All posts by Danny Bernstein

About Danny Bernstein

I'm a hiker, hike leader for the Carolina Mountain Club and Friends of the Smokies and an outdoor writer.

An Inconvenient Sequel – the movie

Clean water in Norway

Last night, I went to see An Inconvenient Sequel,  the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, which came out in 2006. Al Gore, the star of the movie is older, grayer, heavier, but if anything, he seems more passionate about his cause. In a couple of sentences, the message is:

Global Warming is real. Climate Change is the biggest problem facing the world.

I know that and you know that but what are we doing about it?

Gore has been working on reducing global warming at least since his stint as Vice-President. He was in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 where the Kyoto Protocol was signed by a lot of countries but not the U.S. Lenny, my late husband, was also working on the same side and at least shook Gore’s hand.

Gore lost the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 and dedicated himself to telling the world about climate change. A year after An Inconvenient Truth came out, Al Gore was awarded half of the Nobel Peace Prize – not for the movie but for his advocacy work. The other half was given to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) a UN group of scientists and engineers who research and write reports on the subject. And, yes, Lenny was part of this group and has a beautiful certificate from the King of Norway, as did about 3,000 other people.

But what about the movie, you ask? The movie barely mentioned Gore’s Nobel prize.

In the film, Gore goes all over the world looking at disasters. The glaciers in Greenland are melting. The streets of Miami are flooded. The 9/11 memorial in downtown Manhattan is under water. And then we have Hurricane Sandy. Not good!

Gore spends a lot of time on the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. He shakes a lot of hands and is so happy that 195 countries signed the first legally binding climate deal – this time including the U.S.

And then, of course, Pres Trump pulls out of the deal. The movie feels very recent and relevant.

It’s very difficult to review a documentary as a piece of entertainment. You have to talk about the subject matter as well. To lighten it up, we see Gore getting ready for meetings, putting his boots on, shaking off his wet socks and talking to his staff.

What we don’t see are plastic water bottles. Obviously in all those meetings, people are bringing their own water in refillable containers. A bit more inconvenient but important.

Go and see the movie before it disappears.

At Family Nature Summits – Lake Tahoe Day 5

Living room at Thunderbird Lodge

What would you do if you knew as a child that you’d never have to work a day in your life? What if you knew that you would inherit more money than you would ever need? That’s the story of George Whitell, Jr. and Thunderbird Lodge.

On Day 5 of Family Nature Summits, I went on a field trip instead a hike. It was time for a little culture.

Our group traveled by van to Thunderbird Lodge on  the shores of Lake Tahoe. The tour, led by a volunteer docent for the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society, concentrated on the features of the house and grounds but I was more interested in the man.

George (1881-1969), as the docent called him, was the product of a wealthy San Francisco family. As a young man, he went from one party to another, acquiring boats and automobiles. He bought the Lake Tahoe property when he was in his fifties, and a recluse. The lodge was small, because unlike Mrs. Knight of Vikingsholm, part of yesterday’s trip, he didn’t want any overnight guests.

Look at the  picture of the living room. What struck me the most was that there was no art on the walls – no Picassos, Monets, Manets – though the docent told us that the house was restored to its glory days.

Isa with her teachers

The opening above leads to his bedroom. An equivalent bedroom on the other side was for his wife of fifty years. They didn’t have any children and most of his fortune went to charity after his death.

The last evening at FNS is devoted to skits by the children – from the 3-5 year olds in Early Discovery to the silliness of the Young Adults (18 to 25).

But Isa wanted to know why adults don’t have a skit. She spoke to the president, Pamela Morrison, who said “Maybe next year?”.

The Bears skit

The last day and evening is also when we say “good bye and see you next year”. Speaking of next year, Family Nature Summits will be in Western Maine, in the While Mountains, June 30 to July 6, 2018.

I already have it on my calendar and will sign up very soon along with my two granddaughters.

Check out the website and see you in Maine.

At Family Nature Summits – Lake Tahoe Day 4

FNS group

Back on the trail at Family Nature Summits.

Day 4. Oh no! The summit is almost over.

I went on a hike around Lake Tahoe. Well, not all the way around, just from D.L. Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay State Park.

The whole trail was perfectly maintained – after all it’s a state park.

Rubicon Point Lighthouse

Our first stop was Rubicon Lighthouse, which looks like an outhouse. Everyone was saying: Lighthouse, outhouse

The lake was in view the whole time with boaters, paddle boarders, waders and just lookers. The lake is too cold for swimming. But we have a great pool at the FNS Site.

The hike was organized as a key swap. So our group started from the north end. The second group went to the south end. When we met up on the trail, the leaders exchanged keys.

That’s one of the advantages of hiking with a group. Here’s Peggy B. and Danny Mc. exchanging keys.

The highlight was definitely Vikingsholm Castle, one of the first summer home on Lake Tahoe. Lora Josephone Knight (1864-1945) built this authentic reproduction of Swedish architecture in 1929 when

“She was 65 years old and single”.

The docent kept being amazed at 65 and single. After the fifth time, I was going to bop him one.

Knight was only 18 years old when she married a man much older than herself, a colleague of her father. She wasn’t poor herself. When her husband died, he left her $10 millions.

Part of being intelligent was knowing who to marry!

She was able to grow this wealth to $45 millions by investing intelligently and weathering the Great Depression. Her backstory was what made an impression to me.

The house?? Look at it on the web. It was full of Scandinavian furnishing. Knight accommodated servants and lots of guests. She was a typical do-gooder who really did some good with her money.

When she died, the property was sold to a man who quickly donated it to the California State Park System. Thank you, Sir!

At Emerald Bay SP

We had to walk an uphill mile to the parking lot. All visitors have to go up to the parking area on their on steam.

In a state park? Wow! Here I am at the top of the hill.

When I got back to the site, I picked up Isa at 3:30pm and we went to the pool.

The evening program was a Mark Twain reenactor. He was good but not good enough to hold the interest of most children. Isa and I left after 30 minutes.

Isa runs around the outside eating area with other girls her age. I’m surprised that I was able to get a picture of the group in Isa’s gang. Some are in her group, The Bears, others she knows only from dinner and the pool. See the picture at the top.