and for the best themed crew costumes.  

        In case you cannot tell, Captain Al’s crew costume themes are two-fold, Aliens from Outer space (think “Close encounters of the third kind”), and Spanish neighbors. 

        7th Annual "Poker Cruise" Sailing Day

        Lake Sunapee Cruising Fleet


        " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

          Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

          Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

          Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy 

          Wednesday, July 25, 2018

          Happy Birthday Braden - Memories of our Mt Washington, Tuckerman's Ravine, and Connecticut Lakes Trip

          Thanks for the memories!

          United States (New Hampshire) and Canadian Border Crossing

          Pinkham Notch 


          " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

            Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

            Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

            Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy 

            Friday, July 13, 2018


            I am very proud to introduce my brother Edward (Spanish name Lalo). Lalo is a member of a Mexican Mariachi band located in Mexico.  Lalo, a Spanish teacher in a Falmouth, Massachusetts junior high school, regularly visits Mexico during his summer breaks.  He becomes immersed into the Mexican culture and generally goes weeks without speaking English.  While there,Lalo is a student most of the time  receiving lessons in Spannish with other adults seeking to become more flulent and knowledgable with the Spanish language.

            As the years have past, Lalo has become good friends with his Mexican host family,  Furthermore, Lalo is a skilled musician, and often plays his instruments with fellow Mexican friends.  A few years past Lalo was asked to play his guitar by a local Mariachi band.  These "guest appearances" become so frequent that he was asked to join the group as a member.  He even purchased a Mariachi outfit.

            Below I am thrilled to show you two videos of when Lalo was the lead singer, and then a video when he played the spoons.

            1. Lalo cantando tatuajes (Edward singing tattoos)

            2. Lalo's musical talents are shown playing spoons with the band.

            Ed's surprise going away party was further enhanced when his band showed up to serenade his friends.

            Ed Priest is Middleboro’s unlikely mariachi

            A recent interview with Ed by writer Daniel Schemer says the whole story. 

            MIDDLEBORO — There are two big passions for Middleboro’s Ed Priest: music and language. To him, they’re one and the same.
            Priest, 64, is entering his 21st year teaching French and Spanish at Lawrence Middle School in Falmouth. Before that, he taught French for six years at Middleboro High School.
            For Priest, music is just another means to communicate and connect with people, which is why he often incorporates music into his classes, either through recordings or performing. He’s been playing guitar since he was a teenager and can play various other stringed instruments. He’s performed concerts for the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association.
            “Music can cross languages,” Priest said. “I live for the harmony.”
            It is because of this merging of passions that a unique string of circumstances resulted in a “gringo” from New England becoming a guitar player for a mariachi band in Mexico.
            For six non-consecutive years he’s been traveling to Mexico and performing with a nine-piece mariachi band called Los Charros de Morelos (The Gentlemen of Morelos). They do parties, church masses, weddings and birthdays — sometimes all in the same day.
            “I’ve been waiting to tell this story for nine years now,” he said, calling The Gazette from Mexico.
            Home Away From Home
            Since 1998 Priest has been spending most of his summers studying Spanish overseas in countries such as Mexico, Ecuador and Spain. He became certified as a Spanish teacher in Massachusetts in 2007, but has continued to travel overseas for purposes of improving his fluency and cultural knowledge. He has spent 11 summer sessions, which are usually three-week periods, at the Cemanahuac School in Cuernavaca, located in the Mexican state of Morelos.
            With every trip to Mexico he has always stayed with the same host family, the O’Campos. “Each year I come back to them is like coming home from college. They’re mi familia!” he said.
            As Priest tells it, returning to Cuernavaca over the years led to familiarity and friendships with many people outside of his host family.
            “Everyone’s so warm and inviting here. It’s not like, ‘Who’s this American?’ They all know me. Everyone shakes hands with everyone here.”
            As a musician, he likes to play guitar and would perform solo around the city. In the summer of 2009, he was invited by friends to join in a performance for a Sunday Bishop’s Mass at Cuernavaca Cathedral. More than 2,000 people were in attendance. After the performance, he was approached by members of Los Charros de Morelos about performing with them. He played guitar for them at Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the praise of both the parishioners and the rest of the band. No one wanted the partnership to end.
            “I’m the tall, blonde guy. I thought it was unbelievable I was being asked to do this,” Priest said.
            Consisting of three violins, two trumpets, one virhuela (five-string guitar), two guitars and one guitarron (bass-like guitar), the band is a year-round ensemble. Priest joins them only for three weekends in the summer while he’s studying in Mexico.
            “Learning Spanish was my number one reason for coming here. Over the years it became more about the band and friendships,” he said.
            When he’s with the band, they’ve been known to do multiple gigs in a single day. There’s an aspect of spontaneity to the band’s schedule.
            “One gig could be this elegant affair. The next gig there could be chickens running around.”
            Despite the rigorous schedule, Priest says it never stops being fun for him.
            During performances he’s often the band member who will interact with the crowd, often dancing with audience members and doing what he can to keep energy levels up and people moving.
            “I’m famous for my gritos,” he said, referring to the energetic shouting for which mariachi music is known.
            All Good Things...
            Priest will retire from teaching after this coming school year. As a result, his summer studies in Mexico have come to an end. His future with Los Charros de Morelos is uncertain at this point as traveling for him has become increasingly difficult.
            “I’ve been doing a lot more writing in Spanish over the years. I’ve stayed in regular communication during off periods.”
            He’s even occasionally gotten the band gigs when he’s home thanks to social media.
            He plans on spending more time with his wife and their two adult children. This year marks his 35th wedding anniversary. Priest’s wife, Andrea, is the executive director for the Middleboro Council on Aging.
            Priest, who was in Mexico during his wedding anniversary, said his wife has always been incredibly understanding and supportive of his travels. To make up for the time, he’s taking her to the three-day Lowell Folk Music Festival the weekend of July 27.
            “It’s fitting because we first met taking a jazz music class at the University of Lowell,” he said.
            Music remains a major interest in his life. For the last 10 years he has occasionally performed as part of an ensemble for a Spanish Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Taunton.
            And he already has multiple gigs lined up for when he returns home.
            He’ll be performing radio hits from the 1950s to present at Krazy Days on Friday, Aug. 3, 5 to 7 p.m., as part of the community dinner being held at Massasoit College. He also will perform at Clear Pond Park Saturday, Aug. 4, 1 to 3 p.m.

            As copied from, 
            "Mariachi (/mɑːriˈɑːi/Spanish: [maˈɾjatʃi]) is a musical expression that dates back to at least 18th century in Western Mexico. It is a tradition that can be defined by eight socio-musical elements: mariachi instrumentation and texture, musical genres and subgenres, performance methods and styles, singing styles and forms, dance styles, performative space, performance clothing, and the word "mariachi". Each element has its own history, originated at varying moments in time and in different regions of the Western Mexican countryside, and some, if not all, had to converge in order for the mariachi tradition to become what it is.
            From the 19th to 20th century, migrations from rural areas into Guadalajara, along with the Mexican government's cultural promotion gradually re-labeled it as Son style, with its alternative name of “mariachi” becoming used for the “urban” form. Modifications of the music include influences from other music such as polkas and waltzes, the addition of trumpets and the use of charro outfits by mariachi musicians. The musical style began to take on national prominence in the first half of the 20th century, with its promotion at presidential inaugurations and on the radio in the 1920s.
            In 2011 UNESCO recognized mariachi as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, joining six other entries on the Mexican list of that category."

            " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

              Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

              Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

              Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy